Most rural counties in Illinois

Written by:
July 25, 2022
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Most rural counties in Illinois

A surprising number of U.S. counties have 100% rural land-702, in fact. Stacker compiled a list of the most rural counties in Illinois using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Counties are ranked by the percent of land area that is rural, as of the 2010 Census, with ties broken by residents per square mile, according to 2020 5-year population estimates.

According to the Census Bureau, rural land encompasses any land that isn't an urban area. To be considered an urban area, a place has to have a densely settled core of census tracts or blocks and count at least 2,500 people, at least 1,500 of whom must be residents of non-institutional buildings. Areas with 50,000 people or more are considered urbanized areas, while areas with between 2,500 and 50,000 people are considered urban clusters.

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#50. Lee County

- Rural area: 98.6% (715 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.4% (10 square miles)
- Total land area: 725 square miles
--- #19 largest county in state, #1,225 nationwide

- Population density: 47.2 people / square mile (34,204 residents)
--- #54 lowest density county in state, #1,632 nationwide

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#49. Bureau County

- Rural area: 98.8% (858 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.3% (11 square miles)
- Total land area: 869 square miles
--- #8 largest county in state, #941 nationwide

- Population density: 37.8 people / square mile (32,878 residents)
--- #40 lowest density county in state, #1,417 nationwide

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#48. Macoupin County

- Rural area: 98.8% (852 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.2% (11 square miles)
- Total land area: 863 square miles
--- #11 largest county in state, #956 nationwide

- Population density: 52.4 people / square mile (45,243 residents)
--- #58 lowest density county in state, #1,731 nationwide

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#47. Crawford County

- Rural area: 98.8% (438 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.2% (5 square miles)
- Total land area: 444 square miles
--- #62 largest county in state, #2,292 nationwide

- Population density: 42.5 people / square mile (18,833 residents)
--- #46 lowest density county in state, #1,525 nationwide

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#46. De Witt County

- Rural area: 98.9% (393 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.1% (4 square miles)
- Total land area: 398 square miles
--- #73 largest county in state, #2,537 nationwide

- Population density: 39.7 people / square mile (15,764 residents)
--- #42 lowest density county in state, #1,464 nationwide

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IvoShandor // Wikimedia Commons

#45. Livingston County

- Rural area: 98.9% (1,033 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.1% (11 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,044 square miles
--- #4 largest county in state, #626 nationwide

- Population density: 34.2 people / square mile (35,757 residents)
--- #35 lowest density county in state, #1,324 nationwide

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#44. Douglas County

- Rural area: 99.0% (412 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.0% (4 square miles)
- Total land area: 417 square miles
--- #70 largest county in state, #2,423 nationwide

- Population density: 46.9 people / square mile (19,551 residents)
--- #53 lowest density county in state, #1,626 nationwide

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#43. Alexander County

- Rural area: 99.0% (233 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.0% (2 square miles)
- Total land area: 236 square miles
--- #97 largest county in state, #2,936 nationwide

- Population density: 25.5 people / square mile (6,011 residents)
--- #19 lowest density county in state, #1,087 nationwide

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#42. Union County

- Rural area: 99.0% (409 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.0% (4 square miles)
- Total land area: 413 square miles
--- #71 largest county in state, #2,446 nationwide

- Population density: 40.7 people / square mile (16,829 residents)
--- #45 lowest density county in state, #1,488 nationwide

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#41. Moultrie County

- Rural area: 99.1% (333 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.0% (3 square miles)
- Total land area: 336 square miles
--- #86 largest county in state, #2,722 nationwide

- Population density: 43.3 people / square mile (14,557 residents)
--- #48 lowest density county in state, #1,545 nationwide

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#40. Bond County

- Rural area: 99.1% (377 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.9% (3 square miles)
- Total land area: 380 square miles
--- #76 largest county in state, #2,602 nationwide

- Population density: 43.4 people / square mile (16,520 residents)
--- #49 lowest density county in state, #1,547 nationwide

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#39. Jo Daviess County

- Rural area: 99.1% (596 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.9% (5 square miles)
- Total land area: 601 square miles
--- #35 largest county in state, #1,623 nationwide

- Population density: 35.7 people / square mile (21,429 residents)
--- #36 lowest density county in state, #1,355 nationwide

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#38. Ford County

- Rural area: 99.2% (482 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.8% (4 square miles)
- Total land area: 486 square miles
--- #56 largest county in state, #2,137 nationwide

- Population density: 27.1 people / square mile (13,155 residents)
--- #20 lowest density county in state, #1,126 nationwide

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#37. Clark County

- Rural area: 99.2% (497 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.8% (4 square miles)
- Total land area: 501 square miles
--- #53 largest county in state, #2,074 nationwide

- Population density: 31.1 people / square mile (15,602 residents)
--- #30 lowest density county in state, #1,242 nationwide

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#36. Piatt County

- Rural area: 99.2% (436 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.8% (3 square miles)
- Total land area: 439 square miles
--- #64 largest county in state, #2,308 nationwide

- Population density: 37.4 people / square mile (16,412 residents)
--- #39 lowest density county in state, #1,406 nationwide

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#35. Menard County

- Rural area: 99.2% (312 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.8% (2 square miles)
- Total land area: 314 square miles
--- #90 largest county in state, #2,774 nationwide

- Population density: 39.0 people / square mile (12,261 residents)
--- #41 lowest density county in state, #1,454 nationwide

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#34. Cass County

- Rural area: 99.2% (373 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.8% (3 square miles)
- Total land area: 376 square miles
--- #79 largest county in state, #2,617 nationwide

- Population density: 32.8 people / square mile (12,324 residents)
--- #34 lowest density county in state, #1,291 nationwide

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#33. Edgar County

- Rural area: 99.2% (619 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.8% (5 square miles)
- Total land area: 623 square miles
--- #31 largest county in state, #1,547 nationwide

- Population density: 27.7 people / square mile (17,272 residents)
--- #23 lowest density county in state, #1,146 nationwide

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#32. Fulton County

- Rural area: 99.3% (859 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.8% (6 square miles)
- Total land area: 866 square miles
--- #10 largest county in state, #952 nationwide

- Population density: 40.0 people / square mile (34,654 residents)
--- #43 lowest density county in state, #1,468 nationwide

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#31. Warren County

- Rural area: 99.3% (539 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.7% (4 square miles)
- Total land area: 542 square miles
--- #47 largest county in state, #1,924 nationwide

- Population density: 31.3 people / square mile (16,981 residents)
--- #32 lowest density county in state, #1,251 nationwide

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#30. Fayette County

- Rural area: 99.4% (712 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.6% (4 square miles)
- Total land area: 716 square miles
--- #20 largest county in state, #1,262 nationwide

- Population density: 29.9 people / square mile (21,418 residents)
--- #29 lowest density county in state, #1,211 nationwide

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Mrostrichman // Wikimedia Commons

#29. Washington County

- Rural area: 99.4% (559 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.6% (3 square miles)
- Total land area: 563 square miles
--- #44 largest county in state, #1,839 nationwide

- Population density: 24.8 people / square mile (13,967 residents)
--- #17 lowest density county in state, #1,059 nationwide

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Calvin Beale // Wikimedia Commons

#28. Iroquois County

- Rural area: 99.5% (1,111 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.5% (6 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,117 square miles
--- #3 largest county in state, #564 nationwide

- Population density: 24.6 people / square mile (27,437 residents)
--- #16 lowest density county in state, #1,054 nationwide

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#27. White County

- Rural area: 99.5% (492 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.5% (2 square miles)
- Total land area: 495 square miles
--- #54 largest county in state, #2,105 nationwide

- Population density: 27.7 people / square mile (13,712 residents)
--- #24 lowest density county in state, #1,147 nationwide

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#26. Hancock County

- Rural area: 99.5% (790 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.5% (4 square miles)
- Total land area: 794 square miles
--- #16 largest county in state, #1,080 nationwide

- Population density: 22.5 people / square mile (17,820 residents)
--- #13 lowest density county in state, #976 nationwide

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#25. Clay County

- Rural area: 99.5% (466 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.5% (2 square miles)
- Total land area: 468 square miles
--- #59 largest county in state, #2,200 nationwide

- Population density: 28.2 people / square mile (13,217 residents)
--- #25 lowest density county in state, #1,161 nationwide

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#24. Brown County

- Rural area: 99.5% (304 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.5% (1 square miles)
- Total land area: 306 square miles
--- #91 largest county in state, #2,797 nationwide

- Population density: 21.6 people / square mile (6,599 residents)
--- #11 lowest density county in state, #946 nationwide

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#23. Jasper County

- Rural area: 99.5% (492 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.5% (2 square miles)
- Total land area: 495 square miles
--- #55 largest county in state, #2,106 nationwide

- Population density: 19.3 people / square mile (9,547 residents)
--- #9 lowest density county in state, #863 nationwide

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#22. Mason County

- Rural area: 99.6% (537 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.4% (2 square miles)
- Total land area: 539 square miles
--- #48 largest county in state, #1,940 nationwide

- Population density: 25.0 people / square mile (13,486 residents)
--- #18 lowest density county in state, #1,067 nationwide

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#21. Shelby County

- Rural area: 99.6% (756 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.4% (3 square miles)
- Total land area: 759 square miles
--- #18 largest county in state, #1,156 nationwide

- Population density: 28.5 people / square mile (21,623 residents)
--- #26 lowest density county in state, #1,171 nationwide

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Boscophotos // Wikimedia Commons

#20. Mercer County

- Rural area: 99.6% (559 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.4% (2 square miles)
- Total land area: 561 square miles
--- #45 largest county in state, #1,846 nationwide

- Population density: 27.6 people / square mile (15,503 residents)
--- #22 lowest density county in state, #1,139 nationwide

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Boscophotos // Wikimedia Commons

#19. Greene County

- Rural area: 99.6% (541 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.4% (2 square miles)
- Total land area: 543 square miles
--- #46 largest county in state, #1,920 nationwide

- Population density: 23.9 people / square mile (12,988 residents)
--- #15 lowest density county in state, #1,038 nationwide

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#18. Wayne County

- Rural area: 99.6% (711 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.4% (3 square miles)
- Total land area: 714 square miles
--- #23 largest county in state, #1,279 nationwide

- Population density: 22.8 people / square mile (16,309 residents)
--- #14 lowest density county in state, #995 nationwide

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Visviva // Wikimedia Commons

#17. Carroll County

- Rural area: 99.7% (443 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.3% (1 square miles)
- Total land area: 445 square miles
--- #60 largest county in state, #2,288 nationwide

- Population density: 32.4 people / square mile (14,398 residents)
--- #33 lowest density county in state, #1,284 nationwide

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TheCatalyst31 // Wikimedia Commons

#16. Hamilton County

- Rural area: 99.7% (433 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.3% (1 square miles)
- Total land area: 435 square miles
--- #66 largest county in state, #2,333 nationwide

- Population density: 18.8 people / square mile (8,151 residents)
--- #7 lowest density county in state, #850 nationwide

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Mingusboodle // Wikimedia Commons

#15. Pike County

- Rural area: 99.7% (829 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.3% (3 square miles)
- Total land area: 831 square miles
--- #14 largest county in state, #1,011 nationwide

- Population density: 18.7 people / square mile (15,571 residents)
--- #6 lowest density county in state, #847 nationwide

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#14. Schuyler County

- Rural area: 99.7% (436 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.3% (1 square miles)
- Total land area: 437 square miles
--- #65 largest county in state, #2,317 nationwide

- Population density: 15.8 people / square mile (6,897 residents)
--- #3 lowest density county in state, #761 nationwide

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#13. Henderson County

- Rural area: 100.0% (379 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 379 square miles
--- #78 largest county in state, #2,607 nationwide

- Population density: 17.8 people / square mile (6,737 residents)
--- #4 lowest density county in state, #820 nationwide

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#12. Johnson County

- Rural area: 100.0% (344 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 344 square miles
--- #85 largest county in state, #2,698 nationwide

- Population density: 36.0 people / square mile (12,391 residents)
--- #38 lowest density county in state, #1,370 nationwide

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#11. Putnam County

- Rural area: 100.0% (160 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 160 square miles
--- #102 largest county in state, #3,052 nationwide

- Population density: 35.7 people / square mile (5,720 residents)
--- #37 lowest density county in state, #1,360 nationwide

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MattHucke // Wikimedia Commons

#10. Cumberland County

- Rural area: 100.0% (346 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 346 square miles
--- #84 largest county in state, #2,689 nationwide

- Population density: 31.2 people / square mile (10,787 residents)
--- #31 lowest density county in state, #1,246 nationwide

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ProfDEH // Wikimedia Commons

#9. Marshall County

- Rural area: 100.0% (387 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 387 square miles
--- #74 largest county in state, #2,579 nationwide

- Population density: 29.9 people / square mile (11,562 residents)
--- #28 lowest density county in state, #1,210 nationwide

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#8. Edwards County

- Rural area: 100.0% (222 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 222 square miles
--- #99 largest county in state, #2,964 nationwide

- Population density: 28.9 people / square mile (6,431 residents)
--- #27 lowest density county in state, #1,183 nationwide

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#7. Pulaski County

- Rural area: 100.0% (199 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 199 square miles
--- #100 largest county in state, #2,997 nationwide

- Population density: 27.2 people / square mile (5,414 residents)
--- #21 lowest density county in state, #1,127 nationwide

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Daniel Schwen // Wikimedia Commons

#6. Hardin County

- Rural area: 100.0% (178 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 178 square miles
--- #101 largest county in state, #3,032 nationwide

- Population density: 21.9 people / square mile (3,890 residents)
--- #12 lowest density county in state, #959 nationwide

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#5. Scott County

- Rural area: 100.0% (251 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 251 square miles
--- #95 largest county in state, #2,909 nationwide

- Population density: 19.9 people / square mile (4,982 residents)
--- #10 lowest density county in state, #890 nationwide

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#4. Calhoun County

- Rural area: 100.0% (254 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 254 square miles
--- #94 largest county in state, #2,898 nationwide

- Population density: 18.8 people / square mile (4,782 residents)
--- #8 lowest density county in state, #854 nationwide

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#3. Stark County

- Rural area: 100.0% (288 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 288 square miles
--- #92 largest county in state, #2,826 nationwide

- Population density: 18.7 people / square mile (5,393 residents)
--- #5 lowest density county in state, #846 nationwide

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#2. Gallatin County

- Rural area: 100.0% (323 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 323 square miles
--- #88 largest county in state, #2,753 nationwide

- Population density: 15.4 people / square mile (4,983 residents)
--- #2 lowest density county in state, #751 nationwide

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#1. Pope County

- Rural area: 100.0% (369 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 369 square miles
--- #82 largest county in state, #2,635 nationwide

- Population density: 11.3 people / square mile (4,177 residents)
--- #1 lowest density county in state, #615 nationwide

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