Largest Counties in the US

Quote of the Day

I don’t see why in Hell Roosevelt didn’t order Wainwright home and let MacArthur be a martyr … We’d have had a real General and a fighting man if we had Wainwright and not a play actor and bunco man such as we have now. Don’t see how a country can produce men as Robert E. Lee, John J. Pershing, Eisenhower, and Bradley and at the same time produce Custers, Pattons, and MacArthurs.

Harry S. Truman, Diary Entry – June 17, 1945. I have read everything I could find on MacArthur. I will never understand how a man like that rises to power.


Figure 1: Itasca County in Northern Minnesota.

Figure 1: Itasca County in Northern Minnesota.

I am currently building a retirement home in Itasca County, Minnesota. While at the construction site, I spoke with a sheriff's deputy about law enforcement coverage for my area. He told me that there were only two deputies on duty at night covering an area larger than the state of Delaware. He also said that if the deputies are tied up in the southern part of the county it can take a while for them to get to my place, which is in the the northern part of the county.  I had never thought about the size of the counties in northern Minnesota, but there are some large pieces of real estate there.

I became curious about the size of the largest counties (and county-like entities) in the United States and how they compare in size to the various states. I found county size data on the Census Bureau web site and state size data on the Wikipedia. It turns out that while some of the counties in Minnesota are large, they are dwarfed by the size of counties in the western states – Alaska in particular has some monster counties. Itasca County is 189th largest in the US. So while I think of it as big, there are many larger counties. For those who are interested, my analysis is in this workbook.

Figure 2 shows the states closest in area to the 25 largest counties by total area (i.e. land and water).

Figure 2: List of 25 Largest Counties by Total Area and the State Nearest in Area.

Figure 2: List of 25 Largest Counties by Total Area and the State Nearest in Area.

Figure 3 shows how many states are smaller than these counties. For an international comparison,  Yukon-Koyukuk, AK is larger in area than Germany (137,983 mi²). Figure 4 shows the size of Yukon-Koyukuk relative to the rest of Alaska.

Figure 3: Number Of States Smaller Than Specific Counties.

Figure 3: Number Of States Smaller Than Specific Counties.

Figure 4: Yukon-Koyukok Borough in Alaska.

Figure 4: Yukon-Koyukuk Borough in Alaska. (Source)

 
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