Most rural counties in Pennsylvania

Written by:
May 2, 2022
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Most rural counties in Pennsylvania

A surprising number of U.S. counties have 100% rural land-702, in fact. Stacker compiled a list of the most rural counties in Pennsylvania 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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#50. Lebanon County

- Rural area: 84.5% (306 square miles)
- Urban area: 15.5% (56 square miles)
- Total land area: 362 square miles
--- #60 largest county in state, #2,646 nationwide

- Population density: 386.2 people / square mile (139,729 residents)
--- #53 lowest density county in state, #2,815 nationwide

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#49. Luzerne County

- Rural area: 85.8% (764 square miles)
- Urban area: 14.2% (127 square miles)
- Total land area: 890 square miles
--- #14 largest county in state, #889 nationwide

- Population density: 356.8 people / square mile (317,663 residents)
--- #51 lowest density county in state, #2,784 nationwide

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#48. Erie County

- Rural area: 87.9% (703 square miles)
- Urban area: 12.1% (97 square miles)
- Total land area: 799 square miles
--- #23 largest county in state, #1,067 nationwide

- Population density: 342.7 people / square mile (273,835 residents)
--- #49 lowest density county in state, #2,773 nationwide

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Generic1139 // Wikimedia Commons

#47. Washington County

- Rural area: 88.2% (756 square miles)
- Urban area: 11.8% (101 square miles)
- Total land area: 857 square miles
--- #18 largest county in state, #970 nationwide

- Population density: 241.8 people / square mile (207,212 residents)
--- #46 lowest density county in state, #2,663 nationwide

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#46. Butler County

- Rural area: 89.2% (703 square miles)
- Urban area: 10.8% (85 square miles)
- Total land area: 789 square miles
--- #25 largest county in state, #1,091 nationwide

- Population density: 237.0 people / square mile (186,899 residents)
--- #45 lowest density county in state, #2,654 nationwide

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#45. Blair County

- Rural area: 90.4% (475 square miles)
- Urban area: 9.6% (51 square miles)
- Total land area: 526 square miles
--- #43 largest county in state, #1,989 nationwide

- Population density: 234.2 people / square mile (123,157 residents)
--- #44 lowest density county in state, #2,649 nationwide

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#44. Lawrence County

- Rural area: 90.6% (324 square miles)
- Urban area: 9.5% (34 square miles)
- Total land area: 358 square miles
--- #61 largest county in state, #2,659 nationwide

- Population density: 242.1 people / square mile (86,727 residents)
--- #47 lowest density county in state, #2,666 nationwide

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#43. Cambria County

- Rural area: 90.8% (625 square miles)
- Urban area: 9.2% (63 square miles)
- Total land area: 688 square miles
--- #31 largest county in state, #1,361 nationwide

- Population density: 193.2 people / square mile (133,009 residents)
--- #40 lowest density county in state, #2,585 nationwide

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#42. Franklin County

- Rural area: 91.6% (707 square miles)
- Urban area: 8.4% (65 square miles)
- Total land area: 772 square miles
--- #27 largest county in state, #1,123 nationwide

- Population density: 199.6 people / square mile (154,147 residents)
--- #42 lowest density county in state, #2,596 nationwide

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#41. Schuylkill County

- Rural area: 93.3% (726 square miles)
- Urban area: 6.7% (53 square miles)
- Total land area: 779 square miles
--- #26 largest county in state, #1,108 nationwide

- Population density: 183.2 people / square mile (142,674 residents)
--- #39 lowest density county in state, #2,563 nationwide

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#40. Fayette County

- Rural area: 93.3% (738 square miles)
- Urban area: 6.7% (53 square miles)
- Total land area: 790 square miles
--- #24 largest county in state, #1,089 nationwide

- Population density: 166.1 people / square mile (131,302 residents)
--- #37 lowest density county in state, #2,529 nationwide

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#39. Adams County

- Rural area: 93.9% (487 square miles)
- Urban area: 6.1% (32 square miles)
- Total land area: 519 square miles
--- #45 largest county in state, #2,010 nationwide

- Population density: 197.6 people / square mile (102,470 residents)
--- #41 lowest density county in state, #2,593 nationwide

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#38. Mercer County

- Rural area: 94.0% (632 square miles)
- Urban area: 6.0% (41 square miles)
- Total land area: 673 square miles
--- #33 largest county in state, #1,398 nationwide

- Population density: 165.8 people / square mile (111,518 residents)
--- #36 lowest density county in state, #2,528 nationwide

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#37. Carbon County

- Rural area: 94.4% (360 square miles)
- Urban area: 5.6% (21 square miles)
- Total land area: 381 square miles
--- #58 largest county in state, #2,594 nationwide

- Population density: 167.5 people / square mile (63,887 residents)
--- #38 lowest density county in state, #2,532 nationwide

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Publichall // Wikimedia Commons

#36. Northumberland County

- Rural area: 94.6% (434 square miles)
- Urban area: 5.4% (25 square miles)
- Total land area: 458 square miles
--- #49 largest county in state, #2,234 nationwide

- Population density: 200.2 people / square mile (91,761 residents)
--- #43 lowest density county in state, #2,598 nationwide

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Ruhrfisch (talk) // Wikimedia Commons

#35. Columbia County

- Rural area: 94.8% (458 square miles)
- Urban area: 5.2% (25 square miles)
- Total land area: 483 square miles
--- #46 largest county in state, #2,143 nationwide

- Population density: 136.0 people / square mile (65,715 residents)
--- #32 lowest density county in state, #2,426 nationwide

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Ruhrfisch (talk) // Wikimedia Commons

#34. Union County

- Rural area: 94.8% (300 square miles)
- Urban area: 5.2% (16 square miles)
- Total land area: 316 square miles
--- #64 largest county in state, #2,769 nationwide

- Population density: 142.8 people / square mile (45,111 residents)
--- #34 lowest density county in state, #2,454 nationwide

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#33. Mifflin County

- Rural area: 96.2% (396 square miles)
- Urban area: 3.8% (15 square miles)
- Total land area: 411 square miles
--- #54 largest county in state, #2,459 nationwide

- Population density: 112.6 people / square mile (46,276 residents)
--- #30 lowest density county in state, #2,342 nationwide

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#32. Centre County

- Rural area: 96.4% (1,070 square miles)
- Urban area: 3.6% (40 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,110 square miles
--- #5 largest county in state, #568 nationwide

- Population density: 145.9 people / square mile (161,960 residents)
--- #35 lowest density county in state, #2,465 nationwide

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#31. Snyder County

- Rural area: 96.6% (317 square miles)
- Urban area: 3.4% (11 square miles)
- Total land area: 329 square miles
--- #63 largest county in state, #2,740 nationwide

- Population density: 123.2 people / square mile (40,483 residents)
--- #31 lowest density county in state, #2,377 nationwide

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#30. Pike County

- Rural area: 96.6% (527 square miles)
- Urban area: 3.4% (18 square miles)
- Total land area: 545 square miles
--- #42 largest county in state, #1,912 nationwide

- Population density: 101.8 people / square mile (55,453 residents)
--- #28 lowest density county in state, #2,269 nationwide

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#29. Montour County

- Rural area: 96.7% (126 square miles)
- Urban area: 3.3% (4 square miles)
- Total land area: 130 square miles
--- #67 largest county in state, #3,070 nationwide

- Population density: 140.2 people / square mile (18,259 residents)
--- #33 lowest density county in state, #2,443 nationwide

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User:Ruhrfisch // Wikimedia Commons

#28. Lycoming County

- Rural area: 96.9% (1,190 square miles)
- Urban area: 3.2% (39 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,229 square miles
--- #1 largest county in state, #498 nationwide

- Population density: 93.1 people / square mile (114,330 residents)
--- #26 lowest density county in state, #2,203 nationwide

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#27. Venango County

- Rural area: 97.7% (659 square miles)
- Urban area: 2.3% (15 square miles)
- Total land area: 674 square miles
--- #32 largest county in state, #1,394 nationwide

- Population density: 76.8 people / square mile (51,818 residents)
--- #23 lowest density county in state, #2,058 nationwide

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#26. Crawford County

- Rural area: 97.8% (990 square miles)
- Urban area: 2.2% (22 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,012 square miles
--- #9 largest county in state, #664 nationwide

- Population density: 84.6 people / square mile (85,665 residents)
--- #25 lowest density county in state, #2,131 nationwide

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#25. Indiana County

- Rural area: 97.9% (810 square miles)
- Urban area: 2.1% (17 square miles)
- Total land area: 827 square miles
--- #21 largest county in state, #1,019 nationwide

- Population density: 102.8 people / square mile (85,032 residents)
--- #29 lowest density county in state, #2,276 nationwide

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#24. Clearfield County

- Rural area: 98.0% (1,122 square miles)
- Urban area: 2.0% (23 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,145 square miles
--- #3 largest county in state, #540 nationwide

- Population density: 69.8 people / square mile (79,908 residents)
--- #21 lowest density county in state, #1,979 nationwide

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#23. Jefferson County

- Rural area: 98.2% (641 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.8% (12 square miles)
- Total land area: 652 square miles
--- #35 largest county in state, #1,443 nationwide

- Population density: 67.2 people / square mile (43,846 residents)
--- #18 lowest density county in state, #1,939 nationwide

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Generic1139 // Wikimedia Commons

#22. Armstrong County

- Rural area: 98.3% (642 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.7% (11 square miles)
- Total land area: 653 square miles
--- #34 largest county in state, #1,441 nationwide

- Population density: 100.8 people / square mile (65,867 residents)
--- #27 lowest density county in state, #2,261 nationwide

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#21. Clinton County

- Rural area: 98.3% (873 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.7% (15 square miles)
- Total land area: 888 square miles
--- #15 largest county in state, #896 nationwide

- Population density: 43.8 people / square mile (38,915 residents)
--- #9 lowest density county in state, #1,552 nationwide

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Canadian2006 // Wikimedia Commons

#20. Somerset County

- Rural area: 98.6% (1,059 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.4% (15 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,074 square miles
--- #7 largest county in state, #596 nationwide

- Population density: 69.2 people / square mile (74,361 residents)
--- #20 lowest density county in state, #1,968 nationwide

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#19. Warren County

- Rural area: 98.7% (873 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.3% (11 square miles)
- Total land area: 884 square miles
--- #16 largest county in state, #902 nationwide

- Population density: 45.0 people / square mile (39,756 residents)
--- #10 lowest density county in state, #1,577 nationwide

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#18. Greene County

- Rural area: 98.8% (569 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.2% (7 square miles)
- Total land area: 576 square miles
--- #39 largest county in state, #1,719 nationwide

- Population density: 64.0 people / square mile (36,870 residents)
--- #16 lowest density county in state, #1,904 nationwide

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#17. Elk County

- Rural area: 98.8% (817 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.2% (10 square miles)
- Total land area: 827 square miles
--- #20 largest county in state, #1,017 nationwide

- Population density: 36.7 people / square mile (30,340 residents)
--- #7 lowest density county in state, #1,388 nationwide

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#16. Clarion County

- Rural area: 98.9% (594 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.1% (7 square miles)
- Total land area: 601 square miles
--- #38 largest county in state, #1,623 nationwide

- Population density: 64.4 people / square mile (38,715 residents)
--- #17 lowest density county in state, #1,906 nationwide

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#15. Juniata County

- Rural area: 98.9% (387 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.1% (4 square miles)
- Total land area: 391 square miles
--- #57 largest county in state, #2,568 nationwide

- Population density: 62.9 people / square mile (24,624 residents)
--- #15 lowest density county in state, #1,884 nationwide

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#14. Wyoming County

- Rural area: 98.9% (393 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.1% (4 square miles)
- Total land area: 397 square miles
--- #55 largest county in state, #2,538 nationwide

- Population density: 68.8 people / square mile (27,327 residents)
--- #19 lowest density county in state, #1,962 nationwide

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#13. Bradford County

- Rural area: 99.2% (1,138 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.9% (10 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,147 square miles
--- #2 largest county in state, #537 nationwide

- Population density: 53.1 people / square mile (60,963 residents)
--- #14 lowest density county in state, #1,740 nationwide

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Nicholas from Pennsylvania, USA // Wikimedia Commons

#12. McKean County

- Rural area: 99.3% (973 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.7% (7 square miles)
- Total land area: 979 square miles
--- #11 largest county in state, #704 nationwide

- Population density: 42.3 people / square mile (41,401 residents)
--- #8 lowest density county in state, #1,518 nationwide

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Joe Calzarette // Wikimedia Commons

#11. Huntingdon County

- Rural area: 99.4% (869 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.7% (6 square miles)
- Total land area: 875 square miles
--- #17 largest county in state, #927 nationwide

- Population density: 51.9 people / square mile (45,369 residents)
--- #13 lowest density county in state, #1,725 nationwide

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Andrew Rodland // Wikimedia Commons

#10. Wayne County

- Rural area: 99.4% (721 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.6% (4 square miles)
- Total land area: 726 square miles
--- #30 largest county in state, #1,223 nationwide

- Population density: 70.9 people / square mile (51,422 residents)
--- #22 lowest density county in state, #1,992 nationwide

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Canadian2006 // Wikimedia Commons

#9. Bedford County

- Rural area: 99.5% (1,007 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.5% (5 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,012 square miles
--- #10 largest county in state, #665 nationwide

- Population density: 47.7 people / square mile (48,337 residents)
--- #11 lowest density county in state, #1,648 nationwide

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Smallbones // Wikimedia Commons

#8. Perry County

- Rural area: 99.5% (549 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.5% (3 square miles)
- Total land area: 551 square miles
--- #40 largest county in state, #1,894 nationwide

- Population density: 83.5 people / square mile (46,053 residents)
--- #24 lowest density county in state, #2,128 nationwide

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Nicholas // Wikimedia Commons

#7. Susquehanna County

- Rural area: 99.6% (820 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.5% (4 square miles)
- Total land area: 823 square miles
--- #22 largest county in state, #1,025 nationwide

- Population density: 49.8 people / square mile (40,970 residents)
--- #12 lowest density county in state, #1,687 nationwide

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Nicholas // Wikimedia Commons

#6. Cameron County

- Rural area: 99.7% (395 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.3% (1 square miles)
- Total land area: 396 square miles
--- #56 largest county in state, #2,542 nationwide

- Population density: 11.6 people / square mile (4,611 residents)
--- #1 lowest density county in state, #623 nationwide

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#5. Tioga County

- Rural area: 99.8% (1,132 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.2% (2 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,134 square miles
--- #4 largest county in state, #552 nationwide

- Population density: 36.1 people / square mile (40,944 residents)
--- #6 lowest density county in state, #1,369 nationwide

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Smallbones // Wikimedia Commons

#4. Fulton County

- Rural area: 100.0% (438 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 438 square miles
--- #51 largest county in state, #2,311 nationwide

- Population density: 33.2 people / square mile (14,506 residents)
--- #5 lowest density county in state, #1,297 nationwide

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#3. Forest County

- Rural area: 100.0% (427 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 427 square miles
--- #53 largest county in state, #2,376 nationwide

- Population density: 17.1 people / square mile (7,313 residents)
--- #4 lowest density county in state, #804 nationwide

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Nicholas // Wikimedia Commons

#2. Potter County

- Rural area: 100.0% (1,081 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,081 square miles
--- #6 largest county in state, #588 nationwide

- Population density: 15.5 people / square mile (16,806 residents)
--- #3 lowest density county in state, #756 nationwide

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Nicholas // Wikimedia Commons

#1. Sullivan County

- Rural area: 100.0% (450 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 450 square miles
--- #50 largest county in state, #2,270 nationwide

- Population density: 13.6 people / square mile (6,135 residents)
--- #2 lowest density county in state, #693 nationwide

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