Los Angeles County, officially the County of Los Angeles, is the most populous county in the United States, with nearly 10 million inhabitants as of 2010. Its population is larger than that of 40 individual U.S. states. It has 88 incorporated cities and many unincorporated areas and at 4,083 square miles (10,570 km2), it is larger than the combined areas of the U.S. states of Delaware and Rhode Island. The county is home to more than one-quarter of California residents and is one of the most ethnically diverse counties in the U.S. Its county seat, the City of Los Angeles, is also its most populous city at about four million.
Los Angeles County is one of the original counties of California, created at the time of statehood in 1850. The county originally included parts of what are now Kern, San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange counties. As the population increased, sections were split off to organize San Bernardino County in 1853, Kern County in 1866, and Orange County in 1889.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has an area of 4,751 square miles (12,310 km2), of which 4,058 square miles (10,510 km2) is land and 693 square miles (1,790 km2) (15%) is water. Los Angeles County borders 70 miles (110 km) of coast on the Pacific Ocean and encompasses mountain ranges, valleys, forests, islands, lakes, rivers, and desert. The Los Angeles River, Rio Hondo, the San Gabriel River and the Santa Clara River flow in Los Angeles County, while the primary mountain ranges are the Santa Monica Mountains and the San Gabriel Mountains. The western extent of the Mojave Desert begins in the Antelope Valley, in the northeastern part of the county.
Most of the population of Los Angeles County is located in the south and southwest, with major population centers in the Los Angeles Basin, San Fernando Valley and San Gabriel Valley. Other population centers are found in the Santa Clarita Valley, Pomona Valley, Crescenta Valley and Antelope Valley.
The county is divided west-to-east by the San Gabriel Mountains, which are part of the Transverse Ranges of southern California, and are contained mostly within the Angeles National Forest. Most of the county’s highest peaks are in the San Gabriel Mountains, including Mount San Antonio 10,068 feet (3,069 m)) at the Los Angeles-San Bernardino county lines, Mount Baden-Powell 9,399 feet (2,865 m), Mount Burnham 8,997 feet (2,742 m) and Mount Wilson 5,710 feet (1,740 m). Several lower mountains are in the northern, western, and southwestern parts of the county, including the San Emigdio Mountains, the southernmost part of Tehachapi Mountains and the Sierra Pelona Mountains.
Los Angeles County includes San Clemente Island and Santa Catalina Island, which are part of the Channel Islands archipelago off the Pacific Coast.
Los Angeles County had a population of 9,818,605 in the 2010 United States Census. The racial makeup of Los Angeles County was 4,936,599 (50%) White, 1,346,865 (13.7%) Asian, 856,874 (9%) African American, 72,828 (0.7%) Native American, 26,094 (0.3%) Pacific Islander, 2,140,632 (21.8%) from other races, and 438,713 (4.5%) from two or more races.
Non-Hispanic whites numbered 2,728,321, or 28% of the population. Hispanic or Latino residents of any race numbered 4,687,889 (48%); 36% of Los Angeles County’s population was of Mexican ancestry; 3.7% Salvadoran, and 2.2% Guatemalan heritage.
The county has a large population of Asian Americans, being home to the largest concentration of immigrants who are Burmese, Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Indonesian, Korean, Sri Lankan, Taiwanese, and Thai in the world. The largest Asian groups of the 1,346,865 (13.7%) Asians in Los Angeles County are 4.0% Chinese, 3.3% Filipino, 2.2% Korean, 1.0% Japanese, 0.9% Vietnamese, 0.8% Indian, and 0.3% Cambodian.
Race and ancestry
Population, race, and income (2011)
Total population 9,787,747
White 5,126,367 52.4%
Black or African American 844,048 8.6%
American Indian or Alaska Native 49,329 0.5%
Asian 1,347,782 13.8%
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 26,310 0.3%
Some other race 2,064,759 21.1%
Two or more races 329,152 3.4%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 4,644,328 47.5%
Per capita income $27,954
Median household income $56,266
Median family income $62,595
The racial makeup of the county is 48.7% White, 11.0% African American, 0.8% Native American, 10.0% Asian, 0.3% Pacific Islander, 23.5% from other races, and 4.9% from two or more races. 44.6% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race. The largest European-American ancestry groups are German (6%), Irish (5%), English (4%) and Italian (3%). 45.9% of the population reported speaking only English at home; 37.9% spoke Spanish, 2.22% Tagalog, 2.0% Chinese, 1.9% Korean, 1.87% Armenian, 0.5% Arabic, and 0.2% Hindi.
The county has the largest Native American population of any county in the nation: according to the 2000 census, it has more than 153,550 people of indigenous descent, and most are from Latin America.
As estimated by the Public Policy Institute of California in 2008, Los Angeles County is home to more than one-third of California’s undocumented immigrants, who make up more than ten percent of the population.
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