Most rural counties in Massachusetts

Written by:
May 2, 2022
Protophobic // Wikimedia Commons

Most rural counties in Massachusetts

A surprising number of U.S. counties have 100% rural land-702, in fact. Stacker compiled a list of the most rural counties in Massachusetts 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 2019 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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#14. Suffolk County

- Rural area: 1.6% (1 square miles)
- Urban area: 98.4% (57 square miles)
- Total land area: 58 square miles
--- #13 largest county in state, #3,100 nationwide

- Population density: 13,698.1 people / square mile (796,605 residents)
--- #14 lowest density county in state, #3,135 nationwide

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#13. Norfolk County

- Rural area: 11.8% (47 square miles)
- Urban area: 88.2% (349 square miles)
- Total land area: 396 square miles
--- #10 largest county in state, #2,543 nationwide

- Population density: 1,768.3 people / square mile (700,437 residents)
--- #12 lowest density county in state, #3,064 nationwide

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#12. Middlesex County

- Rural area: 27.1% (222 square miles)
- Urban area: 72.9% (596 square miles)
- Total land area: 818 square miles
--- #3 largest county in state, #1,033 nationwide

- Population density: 1,957.5 people / square mile (1.6 million residents)
--- #13 lowest density county in state, #3,071 nationwide

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#11. Essex County

- Rural area: 32.1% (158 square miles)
- Urban area: 67.9% (334 square miles)
- Total land area: 493 square miles
--- #9 largest county in state, #2,109 nationwide

- Population density: 1,591.0 people / square mile (783,676 residents)
--- #11 lowest density county in state, #3,051 nationwide

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#10. Barnstable County

- Rural area: 40.4% (159 square miles)
- Urban area: 59.7% (235 square miles)
- Total land area: 394 square miles
--- #11 largest county in state, #2,556 nationwide

- Population density: 542.2 people / square mile (213,496 residents)
--- #6 lowest density county in state, #2,900 nationwide

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#9. Plymouth County

- Rural area: 47.7% (314 square miles)
- Urban area: 52.3% (345 square miles)
- Total land area: 659 square miles
--- #5 largest county in state, #1,423 nationwide

- Population density: 781.9 people / square mile (515,303 residents)
--- #9 lowest density county in state, #2,960 nationwide

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#8. Bristol County

- Rural area: 48.8% (270 square miles)
- Urban area: 51.2% (283 square miles)
- Total land area: 553 square miles
--- #7 largest county in state, #1,883 nationwide

- Population density: 1,014.4 people / square mile (561,037 residents)
--- #10 lowest density county in state, #2,994 nationwide

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#7. Hampden County

- Rural area: 67.8% (419 square miles)
- Urban area: 32.2% (199 square miles)
- Total land area: 617 square miles
--- #6 largest county in state, #1,567 nationwide

- Population density: 758.1 people / square mile (467,871 residents)
--- #8 lowest density county in state, #2,954 nationwide

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#6. Worcester County

- Rural area: 73.0% (1,103 square miles)
- Urban area: 27.0% (408 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,511 square miles
--- #1 largest county in state, #393 nationwide

- Population density: 545.9 people / square mile (824,772 residents)
--- #7 lowest density county in state, #2,904 nationwide

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#5. Nantucket County

- Rural area: 82.5% (37 square miles)
- Urban area: 17.5% (8 square miles)
- Total land area: 45 square miles
--- #14 largest county in state, #3,106 nationwide

- Population density: 248.3 people / square mile (11,168 residents)
--- #4 lowest density county in state, #2,673 nationwide

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#4. Hampshire County

- Rural area: 85.2% (449 square miles)
- Urban area: 14.8% (78 square miles)
- Total land area: 527 square miles
--- #8 largest county in state, #1,984 nationwide

- Population density: 305.4 people / square mile (161,032 residents)
--- #5 lowest density county in state, #2,740 nationwide

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#3. Dukes County

- Rural area: 90.5% (93 square miles)
- Urban area: 9.5% (10 square miles)
- Total land area: 103 square miles
--- #12 largest county in state, #3,083 nationwide

- Population density: 167.7 people / square mile (17,312 residents)
--- #3 lowest density county in state, #2,533 nationwide

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#2. Berkshire County

- Rural area: 93.6% (867 square miles)
- Urban area: 6.4% (59 square miles)
- Total land area: 927 square miles
--- #2 largest county in state, #779 nationwide

- Population density: 136.4 people / square mile (126,425 residents)
--- #2 lowest density county in state, #2,427 nationwide

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#1. Franklin County

- Rural area: 96.4% (674 square miles)
- Urban area: 3.6% (25 square miles)
- Total land area: 699 square miles
--- #4 largest county in state, #1,323 nationwide

- Population density: 100.9 people / square mile (70,577 residents)
--- #1 lowest density county in state, #2,263 nationwide

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