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Santa Clara County is a county located at the southern end of the San Francisco Bay Areamarker in the U.S. state of Californiamarker. As of 2000 it had a population of 1,682,585. The U.S. Census estimate for 2008 was 1,764,499. The county seat is San Josemarker. The highly urbanized Santa Clara Valley within Santa Clara County, is also known as Silicon Valleymarker. It is the most populous county in the Bay Area region.


Santa Clara County was one of the original counties of California, formed in 1850 at the time of statehood. The original inhabitants included the Ohlone, residing on Coyote Creek and Calaveras Creek. Part of the county's territory was given to Alameda Countymarker in 1853.

The county is named after Mission Santa Claramarker, which was established in 1777, and named for Saint Clare of Assisi, Italymarker.

In 1882, Santa Clara County tried to levy taxes upon property of the Southern Pacific Railroad within county boundaries. The result was the U.S.marker Supreme Courtmarker case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, 118 U.S. 394 (1886), in which the Court extended Due Process rights to artificial legal entities.

After two centuries of an agricultural economy started by the Spanish missionaries, the focus has shifted to technology. This trend is not new. Hewlett Packard was founded in 1939, and Fairchild Semiconductor along with other early innovators were located in the county by the late 1950s. The term "Silicon Valleymarker" was itself coined in 1971. The trend accelerated in the 1980s and 1990s, and agriculture has been nearly eliminated from the northern part of the county. Today, Santa Clara County is the headquarters for such companies as Apple, Sun Microsystems, Hewlett Packard, Google, Yahoo, eBay, Intel and many others. The county is the main area of the Silicon Valley, which includes several other counties both north and south of Santa Clara.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,304 square miles (3,377 km²), of which, 1,291 square miles (3,343 km²) of it is land and 13 square miles (34 km²) of it (1.02%) is water.

The San Andreas Faultmarker runs along the Santa Cruz Mountainsmarker in thesouth of the county.

Cities, towns, and neighborhoods

Incorporated cities and towns

There are 15 incorporated cities and towns in the county:

Unincorporated communities

Census Designated Places

Other unincorporated communities

Former townships

Adjacent Counties

National protected area

Transportation infrastructure

Freeways and expressways

The county has an extensive freeway system (now nearing completion) and a separate expressway system. Expressways in California are distinct from freeways; although access to adjoining properties is eliminated, at-grade intersections are allowed. However, unlike expressways virtually everywhere else in California, the Santa Clara County expressways were built, signed, and maintained as county roads; they are not maintained by Caltrans, although they are patrolled by the California Highway Patrol.

There is also a large street network dominated by four- and six-lane arterials. Some of the newer boulevards (primarily in the West Valley) are divided with landscaped medians.

Major highways

County routes

Other roads

Mass transit

Santa Clara County has consolidated its transportation services into the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, which operates a rapidly expanding light rail system and a large system of bus routes. It also manages certain county-funded highway and expressway projects.

Besides SCVTA, the County is also served by Caltrain commuter rail service, and the ACE Train system, which runs between San Jose and Stockton.


The county's main airport is Norman Y.marker Mineta San José International Airportmarker (SJC). Moffett Federal Airfieldmarker (NUQ), a former Naval Air Station, is used by the Air National Guard, NASAmarker, Lockheed Martin, and Google. There are also smaller general aviation airports in Palo Altomarker (PAO), San Josemarker (RHV), and San Martinmarker (E16).

The county has no commercial seaports, although small boats can access San Francisco Bay from several points. Like many other Bay Area counties, it is dependent upon the Port of Oaklandmarker for transport of ocean cargo.


As of the census of 2000, there were 1,682,585 people, 565,863 households, and 395,538 families residing in the county. The population density was 1,304 people per square mile (503/km²). There were 579,329 housing units at an average density of 449 per square mile (173/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 53.83% White, 2.80% Black or African American, 0.67% Native American, 25.56% Asian, 0.34% Pacific Islander, 12.13% from other races, and 4.66% from two or more races. 23.98% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 6.7% were of German and 5.4% English ancestry according to Census 2000. 54.7% spoke English, 17.6% Spanish, 5.7% Vietnamese, 5.3% Chinese or Mandarin, 3.3% Tagalog and 1.2% Korean as their first language.

There were 565,863 households out of which 34.90% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.90% were married couples living together, 10.00% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.10% were non-families. 21.40% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.92 and the average family size was 3.41.

In the county the population was spread out with 24.70% under the age of 18, 9.30% from 18 to 24, 35.40% from 25 to 44, 21.00% from 45 to 64, and 9.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 102.80 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 101.90 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $74,335, and the median income for a family was $81,717. Males had a median income of $56,240 versus $40,574 for females. The per capita income for the county was $32,795. About 4.90% of families and 7.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.40% of those under age 18 and 6.40% of those age 65 or over.

Santa Clara County has the highest median household income of any county in California.

Government and politics

Santa Clara County Government Center

Presidential election results
Year DEM GOP Others
2008 69.6% 460,128 28.7% 189,229 1.7% 12,199
2004 63.9% 386,100 34.6% 209,094 1.4% 8,622
2000 60.7% 332,490 34.4% 188,750 4.9% 26,889
1996 56.9% 297,639 32.2% 168,291 11.0% 57,361
1992 49.2% 296,265 28.4% 170,870 22.4% 134,920
1988 51.3% 277,810 47.0% 254,442 1.7% 9,276
1984 43.7% 229,865 54.8% 288,638 1.5% 8,136
1980 35.0% 166,995 48.0% 229,048 17.0% 80,960
1976 46.9% 208,023 49.5% 219,188 3.6% 15,927
1972 45.6% 208,506 51.9% 237,334 2.5% 11,453
1968 48.4% 173,511 45.6% 163,446 6.0% 21,410
1964 63.1% 202,249 36.6% 117,420 0.3% 858
1960 47.1% 117,667 52.7% 131,735 0.3% 690

Santa Clara is a strongly Democratic county in presidential and congressional elections. The last Republican to win a majority in the county was Ronald Reagan in 1984. With the exceptions of Los Altos Hills, Monte Sereno, and Saratoga, all of the cities, towns, and the unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County have more registered Democrats than Republicans. In the 2008 US Presidential Election, Democratic nominee Barack Obama carried every city and town in the county, as well as the unincorporated areas.

In the House of Representatives, all of California’s 15th and 16th districts, as well as some of the 11th and 14th districts, are in the county and are all held by Democrats: Jerry McNerney in the 11th, Anna Eshoo in the 14th, Mike Honda in the 15th, and Zoe Lofgren in the 16th.

In the State Assembly, all of the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th districts, as well as parts of the 20th, 21st, 27th, and 28th districts are in the county. The districts are all held by Democrats; in order of district number they are Alberto Torrico, Ira Ruskin, Paul Fong, Joe Coto, Jim Beall, Bill Monning, and Anna Caballero.

In the State Senate, all of the 13th as well as parts of the 10th, 11th, and 15th districts are in the county. The 10th, 11th, and 13th districts are held by Democrats, Ellen Corbett, Joe Simitian, and Elaine Alquist, respectively. The 15th is held by Republican Abel Maldonado.

Following the passage of Proposition 8, Santa Clara County joined San Franciscomarker and Los Angelesmarker in a lawsuit, becoming, along with San Francisco and Los Angeles, the first governmental entities in the world to sue for marriage equality. The county is among one of three counties in California to establish a separate department to deal with corrections pursuant to California Government Code §23013, the Santa Clara County Department of Corrections, along with Napa Countymarker and Madera Countymarker.


Santa Clara County has an extensive park system, much of it founded in the major park expansion of the late 1970s. Some of the parks within the county are:


The Santa Clara County Library is a public library system serving the communities and cities of Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Milpitas, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, Saratoga, and all unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County, California. In addition to these libraries, the library provides mobile library service with two bookmobiles visiting preschools, retirement communities, migrant farmworker camps, and rural communities without easy access to library services.

The Santa Clara County Library has been recognized five years in a row by Hennen's American Public Library Ratings as one of the leading libraries delivering outstanding and cost effective service. As of 2005, the Santa Clara County Library had a combined collection totaling 1,681,588 items and served a combined population of 405,225.

Member libraries include Campbell Library , Cupertino Library , Gilroy Library , Los Altos Library , Woodland Branch Library , Milpitas Librarymarker, Morgan Hill Library , and Saratoga Library.

See also



External links

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