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Merced County (pronounced "Mer-SED"), is a county located in the Central Valleymarker of the U.S. state of Californiamarker, north of Fresnomarker and southeast of San Josemarker. As of 2000 the population was 210,554. The county seat is Mercedmarker. The county is named after the Merced River.

History

Merced County was formed in 1855 from parts of Mariposa Countymarker. Parts of its territory were given to Fresno Countymarker in 1856.

The county derives its name from the Merced River, or El Río de Nuestra Señora de la Merced (River of Our Lady of Mercy); named in 1806 by an expedition, headed by Gabriel Moraga, which came upon it at the end of a hot dusty ride.

Geography

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of , of which, 1,929 square miles (4,995 km²) of it is land and 43 square miles (112 km²) of it (2.19%) is water.

Cities and towns

Cities over 10,000 population



Incorporated cities under 10,000 population



Unincorporated communities



Adjacent counties



National protected areas



Transportation infrastructure

Major highways



Public transportation



Airports

Merced Municipal Airportmarker, located just southwest of downtown Merced, has a few commercial passenger flights. General aviation airports in the county include Castle Airportmarker, Gustine Airportmarker, and Los Banos Municipal Airportmarker [12401].

Demographics

As of the census of 2000, there were 210,554 people, 63,815 households, and 49,775 families residing in the county. The population density was 109 people per square mile (42/km²). There were 68,373 housing units at an average density of 36 per square mile (14/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 56.21% White, 3.83% Black or African American, 1.19% Native American, 6.80% Asian, 0.19% Pacific Islander, 26.13% from other races, and 5.65% from two or more races. 45.34% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 6.6% were of Portuguese and 6.0% German ancestry according to Census 2000. 55.1% spoke English, 35.3% Spanish, 3.2% Hmong, 2.9% Portuguese and 1.0% Punjabi as their first language.

There were 63,815 households out of which 45.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.8% were married couples living together, 14.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 22.0% were non-families. 17.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.25 and the average family size was 3.69.

In the county the population was spread out with 34.5% under the age of 18, 10.3% from 18 to 24, 27.9% from 25 to 44, 17.8% from 45 to 64, and 9.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29 years. For every 100 females there were 99.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.6 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $35,532, and the median income for a family was $38,009. Males had a median income of $31,721 versus $23,911 for females. The per capita income for the county was $14,257. About 16.9% of families and 21.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 28.4% of those under age 18 and 10.7% of those age 65 or over.

Politics

Presidential election results
Year GOP DEM Others
2008 44.8% 28,704 53.1% 34,031 2.1% 1,316
2004 56.5% 32,773 42.3% 24,491 1.2% 696
2000 51.8% 26,102 45.1% 22,726 3.1% 1,590'
1996 44.4% 20,847 46.4% 21,786 9.2% 4,305
1992 36.5% 17,981 40.8% 20,133 22.7% 11,170
1988 51.2% 21,717 47.4% 20,105 1.4% 592
1984 58.8% 24,997 40.1% 17,012 1.1% 468
1980 48.8% 18,043 42.9% 15,886 8.3% 3,067
1976 46.1% 14,842 51.6% 16,637 2.3% 729
1972 54.3% 17,737 42.6% 13,914 3.1% 997
1968 40.9% 11,595 51.0% 14,453 8.1% 2,301
1964 31.2% 8,814 68.7% 19,431 0.1% 24
1960 43.4% 11,990 56.2% 15,545 0.4% 111


Merced is considered a bellwether county. The last Democrat to win a majority in the county was Barack Obama in 2008 and the last Republican was George W. Bush in 2004.

Merced is part of California's 18th congressional district, which is held by Democrat Dennis Cardoza. Merced was previously represented by Democratic representatives Gary Condit and Tony Coelho. In the state legislature Merced is in the 17th Assembly district, which is held by Democrat Cathleen Galgiani, and the 12th Senate district, which is held by Republican Jeff Denham.

On Nov. 4, 2008 Merced County voted 70.8 % for Proposition 8 which amended the California Constitution to ban same-sex marriages.

According to the California Secretary of State, as of October 20, 2008, there are 97,179 registered voters in Merced County. Of those, 44,704 (46.0%) are registered Democratic, 35,955 (37.0%) are registered Republican, 3,090 (3.2%) are registered with other political parties, and 13,430 (13.8%) declined to state a political party. Atwater and the unincorporated areas of Merced County have Republican plurality registration advantages. All of the other cities and towns in the county have Democratic pluralities or majorities in voter registration.

Places of interest

Castle Air Force Basemarker and United States Penitentiary, Atwatermarker are located in an unincorporated area near Atwatermarker.

See also



References



External links




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