California Counties Map

California is one of the biggest states in the US. It’s also one of the most populous, home to some of the biggest cities in the country like star-studded Los Angeles, sunny San Diego, and high-tech San Jose.

Known as “The Golden State” for the 1849 Gold Rush that brought miners from across the country, California is home to incredible landscapes, people, and cultures. It has been inhabited for thousands of years by diverse groups of people, and it is still full of life. 

There are 58 counties in California, 27 of which were the original counties formed when California became a state in 1850. In this post, we’ll look at a California Counties Map and will learn about what makes some of these counties unique.

California (CA) on the US Map

The State of California highlighted on the US map.
California highlighted on the US map.

Interactive Map of California Counties

Below is a map of the 58 counties of California (you can click on the map to enlarge it and to see the major city in each state).

A map showing the counties of California, each county is color-coded and labeled with its name.
California Counties Map

Interactive Map of California Counties

Click on any of the counties on the map to see its population, economic data, time zone, and zip code (the data will appear below the map). Data is sourced from the US Census 2021.

List of the Counties of California:

CountyPopulationPer sq. kmLargest City
Alameda County1,673,133875.98Oakland
Alpine County1,3440.7Mesa Vista
Amador County40,09526.04Ione
Butte County217,88451.41Chico
Calaveras County45,34917.17Rancho Calaveras
Colusa County21,7807.31Colusa
Contra Costa County1,161,643625.6Concord
Del Norte County27,65510.61Crescent City
El Dorado County190,56843.08El Dorado Hills
Fresno County1,003,15065Fresno
Glenn County28,6758.43Orland
Humboldt County137,01414.83Eureka
Imperial County180,05116.65El Centro
Inyo County18,8040.71Bishop
Kern County905,64442.99Bakersfield
Kings County151,88742.16Hanford
Lake County67,74920.82Clearlake
Lassen County32,9492.8Susanville
Los Angeles County10,019,635953.02Los Angeles
Madera County156,30428.24Madera
Marin County262,387194.67San Rafael
Mariposa County17,2254.59Lake Don Pedro
Mendocino County91,53410.08Ukiah
Merced County279,15055.61Merced
Modoc County8,7230.85Alturas
Mono County13,2911.68Mammoth Lakes
Monterey County438,95351.64Salinas
Napa County138,79571.62Napa
Nevada County102,09041.16Truckee
Orange County3,182,9231550.02Mission Viejo
Placer County400,330109.85Roseville
Plumas County19,6312.97East Quincy
Riverside County2,409,331129.03Riverside
Sacramento County1,571,767628.7Sacramento
San Benito County63,32917.61Hollister
San Bernardino County2,171,07141.77Victorville
San Diego County3,296,317302.29San Diego
San Francisco County865,9337126.6San Francisco
San Joaquin County771,406213.91Stockton
San Luis Obispo County282,77133.08El Paso de Robles
San Mateo County762,488656.23San Mateo
Santa Barbara County447,65163.22Santa Barbara
Santa Clara County1,932,022577.78San Jose
Santa Cruz County272,138236.06Santa Cruz
Shasta County181,93518.61Redding
Sierra County3,0791.25Loyalton
Siskiyou County44,1512.71Yreka
Solano County451,432212.09Vallejo
Sonoma County492,498120.68Santa Rosa
Stanislaus County550,842142.16Modesto
Sutter County99,08063.47Yuba City
Tehama County65,3458.55Red Bluff
Trinity County15,8181.92Weaverville
Tulare County470,99937.7Visalia
Tuolumne County55,2439.6Sonora
Ventura County845,255177.29Oxnard
Yolo County216,70382.45Davis
Yuba County80,40449.12Linda

Largest Counties in California by Population

Los Angeles County

People sit on the lawn at the Getty Museum on a sunny day in Los Angeles.
The Getty Museum in Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles County is the most populous county in both California and the United States, with a population that surpasses 10 million. It’s home to the city of Los Angeles, the county seat, which holds the distinction of being the second-largest city in the nation. 

The city of Los Angeles is globally recognized for its entertainment industry, especially Hollywood, which has earned it the moniker of the “Entertainment Capital of the World.” The county is also renowned for its rich mix of cultures, offering many different ethnic cuisines, art, and music scenes. 

Geographically, Los Angeles County enjoys diverse landscapes, from coastlines to mountainous regions. It is home to important educational institutions like the University of Southern California and cultural landmarks like the Getty Center, Griffith Observatory, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

San Diego County

A light mist covers the Terry Pine Beach at sunset in San Diego.
Sunset at Terry Pine Beach in San Diego, California

The second-most populous county in California is San Diego County, which lies at the southernmost edge of the state. There are over 3 million people that live here, and there are 18 Native American tribal reservations, the most of any county in the United States.

The county seat is the city of San Diego, the second-most populous city in the state and famous for its pleasant year-round climate, extensive beaches, and natural deep-water harbor in which the Port of San Diego was established in 1962.

San Diego County also stands out for its biotechnology and healthcare sectors. The county offers numerous outdoor recreational opportunities with places like Balboa Park and a myriad of stunning beaches. The county is also home to the San Diego Zoo, one of the largest zoos in the United States.

Cultural attractions include the USS Midway Museum and Old Town San Diego, which celebrate the region’s rich history.

Orange County

An aerial view of Dana Point in California’s Orange County.
Dana Point, California

Like San Diego County, California’s Orange County lies in the southern part of the state and also boasts a population of over 3 million. This county is perhaps best known for its affluent communities such as Newport Beach and Huntington Beach, as well as the city of Anaheim, where Disneyland Resort is located. 

Orange County’s economy is driven by industries such as technology, healthcare, and professional services. The county is also home to important educational institutions, including the University of California, Irvine, and Chapman University. 

The geography of the region is characterized by a beautiful Pacific coastline, complemented by a series of parks, trails, and recreational areas that are ideal for outdoor activities. Surfing is a popular activity in the waters off of the county’s sandy beaches.

Riverside County

A view of a street in historic downtown Riverside, California at sunset.
Historic downtown Riverside, California

Riverside County is California’s fourth-most populous county, situated inland from the coastal counties of the state. A key component of the “Inland Empire” region, the county is known for its desert communities like Palm Springs, a famous resort city offering a blend of natural beauty and architectural marvels. 

The county spreads across the southern part of California in a roughly rectangular shape, stretching from the greater Los Angeles area in the west to the Arizona border in the east. The central and eastern portions of the county are mostly desert, and the western portion has a Mediterranean climate.

The city of Riverside is the county seat, and was founded in 1870 along the Santa Ana River. The county was named after the city when it was later formed in 1893. Before the arrival of Europeans, the land had been inhabited by several Native American groups including the Serranos, the Luisenos, the Cupenos, the Chemehuevi, and the Cahuillas.

San Bernardino County

A view of the countryside from the San Bernardino Mountains on a clear day.
San Bernardino Mountains

San Bernardino County is the fifth-most populous county in California and the largest county in the contiguous United States by area, covering roughly the same amount of land as the state of West Virginia. Some boroughs and census areas of Alaska are larger.

The geography of this expansive county includes diverse landscapes, ranging from parts of the Mojave Desert to the San Bernardino Mountains. There are a multitude of outdoor activities available throughout the county, including camping, fishing, and hiking. Major cities in the county include San Bernardino, which is the county seat, and Ontario. 

Several groups of Indigenous peoples have resided in the San Bernardino Valley, San Bernardino Mountains, the Mojave Desert, and along the Colorado River long before the arrival of Europeans in the 18th century. These include the Serrano, Cahuilla, Chemehuevi, Kawaiisu, Mohave, and Maricopa peoples, among others.

Smallest Counties in California by Population

Alpine County

Markleeville Peak reflects in a nearby lake in Alpine County.
Markleeville Peak in Alpine County

With a population of only 1,344, Alpine County is the least populous county in California. It also has the lowest population density at just 0.7 people per square kilometer (0.27/mi2). Though it has a small population, the county’s location in the Sierra Nevada mountains gives it a big reputation for outdoor recreation.

Alpine’s county seat and largest community is Markleeville, a census-designated place that hosts the Alpine County Courthouse at Marklee’s Cabine Site, a historical landmark. In addition to the many high-quality hiking trails around Markleeville, it’s known for hosting the annual bicycle ride called Tour of the California Alps – Death Ride.

Alpine County was formed in 1864 from parts of Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Mono, and Tuolumne Counties in response to a rise in population caused by the Nevada Silver Rush. It was named for its location in the Sierra Nevada mountains, resembling the Swiss Alps.

Sierra County

A tree-covered hill sits behind buildings and the Yuba River in Sierra County, California.
Downieville and the Yuba River in Sierra County

Sierra County is tucked within the Sierra Nevada mountain range and is one of California’s least populous counties. The small population and surrounding natural beauty help to foster a close-knit community atmosphere in the county seat of Downieville and throughout the county.

The area of modern-day Sierra County has been inhabited for more than 5,000 years. Some of the Native Americans to live here before the arrival of American immigrants in 1844 were the Miwok tribe and the Washoe tribe. The county was formed from parts of Yuba County in 1852.

The forests, lakes, and mountains that populate Sierra County are perfect for outdoor pursuits, and history buffs will enjoy a visit to Downieville, which serves as a living museum of the Gold Rush Era. It also hosts the Downieville Classic mountain bike festival.

Modoc County

Mill Creek falls are surrounded by rocks and trees in Modoc County.
Mill Creek Falls in Modoc County

Located in the northeastern corner of California, Modoc County is a sparsely populated area known for its high desert landscapes and pine forests. The county seat is Alturas, which acts as a central hub for local ranching communities by providing necessary amenities. Alturas carries the motto, “Where the West Still Lives.”

Outside of Alturas, the rural expanse of Modoc County offers remarkable natural scenery. Most notably the Modoc National Forest and a part of the Warner Mountains, providing ample opportunities for outdoor exploration. 

Modoc County also has a rich Indigenous history. The county was incorporated in 1874 and was named after a Native American tribe that lived in the area.

Mono County

A small creek backed by mountains flows through Little Lakes Valley.
Little Lakes Valley in Mono County

Despite its small population, Mono County is a popular destination for those who enjoy nature and outdoor activities. The county was founded in 1861 and is named after Mono Lake, one of the oldest lakes in the Western Hemisphere. The county seat is the unincorporated community and census-designated place, Bridgeport.

Mammoth Lakes, the county’s largest community, is renowned for its world-class skiing resort, attracting winter sports enthusiasts from around the globe. Other outdoor attractions in the county include the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area and the eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park.

Mono County is also home to Bodie State Historic Park, which was established in 1962 and receives thousands of tourists each year. Bodie has been a ghost town for more than a century, previously a boom town after the discovery of gold in 1859.

Trinity County

A view of rolling hills and countryside in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.
Shasta-Trinity National Forest

Trinity County occupies a portion of California’s rugged northwestern area in the lower ranges of the Cascade Mountain Range. It’s primarily forested, featuring significant portions of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, in which outdoor activities such as hiking, backpacking, mountain climbing, and horseback riding are possible.

The county is named after the Trinity River, which flows through it, and was incorporated in 1850. The county seat and largest community is the census-designated place of Weaverville, a historic California Gold Rush town located at the foot of the Trinity Alps Wilderness Area.

Along with Alpine and Mariposa counties, Trinity County is one of three counties in California with no incorporated cities.

Notable California Counties

San Francisco County

The Golden Gate Bridge can be seen between buildings from San Francisco’s financial district.
San Francisco, California

San Francisco County is the only consolidated city-county in California, meaning it’s governed as both a city and county. It’s also the smallest county in the state by area and has the highest population density.

Known for its iconic landmarks and vibrant cultural scene, San Francisco County has a distinct identity. The Golden Gate Bridge and Park, Alcatraz Island, and Fisherman’s Wharf are just a few highlights that attract millions of tourists annually. It was also the birthplace of the 1960s counterculture movement and has a prominent LGBTQI+ community.

Economically, San Francisco County serves as a major global hub for high-tech and digital industries. It’s home to countless tech companies, including Salesforce and Uber. This economic prosperity continues to draw a young, educated workforce to the city.

Sacramento County

The yellow Tower Bridge stretches across the water in Sacramento, California on a sunny day.
Tower Bridge in Sacramento, California

The city of Sacramento, which is the county seat of the eponymous county, is also the capital of the state of California, making Sacramento County the political hub of the state. It is one of the original 27 counties formed in 1850 and is known as the “City of Trees” for its many green spaces.

The city of Sacramento is full of history, it’s home to the historic Sutter’s Fort, the homeland of the Nisenan people, and the first European colonial settlement in California’s Central Valley. The city is also home to Old Sacramento, a 296-acre district with museums and buildings from the 1850s and 1860s.

The economy of Sacramento County is dominated by the government sector due to its status as the state capital, but it also has significant healthcare, education, and technology sectors. 

Santa Clara County

Colorful bicycles are parked outside of the Google headquarters in Mountain View, California.
Google headquarters in Mountain View, California

Known as “Silicon Valley,” Santa Clara County is globally recognized as a hub for technology and innovation. The county’s cities of San Jose, Mountain View, and Palo Alto are home to many major tech companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook. In 2015, the area had the third-highest GDP per capita in the world

San Jose is the county seat and largest city in Santa Clara County. It is the largest city in Northern California by population and area, and it’s the third-most populous in the state after Los Angeles and San Diego. 

Santa Clara County was one of the original counties of California, formed at the time of statehood in 1850. The area was originally inhabited by the Ohlone, who subsisted by hunting, gathering, and harvesting.

More About California Counties

In which county is Silicon Valley?

Santa Clara County is commonly referred to as Silicon Valley because it is home to many high-tech companies and startups.

Which California county is most famous for wine production?

Napa County is globally renowned for its wine production, with a high concentration of world-class wineries and vineyards.

What is the poorest county in California?

Northern California’s Trinity County ranks as the poorest in the state with a typical household income of just over $40,000 per year.

Where is the most expensive place to live in California?

The most expensive places to live in California are Los Altos and Los Altos Hills. These are located in Santa Clara’s Silicon Valley, housing some of the most affluent business people in the area. 

What county is Yosemite National Park located in?

Yosemite National Park is located in parts of Mariposa, Tuolumne, and Madera counties. 

Image Sources and Copyright Information
  • Sunny Day at an Outdoor Cultural Venue Overlooking Los Angeles: © Hit1912/Shutterstock
  • Golden Sunset Overlooking a Serene Beach with Coastal Cliffs and Palm Trees: © Jason George/Shutterstock
  • Aerial View of Dana Point, Orange County, California Coastline: © beach Media/Shutterstock
  • Aerial View of a Historic Downtown at Sunset: © Matt Gush/Shutterstock
  • Breathtaking Panoramic View of the San Bernardino Mountains: © Wisarut Charuchaisittikul/Shutterstock
  • Serene Alpine Landscape with Snow-Covered Peak and Reflection in a Mountain Lake: © Trevor Bexon/Shutterstock
  • Scenic View of the Yuba River Flowing Through Downieville in California’s Gold Country: © Hank Shiffman/Shutterstock
  • Serene Waterfall in a Lush Forest Setting: © Michael Lee/Shutterstock
  • Serene Creek Flowing Through a Meadow with Snow-Capped Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains in the Background: © melissamn/Shutterstock
  • Sunset Over Shasta-Trinity National Forest in Northern California: © Zack Frank/Shutterstock
  • Iconic View of San Francisco Street with Bay Bridge in the Distance at Dusk: © SvetlanaSF/Shutterstock
  • Aerial View of the Iconic Yellow Tower Bridge in Sacramento, California on a Sunny Day: © Rich Lonardo
  • Colorful Bicycles Lined Up in Front of Google Headquarters Building: © Uladzik Kryhin/Shutterstock