Washington Counties
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Washington Counties

There are thity-nine counties in the state of Washington. Washington was carved out of the western part of Washington Territory and admitted to the Union as the 42nd state in 1889. The first counties were created from unorganized territory in 1845.

San Juan County, Washington

San Juan County Education, Geography, and History

San Juan County, Washington Courthouse

San Juan County is a county located in the Salish Sea in the far northwestern corner of the state of Washington. Based on the 2010 census, its population was 15,769. The county seat and only incorporated city is Friday Harbor, located on San Juan Island. The county was formed on October 31, 1873 from Whatcom County and is named for the San Juan Islands, which are in turn named for Juan Vicente de Guemes, 2nd Count of Revillagigedo, the Viceroy of New Spain.

Etymology - Origin of San Juan County Name

San Juan Island.


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

San Juan County History

San Juan County was created 31 October 1873 from Whatcom County. Accessible only by water or air, San Juan County is an archipelago of hundreds of islands, reefs, and rocks between mainland Washington and Vancouver Island. Around 20 islands are inhabited. The largest three - Orcas, San Juan, and Lopez - contain most of the land area and nearly all the population. Only in 1872, later than any other area in the 48 contiguous states, did the San Juan islands become an undisputed part of the United States following the "Pig War" boundary dispute with Great Britain. San Juan County was created the next year. Like the Lummi, Samish, and other Northern Straits Salish peoples who have made the islands home for thousands of years, early settlers depended heavily on the islands' rich marine resources. As settlement increased the islands supplied the surrounding region with fish, agricultural produce, timber, and lime from some of the nation's richest deposits. A few residents still make a living from fishing, farming, or forestry, but tourism, construction, real estate, and self-employment are now the leading economic sectors as ever more weekend visitors, summer-home buyers, and retirees flock to enjoy the San Juans' beauty.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 621 square miles (1,609 km2).Of this, 175 square miles (453 km2) of it is land and 446 square miles (1,156 km2) of it (71.84%) is water. The highest point in the county is Mount Constitution on Orcas Island at 2,407 feet (734 meters) above sea level.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Whatcom County, Washington - northeast
  • Skagit County, Washington - east
  • Island County, Washington - southeast
  • Jefferson County, Washington - south
  • Clallam County, Washington - south/southwest

It also shares a western border with the Capital Regional District, British Columbia, Canada.


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