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California Counties
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California Counties

The state of California is divided into fifty-eight counties. On January 4, 1850, the California constitutional committee recommended the formation of 18 counties. They were Benicia, Butte, Fremont, Los Angeles, Mariposa, Monterey, Mount Diablo, Oro, Redding, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Jose, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Sonoma, and Sutter. The last California county to have been established is Imperial County in 1907.

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California Counties: History and Information

Focused on the histories of California countiesBrief history of California Counties: Flags of Our Nation

California is located on the West Coast of the United States. It is the most populous state and the third most extensive (after Alaska and Texas). It is home to the nation's second- and sixth-largest census statistical areas (Los Angeles Metropolitan Area and San Francisco Bay Area), and eight of the nation's fifty most populated cities (Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Fresno, Sacramento, Long Beach and Oakland). The capital city is Sacramento.

Creation of the First Eighteen California Counties

On January 4, 1850, a committee of California's first constitutional convention, chaired by General Mariano Vallejo, recommended the creation of eighteen counties. They were Benicia, Butte, Fremont, Los Angeles, Mariposa, Monterey, Mt. Diablo, Oro, Redding, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Jose, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Sonoma, and Sutter.

The next nine California Counties

Between January 4 and February 18, 1850, the California legislature added nine counties to the list recommended by General Vallejo's committee, some of the changes based on additional recommendations by the committee. The nine added counties were Branciforte, Calaveras, Coloma, Colusi, Marin, Mendocino, Napa, Trinity, and Yuba. This brought the total number of counties to 27. The legislature also approved several name changes. Benicia was renamed El Dorado, Fremont was renamed Yola, Mt. Diablo was renamed Contra Costa, San Jose was renamed Santa Clara, Oro was renamed Tuolumne, and Redding was renamed Shasta.

Most of California's counties were named by Spanish explorers, often for a Roman Catholic saint whose feast day intersected with the advance into a new part of Alta California. Native American names are also represented, with a smattering of counties named for local figures from the early American era. Many counties are named after Spanish missions.

Effective February 18, 1850, twenty-seven counties were created in California. The new counties were Branciforte, Butte, Calaveras, Colusi, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Los Angeles, Marin, Mariposa, Mendocino, Monterey, Napa, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma, Sutter, Trinity, Tuolumne, Yola, and Yuba.

In early 1850, not long after the legislature adopted its first statute creating counties, new statutes were adopted changing some county names. Branciforte was changed to Santa Cruz, Colusi was changed to Colusa, and Yola was changed to Yolo.

On September 9, 1850, California became the State of California with the same twenty-seven counties.

The last California county to have been established is Imperial County in 1907.

Focused on the histories of California Counties
County 2000
Population
Square
Miles
County Seat Created
Alameda County 1,443,741 738 Oakland 1853
Alpine County 1,208 739 Markleeville 1864
Amador County 35,100 593 Jackson 1854
Butte County 203,171 1,640 Oroville 1850
Calaveras County 40,554 1,020 San Andreas 1850
Colusa County 18,804 1,151 Colusa 1850
Contra Costa County 948,816 720 Martinez 1850
Del Norte County 27,507 1,008 Crescent City 1857
El Dorado County 156,299 1,712 Placerville 1850
Fresno County 799,407 5,963 Fresno 1856
Glenn County 26,453 1,315 Willows 1891
Humboldt County 126,518 3,573 Eureka 1853
Imperial County 142,361 4,175 El Centro 1907
Inyo County 17,945 10,192 Independence 1866
Kern County 661,645 8,142 Bakersfield 1866
Kings County 129,461 1,390 Hanford 1893
Lake County 58,309 1,258 Lakeport 1861
Lassen County 33,828 4,558 Susanville 1864
Los Angeles County 9,519,338 4,060 Los Angeles 1850
Madera County 123,109 2,138 Madera 1893
Marin County 247,289 520 San Rafael 1850
Mariposa County 17,130 1,451 Mariposa 1850
Mendocino County 86,265 3,509 Ukiah 1850
Merced County 210,554 1,929 Merced 1855
Modoc County 9,449 3,944 Alturas 1874
Mono County 12,853 3,044 Bridgeport 1861
Monterey County 401,762 3,322 Salinas 1850
Napa County 124,279 754 Napa 1850
Nevada County 92,033 958 Nevada City 1851
Orange County 2,846,289 790 Santa Ana 1889
Placer County 248,399 1,404 Auburn 1851
Plumas County 20,824 2,554 Quincy 1854
Riverside County 1,545,387 7,208 Riverside 1893
Sacramento County 1,223,499 966 Sacramento 1850
San Benito County 53,234 1,389 Hollister 1874
San Bernardino County 1,709,434 20,062 San Bernardino 1853
San Diego County 2,813,833 4,204 San Diego 1850
San Francisco City & County 776,733 47 San Francisco 1850
San Joaquin County 563,598 1,399 Stockton 1850
San Luis Obispo County 246,681 3,304 San Luis Obispo 1850
San Mateo County 707,161 449 Redwood City 1856
Santa Barbara County 399,347 2,738 Santa Barbara 1850
Santa Clara County 1,682,585 1,291 San Jose 1850
Santa Cruz County 255,602 446 Santa Cruz 1850
Shasta County 163,256 3,786 Redding 1850
Sierra County 3,555 953 Downieville 1852
Siskiyou County 44,301 6,287 Yreka 1852
Solano County 394,542 828 Fairfield 1850
Sonoma County 458,614 1,576 Santa Rosa 1850
Stanislaus County 446,997 1,495 Modesto 1854
Sutter County 78,930 603 Yuba City 1850
Tehama County 56,039 2,951 Red Bluff 1856
Trinity County 13,022 3,179 Weaverville 1850
Tulare County 368,021 4,824 Visalia 1852
Tuolumne County 54,501 2,236 Sonora 1850
Ventura County 753,197 1,846 Ventura 1873
Yolo County 168,660 1,012 Woodland 1850
Yuba County 60,219 630 Marysville 1850
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