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Encyclopedia > Los Angeles County
Map of California showing Los Angeles County.

Los Angeles County is a county with 9,802,800 residents (as of 2001), the most populous county in California and in the entire United States. The county seat is the city of Los Angeles.

The county is home to 88 incorporated cities and many unincorporated city-like areas. The coastal portion of the county is heavily urbanized, though there is a large expanse of lesser populated desert inland in the Santa Clarita Valley, and especially in the Antelope Valley which encompasses the northeastern parts of the county and adjacent eastern Kern County, lying just north of Los Angeles County. In between the large desert portions of the county - which make up around 40 per cent of its land area - and the heavily urbanized central and southern portions sits the San Gabriel Mountains containing Angeles National Forest. All of southern Los Angeles County, up to about the center of the county, is heavily urbanized.

This county holds most of the principal cities encompassing the Greater Los Angeles Area, and is the most important of the five counties that make up the area. As of 2004, the county's population is larger than the populations of 43 states.


Law and government

The county is governed by the five-member Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, who are elected by the county's voters. The small size of the board means each supervisor represents almost 2 million people.

The Board meets every week in the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration in downtown Los Angeles. Its weekly meetings are televised on local public television and transcripts are published online. Most items are approved on a "consent calendar" without discussion. However, because of the huge implications of some Board decisions, the meetings are regularly attended by speakers and protesters on behalf of many causes. The county is sued frequently by various public interest law firms and organizations on behalf of people who disagree with the Board's decisions.

The county government is operated by a Chief Administrative Officer (currently David Janssen) and is organized into many departments, each of which is enormous in comparison to equivalent county-level (and even state-level) departments anywhere else in the United States. Some of the larger or better-known departments include:

  • Los Angeles County Coroner - cleans up people who die outside hospitals under unusual circumstances
  • Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors - the Baywatch people
  • Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services - administers foster care and child support
  • Los Angeles County Department of Health Services - operates several county hospitals and a network of primary care clinics, and also runs the public health system, which has a requirement that all restaurants in the unincorporated County and the majority of independent cities prominently post their food safety inspection grade in their front window
  • Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation - administers public parks and the largest public golf course system in the U.S.
  • Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services - administers many federal and state welfare programs
  • Los Angeles County Department of Public Works - operates countywide flood control system, constructs and maintains roads in unincorporated areas
  • Los Angeles County District Attorney - prosecutes criminal suspects
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art - public art museum
  • Los Angeles County Public Defender - defends indigent criminal suspects
  • Los Angeles County Public Library - operates a large network of branch libraries
  • Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department - provides law enforcement services to unincorporated areas and cities that do not have their own police departments, and operates the huge county jails


With 4,061 square miles, it borders on the Pacific Ocean and has the following rivers: Los Angeles River, Rio Hondo, the San Gabriel River and the Santa Clara River. The primary mountain ranges are the Santa Monica Mountains and the San Gabriel Mountains. It includes the westernmost part of the Mojave Desert, San Clemente Island and Santa Catalina Island.

Major divisions of the county

List of adjacent counties

  • Ventura County, California
  • Kern County, California
  • San Bernadino County, California
  • Orange County, California

See also: List of California counties

Old Seal of the County of Los Angeles, California
New Seal of the County of Los Angeles, California
Flag of the County of Los Angeles, California


  • Agoura Hills
  • Alhambra
  • Arcadia
  • Artesia
  • Avalon
  • Azusa
  • Baldwin Park
  • Bell
  • Bell Gardens
  • Bellflower
  • Beverly Hills
  • Bradbury
  • Burbank
  • Calabasas
  • Carson
  • Cerritos
  • Claremont
  • Commerce
  • Compton
  • Covina
  • Cudahy
  • Culver City
  • Diamond Bar
  • Downey
  • Duarte
  • El Monte
  • El Segundo
  • Gardena
  • Glendale
  • Glendora
  • Hawaiian Gardens
  • Hawthorne
  • Hermosa Beach
  • Hidden Hills
  • Huntington Park
  • Industry
  • Inglewood
  • Irwindale
  • La Caņada Flintridge
  • La Habra Heights
  • La Mirada
  • La Puente
  • La Verne
  • Lakewood
  • Lancaster
  • Lawndale
  • Lomita
  • Long Beach
  • Los Angeles
  • Lynwood
  • Malibu
  • Manhattan Beach
  • Maywood
  • Monrovia
  • Montebello
  • Monterey Park
  • Norwalk
  • Palmdale
  • Palos Verdes Estates
  • Paramount
  • Pasadena
  • Pico Rivera
  • Pomona
  • Rancho Palos Verdes
  • Redondo Beach
  • Rolling Hills
  • Rolling Hills Estates
  • Rosemead
  • San Dimas
  • San Fernando
  • San Gabriel
  • San Marino
  • Santa Clarita
  • Santa Fe Springs
  • Santa Monica
  • Sierra Madre
  • Signal Hill
  • South El Monte
  • South Gate
  • South Pasadena
  • Temple City
  • Torrance
  • Vernon
  • Walnut
  • West Covina
  • West Hollywood
  • Westlake Village
  • Whittier

Census-designated places which are not cities

The following areas are unincorporated regions of the county which fall directly under the county government's jurisdiction. With no city government, residents of these areas must petition the appropriate member of the Board of Supervisors when they have a grievance about the quality of local services.

  • Acton
  • Agua Dulce
  • Alondra Park
  • Altadena
  • Avocado Heights
  • Castaic
  • Charter Oak
  • Citrus
  • Del Aire
  • Desert View Highlands
  • East Compton
  • East La Mirada
  • East Los Angeles
  • East Pasadena
  • East San Gabriel
  • Florence-Graham
  • Hacienda Heights
  • La Crescenta-Montrose
  • Ladera Heights
  • Lake Hughes
  • Lake Los Angeles
  • Lennox
  • Leona Valley
  • Littlerock
  • Llano
  • Marina del Rey
  • Mayflower Village
  • North El Monte
  • Pearblossom
  • Quartz Hill
  • Rowland Heights
  • South San Gabriel
  • South San Jose Hills
  • South Whittier
  • Topanga
  • Val Verde
  • Valinda
  • Valyermo
  • View Park-Windsor Hills
  • Vincent
  • Walnut Park
  • West Athens
  • West Carson
  • West Compton
  • West Puente Valley
  • West Whittier-Los Nietos
  • Westmont
  • Willowbrook

(See also Los Angeles, California#Communities, neighborhoods and districts)


The major industries of Los Angeles County are motion picture and television program production, music recording and production, aerospace, and professional services like law and medicine.

Although the City of Los Angeles is commonly associated with the entertainment industry, all the major studios are now located outside of its boundaries (in neighboring Culver City, Burbank and Glendale).

For major companies headquartered in the City of Los Angeles, and adjacent cities, see the Economy section of the Los Angeles, California article.

The following major companies have headquarters in Los Angeles County cities not adjacent to the city of Los Angeles:

  • Downey, California
    • Memorex
  • Irwindale, California
    • Ready Pac
  • La Mirada, California
    • Makita
  • Monrovia, California
    • Trader Joe's
  • Westlake Village, California


The county is home to many colleges and universities. It also has a huge number of public school districts and many private schools.

Colleges and universities



  • Azusa Pacific University, Azusa
  • Biola University, La Mirada
  • California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (Cal Poly Pomona), Pomona
  • California State University, Dominguez Hills
  • California State University, Bakersfield Antelope Valley center, Lancaster
  • California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), Long Beach
  • California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA), Los Angeles
  • California State University, Northridge (CSUN), Northridge (Los Angeles)
  • DeVry University San Fernando Valley (Los Angeles)
  • Loyola Marymount University (LMU), Westchester (Los Angeles)
  • Pepperdine University, Malibu
  • Southwestern University School of Law, Los Angeles
  • University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Westwood (Los Angeles)
  • University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles

Sites of interest

The county's most visited park is Griffith Park, owned by the City of Los Angeles . The county is also known for the annual Rose Parade in Pasadena, the annual Los Angeles County Fair in Pomona, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Los Angeles Zoo, the Natural History Museum, the La Brea Tar Pits, the Arboretum of Los Angeles, and two horse racetracks and a car racetrack, and miles of beaches--from Zuma to Cabrillo.

Venice Beach is a popular attraction where its Muscle Beach used to find throngs of tourists admiring "hardbodies". Today it is more arts-centered. Santa Monica's pier is a well known tourist spot, famous for its ferris wheel and bumper car rides, which were featured in the introductory segment of the television sitcom Three's Company. Further north in Pacific Palisades one finds the beaches used in the television series Baywatch. The fabled Malibu, home of many a film or television star, lies west of it.

In the mountain, canyon, and desert areas one may find Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park, where many old westerns, the original television series Star Trek and The Flintstones movies were filmed. Mount Wilson Observatory in the San Gabriel Mountains is open for the public to view astronomical stars from its telescope, now computer-assisted. Many county residents find relaxation in water skiing and swimming at Castaic Lake Recreation Area - the county's largest park by area - as well as enjoying natural surroundings and starry nights at Saddleback Butte State Park in the eastern Antelope Valley - California State Parks' largest in area within the county.



Music venues

  • Pantages Theatre
  • Universal Amphitheatre
  • The Wiltern
  • Hollywood Bowl
  • House of Blues Sunset Strip
  • John Anson Ford Amphitheatre
  • The Roxy Theatre
  • El Rey Theatre

Amusement Parks

Other attractions

Outside the city


Los Angeles County was one of the original counties of California, created at the time of statehood in 1850. Parts of the county's territory were given to San Bernardino County in 1853, to Kern County in 1866 and to Orange County in 1899.

Most of the County's history is recounted in the Wikipedia articles covering its constituent cities and their neighborhoods.


As of the census2 of 2000, there are 9,519,338 people, 3,133,774 households, and 2,137,233 families residing in the county. The population density is 905/km˛ (2,344/mi˛). There are 3,270,909 housing units at an average density of 311/km˛ (806/mi˛). The racial makeup of the county is 48.71% White, 9.78% African American, 0.81% Native American, 11.95% Asian, 0.28% Pacific Islander, 23.53% from other races, and 4.94% from two or more races. 44.56% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race. 31.1% of the population are White, not of Hispanic origins.

Los Angeles is one of the few counties in the USA where Latinos are a plurality, and will soon be a majority.

There are 3,133,774 households out of which 36.80% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.60% are married couples living together, 14.70% have a female householder with no husband present, and 31.80% are non-families. 24.60% of all households are made up of individuals and 7.10% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.98 and the average family size is 3.61.

In the county the population is spread out with 28.00% under the age of 18, 10.30% from 18 to 24, 32.60% from 25 to 44, 19.40% from 45 to 64, and 9.70% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 32 years. For every 100 females there are 97.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 95.00 males.

The median income for a household in the county is $42,189, and the median income for a family is $46,452. Males have a median income of $36,299 versus $30,981 for females. The per capita income for the county is $20,683. 17.90% of the population and 14.40% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 24.20% of those under the age of 18 and 10.50% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.



The county's primary commercial aviation airport is Los Angeles International Airport. Other important airports include the Long Beach Municipal Airport and Bob Hope Airport. There are also general aviation airports at Van Nuys, Santa Monica, Compton, Torrance, Pacoima, and Lancaster.


The county has intercity Amtrak service at Union Station in the city of Los Angeles.

Union Station is also the primary hub for Metrolink commuter rail, which serves much of the greater Los Angeles area.

Light rail, subway (heavy rail), and long-distance bus service are all provided by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro).


The county has a freeway network of legendary size and complexity, which is maintained by Caltrans and patrolled by the California Highway Patrol. It also has a large street network, most of which is maintained by city governments. The county and most cities generally do a decent job of maintaining and cleaning streets. For more information about the primary exception, see the Transportation in Los Angeles article.

Both the freeways and streets are notorious for severe traffic congestion, and the area's freeway-to-freeway interchanges regularly rank among the top 10 most congested points in the country.

In addition to Metro Bus service, numerous cities within the county also operate their own bus companies and shuttle lines.


The county's two main seaports are the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach. Together they handle over a fourth of the container traffic entering the United States.

The Port of Long Beach is also home to the Sea Launch program, which uses a floating launch platform to insert payloads into orbits that would be difficult to attain from existing land-based launch sites.

There are some ferry services to nearby island towns like Avalon, California.

Navigating in the county

Thomas Guide - The most popular series of map books among Los Angeles residents.

External links

Counties and Largest Cities in California
Cities: Anaheim | Bakersfield | Fremont | Fresno | Glendale | Huntington Beach | Long Beach | Los Angeles | Modesto | Oakland | Oxnard | Riverside | Sacramento | San Bernardino | San Diego | San Francisco | San Jose | Santa Ana | Stockton
Counties: Alameda | Alpine | Amador | Butte | Calaveras | Colusa | Contra Costa | Del Norte | El Dorado | Fresno | Glenn | Humboldt | Imperial | Inyo | Kern | Kings | Lake | Lassen | Los Angeles | Madera | Marin | Mariposa | Mendocino | Merced | Modoc | Mono | Monterey | Napa | Nevada | Orange | Placer | Plumas | Riverside | Sacramento | San Benito | San Bernardino | San Diego | San Francisco | San Joaquin | San Luis Obispo |
  Results from FactBites:
Los Angeles County Raceway (379 words)
Although LACR closed its doors for good at its present location on July 29th 2007, the "Antelope Valley Raceway Committee" is talking with the County of Los Angeles and local municipalities to find a "New Location" and we will keep everyone posted of our progress via this website's "Message Board" and the www.SaveLACR.com website.
Los Angeles County Raceway is an NHRA 1/4 Mile Championship Drag Strip and International MOTO Cross Track.LACR is located at 6850 East Avenue T, Palmdale, CA.
We have formed a formal committee "The Antelope Valley Raceway Committee" and we are talking to the City of Palmdale and the County of Los Angeles to try and find a new location to open a track.
Los Angeles County, California - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (2207 words)
Los Angeles County is a county with 10,179,716 residents (as of July 2004)[1], the most populous county in the United States.
The coastal portion of the county is heavily urbanized, though there is a large expanse of lesser populated desert inland in the Santa Clarita Valley, and especially in the Antelope Valley which encompasses the northeastern parts of the county and adjacent eastern Kern County, lying just north of Los Angeles County.
Los Angeles County was one of the original counties of California, created at the time of statehood in 1850.
  More results at FactBites »



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