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Pennsylvania Counties
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Pennsylvania Counties

There are sixty-seven counties of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the United States of America. The city of Philadelphia is coterminous with Philadelphia County, and governmental functions have been consolidated since 1854.

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Berks County, Pennsylvania

Berks County Education, Geography, and History

Berks County, Pennsylvania Courthouse

Berks County (Pennsylvania German: Barricks Kaundi) is a county located in the state of Pennsylvania. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 411,442. The county seat is Reading.

Berks County comprises the Reading, PA Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which is also included in the Philadelphia-Reading-Camden, PA-NJ-DE-MD Combined Statistical Area. (CSA).

Etymology - Origin of Berks County Name

Named after William Penn's family home of Reading, Berkshire, England, a large town in England, located at the confluence of the River Thames and River Kennet, midway between London and Swindon off the M4 motorway. It is one of the contenders for the title of the largest town in England, and is the largest settlement in the Home Counties in terms of population.


County QuickFacts: Census Bureau Quick Facts

Berks County History

Created on March 11, 1752, from parts of Philadelphia, Chester, and Lancaster Counties, and was named for Berkshire in England. Reading, the county seat, was named for Berkshire's county town. It was incorporated as a borough on September 12, 1783 and as a city on March 16, 1847.

The fertile Lebanon and Oley Valleys and the presence of iron ore attracted settlers by the 1730s. Thomas Penn worked to create Reading in 1748, which was connected by roads to Lancaster and Lebanon to the west. Conrad Weiser was an important colonial leader, and the Pennsylvania German element that he led has always prevailed in the county. The formation of Schuylkill County from Berks in 1811 left Berks without coal but having begun an iron industry early, Reading grew to be Pennsylvania's third largest manufacturing city by 1900. It boasted steel mills and turned out heavy metal products such as locomotives and autos. Textiles, hats, and beer are Berks County traditions. Many small factory workers' homes gradually enlarged Reading until a period of extreme deindustrialization began in the 1960s. Agriculture has always been strong and today features fruit, wheat, corn, mushrooms, and dairy products. Farms cover 44 percent of the county's area.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 866 square miles (2,242 km2). 859 square miles (2,224 km2) of it is land and 7 square miles (18 km2) of it (0.78%) is water. Most of the county is drained by the Schuylkill River, but an area in the northeast is drained by the Lehigh River via the Little Lehigh Creek and areas are drained by the Susquehanna River via the Swatara Creek in the northwest and the Conestoga River (which starts in Berks County between Morgantown and Elverson) in the extreme south.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Schuykill County (north)
  • Lehigh County (northeast)
  • Montgomery County (east)
  • Chester County (southeast)
  • Lancaster County (southwest)
  • Lebanon County (west)


Colleges and universities

Albright College
Alvernia University
Kutztown University of Pennsylvania
Penn State Berks
Reading Area Community College

Pennsylvania Colleges, Universities, & Schools
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