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About the County

Last modified: 3/30/2012 12:25 PM

The County of Santa Clara, also referred to as "Silicon Valley", is unique because of its combination of physical attractiveness and economic diversity. With its numerous natural amenities and one of the highest standards of living in the country, the County has long been considered one of the best areas in the United States in which to live and work.

The Mediterranean climate of the region remains temperate year round due to the area's geography and its proximity to the Pacific Ocean. The area is warm and dry much of the year. Rarely is the humidity uncomfortable, and the thermometer seldom drops below freezing. Rain generally confines itself to the winter and snow to the tops of the local mountains, the Mt. Hamilton Range lining the eastern border of the County and the Santa Cruz Mountains to the west.

The County of Santa Clara is located at the southern end of the San Francisco Bay and encompasses 1,312 square miles. The fertile Santa Clara Valley runs the entire length of the county from north to south, ringed by the rolling hills of the Diablo Range on the east, and the Santa Cruz Mountains on the west. Salt marshes and wetlands lie in the northwestern part of the county, adjacent to the waters of San Francisco Bay.

Today, the County is a major employment center for the region, providing more than a quarter of all jobs in the Bay Area. It has one of the highest median family incomes in the country, and a wide diversity of cultures, backgrounds and talents. The County of Santa Clara continues to attract people from all over the world.


The County's population of nearly 1.8 million is one of the largest in the state, following Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange Counties, and the largest of the nine Bay Area counties. Its population constitutes about one fourth of the Bay Area's total population. There are 15 cities (see list below) ranging from Palo Alto in the north, to Gilroy in the south. San Jose is the largest city in the County, with a population of nearly one million, and is the administrative site of County Government. A significant portion of the county's land area is unincorporated ranch and farmland. Nearly 92% of the population lives in cities.

The County of Santa Clara has a culture rich in its history, ethnic diversity (over 100 languages and dialects are spoken), artistic endeavors, sports venues and academic institutions.

In sports and recreation, San Jose is home to teams for professional soccer, minor league baseball, and the San Jose Sharks, the only professional ice hockey team in Northern California. Other local sports teams include the San Jose Earthquakes, the San Jose SaberCats and the San Jose Giants. Numerous public and private golf courses are located throughout the County. In addition to these recreational outlets, the County of Santa Clara operates 28 parks covering more than 50,000 acres including scenic lakes, streams, and miles of hiking and biking trails.

The County is home to three major universities - Stanford University, Santa Clara University and San Jose State University - as well as excellent community colleges.

Local museums and art galleries include The Tech Museum of Innovation, the Rosicrucian Museum, the Children's Discovery Museum, the San Jose Museum of Art, the Triton Museum of Art and many others. There are also abundant performing arts venues including opera, symphonies, musical theatre, repertory theatre, concerts, and children's musical theatre.

For more information on local entertainment at the Center for Performing Arts, Civic Auditorium, and Montgomery Theater, visit the San Jose & Convention Visitors Bureau.

For local concerts, please visit HP Pavilion, The Mountain Winery and Villa Montalvo.

Local theme parks and venues for children and adults include California's Great America, Gilroy Gardens, Raging Waters and the Santa Clara County Fair.

In addition to the wide variety of business, educational, cultural and recreational opportunities within the County, a short hour's drive can bring residents or visitors to the famous Lick Observatory on Mt. Hamilton, the hills of San Francisco, or any number of white sand beaches along the Pacific Ocean from Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay to Monterey and Carmel.