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List of Counties in California

A county is an administrative subdivision of a US state or territory. As of 2022, California is divided into 58 counties. Of the 58 counties in California, 14 are governed under a charter and the rest are general law counties. ( A charter county is granted limited home rule powers. )

California is home to San Bernardino County, the largest county in the contiguous United States, as well as Los Angeles County, the most populous county in the United States. The average population of California counties is 676,514; Los Angels County is the most populous (9.8 million) and Alpine County is the least (1235). 

The average land area of California Counties is 2692 sq mi. The largest county is San Bernardino County (20,062 sq mi) and the smallest is San Francisco County (47 sq mi).

read about the Population of California 

California Counties by Population

#CountyPopulation 2021Area
(sq. miles)
1Los Angeles County9,829,5444,060
2San Diego County3,286,0694,204
3Orange County3,167,809948
4Riverside County2,458,3957,208
5San Bernardino County2,194,71020,062
6Santa Clara County1,885,5081,291
7Alameda County1,648,556738
8Sacramento County1,588,921966
9Contra Costa County1,161,413720
10Fresno County1,013,5815,963
11Kern County917,6738,142
12Ventura County839,7841,846
13San Francisco815,20147
14San Joaquin County789,4101,399
15San Mateo County737,888449
16Stanislaus County552,9991,495
17Sonoma County485,8871,576
18Tulare County477,0544,824
19Solano County451,716828
20Santa Barbara County446,4752,738
21Monterey County437,3253,322
22Placer County412,3001,407
23Merced County286,4611,929
24San Luis Obispo County283,1593,304
25Santa Cruz County267,792446
26Marin County260,206520
27Yolo County216,9861,012
28Butte County208,3091,640
29El Dorado County193,2211,712
30Shasta County182,1393,786
31Imperial County179,8514,175
32Madera County159,4102,138
33Kings County153,4431,390
34Humboldt County136,3103,573
35Napa County136,207754
36Nevada County103,487958
37Sutter County99,063603
38Mendocino County91,3053,509
39Yuba County83,421630
40Lake County68,7661,258
41San Benito County66,6771,389
42Tehama County65,4982,951
43Tuolumne County55,8102,236
44Calaveras County46,2211,020
45Siskiyou County44,1186,287
46Amador County41,259606
47Lassen County33,1594,558
48Glenn County28,8051,315
49Del Norte County28,1001,008
50Colusa County21,9171,151
51Plumas County19,9152,554
52Inyo County18,97010,192
53Mariposa County17,1471,451
54Trinity County16,0603,179
55Mono County13,2473,044
56Modoc County8,6613,944
57Sierra County3,283953
58Alpine County1,235739

Source: US Census 2021

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Most Populous Counties in California

The most populous county in California is  Los Angeles County with 10 million residents. This number is greater than the population of 41 U.S. states.  It is followed by San Diego County (3.2 million) and Orange County (3.1 million)

Let’s have a look at the Top 10 most populous counties

1Los Angeles County9,829,544
2San Diego County3,286,069
3Orange County3,167,809
4Riverside County2,458,395
5San Bernardino County2,194,710
6Santa Clara County1,885,508
7Alameda County1,648,556
8Sacramento County1,588,921
9Contra Costa County1,161,413
10Fresno County1,013,581
Least Populated California County

The least populous county is Alpine County with 1,235 residents, it’s followed by Sierra and Modoc County.

Let’s have a look at 5 least populated counties in California

1Alpine County1,235
2Sierra County3,283
3Modoc County8,661
4Mono County13,247
5Trinity County16,060

source: US Census 2021

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Largest counties in California by area

The Largest county by Land Area in California is San Bernardino County with an area of 20.062 sq. miles. Inyo with an area of 10,192 sq. mi. comes next followed by Kern County (8142 sq. mi.)

Let’s have a look at the Top 10 counties by Area

(sq. miles)
1San Bernardino County20,062
2Inyo County10,192
3Kern County8,142
4Riverside County7,208
5Siskiyou County6,287
6Fresno County5,963
7Tulare County4,824
8Lassen County4,558
9San Diego County4,204
10Imperial County4,175
The smallest County in California by area

The smallest county by area in California is San Francisco with an area of 47 square miles.

1San Francisco47
2Santa Cruz County446
3San Mateo County449
4Marin County520
5Sutter County603

source: US Census report 2021

Most densely populated Counties in California

The most densely populated county in California is San Francisco County, with 17,344 people per sq. mi. Next comes Orange County with 3342 people per sq. mi followed by Los Angeles County (2421/ sq.mi)

Let’s have a look at the Top 10 densely populated counties

(people/sq. mi)
1San Francisco17,344.70
2Orange County3,341.57
3Los Angeles County2,421.07
4Alameda County2,233.82
5Sacramento County1,644.85
6San Mateo County1,643.40
7Contra Costa County1,613.07
8Santa Clara County1,460.50
9San Diego County781.65
10Santa Cruz County600.43
Least Densely Populated County in California
(people/ sq mi.)
1Alpine County1.67
2Inyo County1.86
3Modoc County2.20
4Sierra County3.44
5Mono County4.35

source: US Census 2021

Top cities in California

Los Angeles is the largest city in California and also the second-largest city in the United States.  It has 3 of the largest 10 cities (Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Jose)  in the United States. It has three cities with a 1 million + population and six cities with more than half-million population.

read about Top Cities in California by Population

List of Counties in California 2024 | California Counties by Population