Smallest county in every state

Written by:
January 30, 2021
Bobak // Wikimedia Commons

Smallest counties in every state

The U.S. serves as a geographical nesting doll of sorts, with hamlets and communities contained in towns and cities contained in counties contained in states. Depending on where it's located, an area might have three or four layers of local government. This setup largely makes sense, except in a few cases. Some states are so sparsely settled that geographically large counties have tiny populations while others might only cover a few square miles but hold hundreds of thousands of people. 

To see how much this varies from state to state, Stacker used population data from the 2019 U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to compile a list of the smallest counties in each state. The Census Bureau’s population estimates are based on the population base, plus migration numbers, plus the births-minus-deaths total. The growth rate was determined by dividing the difference between present and past populations by the past population, using population data from the Census Report

Keep reading to discover which county in your state has the smallest population—and which state has a county with a population of just 88 residents.

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JNix // Shutterstock

Alabama: Greene County

- 2019 population: 8,324 (-8.0% change from 2010)

Eutaw is the largest city in this county in the western Alabama's Black Belt region, known for its rich soils. The county was named to honor Nathaniel Greene, a Revolutionary War hero.

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Canva

Alaska: Yakutat City and Borough

- 2019 population: 649 (-2.0% change from 2010)

The small fishing village of Yakutat, which is also the borough seat, has been inhabited by the Tlingit people for hundreds of years. In their native tongue, Yakutat means "the place where canoes rest.”

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Bill Morrow // Wikimedia Commons

Arizona: Greenlee County

- 2019 population: 9,522 (+12.9% change from 2010)

First settled in 1874 by miners who discovered large copper deposits, Greenlee County remains economically dependent on the mining industry. Clifton, a city near the county’s geographical center, won the honor of being its county seat.

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Valis55 // Wikimedia Commons

Arkansas: Calhoun County

- 2019 population: 5,192 (+2.0% change from 2010)

This county was originally named Benton County after Missouri senator Thomas Hart Benton, who served in Alabama during the War of 1813-14. However, the state senate voted to change the name to Calhoun County in 1858 to honor Vice President John C. Calhoun.

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Susan Popielaski // Wikimedia Commons

California: Alpine County

- 2019 population: 1,039 (-11.6% change from 2010)

This tiny county on the border between California and Nevada just south of Lake Tahoe has a rich history. The Washoe people were the first residents. Famous explorers, including John Fremont and Kit Carson, first journeyed across the Sierra Nevada mountain range through the region. It was eventually settled by prospectors looking for gold.

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Alex Reinhardt // Wikimedia Commons

Colorado: San Juan County

- 2019 population: 589 (-15.7% change from 2010)

There’s only one city in San Juan County: Silverton, known for backcountry adventures in summer and winter. The county has an average elevation of 11,240 feet, which is the highest in the country.

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Doug Kerr // Wikimedia Commons

Connecticut: Windham County

- 2019 population: 116,566 (+161.9% change from 2010)

Though Windham County is much larger than many of the counties on this list, it’s still Connecticut’s smallest. It’s also not a particularly diverse county: the vast majority of residents are white.

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Jerrye and Roy Klotz // Wikimedia Commons

Delaware: Kent County

- 2019 population: 176,699 (+21,768.7% change from 2010)

Kent County is governed by the Levy Court, a group of seven elected commissioners from all regions of the county. The Levy Court has watched over the area since 1655, when the Delaware General Assembly first established it.

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Michael Rivera // Wikimedia Commons

Florida: Liberty County

- 2019 population: 8,345 (+256.8% change from 2010)

The oldest known residents of this county were the Apalachee people. Burial mounds and pottery remnants in the area date back to the 13th century. Still, Liberty County wasn’t formally established until 1855.

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Georgia: Taliaferro County

- 2019 population: 1,611 (-6.2% change from 2010)

This 197-square-mile county in the Piedmont region of Georgia is full of rolling farmland, pastures, forests, and streams. Movie buffs might recognize Taliaferro County from the film "Sweet Home Alabama,” which was shot here.

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Djzanni // Wikimedia Commons

Hawaii: Kalawao County

- 2019 population: 66 (-26.7% change from 2010)

The land that eventually became Kalawao County was first set aside as a colony for people with leprosy. This county was later absorbed into nearby Maui County.

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U.S. Forest Service // Flickr

Idaho: Clark County

- 2019 population: 913 (-7.0% change from 2010)

This county takes its name from Sam K. Clark, an early Idaho settler on Medicine Lodge Creek. Fur trappers and explorers were its first residents.

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Daniel Schwen // Wikimedia Commons

Illinois: Hardin County

- 2019 population: 3,939 (-8.8% change from 2010)

Called "Illinois' final frontier,” Hardin County is a popular destination for vacationers looking to spend some time in is quiet hills and scenic river towns. The Shawnee National Forest and Ohio River are both popular attractions.

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Warren LeMay // Wikimedia Commons

Indiana: Ohio County

- 2019 population: 5,874 (-4.1% change from 2010)

Ohio County doesn’t get its name from the Buckeye State. Instead, it got its name from the Ohio River. The county seat also has a quirky name: Rising Sun.

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Jason McLaren // Wikimedia Commons

Iowa: Adams County

- 2019 population: 3,670 (+56.6% change from 2010)

The county seat of Adams County was once located in the now non-existent town of Quincy. It was later moved to Corning in 1872.

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Ammodramus // Wikimedia Commons

Kansas: Greeley County

- 2019 population: 1,185 (-5.0% change from 2010)

This small county in Kansas was named for Horace Greeley, the editor of the New-York Tribune and a supporter of land grants for farmers. You might know him for the phrase, "Go west, young man.”

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TEDD LiGGETT // Wikimedia Commons

Kentucky: Robertson County

- 2019 population: 2,123 (-7.0% change from 2010)

Though this county in the bluegrass region of Kentucky is the smallest in the state by population, it’s only the second-smallest by area. It is best known for scenic views and rolling hills.

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Ken Lund // Wikimedia Commons

Louisiana: Tensas Parish

- 2019 population: 4,561 (-13.2% change from 2010)

This small parish in Louisiana gets its name from the Taensa people who called this region home. The tribe existed into the 1930s, and descendants still live in the area.

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Magicpiano // Wikimedia Commons

Maine: Piscataquis County

- 2019 population: 16,836 (-4.0% change from 2010)

This county is about the same size as the state of Connecticut, but it has just six people per square mile. Forests, lakes, rivers, and ponds provide countless opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, hunting, fishing, cross-country skiing, and kayaking.

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Acroterion // Wikimedia Commons

Maryland: Kent County

- 2019 population: 19,536 (+2,317.8% change from 2010)

Located on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay, Kent County is a big draw for fisherman, boaters, kayakers, and other nature lovers. The county is very rural, but it boasts a few charming small towns such as Chestertown, which hosts its own recreation of the Boston Tea Party every year.

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Bobak // Wikimedia Commons

Massachusetts: Nantucket County

- 2019 population: 11,168 (+9.8% change from 2010)

This popular vacation destination for the rich and famous is also Massachusetts’ smallest county. Beaches, sandbars, and docks serve as the big attractions on this island.

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Tim Kiser // Wikimedia Commons

Michigan: Keweenaw County

- 2019 population: 2,111 (-2.1% change from 2010)

The word Keweenaw means "the crossing place” in the Ojibway language, referring to the fact that visitors must cross Portage Lake to reach the Keweenaw Peninsula. The area is known for its rich copper deposits.

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McGhiever // Wikimedia Commons

Minnesota: Traverse County

- 2019 population: 3,311 (-6.9% change from 2010)

Traverse County is best known for the city that shares its name, Traverse City. Tree-lined streets, local wineries, gorgeous beaches, and a beautiful lighthouse make it a popular destination for tourists.

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Peek Creative Collective // Shutterstock

Mississippi: Issaquena County

- 2019 population: 1,361 (-3.2% change from 2010)

Situated on the banks of the Mississippi River, Issaquena County was founded in 1844. The name means "deer river” in the language of a local Native American tribe.

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Patrick Hull // Wikimedia Commons

Missouri: Worth County

- 2019 population: 2,027 (-6.6% change from 2010)

Worth County isn’t only the least populated county in the state of Missouri, it’s also the youngest. It was founded in 1861.

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J. B. Chandler // Wikimedia Commons

Montana: Petroleum County

- 2019 population: 453 (-8.3% change from 2010)

Petroleum County’s seat is the town of Winnett, which was named after Canadian rancher Walter Winnett. He was captured by Sioux Indians and later adopted as a member of their tribe.

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Ammodramus // Wikimedia Commons

Nebraska: McPherson County

- 2019 population: 395 (-26.7% change from 2010)

McPherson County was named after Civil War Union Army Gen. James McPherson. The county’s largest community is Tryon.

 

 

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Ken Lund // Wikimedia Commons

Nevada: Esmeralda County

- 2019 population: 969 (+23.8% change from 2010)

Esmeralda County, located about halfway between Las Vegas and Reno, has few residents but plenty of ghost towns, historic sites, and mining communities. Gold mining and lithium production are the big industries here.

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Famartin // Wikimedia Commons

New Hampshire: Coos County

- 2019 population: 31,741 (-4.0% change from 2010)

Though Coos County is the largest New Hampshire county by land mass, it’s the smallest by population. It borders Canada to the north, Vermont to the west, and Maine to the east.

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Jerrye and Roy Klotz // Wikimedia Commons

New Jersey: Salem County

- 2019 population: 62,990 (-4.7% change from 2010)

The first Quaker colony in North America was established in Salem County in 1675. Those seeking out wildlife options will find wetlands, wooded areas, and more.

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Vacaypicts // Wikimedia Commons

New Mexico: Harding County

- 2019 population: 441 (-36.5% change from 2010)

Cowboys, ranches, and vast swaths of wilderness define this New Mexican county. The cliffs of the Canadian River Canyon, plains of the Kiowa National Grasslands, and dinosaur tracks at Mosquero Creek are just a few of the natural wonders found here.

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Doug Kerr // Wikimedia Commons

New York: Hamilton County

- 2019 population: 4,515 (+67.8% change from 2010)

This small, mountainous county in northeastern New York is located entirely within Adirondack Park. Just nine towns and one village are located in Hamilton County.

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HarmonyReignPope // Wikimedia Commons

North Carolina: Tyrrell County

- 2019 population: 4,095 (-7.1% change from 2010)

Founded in 1729, Tyrrell County is one of the oldest in North Carolina. Columbia is the county seat and only municipality in this county.

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Andrew Filer // Wikimedia Commons

North Dakota: Slope County

- 2019 population: 742 (+2.1% change from 2010)

Just a few hundred people live in this tiny North Dakota county. Nearly 95% of the population is white and only 29% of residents have achieved a bachelor’s degree.

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

Ohio: Vinton County

- 2019 population: 13,083 (-2.6% change from 2010)

Plenty of state parks, wooded hills, and stunning natural scenery decorate this county in the Hocking Hills region of Ohio. It’s also known for "quilt barns,” art pieces on the back of barns that look exactly like stitched quilts.

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Chris M // Wikimedia Commons

Oklahoma: Cimarron County

- 2019 population: 2,174 (-12.2% change from 2010)

This county in the Oklahoma panhandle is the only one in the United States that touches five different states: Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and, of course, Oklahoma. Many dinosaur tracks, fossils, and ancient rock art have been discovered in Cimarron County.

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John Stanton // Wikimedia Commons

Oregon: Wheeler County

- 2019 population: 1,415 (+73.0% change from 2010)

This county in central Oregon was named after Henry Wheeler, the proprietor of the first stage line in the county. The county seat also has an interesting name: Fossil. The county seat was given the name after the postmaster discovered ancient remains on his property.

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Nicholas T // Wikimedia Commons

Pennsylvania: Cameron County

- 2019 population: 4,611 (-9.3% change from 2010)

This natural paradise is covered in lush forests and gorgeous waterways where bald eagles, elk, deer, bears, turkeys, and other wildlife roam free. Naturally, it’s a great place for hunters, fishers, and birders.

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Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Rhode Island: Bristol County

- 2019 population: 48,764 (-2.2% change from 2010)

This county in the East Bay section of Rhode Island is best known for hosting its Annual Fourth of July Celebration—the longest-running continuous celebration of the holiday  in the United States. Quintessential New England towns in this area such as Bristol, Warren, and Barrington draw plenty of tourists every year.

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Upstateherd // Wikimedia Commons

South Carolina: Allendale County

- 2019 population: 9,024 (-13.4% change from 2010)

The Southern way of life is on full display in beautiful Allendale County. Fields of fluffy white cotton and juicy peaches give way to mossy oaks along the Savannah River.

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Joe Wolf // Flickr

South Dakota: Jones County

- 2019 population: 793 (-21.2% change from 2010)

The vast majority of residents in this small county in South Dakota are white. Many are also older and politically conservative.

The 2010 census found just one person who identified as African American and 20 people who identified as Native American.

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Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

Tennessee: Pickett County

- 2019 population: 5,079 (+.0% change from 2010)

The least populated county in Tennessee sits among the mountains on the Highland Rim at the gateway to Dale Hollow Lake. This pristine lake has 620 miles of shoreline and crystal clear waters; it's a popular destination for families and outdoorsmen.

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Matthew Rutledge // Wikimedia Commons

Texas: Loving County

- 2019 population: 98 (+19.5% change from 2010)

The least populated county in the continental United States is Loving County in Texas. Located in the western corner of the state, across the border from New Mexico, Loving County was first formed in 1887, then disorganized, and later re-incorporated in 1931.

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Jerrye and Roy Klotz // Wikimedia Commons

Utah: Daggett County

- 2019 population: 613 (-42.1% change from 2010)

Though it’s very sparsely populated, Daggett County is overflowing with stunning natural beauty. The Uinta Mountains, the Green River, and the Flaming Gorge Canyon are all popular tourist destinations.

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Doug Kerr // Flickr

Vermont: Essex County

- 2019 population: 6,200 (-1.7% change from 2010)

This county in northeastern Vermont borders Canada to the north. Mountain sports and adventures are a major draw for Essex County.

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Waldo Jaquith // Wikimedia Commons

Virginia: Highland County

- 2019 population: 2,204 (-5.0% change from 2010)

Best known for the maple syrup industry and its annual Maple Festival in March, Highland County is a haven of peaceful country roads, beautiful sunsets, and gorgeous mountains.

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Daniel Case // Wikimedia Commons

Washington: Garfield County

- 2019 population: 2,230 (+84.9% change from 2010)

Named for President James Garfield, this county in southeastern Washington was established in 1881. Wheat, barley, and other grain farms occupy about two-thirds of the county land.

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Mike // Flickr

West Virginia: Wirt County

- 2019 population: 5,798 (+1.4% change from 2010)

This county in West Virginia has just one high school, Wirt County High School. Less than 10% of Wirt County residents go on to attain a bachelor’s degree.

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Royalbroil // Wikimedia Commons

Wisconsin: Florence County

- 2019 population: 4,314 (-2.5% change from 2010)

This county sits on the Upper Peninsula near the Michigan border. About half of the county’s land is publicly owned to preserve the natural beauty of the county’s 265 lakes and 165 miles of rivers.

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Rolf Blauert // Wikimedia Commons

Wyoming: Niobrara County

- 2019 population: 2,422 (-2.5% change from 2010)

Rolling plains watered by the Cheyenne River make up Niobrara County, an area once roamed by the Crow, Lakota Sioux, Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Pawnee tribes. Homesteaders attracted by the gold rush in the Black Hills, oil and gas, and the railroad became the first settlers.

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