From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
A U.S. county is a local level of government below the state but above a city in a U.S. state or territory. The term county is used in 48 of the 50 states. Louisiana uses the term parishes and Alaska uses boroughs. Including those, there are 3086 counties in the United States, on average 62 per state. The state with the fewest number of counties is Delaware with three, and the state with the largest number is Texas with 254. In addition there is the District of Columbia, which is actually not a county, but a federal district with its own government.
The term county equivalents includes two types of units not covered within the scope of the above paragraph:
- Alaska census areas: These are areas, defined by the United States Census Bureau for statistical purposes, which have no area-wide government. Most of the land area of Alaska is divided into census areas, of which 11 exist.
- Independent cities: These are cities that legally belong to no county in a state. Currently, there are 43 such cities in the United States:
There are also several cities and counties around the country that have unified their governments, and are considered both a city and a county under state law; see consolidated city-county for a more complete list of these governments.
The power of the county government varies widely from state to state as does the relationship between counties and incorporated cities. In New England, counties function only as judicial court districts (in Connecticut and Rhode Island, they have lost even those functions) and most local power is in the form of towns.
Many states have counties named after U.S. Presidents such as Washington, Madison, Polk, Jefferson, etc. Counties are also commonly named after famous individuals, local Native American tribes once in the area, cities located within the county, and land features (Cerro Gordo, Iowa, meaning "Fat Hill" in Spanish).
Lists of counties by state: