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King County is located in the U.S. state of Washingtonmarker. The population in the 2000 census was 1,737,034, and in 2009 was an estimated 1,909,300. By population, King is the largest county in Washington, and the 14th largest in the United States.

The county seat is Seattlemarker, which is the state's largest city. About two-thirds of the county's population lives in the city's suburbs. King County ranks among the 100 highest-income counties in the United States.


The county was formed out of territory within Thurston Countymarker on December 22, 1852, by the Oregon Territorymarker legislature, and was named after Alabamamarker resident William R. King, Vice President under President Franklin Pierce. Seattle was made the county seat on January 11, 1853.

King County originally extended to the Olympic Peninsulamarker. According to historian Bill Speidel, when peninsular prohibitionists threatened to shut down Seattle's saloons, Doc Maynard engineered a peninsular independence movement; King County lost what is now Kitsap County, but preserved its entertainment industry.

On February 24, 1986, the King County Council passed Council Motion 6461, "setting forth the historical basis for the 'renaming' of King County in honor of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.," another resident of Alabama. Because only the state can charter counties, this change was not made official until April 19, 2005, when Washington Governor Christine Gregoire signed Senate Bill 5332 into law.

Due primarily to the advocacy of council member Larry Gossett, the County Council voted on February 27, 2006 to change the county's logo from a royal crown to an image of King's face. On March 12, 2007, the new logo was unveiled.


The present King County Courthouse (2007).
The King County Executive, currently Kurt Triplett, heads the county's executive branch. Triplett replaced former Executive Ron Sims who was appointed Deputy Secretary of The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. The King County Council is the legislative branch of government. The King County Prosecutor, Dan Satterberg, Elections Director, Sheriff, and the King County Assessor are also elected executive positions. Judicial power is vested in the King County Superior Court and the King County District Court. Seattlemarker houses the King County Courthouse.

King County is represented in the United States Congress through the Washington 7th Congressional District and parts of the 1st, 2nd, 8th, and 9th districts. In the state legislature, King contains the entirety of the 5th, 11th, 33rd, 34th, 36th, 37th, 41st, 43rd, 45th, 46th, 47th, and 48th legislative districts as well as parts of the 1st, 25th, 30th, 31st, 32nd, and 39th districts.

Council members


Presidential Election Results
Year Democrat Republican
2008 70.30% 648,230 28.17% 259,716
2004 64.95% 580,378 33.69% 301,043
2000 60.02% 476,700 34.40% 273,171
1996 56.38% 417,846 31.41% 232,811
1992 50.23% 391,050 27.36% 212,986
1988 53.88% 349,663 44.78% 290,574
1984 46.71% 298,620 52.09% 332,987
1980 39.16% 235,046 45.42% 272,567
King County, which includes Seattlemarker, is a major center for liberal politics and is a bastion for the Democratic Party. In the 2008 election, Barack Obama defeated John McCain in the county by 40%, a larger margin than any previous election. King County has also been the deciding factor for the Democrats in a few recent close statewide elections. In 2000, it was King County that pushed Maria Cantwell's total over that of incumbent Republican Slade Gorton, winning her a seat in the United States Senate. In 2004, King County gave a lead to Democrat Christine Gregoire in the second recount in the state's razor-thin governor's race, pushing her ahead of Republican Dino Rossi, who led by 261 votes after the initial count. Both candidates were from King County--Rossi from Sammamishmarker, and Gregoire from Auburnmarker.

The suburbs east and south of Seattle have historically tended to be moderate. In the 2005 County Executive race, Republican David Irons beat Democrat Ron Sims outside of Seattle (which voted 74% for Sims), but in 2004, John Kerry received landslide victories in much of the Bellevuemarker and Redmondmarker areas. Generally the suburbs are becoming more liberal on the state and county levels.

In 2004, voters passed a referendum reducing the size of the County Council from 13 members to 9. This resulted in all council seats ending up on the 2005 ballot.

Some residents of eastern King County have long desired to secede and form their own county. This movement was most vocal in the mid-1990s (see Cedar County, Washington). It has recently been revived as Cascade County. According to a map published by the Seattle Times, four different geographic borders are being considered. Additional plans (see Skykomish County, Washingtonmarker) also exist or have existed.


King County has nearly twice the land area of the state of Rhode Island. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 2,307 square miles (5,974 km²). It is the 11th largest county in Washington (of 39) by area. 2,126 square miles (5,506 km²) of it is land and 180 square miles (467 km²) of it is water. 7.82% of the total area is water. The highest point in the county is Mount Danielmarker at 2426 meters (7,959 feet) above sea level.

King County borders Snohomish Countymarker to the north, Kitsap Countymarker to the west, Kittitas Countymarker to the east, and Pierce Countymarker to the south. It also shares a small border with Chelan Countymarker to the northeast. King County includes Vashon Islandmarker and Maury Island in Puget Soundmarker.

King County

Geographic features



Major highways

Adjacent counties

National protected areas


As of the census of 2000, there were 1,737,034 people, 710,916 households, and 420,151 families residing in the county. The population density was 817 people per square mile (315/km²). There were 742,237 housing units at an average density of 349 per square mile (135/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 75.73% White, 5.40% Black or African American, 0.92% Native American, 10.81% Asian, 0.52% Pacific Islander, 2.56% from other races, and 4.06% from two or more races. 5.48% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 13.2% were of German, 9.1% English, 8.3% Irish and 5.5% Norwegian ancestry according to Census 2000. 81.7% spoke English, 4.2% Spanish, 2.3% Chinese (incl. all variations), 1.5% Vietnamese, 1.3% Tagalog and 1.0% Korean as their first language.

There were 710,916 households out of which 28.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.40% were married couples living together, 9.00% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.90% were non-families. 30.50% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39 and the average family size was 3.03.

In the county, the population was spread out with 22.50% under the age of 18, 9.30% from 18 to 24, 34.70% from 25 to 44, 23.10% from 45 to 64, and 10.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 99.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.30 males.

The center of population of Washington in the year 2000 was located in the city of Enumclawmarker, in King County.

The median income for a household in the county was $53,157, and the median income for a family was $66,035 (these figures had risen to $64,915 and $82,879 respectively as of a 2007 estimate). Males had a median income of $45,802 versus $34,321 for females. The per capita income for the county was $29,521. About 5.30% of families and 8.40% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.40% of those under age 18 and 7.40% of those age 65 or over.

Census-recognized communities

See also Cities in King County.

Incorporated areas

Census-designated places (CDPs)

Other communities

This list may contain communities located entirely within incorporated cities, towns, or CDPs, which should be removed.

Ghost towns


See also


  2. Bill Speidel, Doc Maynard, The Man Who Invented Seattle (Seattle: Nettle Creek Publishing Co., 1978) (ISBN 0-914890-02-6).
  4. King County Journal: Proposal would ease creation of new county
  5. King County Journal: Calls for new county intensify - Rural rage revives drive to escape Seattle influence
  6. Cascade County (GIF)
  8. King County, Washington - Fact Sheet - American FactFinder

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