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Rural California: Demographics [icon] click to download fact sheet as a pdf Download PDF

[photo] rural california

California’s population is more urbanized than that of the US in general. However, California has a significant rural land mass with a rural population spread throughout many counties.

The U.S. Census Bureau defines Rural as

“all territory, population, and housing units located outside of urbanized areas and urban clusters. Urbanized areas include populations of at least 50,000, and urban clusters include populations between 2,500 and 50,000.

The core areas of both urbanized areas and urban clusters are defined based on a population density of 1,000 per square mile and then certain blocks adjacent to them are added that have at least 500 persons per square mile."[1]

Demographic distribution of rural population
in the US and California[2]

Geographic Division: US
Total Population
Percent of US Total

Total U.S. Population

285,230,516

100

Population living in Urban Areas

225,956,060

79.219

Population living in Rural Areas

59,274,456

20.781

Geographic Division: California
Total Population
Percent of CA Total

Total U.S. Population

38,292,687

100

Population living in Urban Areas

28,102,643

87

Population living in Rural Areas

5,187,019

13

Geographic distribution of rural population in the US and California[3]

California’s rural population is distributed throughout many counties—

  1. Entirely rural counties containing no urban population:
    Alpine, Mariposa, Sierra, Trinity
  2. Predominantly “rural” counties where 50% or more of the county population lives in a rural area:
    Plumas, Calaveras, Modoc, Siskiyou, Amador, Lassen, Mono

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