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Smallest counties in every state

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Doug Kerr // Flickr

Smallest county in every state

The structure of the United States is unique. It’s a country made up of 50 states, each of which consists of various counties, cities, states, and towns. Depending on where it's located, an area might have three or four layers of local government. It’s almost like a geographical Russian nesting doll.

This set-up largely makes sense — except in a few cases. Some states are so sparsely settled that geographically large counties have tiny populations while others might only cover a few square miles but hold hundreds of thousands of people. To see how much this varies from state to state, Stacker examined population data gathered by U.S. Census Bureau from 2010 to 2017 to compile this list of the smallest counties in every state. The Census Bureau’s population estimates are based on the population base, plus migration numbers, plus the births-minus-deaths total. The growth rate was determined by dividing the difference between present and past populations by the past population, using population data from the Census Report. Read on to find out which county in your state has the smallest population and which state has a county with a population of just 88 residents.

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Pixabay

Alabama: Greene County

 

2017 population estimate: 8,330

2010 census population: 9,045

Growth rate (since 2010): -7.90%

 

Eutaw, the largest city in this county in western Alabama, has just 2,122 people. The average household income was $50,498 in 2016.  

 

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Michael Boyd // Wikimedia Commons

Alaska: Yakutat City and Borough

 

2017 population estimate: 605

2010 census population: 662

Growth rate (since 2010): -8.61%

 

The small fishing village of Yakutat, which is also the borough seat, has been inhabited by the Tlingit people for hundreds of years. In their native tongue, Yakutat means "the place where canoes rest.”

 

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Stephanie Salisbury // Flickr

Arizona: Greenlee County

 

2017 population estimate: 9,455

2010 census population: 8,437

Growth rate (since 2010): 12.07%

 

First settled in 1874 by miners who discovered that the area hosts large copper deposits, Greenlee County remains economically dependent on the mining industry. Clifton, a city near the county’s geographical center, won the honor of being its county seat.  

 

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Valis55 // Wikimedia Commons

Arkansas: Calhoun County

 

2017 population estimate: 4,833

2010 census population: 5,089

Growth rate (since 2010): -5.03%

 

This county was originally named Benton County after Missouri senator Thomas Hart Benton, who served in Alabama during the War of 1813-14. However, the state senate voted to change the name to Calhoun County in 1858 to honor Vice President John C. Calhoun.

 

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Susan Popielaski // Wikimedia Commons

California: Alpine County

 

2017 population estimate: 1,120

2010 census population: 1,175

Growth rate (since 2010): -4.68%

 

This tiny county on the border between California and Nevada just south of Lake Tahoe has a rich history. The Washoe people were the first residents. Famous explorers, including John Fremont and Kit Carson, first journeyed across the Sierra Nevada mountain range through the region. It was eventually settled by prospectors looking for gold.

 

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Alex Reinhardt // Wikipedia

Colorado: San Juan County

 

2017 population estimate: 715

2010 census population: 699

Growth rate (since 2010): 2.29%

 

There’s only one city in San Juan County: Silverton, which boasts only 637 residents. The county has an average elevation of 11,240 feet, which is the highest in the country.

 

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Doug Kerr // Wikimedia Commons

Connecticut: Windham County

 

2017 population estimate: 42,869

2010 census population: 44,513

Growth rate (since 2010): -3.69%

 

Though Windham County is much larger than many of the counties on this list, it’s still Connecticut’s smallest. It’s also not a particularly diverse county: more than 92% of the residents are white.

 

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Jerrye and Roy Klotz // Wikimedia Commons

Delaware: Kent County

 

2017 population estimate: 763

2010 census population: 808

Growth rate (since 2010): -5.57%

 

Kent County is governed by the Levy Court, a group of seven elected commissioners from all regions of the county. The Levy Court has watched over the area since 1655, when the Delaware General Assembly first established it.

 

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Ebyabe // Wikimedia Commons

Florida: Liberty County

 

2017 population estimate: 2,427

2010 census population: 2,339

Growth rate (since 2010): 3.76%

 

The oldest known residents of this county were the Apalachee people. Burial mounds and pottery remnants in the area date back to the 13th century. Still, Liberty County wasn’t formally established until 1855.

 

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Calvin Beale // Wikimedia Commons

Georgia: Taliaferro County

 

2017 population estimate: 1,628

2010 census population: 1,717

Growth rate (since 2010): -5.18%

 

This 197-square-mile county in the Piedmont region of Georgia is full of rolling farmland, pastures, forests, and streams. Movie buffs might recognize Taliaferro County from the film "Sweet Home Alabama,” which was shot here.

 

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Sanba38 // Wikimedia Commons

Hawaii: Kalawao County

 

2017 population estimate: 88

2010 census population: 90

Growth rate (since 2010): -2.22%

 

The land that eventually became Kalawao County was first set aside as a colony for people with leprosy. This county was later absorbed into nearby Maui County.  

 

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U.S. Forest Service // Flickr

Idaho: Clark County

 

2017 population estimate: 873

2010 census population: 982

Growth rate (since 2010): -11.10%

 

This county takes its name from Sam K. Clark, an early Idaho settler on Medicine Lodge Creek. Fur trappers and explorers were its first residents.  

 

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Daniel Schwen // Wikimedia Commons

Illinois: Hardin County

 

2017 population estimate: 4,046

2010 census population: 4,320

Growth rate (since 2010): -6.34%

 

Called "Illinois' final frontier,” Hardin County is a popular destination for vacationers looking to spend some time in the quiet hills and scenic river towns. The Shawnee National Forest and Ohio River are both popular attractions.

 

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Calvin Beale // Wikimedia Commons

Indiana: Ohio County

 

2017 population estimate: 5,828

2010 census population: 6,128

Growth rate (since 2010): -4.90%

 

Ohio County doesn’t get its name from the Buckeye State. Instead, it got its name from the Ohio River. The county seat also has a quirky name: Rising Sun.

 

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Jason McLaren // Wikimedia Commons

Iowa: Adams County

 

2017 population estimate: 2,318

2010 census population: 2,343

Growth rate (since 2010): -1.07%

 

The county seat of Adams County was once located in the now non-existent town of Quincy. It was later moved to Corning in 1872.

 

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Ammodramus // Wikimedia Commons

Kansas: Greeley County

 

2017 population estimate: 1,249

2010 census population: 1,247

Growth rate (since 2010): 0.16%

 

This small county in Kansas was named for Horace Greeley, the editor of the New-York Tribune and a supporter of land grants for farmers. You might know him for the phrase: "Go west, young man.”

 

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

Kentucky: Robertson County

 

2017 population estimate: 2,134

2010 census population: 2,282

Growth rate (since 2010): -6.49%

 

Though this county in the bluegrass region of Kentucky is the smallest in the state by population, it’s only the second-smallest by area. It is best known for rolling hills and scenic views.   

 

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Ken Lund // Wikimedia Commons

Louisiana: Tensas Parish

 

2017 population estimate: 4,615

2010 census population: 5,252

Growth rate (since 2010): -12.13%

 

This small parish in Louisiana gets its name from the Taensa people who called this region home. Though the tribe hasn’t existed since the 1700s, Taensa descendants still live in the area.

 

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Magicpiano // Wikimedia Commons

Maine: Piscataquis County

 

2017 population estimate: 16,773

2010 census population: 17,535

Growth rate (since 2010): -4.35%

 

This county is about the same size as the state of Connecticut, but it has just 4 people per square mile. Forests, lakes, rivers, and ponds provide countless opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, hunting, fishing, cross-country skiing, and kayaking.   

 

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Acroterion // Wikimedia Commons

Maryland: Kent County

 

2017 population estimate: 763

2010 census population: 808

Growth rate (since 2010): -5.57%

 

Located on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay, Kent County is a big draw for fisherman, boaters, kayakers, and other nature lovers. The county is very rural, but it boasts a few charming small towns such as Chestertown, which hosts its own recreation of the Boston Tea Party every year.

 

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Thisisbossi // Flickr

Massachusetts: Nantucket County

 

2017 population estimate: 11,229

2010 census population: 10,172

Growth rate (since 2010): 10.39%

 

This popular vacation destination for the rich and famous is also Massachusetts’ smallest county. The beaches, sandbars, and docks are the big attractions on this island.  

 

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Doc Searls // Wikimedia

Michigan: Keweenaw County

 

2017 population estimate: 2,105

2010 census population: 2,156

Growth rate (since 2010): -2.37%

 

The word Keweenaw means "the crossing place” in the Ojibway language, referring to the fact that visitors must cross Portage Lake to reach the Keweenaw Peninsula. The area is known for its rich copper deposits.   

 

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McGhiever // Wikimedia Commons

Minnesota: Traverse County

 

2017 population estimate: 3,319

2010 census population: 3,558

Growth rate (since 2010): -6.72%

 

Traverse County is best known for the city that shares its name, Traverse City. Tree-lined streets, local wineries, gorgeous beaches, and a beautiful lighthouse make it a popular destination for tourists.

 

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Mississippi Dept. of Archives and History // Wikimedia Commons

Mississippi: Issaquena County

 

2017 population estimate: 1,339

2010 census population: 1,406

Growth rate (since 2010): -4.77%

 

Situated on the banks of the Mississippi River, Issaquena County was founded in 1844. The name means "deer river” in the language of a local Native American tribe.

 

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Patrick Hull // Wikimedia Commons

Missouri: Worth County

 

2017 population estimate: 2,057

2010 census population: 2,171

Growth rate (since 2010): -5.25%

 

Worth County isn’t only the least populated county in the state of Missouri, it’s also the youngest. It was founded in 1861.

 

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J. B. Chandler // Wikimedia Commons

Montana: Petroleum County

 

2017 population estimate: 523

2010 census population: 494

Growth rate (since 2010): 5.87%

 

Petroleum County’s seat is the town of Winnett, which was named after Canadian rancher Walter Winnett. He was captured by Sioux Indians and later adopted as a member of their tribe.

 

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Ammodramus // Wikimedia Commons

Nebraska: Arthur County

 

2017 population estimate: 457

2010 census population: 460

Growth rate (since 2010): -0.65%

 

Once home to the smallest courthouse in the country, Arthur County remains Nebraska’s least populated county with just 457 residents.

 

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Ken Lund // Wikimedia Commons

Nevada: Esmeralda County

 

2017 population estimate: 850

2010 census population: 783

Growth rate (since 2010): 8.56%

 

Esmeralda County, located about halfway between Las Vegas and Reno, has few residents but plenty of ghost towns, historic sites, and mining communities. Gold mining and lithium production are the big industries here.

 

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Famartin // Wikimedia Commons

New Hampshire: Coos County

 

2017 population estimate: 31,634

2010 census population: 33,055

Growth rate (since 2010): -4.30%

 

Though Coos County is the largest New Hampshire county by land mass, it’s the smallest by population. It borders Canada to the north, Vermont to the west, and Maine to the east.

 

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Jerrye and Roy Klotz // Wikimedia Commons

New Jersey: Salem County

 

2017 population estimate: 62,792

2010 census population: 66,083

Growth rate (since 2010): -4.98%

 

The first Quaker colony in North America was established in Salem County in 1675. It’s also the biggest county on this list, with nearly 63,000 residents.

 

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Vacaypicts // Wikimedia Commons

New Mexico: Harding County

 

2017 population estimate: 692

2010 census population: 695

Growth rate (since 2010): -0.43%

 

Cowboys, ranches, and vast swaths of wilderness define this New Mexican county. The cliffs of the Canadian River Canyon, plains of the Kiowa National Grasslands, and dinosaur tracks at Mosquero Creek are just a few of the natural wonders found here.

 

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Doug Kerr // Wikimedia Commons

New York: Hamilton County

 

2017 population estimate: 2,640

2010 census population: 2,690

Growth rate (since 2010): -1.86%

 

This small, mountainous county in northeastern New York is located entirely within Adirondack Park. Just nine towns and one village are located in Hamilton County.  

 

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HarmonyReignPope // Wikimedia Commons

North Carolina: Tyrrell County

 

2017 population estimate: 4,052

2010 census population: 4,407

Growth rate (since 2010): -8.06%

 

Founded in 1729, Tyrrell County is one of the oldest in North Carolina. Columbia is the county seat and only municipality in this county.  

 

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Andrew Filer // Wikimedia Commons

North Dakota: Slope County

 

2017 population estimate: 771

2010 census population: 727

Growth rate (since 2010): 6.05%

 

Just 771 people live in this tiny North Dakota county. Nearly 95% of the population is white and only 29% of residents have achieved a bachelor’s degree.

 

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Dan Keck // Flickr

Ohio: Vinton County

 

2017 population estimate: 13,092

2010 census population: 13,435

Growth rate (since 2010): -2.55%

 

Plenty of state parks, wooded hills, and stunning natural scenery decorate this county in the Hocking Hills region of Ohio. It’s also known for "quilt barns,”  art pieces on the back of barns that look exactly like stitched quilts.  

 

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Dave Coon // Flickr

Oklahoma: Cimarron County

 

2017 population estimate: 2,154

2010 census population: 2,475

Growth rate (since 2010): -12.97%

 

This county in the Oklahoma panhandle is the only one in the United States that touches five different states: Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and, of course, Oklahoma. Many dinosaur tracks, fossils, and ancient rock art have been discovered in Cimarron County.

 

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Steven Pavlov // Wikimedia Commons

Oregon: Wheeler County

 

2017 population estimate: 818

2010 census population: 818

Growth rate (since 2010): 0.00%

 

This county in central Oregon was named after Henry Wheeler, the proprietor of the first stage line in the county. The county seat also has an interesting name: Fossil. The county seat was given the name after the postmaster discovered ancient remains on his property.

 

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Calvin Beale // Wikimedia Commons

Pennsylvania: Cameron County

 

2017 population estimate: 4,592

2010 census population: 5,085

Growth rate (since 2010): -9.70%

 

This natural paradise is covered in lush forests and gorgeous waterways where bald eagles, elk, deer, bears, turkeys, and other wildlife roam free. Naturally, it’s a great place for hunters, fishers, and birders.  

 

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Wikipedia

Rhode Island: Bristol County

 

2017 population estimate: 48,912

2010 census population: 49,875

Growth rate (since 2010): -1.93%

This county in the East Bay section of Rhode Island is best known for hosting its Annual Fourth of July Celebration — the longest-running continuous celebration in the United States. Quintessential New England towns in this area such as Bristol, Warren, and Barrington draw plenty of tourists every year.

 

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Jud McCranie // Wikimedia Commons

South Carolina: Allendale County

 

2017 population estimate: 9,002

2010 census population: 10,419

Growth rate (since 2010): -13.60%

 

The Southern way of life is on full display in beautiful Allendale County. Fields of fluffy white cotton and juicy peaches give way to mossy oaks along the Savannah River.

 

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Joe Wolf // Flickr

South Dakota: Jones County

 

2017 population estimate: 936

2010 census population: 1,006

Growth rate (since 2010): -6.96%

 

The vast majority of residents in this small county in South Dakota are white. The 2010 census found just one person who identified as African American and 20 people who identified as Native American.

 

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Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

Tennessee: Pickett County

 

2017 population estimate: 5,073

2010 census population: 5,077

Growth rate (since 2010): -0.08%

 

The least populated city in Tennessee sits among the mountains on the Highland Rim at the gateway to Dale Hollow Lake. This pristine lake has 620 miles of shoreline and crystal clear waters; it's a popular destination for families and outdoorsmen.  

 

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Matthew Rutledge // Wikimedia Commons

Texas: Loving County

 

2017 population estimate: 134

2010 census population: 82

Growth rate (since 2010): 63.41%

 

The least populated county in the continental United States is Loving County in Texas. Located in the western corner of the state, across the border from New Mexico, Loving County was first formed in 1887, then disorganized, and later re-incorporated in 1931.

 

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Jerrye and Roy Klotz // Wikimedia Commons

Utah: Daggett County

 

2017 population estimate: 1,029

2010 census population: 1,059

Growth rate (since 2010): -2.83%

 

Though it’s very sparsely populated, Daggett County is overflowing with stunning natural beauty. The Uinta Mountains, the Green River, and the Flaming Gorge Canyon are all popular tourist destinations.

 

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Doug Kerr // Flickr

Vermont: Essex County

 

2017 population estimate: 6,230

2010 census population: 6,306

Growth rate (since 2010): -1.21%

 

This county in northeastern Vermont borders Canada to the north. It’s a humble and rural area with a median household income of just $39,467.

 

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Waldo Jaquith // Wikipedia

Virginia: Highland County

 

2017 population estimate: 2,212

2010 census population: 2,321

Growth rate (since 2010): -4.70%

 

Best known for the maple syrup industry and its annual Maple Festival in March, Highland County is a haven of peaceful country roads, beautiful sunsets, and gorgeous mountains.

 

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Daniel Case // Wikimedia Commons

Washington: Garfield County

 

2017 population estimate: 1,293

2010 census population: 1,206

Growth rate (since 2010): 7.21%

 

Named for President James Garfield, this county in southeastern Washington was established in 1881. Wheat, barley, and other grain farms occupy about two-thirds of the county land.  

 

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Mike // Flickr

West Virginia: Wirt County

 

2017 population estimate: 5,794

2010 census population: 5,717

Growth rate (since 2010): 1.35%

 

This county in West Virginia has just one high school, Wirt County High School. Only 9.7% of Wirt County residents go on to attain their bachelor’s degree.

 

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Wikimedia Commons

Wisconsin: Florence County

 

2017 population estimate: 4,371

2010 census population: 4,423

Growth rate (since 2010): -1.18%

 

This county sits on the Upper Peninsula near the Michigan border. About half of the county’s land is publicly owned to preserve the natural beauty of the county’s 265 lakes and 165 miles of rivers.

 

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Rolf Blauert // Wikipedia

Wyoming: Niobrara County

 

2017 population estimate: 2,397

2010 census population: 2,484

Growth rate (since 2010): -3.50%

 

Rolling plains watered by the Cheyenne River make up Niobrara County, an area once roamed by the Crow, Lakota Sioux, Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Pawnee tribes. Homesteaders attracted by the gold rush in the Black Hills, oil and gas, and the railroad became the first settlers.



 

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