Counties in the United States

Counties in the USA are considered geographical subdivisions of the states in which they are part of. While the various states have differing practices, it is almost universal that counties are not considered self governing municipalities like cities, villages and towns.

One of the most complete studies of counties was researched by John H, Long and Gordon DenBoer in the "Atlas of Historical County Boundaries" The ISBN for the Illinois volume is 0-13-366402-3. These usually are hard to find, check your local reference library. If you can, visit the Newberry Library in Chicago, one of the most complete centers of contemparary knowledge in the country.

By my count there are 3143 Counties, Parishes or Independent Cities in the USA. There are a few oddities to be considered.

 

1)
The District of Columbia has no county government. The District was carved from the states of Maryland and Virginia. The Virginia portion was ceded back to Virginia in the mid 1800s. Prior to this what is now Arlington VA was Arlington County of the District of Columbia. The eastern section (from Maryland) was Washington County. Some time after Arlington was given back to Virginia the Washington County structure was abolished. 
 
2)
Louisiana has Parishes instead of Counties. These serve identical functions as Counties. The name derives from the French and Catholic Church influence present during its inception. 
   
3)
Several states have Independent Cities; Carson City NV, St. Louis MO, Baltimore MD, 40 in Virginia are examples of these. 
   
4)
Several cities have merged the County and City governments to some extent. 
In some of these cases there remains one or more city not included in the combined 
government, thus separating them from "Independent City" status. Examples include:
City of Indianapolis/Marion County Indiana
Kansas City/Wyandotte County Kansas
Jacksonville/Duval County Florida
Miami-Dade Florida


The following areas have completely merged the City and County governments 
into a single entity:
(Thanks to Dale Arnett!)

City and Borough of Juneau, Alaska
City and Borough of Sitka, Alaska
City and Borough of Yakutat, Alaska
City and County of San Francisco, California
City and County of Broomfield, Colorado
City and County of Denver, Colorado
Athens and Clarke County, Georgia
Augusta and Richmond County, Georgia
Columbus and Muscogee County, Georgia
City and County of Honolulu, Hawaii (The area we think of as Honolulu is actually a "census-designated place"  defined by the US Census Bureau. In Hawaii, all municipal government is at the county level.)
Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, Kentucky (formed in 1970 when the City of Lexington merged with Fayette County)
Louisville Metro, Kentucky (official short form for Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government, formed in 2003 when the City of Louisville merged with Jefferson County. There are still numerous cities in Jefferson County that are not part of the merged government.)
New Orleans and Orleans Parish, Louisiana
Anaconda and Deer Lodge County, Montana
Butte and Silver Bow County, Montana
City and County of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Lynchburg and Moore County, Tennessee
Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee
 
   
5)

Some states have eliminated County governments or are in the process of doing so.

Massachusetts is eliminating county governments, and Delaware has done so.

The County names are still used for geographic purposes, and are listed with the state. 

   

 

 

Clicking on the state name below will bring you to the list of counties for that state. The number of counties or equivalent is also shown.

State

Number of Counties

Notes

Alabama

67

Alaska

27

15 Boroughs, 11 Geographic Census Divisions and a Municipality

Arizona

15

Arkansas

75

California

58

Colorado

64

Includes the new Broomfield City/County

Connecticut

8

Non-Governmental Geographic divisions

Delaware

3

District of Columbia

1

Florida

67

Georgia

159

Hawaii

5

Includes 1 non-governmental unit (Kalawao)

Idaho

44

Illinois

102

Indiana

92

Iowa

99

Kansas

105

Kentucky

120

Louisiana

64

"Parishes"

Maine

16

Maryland

24

Includes an Independant City

Massachusetts

14

7 are Counties, 7 are Non-Governmental Geographic divisions

Michigan

83

Minnesota

87

Mississippi

82

Missouri

115

Includes 1 Independant City

Montana

56

Nebraska

93

Nevada

17

Includes 1 Independant City

New Hampshire

10

New Jersey

21

New Mexico

33

New York

62

Includes 5 counties in NYC (Called Boroughs)

North Carolina

100

North Dakota

53

Ohio

88

Oklahoma

77

Oregon

36

Pennsylvania

67

Rhode Island

5

Non-Governmental Geographic divisions

South Carolina

46

South Dakota

66

Tennessee

95

Texas

254

Utah

29

Vermont

14

Virginia

134

Includes 40 Independant Cities

Washington

39

West Virginia

55

Wisconsin

72

Wyoming

23

 

 

CANADA

Canadian Provinces do not have a standardized county system like most of the US does. Some provinces have counties similar to those in the USA, but even those are subject to change. Ontario for instance has counties, but many of them are being merged into Regional Municipalities.

For this reason I have arbitrarily decided to use Ridings as the provincial division for my purposes. Ridings are electoral districts from which Members of Parliament are elected. Since each province and territory have these, and they are consistent thru out the country, I have chosen this to be my tool for "County Hunting" in Canada.

There are 301 Ridings in Canada:

Alberta

26

British Columbia

34

Manitoba

14

New Brunswick

10

Newfoundland and Labrador

7

Nova Scotia

11

Nunavut Territory

1

Northwest Territory

1

Ontario

103

Prince Edward Island

4

Quebec

75

Saskatchewan

14

Yukon Territory

1

 

 

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02-03-2007