Los Angeles County, officially the County of Los Angeles, is the most populous county in the United States, with more than 10 million inhabitants as of 2017. Its population is larger than that of 41 individual U.S. states. It is the third-largest metropolitan economy in the world, with a GDP of over $700 billion — larger than the GDPs of Belgium, Saudi Arabia, Norway and Taiwan. 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, 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 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.
|U.S. Decennial Census
|Population, race, and income (2011)|
|Black or African American||844,048||8.6%|
|American Indian or Alaska Native||49,329||0.5%|
|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.
At the census of 2000, there were 9,519,338 people, 3,133,774 households, and 2,137,233 families residing in the county. The population density was 2,344 people per square mile (905/km2). There were 3,270,909 housing units at an average density of 806 per square mile (311/km2).
There were 3,133,774 households out of which 37% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48% were married couples living together, 15% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32% were non-families. 25% of all households were made up of individuals and 7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.98 and the average family size was 3.61.
In the county, the population was spread out with 28% under the age of 18, 10% from 18 to 24, 33% from 25 to 44, 19% from 45 to 64, and 10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 97.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.0 males.
The median personal earnings for all workers 16 and older in Los Angeles County are $30,654, slightly below the US median; earnings, however vary widely by neighborhood, race and ethnicity, and gender. The median income for a household in the county was $42,189, and the median income for a family was $46,452. Males had a median income of $36,299 versus $30,981 for females. The per capita income for the county was $20,683. There are 14.4% of families living below the poverty line and 17.9% of the population, including 24.2% of under 18 and 10.5% of those over 64. Los Angeles County has the highest number of millionaires of any county in the nation, totaling 261,081 households as of 2007.
The homeownership rate is 47.9%, and the median value for houses is $409,300. 42.2% of housing units are in multi-unit structures. Los Angeles County has the largest number of homeless people, with "48,000 people living on the streets, including 6,000 veterans."
In 2000, there were hundreds of Christian churches, 202 Jewish synagogues, 145 Buddhist temples, 48 Muslim mosques, 44 Bahai worship centers, 37 Hindu mandirs, 28 Tenrikyo churches and fellowships, 16 Shinto worship centers, and 14 Sikh gurdwaras in the county. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles has approximately 5 million members and is the largest diocese in the United States.
The Government of Los Angeles County is defined and authorized under the California Constitution, California law and the Charter of the County of Los Angeles. Much of the Government of California is in practice the responsibility of local governments such as the Government of Los Angeles County.
The county's voters elect a governing five-member Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. The small size of the board means each supervisor represents over 2 million people. The board operates in a legislative, executive, and quasi-judicial capacity. As a legislative authority, it can pass ordinances for the unincorporated areas (ordinances that affect the whole county, like posting of restaurant ratings, must be ratified by the individual city). As an executive body, it can tell the county departments what to do, and how to do it. As a quasi-judicial body, the Board is the final venue of appeal in the local planning process, and holds public hearings on various agenda items.
As of 2008, the Board of Supervisors oversees a $22.5 billion annual budget and approximately 100,000 employees. The county government is managed on a day-to-day basis by a Chief Executive Officer and is organized into many departments, each of which is enormous in comparison to equivalent county-level (and even many state-level) departments anywhere else in the United States. Some of the larger or better-known departments include:
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, despite its name, is not a County department. Technically it is a state-mandated county transportation commission that also operates bus and rail.
|2016||22.41% 769,743||71.76% 2,464,364||5.83% 200,201|
|2012||27.83% 885,333||69.69% 2,216,903||2.48% 78,831|
|2008||28.82% 956,425||69.19% 2,295,853||1.99% 65,970|
|2004||35.60% 1,076,225||63.10% 1,907,736||1.30% 39,319|
|2000||32.35% 871,930||63.47% 1,710,505||4.19% 112,719|
|1996||30.96% 746,544||59.34% 1,430,629||9.70% 233,841|
|1992||29.04% 799,607||52.54% 1,446,529||18.43% 507,267|
|1988||46.88% 1,239,716||51.89% 1,372,352||1.23% 32,603|
|1984||54.50% 1,424,113||44.35% 1,158,912||1.14% 29,889|
|1980||50.18% 1,224,533||40.15% 979,830||9.67% 235,822|
|1976||47.78% 1,174,926||49.69% 1,221,893||2.53% 62,258|
|1972||54.75% 1,549,717||42.04% 1,189,977||3.20% 90,676|
|1968||47.65% 1,266,480||46.02% 1,223,251||6.33% 168,251|
|1964||42.52% 1,161,067||57.43% 1,568,300||0.06% 1,551|
|1960||49.45% 1,302,661||50.25% 1,323,818||0.30% 8,020|
|1956||55.38% 1,260,206||44.29% 1,007,887||0.32% 7,331|
|1952||56.21% 1,278,407||42.71% 971,408||1.09% 24,725|
|1948||46.51% 804,232||47.00% 812,690||6.48% 112,160|
|1944||42.68% 666,441||56.75% 886,252||0.57% 8,871|
|1940||40.58% 574,266||58.13% 822,718||1.29% 18,285|
|1936||31.62% 357,401||67.00% 757,351||1.39% 15,663|
|1932||38.55% 373,738||57.19% 554,476||4.27% 41,380|
|1928||70.22% 513,526||28.71% 209,945||1.07% 7,830|
|1924||65.51% 299,675||7.33% 33,554||27.16% 124,228|
|1920||69.10% 178,117||21.59% 55,661||9.31% 23,992|
|1916||50.59% 135,554||42.58% 114,070||6.83% 18,297|
|1912||1.32% 2,181||33.34% 55,110||65.34% 108,005|
|1908||56.77% 41,483||30.21% 22,076||13.02% 9,518|
|1904||66.50% 32,507||20.52% 10,030||12.98% 6,346|
|1900||55.10% 19,200||37.76% 13,158||7.15% 2,490|
|1896||49.62% 16,891||47.13% 16,043||3.25% 1,108|
|1892||44.89% 10,226||35.64% 8,119||19.47% 4,434|
|Population and registered voters|
|Registered voters[note 1]||4,865,403||49.7%|
|Peace and Freedom||24,950||0.5%|
|No party preference||881,307||18.1%|
Los Angeles County has voted for the Democratic candidate in most of the presidential elections in the past four decades, and has gone Democratic in every election since 1988. However, it did vote twice for Dwight Eisenhower (1952, 1956), Richard Nixon (1968, 1972), and Ronald Reagan (1980, 1984) the latter two of whom were Californians. From 1920 to 1984 it was a bellwether county that always voted for the eventual national winner. It voted against the national popular vote winner in 1988 and 2004. In 2008 and 2012 approximately 69% of the electorate voted for Democrat Barack Obama. In 2016, Democrat Hillary Clinton won 71% of the vote, marking the largest percentage of the electorate ever won by a single candidate in the county.
In the United States House of Representatives, Los Angeles County is split between 18 congressional districts: In the California State Senate, Los Angeles County is split between 15 legislative districts: In the California State Assembly, Los Angeles County is split between 24 legislative districts:
On November 4, 2008, Los Angeles County was almost evenly split over Proposition 8 which amended the California Constitution to ban same-sex marriages. The county voted for the amendment 50.1% with a margin of 2,385 votes.
The Los Angeles Superior Court, is the county's court of general jurisdiction, while the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California may hear cases where federal jurisdiction is present. Both are headquartered in a large cluster of government buildings in the city's Civic Center.
Historically, the courthouses were county-owned buildings that were maintained at county expense, which created significant friction since the trial court judges, as officials of the state government, had to lobby the county Board of Supervisors for facility renovations and upgrades. In turn, the state judiciary successfully persuaded the state Legislature to authorize the transfer of all courthouses to the state government in 2008 and 2009 (so that judges would have direct control over their own courthouses). Courthouse security is still provided by the county government under a contract with the state.
Unlike the largest city in the United States, New York City, all of the city of Los Angeles and most of its important suburbs are located within a single county. As a result, both the county superior court and the federal district court are respectively the busiest courts of their type in the nation.
Many celebrities like O. J. Simpson have been seen in Los Angeles courts. In 2003, the television show Extra (based in nearby Glendale) found itself running so many reports on the legal problems of local celebrities that it spun them off into a separate show, Celebrity Justice.
State cases are appealed to the Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District, which is also headquartered in the Civic Center, and then to the California Supreme Court, which is headquartered in San Francisco but also hears argument in Los Angeles (again, in the Civic Center). Federal cases are appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which hears them at its branch building in Pasadena. The court of last resort for federal cases is the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.
The following table includes the number of incidents reported and the rate per 1,000 persons for each type of offense.
|Population and crime rates|
|Motor vehicle theft||46,710||4.77|
|Cities by population and crime rates|
|City||Population||Violent crimes||Violent crime rate
per 1,000 persons
|Property crimes||Property crime rate
per 1,000 persons
|La Canada Flintridge||20,584||12||0.58||324||15.74|
|La Habra Heights||5,413||6||1.11||44||8.13|
|Palos Verdes Estates||13,661||6||0.44||136||9.96|
|Rancho Palos Verdes||42,335||35||0.83||498||11.76|
|Rolling Hills Estates||8,202||9||1.10||129||15.73|
|Santa Fe Springs||16,492||99||6.00||1,272||77.13|
|South El Monte||20,452||88||4.30||399||19.51|
Crime in 2008 (reported by the sheriff's office or police)
Crime in 2013
Los Angeles County is commonly associated with the entertainment and digital media industry; all six major film studios—Paramount Pictures, 21st Century Fox, Sony, Warner Bros., Universal Pictures, and Walt Disney Studios—are located within the county. Numerous other major industries also define the economy of Los Angeles County, including international trade supported by the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach, music recording and production, aerospace and defense, fashion, and professional services such as law, medicine, engineering and design services, financial services and more. High-tech sector employment within Los Angeles County is 368,500 workers, and manufacturing employment within Los Angeles County is 365,000 workers.
The following major companies have headquarters in Los Angeles County:
The Los Angeles County Office of Education provides a supporting role for school districts in the area. The county office also operates two magnet schools, the International Polytechnic High School and Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. There are a number of private schools in the county, most notably those operated by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese.
The county's most visited park is Griffith Park, owned by the city of Los Angeles. The county is also known for the annual Rose Parade in Pasadena, the annual Los Angeles County Fair in Pomona, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Los Angeles Zoo, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, the La Brea Tar Pits, the Arboretum of Los Angeles, and two horse racetracks and two car racetracks (Pomona Raceway and Irwindale Speedway), also the RMS Queen Mary located in Long Beach, and the Long Beach Grand Prix, and miles of beaches—from Zuma to Cabrillo.
Venice Beach is a popular attraction where its Muscle Beach used to find throngs of tourists admiring "hardbodies". Today, it is more arts-centered. Santa Monica's pier is a well known tourist spot, famous for its ferris wheel and bumper car rides, which were featured in the introductory segment of the television sitcom Three's Company. Further north in Pacific Palisades one finds the beaches used in the television series Baywatch. The fabled Malibu, home of many a film or television star, lies west of it.
In the mountain, canyon, and desert areas one may find Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park, where many old Westerns were filmed. Mount Wilson Observatory in the San Gabriel Mountains is open for the public to view astronomical stars from its telescope, now computer-assisted. Many county residents find relaxation in water skiing and swimming at Castaic Lake Recreation Area – the county's largest park by area – as well as enjoying natural surroundings and starry nights at Saddleback Butte State Park in the eastern Antelope Valley – California State Parks' largest in area within the county. The California Poppy Reserve is located in the western Antelope Valley and shows off the State's flower in great quantity on its rolling hills every spring.
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), located in the Westchester district, is the primary commercial airport for commercial airlines in the county and the Greater Los Angeles Area. LAX is operated by Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), an agency of the City of Los Angeles.
Other important commercial airports in Los Angeles County include:
The following general aviation airports also are located in Los Angeles County:
The U.S. Air Force operates three airports in Los Angeles County:
Los Angeles is a major freight-railroad transportation center, largely due to the large volumes of freight moving in and out of the county's sea port facilities. The ports are connected to the downtown rail yards and to the main lines of Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe headed east via a grade-separated, freight rail corridor known as the Alameda Corridor.
Amtrak has the following intercity Amtrak service at Union Station in the city of Los Angeles:
Union Station is also the primary hub for Metrolink commuter rail, which serves much of the Greater Los Angeles Area.
Light rail, subway (heavy rail), and long-distance bus service are all provided by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro).
The county's two main seaports are the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach. Together they handle over a quarter of all container traffic entering the United States, making the complex the largest and most important port in the country, and the third-largest port in the world by shipping volume.
The Port of Los Angeles is the largest cruise ship center on the West Coast, handling more than 1 million passengers annually.
The Port of Long Beach is home to the Sea Launch program, which uses a floating launch platform to insert payloads into orbits that would be difficult to attain from existing land-based launch sites.
There are 88 incorporated cities in Los Angeles County. According to the 2016 Estimate, the most populous are:
† county seat
|Rank||City/Town/etc.||Municipal type||Population (2010 Census)|
|1||† Los Angeles||City||3,792,621|
|10||East Los Angeles||CDP||126,496|
|49||Rancho Palos Verdes||City||41,643|
|68||West Whittier-Los Nietos||CDP||25,540|
|74||West Puente Valley||CDP||22,636|
|77||South San Jose Hills||CDP||20,551|
|80||La Cañada Flintridge||City||20,246|
|81||South El Monte||City||20,116|
|88||Santa Fe Springs||City||16,223|
|92||East Rancho Dominguez||CDP||15,135|
|93||East San Gabriel||CDP||14,874|
|95||Palos Verdes Estates||City||13,438|
|99||Lake Los Angeles||CDP||12,328|
|101||View Park-Windsor Hills||CDP||11,075|
|107||East Whittier (formerly East La Mirada until 2012)||CDP||9,757|
|109||Marina del Rey||CDP||8,866|
|114||South San Gabriel||CDP||8,070|
|115||Rolling Hills Estates||City||8,067|
|117||South Monrovia Island||CDP||6,777|
|120||West Rancho Dominguez||CDP||5,669|
|122||La Habra Heights||City||5,325|
|124||North El Monte||CDP||3,723|
|128||Desert View Highlands||CDP||2,360|
|138||Santa Susana (mostly in Ventura County)||CDP||1,037|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Los Angeles County, California.|
|Wikisource has the text of an 1879 American Cyclopædia article about Los Angeles County, California.|