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San Diego County is a county located near the Pacific Oceanmarker in the far southwest of the U.S. state of Californiamarker. It is the southwesternmost county in the contiguous 48 states. The population in 2000 was 2,813,835, but a July 2008 estimate placed the population at 3,001,072 people, making it the third most populous county in California, just behind its northwestern neighbor Orange Countymarker. The county seat is the City of San Diegomarker. San Diego County is part of the San Diego – Tijuana metropolitan area, an area with over 5 million people and the largest bi-national metropolitan area shared between the United States and Mexico.

San Diego County lies just north of the Mexican border, sharing a border with Tijuanamarker. It lies south of Orange Countymarker and west of Imperial Countymarker. It is home to miles of beaches, a mild Mediterranean to semi-arid climate, and 16 military facilities hosting the United States Navy, the United States Coast Guard and the United States Marine Corps.


The area which is now San Diego County has been inhabited for more than 10,000 years by Kumeyaay Indians, also called the Diegueños.

European settlement in what is now San Diego County began with the founding of the Mission San Diego de Alcalámarker by the Spanishmarker, in 1769. The county was part of Alta Californiamarker under the Viceroyalty of New Spain until the Mexican revolution. From 1821 until 1848 the area was part of Mexicomarker

San Diego County became part of the United Statesmarker as a result of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, ending the U.S.-Mexican War. This treaty designated the new border as terminating at a point on the Pacific Oceanmarker coast which would result in the border passing one Spanish league south of the southernmost portion of San Diego Baymarker, thus ensuring that the United Statesmarker received the natural harbor.

San Diego County was one of the original counties of California, and was created at the time of statehood in 1850. It was named after San Diego Baymarker, which had been rechristened in 1602 by Sebastián Vizcaíno in honor of the Franciscan St. Didacus of Alcalá, known in Spanish as San Diego de Alcalá de Henares, and whose name was borne by Vizcaíno's flagship.

As originally created in 1850 San Diego County was quite large and included most of southeastern California south and east of Los Angeles County. As such it included major parts of what are now Inyo, San Bernardino, Riverside, and Imperial counties.

The later part of the 19th century witnessed numerous realignments of county boundaries. The most recent changes were the creation of Riverside Countymarker, in 1893, and Imperial Countymarker, in 1907.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 4,526 sq mi (11,721 km²). 4,200 sq mi (10,878 km²) of it is land and 326 sq mi (843 km²) of it (7.20%) is water.

San Diego County has varied topography. On its western side is seventy miles of coastline. Most of San Diego between the coast and the Laguna Mountainsmarker consists of hills, mesas, and canyons. Snow-capped mountains rise to the northeast, with the Sonoran Desertmarker to the far east. Cleveland National Forestmarker is spread across the central portion of the county, while Anza-Borrego Desert State Parkmarker occupies most of the northeast.

North San Diego County is known locally as "North County"; the exact geographic definitions of "North County" vary, but it includes the northern suburbs and sometimes certain northern neighborhoods of the city of San Diegomarker.

The eastern suburbs are collectively known as "East County", though most still lie in the western third of the county. The southern suburbs and southern detached portion of the City of San Diego, extending to the Mexican border, is collectively referred to as "South Bay".

Cities and towns in San Diego County

Incorporated cities

Unincorporated communities

Urban communities of San Diego County

In San Diego County, many of the urban cities and communities are located on the south side of Interstate 8.

Adjacent counties and municipios

National protected areas

  • Cabrillo National Monumentmarker
  • Cleveland National Forestmarker (part)
  • San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex, which includes several individual wildlife refuge areas:
    • San Diego Bay South Bay
    • San Diego Bay Sweetwater Marsh
    • Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge
    • Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge
    • San Diego National Wildlife Refuge
    • Vernal Pools

State parks and protected areas


There are 236 mountain summits and peaks in San Diego County including:



Transportation infrastructure

Major highways


Military facilities



Coast Guard

Sites of interest


Presidential election results
Year GOP DEM Others
2008 44.10% 539,939 54.29% 664,685 1.67% 19,270
2004 52.52% 596,033 46.39% 526,437 1.09% 12,378
2000 49.63% 475,736 45.66% 437,666 4.71% 45,232
1996 45.57% 402,876 44.11% 389,964 10.33% 91,311
1992 35.7% 352,125 37.2% 367,397 27.08% 267,124
1988 60.2% 523,143 38.3% 333,264 1.47% 12,788
1984 65.3% 502,344 33.4% 257,029 1.29% 9,894
1980 60.8% 435,910 27.3% 195,410 11.93% 85,546
1976 55.7% 353,302 41.6% 263,654 2.66% 16,839
1972 61.8% 371,627 34.3% 206,455 3.84% 23,055
1968 56.3% 261,540 36.1% 167,669 7.67% 35,654
1964 50.3% 214,445 49.7% 211,808 0.01% 33
1960 56.4% 233,045 43.3% 171,259 0.28% 1,106

San Diego County has historically been a Republican stronghold: 2008 was the first time in decades that a Democratic presidential nominee won a majority of the county's votes (though in 1992 Bill Clinton won a plurality). The city of San Diegomarker itself is more Democratic than the county's average (though fairly moderate for a large city) and has voted for Democrats Clinton, Gore, Kerry, and Obama in the last five presidential elections respectively. The city of San Diego, as well as La Jollamarker, Coronadomarker and Imperial Beachmarker are part of the 53rd congressional district which has a Cook Partisan Voting Index (CPVI) of D +12. San Diego's northern and eastern suburbs tend to be very conservative. Northern suburbs including Carlsbad were part of the 50th district with a CPVI of R +5. In the 2004 presidential election, San Diego, Encinitas, National City, Del Mar, and some other areas voted for John Kerry; San Marcos, Escondido, Carlsbad, Oceanside, Coronado, Santee, Poway, El Cajon, and Vista overwhelmingly backed George W. Bush. Chula Vista, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Solana Beach, and Imperial Beach are considered swing areas of the county – Chula Vista and Imperial Beach narrowly backed Al Gore in 2000 but narrowly voted for Bush in 2004, while Solana Beach switched from Bush in 2000 to Kerry in 2004. La Mesa narrowly voted for Bush both times, and Lemon Grove narrowly went Democratic both times. In 2008, Barack Obama became the first Democrat to win a majority of votes in San Diego County since World War II. Obama captured Chula Vista, Oceanside, and Carlsbad.

One unique feature of the political scene is the use of Golden Hall, a convention facility next to City Hall, as a central elections center. The County Registrar of Voters rents the hall to distribute election results. Supporters and political observers are invited to watch the results come in, candidates give their victory and concession speeches and host parties for campaign volunteers and donors at the site, and television stations broadcast from the floor of the convention center. Golden Hall was scheduled to be closed in 2004, but was reused again for the November 2005 special election. The atmosphere on the evening of election day is often comparable to the voting portion of a political party national convention.

In the House of Representatives, all of California's 50th, 52nd, and 53rd districts and parts of the 49th and 51st districts are in the county. By district, the seats are held by Republican Darrell Issa, Republican Brian Bilbray, Democrat Bob Filner, Republican Duncan Hunter, and Democrat Susan Davis.

On Nov. 4, 2008 San Diego County voted 53.8 % for Proposition 8 which amended the California Constitution to ban same-sex marriages, thus restoring Proposition 22 which was overturned by a ruling from the California Supreme Courtmarker. However the city of San Diego, along with Del Mar, Encinitas, and Solana Beach, voted against Proposition 8.

In the State Assembly, parts of the 66th and 73rd districts, and all of the 74th–79th districts are in the county. Districts 76 and 79 are held by Democrats, Lori Saldaña and Mary Salas respectively; the others are held by Republicans; by district they are Kevin Jeffries, Mimi Walters, Martin Garrick, George A. Plescia, Joel Anderson, and Shirley Horton.

In the State Senate, all of the 39th district and parts of the 36th, 38th, and 40th districts are in the county and are held by Republicans Dennis Hollingsworth and Mark Wyland, and Democrats Christine Kehoe and Denise Moreno Ducheny.

District Location Cook PVI % for Bush, 2004 Median household income Per capita income
49th district Northern San Diego and South-western Riverside County R +10 63% $46,445 $19,659
50th district Northern San Diego County, including costal communities such as Carlsbadmarker, Californiamarker but excluding La Jollamarker R +5 55% $59,813 $29,877
51st district Southern San Diego County, including Chula Vista and National City. Also includes all of Imperial Countymarker D +7 46% $39,243 $14,923
52nd district Eastern San Diego County, including La Mesa, El Cajon and Lakeside. R +9 61% $52,940 $24,544
53rd district City of San Diegomarker including La Jolla, Coronadomarker and Imperial Beachmarker D +12 39% $36,637 $21,715
Mean Districts: 49th, 50th, 51st, 52nd, 53rd R +5 52.8% $47,016 $22,144


As of 2006, there were 2,941,454 people, 1,067,846 households, and 663,449 families residing in the county. The population density was 670 people per square mile (259/km²). There were 1,118,410 housing units at an average density of 248 per square mile (96/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 69.5% White American, 5.2% Black or African American, 0.7% Native American, 10.2% Asian, 0.4% Pacific Islander, 10.3% from other races, and 3.6% from two or more races. 29.9% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 67.0% spoke English, 21.9% Spanish, 3.1% Tagalog and 1.2% Vietnamese as their first language.

In 2000 there were 994,677 households out of which 33.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.7% were married couples living together, 11.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.3% were non-families. 24.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.73 and the average family size was 3.29.

In the county the population was spread out with 25.7% under the age of 18, 11.30% from 18 to 24, 32.0% from 25 to 44, 19.8% from 45 to 64, and 11.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 101.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 99.7 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $47,067, and the median income for a family was $53,438. Males had a median income of $36,952 versus $30,356 for females. The per capita income for the county was $22,926. About 8.9% of families and 12.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.5% of those under age 18 and 6.8% of those age 65 or over.

Current estimates

According to estimates by the San Diego Association of Governments, the median household income of San Diego County in 2005 was $64,273 (not adjusted for inflation). When adjusted for inflation (1999 dollars; comparable to Census data above), the median household income was $52,192.

Crime statistics

Crime statistics for 2005 (Reported by the sheriff's office or police)

See also


  1. U.S. Census Quickfacts
  2. climate map
  3. kumeyaay website
  4. Ibid. 207
  5. Ibid. 113
  6. San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex website
  8. Amid the celebrations, farewell | The San Diego Union-Tribune
  9. San Diego County Proposition 8 Results by Community

External links

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