Orange County, often known by its initials O.C., is located in the Los Angeles metropolitan area in Southern California. As of the 2020 census, the population was 3,186,989, making it the third-most-populous county in California, the sixth-most-populous in the United States, and more populous than 19 American states and Washington, D.C. Although largely suburban, it is the second-most-densely-populated county in the state behind San Francisco County. The county's three most-populous cities are Anaheim, Santa Ana, and Irvine, each of which has a population exceeding 300,000. Santa Ana is also the county seat. Six cities in Orange County are on the Pacific coast: Seal Beach, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Dana Point, and San Clemente.
Orange County is included in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim Metropolitan Statistical Area. The county has 34 incorporated cities. Older cities like Tustin, Santa Ana, Anaheim, Orange, and Fullerton have traditional downtowns dating back to the 19th century, while newer commercial development or "edge cities" stretch along the Interstate 5 (Santa Ana) Freeway between Disneyland and Santa Ana and between South Coast Plaza and the Irvine Business Complex, and cluster at Irvine Spectrum. Although single-family homes make up the dominant landscape for most of the county, Northern and Central Orange County is relatively more urbanized and dense as compared to those areas south of Irvine, which are less dense, though still contiguous and primarily suburban rather than exurban.
The county is a tourist center, with attractions like Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm, Mission San Juan Capistrano, Huntington Beach Pier, Modjeska House, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Yost Theater, Bowers Museum, Balboa Island, Angel Stadium, Downtown Santa Ana, Crystal Cove Historic District, the Honda Center, the Old Orange County Courthouse, the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks, and several popular beaches along its more than 40 mi (64 km) of coastline. It is also home to a major research university, the University of California, Irvine (UCI), along with a number of other notable colleges and universities such as Chapman University and Cal State Fullerton.
Archeological evidence shows the area to have been inhabited beginning about 9,500 years ago. At the time of European contact, the northern area of what is now Orange County was primarily inhabited by the Tongva, a part of Tovaangar, while the southern area of the county, below Aliso Creek, was primarily inhabited by the Acjachemen. Both groups lived in villages throughout the area. Large villages were sometimes multiethnic and multilingual, such as Genga, located in what is now Newport Beach. The village was shared by the Tongva and Acjachemen. The village of Puhú was located in what is now Black Star Canyon and was shared by multiple groups, including the Tongva, Acjachemen, Serrano and Payómkawichum.
On July 17, 1889, a second referendum was held south of the Coyote Creek to determine if the county seat of the new county would be Anaheim or Santa Ana, along with an election for every county officer. Santa Ana defeated Anaheim in the referendum. With the referendum having passed, the County of Orange was officially incorporated on August 1, 1889. Since the incorporation of the county, the only geographical changes made to the boundary was when the County and Los Angeles County traded some parcels of land around Coyote Creek to conform to city blocks.[when?]
In the 1910s, agriculture in Orange County was largely centered on grains, hay, and potatoes by small farmers, accounting for 60% of the county's exports. The Segerstroms and Irvines once produced so many lima beans that the county was called "Beanville". By 1920, fruit and nut exports exploded, which led to the increase of industrialized farming and the decline of family farms. For example, by 1917, William Chapman came to own 350,000 acres in northeastern Orange County from the Valencia orange. Around the 1910s and 1920s, most of the barrios of Orange County, such as in Santa Ana, further developed as company towns of Mexican laborers, who worked in the industrial orange groves. Poor working conditions resulted in the Citrus Strike of 1936, in which more than half of the orange industry's workforce, largely Mexican, demanded better working conditions. The strike was heavily repressed, with forced evictions and state-sanctioned violence being used as tactics of suppression. Carey McWilliams referred to the suppression as "the toughest violation of civil rights in the nation."
In the 1950s, agriculture, such as that involving the boysenberries made famous by Buena Park native Walter Knott, began to decline. However, the county's prosperity soared during this time. The completion of Interstate 5 in 1954 helped make Orange County a bedroom community for many who moved to Southern California to work in aerospace and manufacturing. Orange County received a further economic boost in 1955 with the opening of Disneyland.
In the 1990s, red foxes became common in Orange County as a non-native mesopredator, with increasing urban development pushing out coyote and mountain lion populations to the county's shrinking natural areas.
In 1994, an investment fund meltdown led to the criminal prosecution of treasurer Robert Citron. The county lost at least $1.5 billion through high-risk investments in bonds. The loss was blamed on derivatives by some media reports. On December 6, 1994, the County of Orange declared Chapter 9 bankruptcy, from which it emerged on June 12, 1996. The Orange County bankruptcy was at the time the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.
In 2008, a report issued by the Orange County Superior Court found that the county was experiencing a pet "overpopulation problem," with the growing number of pets leading to an increase in euthanasias at the Orange County Animal Shelter to 13,000 for the year alone.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 948 sq mi (2,460 km2), of which 791 sq mi (2,050 km2) is land and 157 sq mi (410 km2) (16.6%) is water. It is the smallest county by area in Southern California, being just over 40% the size of the region's next smallest county, Ventura. The average annual temperature is about 68 F (20 C).
The northwestern part of the county lies on the coastal plain of the Los Angeles Basin, while the southeastern end rises into the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains. Most of Orange County's population reside in one of two shallow coastal valleys that lie in the basin, the Santa Ana Valley and the Saddleback Valley. The Santa Ana Mountains lie within the eastern boundaries of the county and of the Cleveland National Forest. The high point is Santiago Peak (5,689 ft (1,734 m)), about 20 mi (32 km) east of Santa Ana. Santiago Peak and nearby Modjeska Peak, just 200 ft (60 m) shorter, form a ridge known as Saddleback, visible from almost everywhere in the county. The Peralta Hills extend westward from the Santa Ana Mountains through the communities of Anaheim Hills, Orange, and ending in Olive. The Loma Ridge is another prominent feature, running parallel to the Santa Ana Mountains through the central part of the county, separated from the taller mountains to the east by Santiago Canyon.
The Santa Ana River is the county's principal watercourse, flowing through the middle of the county from northeast to southwest. Its major tributary to the south and east is Santiago Creek. Other watercourses within the county include Aliso Creek, San Juan Creek, and Horsethief Creek. In the North, the San Gabriel River also briefly crosses into Orange County and exits into the Pacific on the Los Angeles-Orange County line between the cities of Long Beach and Seal Beach. Laguna Beach is home to the county's only natural lakes, Laguna Lakes, which are formed by water rising up against an underground fault.
Northern Orange County, including Anaheim, Fullerton, Garden Grove and Santa Ana, was the first part of the county to be developed and is culturally closer to neighboring Los Angeles County. This region is more Hispanic (mostly Mexican) and Asian (predominantly Vietnamese and Korean), more densely populated (Santa Ana is the fifth most densely-populated city in the United States with a population of over 200,000), younger, less wealthy and with higher unemployment. It has more renters and fewer homeowners and generally votes Democratic. There are notable exceptions to these general trends, such as strongly Republican Yorba Linda and affluent Anaheim Hills, North Tustin, and Villa Park. Northern Orange County is predominantly flat, giving way to the Santa Ana Mountains in the Northeast.
Older cities like Santa Ana, Anaheim, and Fullerton have traditional downtowns dating back to the 19th century, with Downtown Santa Ana being the home of the county, state and federal institutions. However, far more commercial activity is concentrated in clusters of newer commercial development are found in the county's edge cities, the three largest being
The Hispanic and Latino population is predominantly of Mexican origin; this group accounts for 28.5% of the county's population, followed by Salvadorans (0.8%), Guatemalans (0.5%), Puerto Ricans (0.4%), Cubans (0.3%), Colombians (0.3%), and Peruvians (0.3%). Santa Ana with its population reportedly 75 percent Hispanic/Latino, is among the most Hispanic/Latino percentage cities in both California and the U.S., esp. of Mexican-American descent.
Among the Asian population, 6.1% are Vietnamese, followed by Koreans (2.9%), Chinese (2.7%), Filipinos (2.4%), Indians (1.4%), Japanese (1.1%), Cambodians (0.2%), Pakistanis (0.2%), Thais (0.1%), Indonesians (0.1%), and Laotians (0.1%). According to KPCC in 2014, Orange County has the largest proportion of Asian Americans in Southern California, where one in five residents are Asian American. There is also a significant Muslim population in the county. 041b061a72