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About the County

Published on: 1/3/2017 11:36 AM
Located just to the south of San Francisco Bay, Santa Clara County has a land area of 1,315 square miles.  As of April 1, 2000, the county's population was approximately 1.7 million, making it the largest of the Bay Area counties, and the fifth most populous county in California.
County Image

Demographic Profile
From US Census Bureau

Fact Sheets
From 2003 California County Fact Book


Natural Environment
The major topographical features of the county are the Santa Clara Valley, the Diablo Range to the east, the Santa Cruz Mountains to the west, and the Baylands in the northwest.
The fertile Santa Clara Valley is ringed by rolling hills.  The Diablo Range covers the entire eastern half of the county. It consists mainly of grasslands, chaparral and oak savannah.  The Santa Cruz Mountains contain rolling grasslands and oak-studded foothills, along with mixed hardwoods and dense evergreen forests.  Higher elevations of the Santa Cruz Mountains are home to redwoods forests, steep slopes, and active earthquake faults. Areas of geologic instability are prevalent in both mountain ranges.
The Baylands in the northwestern corner of the county, adjacent to the southern San Francisco Bay waters consist mostly of vast salt evaporation ponds and remnant areas of salt marsh and wetlands.
The regional climate is Mediterranean and remains temperate due to the area's geography and proximity to the Pacific Ocean.  During fall and winter months, the daily high temperatures range from 55 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit while the summer months see warm dry weather with high temperatures typically between 65 and 82 degrees.  The county's average rainfall is 15 inches in San Jose to more than 40 inches in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Built Environment
The North Valley is extensively urbanized.  Thirteen of the county's fifteen cities, with over 88% of the county's residents (excluding unincorporated urban pockets) are located in the North Valley, while Gilroy and Morgan Hill, with approximately 5% of the county's population, are located in the South Valley.  The South Valley differs in that it remains predominantly rural, with the exception of Gilroy, Morgan Hill, and the small unincorporated community of San Martin.  Low-density residential developments are also scattered though the valley and foothill areas.  Unincorporated areas contain almost 7% of the county's residents.

Population Growth
Between 1980 and 1990, Santa Clara County grew by 202,506 people.  This growth represents a 16% increase in population. Similarly, between 1990 and 2000, the county grew by an additional 185,008, which accounts for a 12% change in population.  From 2000 to 2010, the county's population increased from 1,682,585 to 1,781,642, an almost 6% increase in population.  According to the Association of Bay Area Governments Projection 2009, by 2020, Santa Clara County's population is projected to increase to 2,063,100.  From 2020 to 2030, Santa Clara County's population is predicted to increase an additional 247,700 people to 2,310,800.

Location of Population Growth
Between 2000 and 2010, most of the population growth in Santa Clara County occurred in San Jose and in the North Valley cities (Campbell, Cupertino, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Los Gatos, Milpitas, Monte Sereno, Mountain View, Palo Alto, San Jose, Santa Clara, Saratoga, and Sunnyvale).  Although, North Valley cities experienced a larger increase in population numbers, the Southern Valley cities (Morgan Hill and Gilroy) experienced a larger percentage increase in population.

Household and Demographic Characteristics
As of 2010, there were 604,204 households in Santa Clara County.  This is an 6.7% increase in the number of households from 2000.  The number of people living in each household decreased slightly from 2.92 persons per household in 2000, to 2.90 in 2010.  Homeowner vacancy rates have stayed steady at 1.4% since 2000.  Rental vacancy rates have risen from 1.8% in 2000 (at the height of the boom) to 4.3% in 2010.

Race and Ethnicity Characteristics
Santa Clara County is made up of people from diverse cultures, nationalities, and racial groups.  As of 2010, the Hispanic or Latino population (from all races) comprises 26.9% of the total population.  The rest of the population (not ethnically Hispanic) includes 35.2% Whites, 31.7% Asians, 2.4% Black, 0.4% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, and 3.2% of the population was of some other race or two or more races.
Many people bring diverse cultures into Santa Clara County from places outside of the United States.  In 2009, approximately 36% of the population in Santa Clara County was born outside of the United States.

Income Characteristics
Santa Clara County has one of the highest personal income levels in the Bay Area and in the State of California.  In 1999, Santa Clara County had the second highest median household (people living together whether related or not) income ($85,215) of all California counties.  Additionally, Santa Clara County had the third highest median family income ($97,669) and fourth highest per capita income ($37,598) of all California counties.
ABAG Projections
These reports attached below contain excerpts from the Projections publication produced by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). ABAG's Projections publication contains demographic projections on population, labor force, households, income, and jobs for the Bay Area's region, counties, and cities to the Year 2030/2035. Projections uses a sophisticated modeling system to forecast the demographic and economic growth of the Bay Area Region based on land availability, economic components, and other demographic characteristics. This information allows us to predict what might occur in the future based on current conditions and trends, however, do not represent actual changes. Future growth can be influenced by changes in policies, demographic characteristics, economics, or other influences.  For more information about Projections, or to obtain a copy for all of Santa Clara County or the nine counties of the San Francisco Bay Area, please go to ABAG's website.

Population and Housing Estimates

Historical population estimates and components of change (births, deaths, and migration) for Santa Clara County calculated by the State of California, Department of Finance. For methodology of estimates, please see original document referenced in the table.
Historical Population Estimates for Santa Clara County 1980-2010 xls icon (93KB)
PDF icon (53KB)

The attached Population and Housing Estimates files contain the official State annual population and housing estimates calculated by the State of California, Department of Finance. These estimates include each city, the unincorporated area, and the totals for Santa Clara County.  Estimates for previous years are revised.  Tables for all years and for all counties are available at the Department of Finance Demographic Reports web page.
(Note: PDF files are supported by the free Adobe Acrobat Reader software. XLS files are supported by Microsoft Excel.)


Census Data


This section will provide you census data focused on the County of Santa Clara and its cities.


Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau conducts a decennial census of the entire United States. The main emphasis of the census is to get an entire count of the population, but over the years, they have collected additional data related to social, economic, housing, and other important characteristics. Although other sources of demographic data are collected more frequently, the decennial census data represents the most accurate set of demographic data on a national level. This data can be used to understand the past, current, and project future conditions of Santa Clara County.


Use the links below and in the "Facts & Figures" menu to the left to find Santa Clara County related Census 2000 and 2010 data.

Tracking Changes in Santa Clara County (PDF - 765KB)
A presentation focusing on major demographic changes and the poverty population

2000 Census Tract Maps
Santa Clara County Census Tracts


With the release of Census 2010, the Census Insights Project will be publishing updated data reports that summarize the data for Santa Clara County including all cities within in the county. The data reports will be released periodically and posted to this website as they are completed. Access the links below for the full version of these reports.

Links to More Data