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Ottawa County is a county in the U.S. state of Michiganmarker. As of the 2000 census, the population was 238,314, with the Census Bureau placing the population at 260,364 in 2008. The county seat is Grand Havenmarker .


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,632 square miles (4,227 km²), of which, 566 square miles (1,465 km²) of it is land and 1,066 square miles (2,762 km²) of it (65.34%) is water.

Geographic Features

Adjacent counties


As of the census of 2000, there were 238,314 people, 81,662 households, and 61,328 families residing in the county. The population density was 421 people per square mile (163/km²). There were 86,856 housing units at an average density of 154 per square mile (59/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 91.52% White, 1.05% Black or African American, 0.36% Native American, 2.09% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 3.48% from other races, and 1.48% from two or more races. 7.00% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 37.3% were of Dutch, 14.6% German, 6.2% English, 5.6% Irish and 5.4% Americanmarker ancestry according to Census 2000. 91.5% spoke English and 5.4% Spanish as their first language.

There were 81,662 households out of which 39.30% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 64.60% were married couples living together, 7.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.90% were non-families. 19.60% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.40% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.81 and the average family size was 3.25.

Summer seasonal residents are also a member of the populous Ottawa County. Port Sheldon Townshipmarker has many lakefront homes and other inland retreats that serve as summer getaways for residents of Grand Rapids, Detroit, and Chicago. No official statistics are compiled on seasonal residents.

In the county the population was spread out with 28.70% under the age of 18, 11.90% from 18 to 24, 29.30% from 25 to 44, 20.00% from 45 to 64, and 10.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 97.00 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.20 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $52,347, and the median income for a family was $59,896. Males had a median income of $42,180 versus $27,706 for females. The per capita income for the county was $21,676. About 3.10% of families and 5.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.70% of those under age 18 and 4.90% of those age 65 or over.


The county government operates the jail, maintains rural roads, operates themajor local courts, keeps files of deeds and mortgages, maintains vital records, administerspublic health regulations, and participates with the state in the provision of welfare andother social services. The county board of commissioners controls thebudget but has only limited authority to make laws or ordinances. In Michigan, most localgovernment functions — police and fire, building and zoning, tax assessment, streetmaintenance, etc. — are the responsibility of individual cities and townships.

Ottawa County is traditionally Republican. In the 2004 election George W. Bush received over 70% of the vote. It was one of three Michigan counties to go for Barry Goldwater and in 1976 it supported Gerald Ford by one of the highest percentages in the nation. The last Democrat to win the county was George B. McClellan in 1864.

In the 2008 election statistics are as followed. In Ottawa County 71.98% of "straight ticket" voters are Republican. In specific races Republican Jack Hoogendyk received 59.08% of Ottawa County's vote in his failed bid against US Senator Carl Levin; Republican Representative Peter Hoekstra received 71.7% of the vote; Republican David Agema received 73.45% in the race for the 74th district; Republican Arlan B. Meekhof received 60.71% in his race for the 89th District; Republican Joseph Haveman received 71.92% in his race for the 90th District; and Holly Hughes received 61.55% in her failed bid against Mary Valentine for the 91st District. No Republican lost any race in the county and in several local races they ran unopposed. The county voted against stem-cell research, but narrowly favored the legalization of medical marijuana and voted to allow the sales of beer and liquor on Sundays.

Ottawa County elected officials

(information as of September 2005)

Cities, villages,townships and unincorporated communities







US highways

Michigan State Trunklines

Ottawa County Intercounty Highways


  1. Estimated Population of Michigan Counties and Regions: 2000-2008, retrieved March 22, 2009
  2. City
  3. David Leip's Election Atlas (Electoral Maps for Michigan by year)
  4. David Leip's Election Atlas (1976 Presidential election statistics)
  5. Geographie Electorale
  6. Ottawa Michigan County Government site

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