Most rural counties in Massachusetts

Written by:
July 25, 2022
AlexiusHoratius // 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 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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#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, #3,101 nationwide

- Population density: 13,776.5 people / square mile (801,162 residents)
--- #14 lowest density county in state, #3,136 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, #2,544 nationwide

- Population density: 1,776.6 people / square mile (703,740 residents)
--- #12 lowest density county in state, #3,065 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, #1,034 nationwide

- Population density: 1,963.6 people / square mile (1.6 million residents)
--- #13 lowest density county in state, #3,073 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, #2,110 nationwide

- Population density: 1,597.8 people / square mile (787,038 residents)
--- #11 lowest density county in state, #3,052 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, #2,557 nationwide

- Population density: 542.3 people / square mile (213,505 residents)
--- #6 lowest density county in state, #2,901 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, #1,424 nationwide

- Population density: 786.9 people / square mile (518,597 residents)
--- #9 lowest density county in state, #2,962 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, #1,884 nationwide

- Population density: 1,018.5 people / square mile (563,301 residents)
--- #10 lowest density county in state, #2,995 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, #1,568 nationwide

- Population density: 756.1 people / square mile (466,647 residents)
--- #8 lowest density county in state, #2,950 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, #394 nationwide

- Population density: 547.2 people / square mile (826,655 residents)
--- #7 lowest density county in state, #2,902 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, #3,107 nationwide

- Population density: 249.3 people / square mile (11,212 residents)
--- #4 lowest density county in state, #2,672 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, #1,985 nationwide

- Population density: 306.0 people / square mile (161,361 residents)
--- #5 lowest density county in state, #2,739 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, #3,084 nationwide

- Population density: 168.8 people / square mile (17,430 residents)
--- #3 lowest density county in state, #2,534 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, #780 nationwide

- Population density: 135.9 people / square mile (125,927 residents)
--- #2 lowest density county in state, #2,419 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, #1,324 nationwide

- Population density: 100.9 people / square mile (70,529 residents)
--- #1 lowest density county in state, #2,258 nationwide

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