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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.