Most rural counties in Tennessee

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July 25, 2022
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Most rural counties in Tennessee

A surprising number of U.S. counties have 100% rural land-702, in fact. Stacker compiled a list of the most rural counties in Tennessee 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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Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

#50. Monroe County

- Rural area: 98.2% (624 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.8% (11 square miles)
- Total land area: 636 square miles
--- #6 largest county in state, #1,502 nationwide

- Population density: 73.0 people / square mile (46,413 residents)
--- #49 lowest density county in state, #2,013 nationwide

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Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

#49. White County

- Rural area: 98.3% (370 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.7% (7 square miles)
- Total land area: 377 square miles
--- #60 largest county in state, #2,614 nationwide

- Population density: 71.9 people / square mile (27,087 residents)
--- #47 lowest density county in state, #2,002 nationwide

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Ichabod // Wikimedia Commons

#48. Lincoln County

- Rural area: 98.3% (561 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.7% (10 square miles)
- Total land area: 570 square miles
--- #20 largest county in state, #1,776 nationwide

- Population density: 59.9 people / square mile (34,158 residents)
--- #41 lowest density county in state, #1,850 nationwide

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#47. Sequatchie County

- Rural area: 98.4% (261 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.7% (4 square miles)
- Total land area: 266 square miles
--- #81 largest county in state, #2,872 nationwide

- Population density: 56.2 people / square mile (14,936 residents)
--- #35 lowest density county in state, #1,796 nationwide

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Ichabod // Wikimedia Commons

#46. Chester County

- Rural area: 98.4% (281 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.6% (5 square miles)
- Total land area: 286 square miles
--- #76 largest county in state, #2,831 nationwide

- Population density: 60.4 people / square mile (17,260 residents)
--- #42 lowest density county in state, #1,852 nationwide

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Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

#45. Weakley County

- Rural area: 98.5% (571 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.6% (9 square miles)
- Total land area: 580 square miles
--- #17 largest county in state, #1,699 nationwide

- Population density: 57.5 people / square mile (33,377 residents)
--- #38 lowest density county in state, #1,814 nationwide

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#44. Crockett County

- Rural area: 98.5% (261 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.5% (4 square miles)
- Total land area: 266 square miles
--- #83 largest county in state, #2,874 nationwide

- Population density: 53.9 people / square mile (14,310 residents)
--- #31 lowest density county in state, #1,753 nationwide

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#43. Lawrence County

- Rural area: 98.5% (608 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.5% (9 square miles)
- Total land area: 617 square miles
--- #9 largest county in state, #1,569 nationwide

- Population density: 70.9 people / square mile (43,780 residents)
--- #46 lowest density county in state, #1,989 nationwide

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Thomas R Machnitzki (thomasmachnitzki.com) // Wikimedia Commons

#42. Obion County

- Rural area: 98.6% (537 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.4% (8 square miles)
- Total land area: 545 square miles
--- #26 largest county in state, #1,914 nationwide

- Population density: 55.7 people / square mile (30,343 residents)
--- #34 lowest density county in state, #1,787 nationwide

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Ballinindasierra // Wikimedia Commons

#41. Hardin County

- Rural area: 98.7% (570 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.3% (8 square miles)
- Total land area: 577 square miles
--- #18 largest county in state, #1,712 nationwide

- Population density: 44.5 people / square mile (25,665 residents)
--- #24 lowest density county in state, #1,561 nationwide

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Skye Marthaler // Wikimedia Commons

#40. Lewis County

- Rural area: 98.7% (278 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.3% (4 square miles)
- Total land area: 282 square miles
--- #77 largest county in state, #2,841 nationwide

- Population density: 43.0 people / square mile (12,131 residents)
--- #22 lowest density county in state, #1,538 nationwide

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Ichabod // Wikimedia Commons

#39. Macon County

- Rural area: 98.7% (303 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.3% (4 square miles)
- Total land area: 307 square miles
--- #72 largest county in state, #2,793 nationwide

- Population density: 78.8 people / square mile (24,208 residents)
--- #52 lowest density county in state, #2,085 nationwide

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#38. Marion County

- Rural area: 98.8% (492 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.2% (6 square miles)
- Total land area: 498 square miles
--- #39 largest county in state, #2,091 nationwide

- Population density: 57.5 people / square mile (28,639 residents)
--- #37 lowest density county in state, #1,813 nationwide

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Thomas R Machnitzki ([email protected]) // Wikimedia Commons

#37. Fayette County

- Rural area: 98.8% (696 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.2% (8 square miles)
- Total land area: 705 square miles
--- #3 largest county in state, #1,314 nationwide

- Population density: 57.6 people / square mile (40,612 residents)
--- #39 lowest density county in state, #1,815 nationwide

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#36. Henderson County

- Rural area: 98.8% (514 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.2% (6 square miles)
- Total land area: 520 square miles
--- #34 largest county in state, #2,004 nationwide

- Population density: 53.8 people / square mile (27,956 residents)
--- #30 lowest density county in state, #1,748 nationwide

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#35. Haywood County

- Rural area: 98.9% (527 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.1% (6 square miles)
- Total land area: 533 square miles
--- #29 largest county in state, #1,956 nationwide

- Population density: 32.6 people / square mile (17,391 residents)
--- #8 lowest density county in state, #1,286 nationwide

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Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

#34. Scott County

- Rural area: 98.9% (527 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.1% (6 square miles)
- Total land area: 532 square miles
--- #30 largest county in state, #1,960 nationwide

- Population density: 41.4 people / square mile (22,020 residents)
--- #21 lowest density county in state, #1,506 nationwide

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#33. DeKalb County

- Rural area: 99.0% (301 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.1% (3 square miles)
- Total land area: 304 square miles
--- #73 largest county in state, #2,802 nationwide

- Population density: 66.1 people / square mile (20,104 residents)
--- #45 lowest density county in state, #1,927 nationwide

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#32. Benton County

- Rural area: 99.0% (390 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.0% (4 square miles)
- Total land area: 394 square miles
--- #59 largest county in state, #2,554 nationwide

- Population density: 40.9 people / square mile (16,133 residents)
--- #18 lowest density county in state, #1,494 nationwide

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#31. Johnson County

- Rural area: 99.0% (296 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.0% (3 square miles)
- Total land area: 298 square miles
--- #75 largest county in state, #2,809 nationwide

- Population density: 59.5 people / square mile (17,755 residents)
--- #40 lowest density county in state, #1,841 nationwide

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Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

#30. Smith County

- Rural area: 99.1% (311 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.9% (3 square miles)
- Total land area: 314 square miles
--- #70 largest county in state, #2,776 nationwide

- Population density: 63.4 people / square mile (19,926 residents)
--- #44 lowest density county in state, #1,892 nationwide

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Ichabod // Wikimedia Commons

#29. Giles County

- Rural area: 99.1% (606 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.9% (5 square miles)
- Total land area: 611 square miles
--- #12 largest county in state, #1,585 nationwide

- Population density: 48.1 people / square mile (29,403 residents)
--- #27 lowest density county in state, #1,658 nationwide

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#28. McNairy County

- Rural area: 99.2% (558 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.8% (5 square miles)
- Total land area: 563 square miles
--- #21 largest county in state, #1,837 nationwide

- Population density: 45.9 people / square mile (25,814 residents)
--- #25 lowest density county in state, #1,600 nationwide

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#27. Overton County

- Rural area: 99.2% (430 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.8% (3 square miles)
- Total land area: 433 square miles
--- #51 largest county in state, #2,343 nationwide

- Population density: 51.1 people / square mile (22,171 residents)
--- #29 lowest density county in state, #1,711 nationwide

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RealElectrical // Wikimedia Commons

#26. Hardeman County

- Rural area: 99.3% (663 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.8% (5 square miles)
- Total land area: 668 square miles
--- #5 largest county in state, #1,408 nationwide

- Population density: 37.8 people / square mile (25,247 residents)
--- #14 lowest density county in state, #1,416 nationwide

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Christina Blust // Wikimedia Commons

#25. Humphreys County

- Rural area: 99.3% (527 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.7% (4 square miles)
- Total land area: 531 square miles
--- #31 largest county in state, #1,973 nationwide

- Population density: 34.9 people / square mile (18,528 residents)
--- #9 lowest density county in state, #1,341 nationwide

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#24. Carroll County

- Rural area: 99.4% (596 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.6% (4 square miles)
- Total land area: 599 square miles
--- #14 largest county in state, #1,628 nationwide

- Population density: 46.5 people / square mile (27,841 residents)
--- #26 lowest density county in state, #1,617 nationwide

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#23. Cannon County

- Rural area: 99.5% (264 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.6% (1 square miles)
- Total land area: 266 square miles
--- #82 largest county in state, #2,873 nationwide

- Population density: 54.1 people / square mile (14,374 residents)
--- #32 lowest density county in state, #1,757 nationwide

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Daniel Hartwig from San Mateo, CA, USA // Wikimedia Commons

#22. Moore County

- Rural area: 100.0% (129 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 129 square miles
--- #94 largest county in state, #3,074 nationwide

- Population density: 49.5 people / square mile (6,396 residents)
--- #28 lowest density county in state, #1,682 nationwide

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#21. Morgan County

- Rural area: 100.0% (522 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 522 square miles
--- #33 largest county in state, #1,999 nationwide

- Population density: 41.2 people / square mile (21,538 residents)
--- #20 lowest density county in state, #1,504 nationwide

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Ichabod // Wikimedia Commons

#20. Trousdale County

- Rural area: 100.0% (114 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 114 square miles
--- #95 largest county in state, #3,079 nationwide

- Population density: 95.5 people / square mile (10,910 residents)
--- #61 lowest density county in state, #2,223 nationwide

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#19. Union County

- Rural area: 100.0% (224 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 224 square miles
--- #86 largest county in state, #2,962 nationwide

- Population density: 88.0 people / square mile (19,678 residents)
--- #57 lowest density county in state, #2,161 nationwide

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#18. Grainger County

- Rural area: 100.0% (281 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 281 square miles
--- #78 largest county in state, #2,846 nationwide

- Population density: 82.9 people / square mile (23,268 residents)
--- #56 lowest density county in state, #2,121 nationwide

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#17. Meigs County

- Rural area: 100.0% (195 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 195 square miles
--- #89 largest county in state, #3,005 nationwide

- Population density: 62.7 people / square mile (12,237 residents)
--- #43 lowest density county in state, #1,880 nationwide

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#16. Lake County

- Rural area: 100.0% (166 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 166 square miles
--- #91 largest county in state, #3,044 nationwide

- Population density: 43.9 people / square mile (7,273 residents)
--- #23 lowest density county in state, #1,552 nationwide

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#15. Houston County

- Rural area: 100.0% (200 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 200 square miles
--- #88 largest county in state, #2,994 nationwide

- Population density: 40.9 people / square mile (8,201 residents)
--- #19 lowest density county in state, #1,495 nationwide

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#14. Hickman County

- Rural area: 100.0% (612 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 612 square miles
--- #11 largest county in state, #1,581 nationwide

- Population density: 40.8 people / square mile (25,017 residents)
--- #17 lowest density county in state, #1,492 nationwide

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#13. Polk County

- Rural area: 100.0% (435 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 435 square miles
--- #48 largest county in state, #2,332 nationwide

- Population density: 38.7 people / square mile (16,807 residents)
--- #16 lowest density county in state, #1,443 nationwide

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#12. Jackson County

- Rural area: 100.0% (308 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 308 square miles
--- #71 largest county in state, #2,791 nationwide

- Population density: 38.2 people / square mile (11,767 residents)
--- #15 lowest density county in state, #1,429 nationwide

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#11. Grundy County

- Rural area: 100.0% (361 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 361 square miles
--- #63 largest county in state, #2,651 nationwide

- Population density: 37.1 people / square mile (13,371 residents)
--- #13 lowest density county in state, #1,402 nationwide

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Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

#10. Fentress County

- Rural area: 100.0% (499 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 499 square miles
--- #38 largest county in state, #2,090 nationwide

- Population density: 36.9 people / square mile (18,405 residents)
--- #12 lowest density county in state, #1,395 nationwide

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#9. Bledsoe County

- Rural area: 100.0% (406 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 406 square miles
--- #57 largest county in state, #2,492 nationwide

- Population density: 36.8 people / square mile (14,961 residents)
--- #11 lowest density county in state, #1,393 nationwide

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#8. Decatur County

- Rural area: 100.0% (334 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 334 square miles
--- #66 largest county in state, #2,729 nationwide

- Population density: 34.9 people / square mile (11,663 residents)
--- #10 lowest density county in state, #1,342 nationwide

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#7. Clay County

- Rural area: 100.0% (237 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 237 square miles
--- #84 largest county in state, #2,935 nationwide

- Population density: 32.3 people / square mile (7,640 residents)
--- #7 lowest density county in state, #1,280 nationwide

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#6. Pickett County

- Rural area: 100.0% (163 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 163 square miles
--- #92 largest county in state, #3,046 nationwide

- Population density: 31.1 people / square mile (5,068 residents)
--- #6 lowest density county in state, #1,241 nationwide

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Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

#5. Hancock County

- Rural area: 100.0% (222 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 222 square miles
--- #87 largest county in state, #2,965 nationwide

- Population density: 29.5 people / square mile (6,568 residents)
--- #5 lowest density county in state, #1,199 nationwide

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Geobeedude // Wikimedia Commons

#4. Stewart County

- Rural area: 100.0% (459 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 459 square miles
--- #46 largest county in state, #2,230 nationwide

- Population density: 29.5 people / square mile (13,553 residents)
--- #4 lowest density county in state, #1,197 nationwide

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Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

#3. Wayne County

- Rural area: 100.0% (734 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 734 square miles
--- #2 largest county in state, #1,206 nationwide

- Population density: 22.7 people / square mile (16,638 residents)
--- #3 lowest density county in state, #988 nationwide

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Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

#2. Van Buren County

- Rural area: 100.0% (273 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 273 square miles
--- #80 largest county in state, #2,859 nationwide

- Population density: 21.3 people / square mile (5,813 residents)
--- #2 lowest density county in state, #933 nationwide

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#1. Perry County

- Rural area: 100.0% (415 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 415 square miles
--- #55 largest county in state, #2,440 nationwide

- Population density: 19.3 people / square mile (8,020 residents)
--- #1 lowest density county in state, #864 nationwide

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