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Stanislaus County is a county located in the Central Valleymarker of the state of Californiamarker. As the price of housing has increased in the San Francisco Bay Areamarker, many people who work in the southern reaches of the Bay Area have opted for the longer commute and moved to Stanislaus County for the relatively affordable housing. As of 2000 the population was 446,997. Per 2008 US Census Estimates, that number has grown to 510,694. The county seat is Modestomarker.

Stanislaus County is included in the Modesto Metropolitan Statistical Areamarker.


Stanislaus County was formed from part of Tuolumne Countymarker in 1854.

The county is named for the Stanislaus Rivermarker, first discovered by Gabriel Moraga in 1806, and later renamed Rio Estanislao in honor of Estanislao, a mission-educated renegade Native American chief who led a band of Indians in a series of battles against Mexicanmarker troops until finally being defeated by General Mariano Vallejo in 1826. Estanislao was his baptismal name, the Spanish rendition of Stanislaus, itself the Latin rendition of the name of an 11th century Catholic Saint Stanislav.

Name pronunciation

There is some local debate as to the proper pronunciation of the Stanislaus County name. Reflecting the origins of the name, residents have traditionally pronounced "Stanislaus" according to its Spanish form with a silent trailing "S"; e.g. "STAN-ěs-läw. This pronunciation was reinforced by the fact that the San Joaquin Valleymarker was largely settled by immigrants from the American South following the American Civil War, and the southern dialect has traditionally softened trailing consonants. Despite this history, the silent pronunciation of the trailing "S" has never been universal in the county. Complicating any review of the names pronunciation is the fact that several towns within Stanislaus County and among neighboring counties along the Stanislaus Rivermarker, including Turlockmarker, Valley Homemarker, and Riponmarker, were originally founded and settled by immigrants from regions of Dutchmarker, German, or Danish influence. In these regions, Stanislaus is a traditional men's given name, after the Roman Catholic Saint Stanislaus the Martyr. This German-derived pronunciation maintained the trailing "S" and provided more emphasis on the second syllable; e.g. "STAN-ĭss-lŏs". These settlers maintained their traditional pronunciation of the name Stanislaus due to its similar spelling and etymology, conferring some modern regionalism to the pronunciation of the county's name. Unaware of the name's complex local history, most outsiders and new residents initially pronounce the county name according to this second and more phonetically obvious method. Today both pronunciations are considered acceptable.

Geography and Environment

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,515 square miles (3,923 km²), of which, 1,494 square miles (3,869 km²) of it is land and 21 square miles (54 km²) of it (1.38%) is water. There are a number or rare and endangered species found in Stanislaus County. The Beaked Clarkia, (Clarkia rostrata), is listed as a candidate for the Federal Endangered Species List. It has only been found in blue oak-Digger Pine associations in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, a habitat which occurs at moderately high elevations. Colusa Grass, (Neostapfsia colusana) is listed as endangered by the State. It is restricted to vernal pools. (Torrey, 1989)

Stanislaus County has historically been divided socially and economically by the north-flowing San Joaquin River, which provided a natural barrier to trade and travel for much of the county's history. Isolated from the main rail corridors through the county and the irrigation projects that generated much of the region's economic prosperity, the part of Stanislaus County west of the river (known to locals as the "West Side" of the county) has largely remained rural and economically dependent on agricultural activities. Because of its proximity to Interstate 5 and the California Aqueduct some towns within this area, including Pattersonmarker and Newmanmarker, have experienced tremendous growth and are being transformed into bedroom communities for commuters from the nearby San Francisco Bay Areamarker, while others (including Westleymarker and Crows Landingmarker) have been almost entirely overlooked by development and remain tiny farming communities.

Cities, CDPs and Unincorporated Communities

Incorporated Cities

Census-Designated Places

Unincorporated Communities

Adjacent counties

National protected area

Transportation infrastructure

Major highways

Public transportation


Modesto City-County Airportmarker has a number of scheduled passenger flights. Other (general aviation) airports around the county include Oakdale Airportmarker, Patterson Airport, and Turlock Airpark.


Age distribution (2000 census)
As of the census of 2000, there were 446,997 people, 145,146 households, and 109,585 families residing in the county. The population density was 299 people per square mile (116/km²). There were 150,807 housing units at an average density of 101 per square mile (39/km²). The racial/ethnic makeup of the county was 69.33% White, 2.58% Black, 4.22% Asian, 1.27% Native American, 0.34% Pacific Islander, 16.82% from other races, and 5.44% from two or more races. 31.74% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 8.4% were of German, 6.3% English, 6.0% Americanmarker, 5.5% Irish, and 5.1% Portuguese ancestry according to Census 2000. 67.8% spoke English, 23.7% Spanish, 1.5% Syriac, and 1.3% Portuguese as their first language.

There were 145,146 households out of which 41.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.0% were married couples living together, 13.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.5% were non-families. 19.4% 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 3.03 and the average family size was 3.47.

In the county the population was spread out with 31.1% under the age of 18, 9.8% from 18 to 24, 29.0% from 25 to 44, 19.5% from 45 to 64, and 10.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 96.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.4 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $40,101, and the median income for a family was $44,703. Males had a median income of $36,969 versus $26,595 for females. The per capita income for the county was $16,913. About 12.3% of families and 16.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.5% of those under age 18 and 8.8% of those age 65 or over.


Presidential election results
Year GOP DEM Others
2008 48.7% 74,025 49.4% 75,106 1.9% 2,835
2004 58.7% 85,407 40.4% 58,829 1.0% 1,388
2000 52.4% 67,188 44.0% 56,448 3.6% 4,631
1996 44.8% 52,403 45.9% 53,738 9.3% 10,866
1992 36.9% 47,275 41.0% 52,415 22.1% 28,315
1988 53.1% 51,648 45.9% 44,685 1.0% 982
1984 59.2% 55,665 39.9% 37,459 0.9% 861
1980 49.4% 41,595 40.0% 33,683 10.6% 8,908
1976 44.8% 32,937 52.3% 38,448 2.8% 2,080
1972 51.4% 39,521 45.5% 35,005 3.1% 2,341
1968 45.5% 29,573 48.1% 31,316 6.4% 4,174
1964 33.7% 21,973 66.1% 43,078 0.1% 77
1960 49.6% 30,213 49.8% 30,302 0.6% 375

Stanislaus is a generally Republican county in Presidential and congressional elections. The last Democrat to win a majority in the county was Jimmy Carter in 1976, although Barack Obama won a plurality in 2008, as did Bill Clinton in both 1992 and 1996.

Stanislaus is part of California's 18th and 19th congressional districts, which are held respectively by Democrat Dennis Cardoza and Republican George Radanovich. In the State Assembly Stanislaus is in the 17th, 25th, and 26th districts, which are held by Democrat Cathleen Galgiani and Republicans Tom Berryhill and Bill Berryhill respectively. In the State Senate, Stanislaus is part of the 12th and 14th Senate districts, which are held by Republicans Jeff Denham and Dave Cogdill, respectively.

On November 4, 2008 Stanislaus County voted 67.9 % for Proposition 8 which amended the California Constitution to ban same-sex marriages.


Agriculture is Stanislaus County's number two industry, with wine grapes being the primary agricultural product.



  • John Torrey, Paul Awosika et al., Expanded initial study, Boulder Creek subdivision, Stanislaus County, Earth Metrics, Report 7999: California State Clearinghouse, Sacramento, November, 1989.

See also


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