Worcester County, Massachusetts
Worcester County is a county located in the U.S. state of Massachusetts. The largest city and traditional county seat is the city of Worcester. The county population was 798,552 at the 2010 census. Worcester and its environs are now considered part of the Boston metropolitan area; as recently as twenty years ago, when the towns were more reliant on Worcester than Boston, they constituted the Worcester MSA.
In the United States, a county is a geographic subdivision of a state (or federal territory), usually assigned some governmental authority. The term "county" is used in 48 of the 50 states; Louisiana is divided into parishes and Alaska into boroughs. Parishes and boroughs are called "county-equivalents" by the U.S. federal government, as are certain independent cities which are not parts of counties. There are 3,033 organized county or county-equivalent governments in the United States according to 2007 Census of Governments.
The powers of counties arise from state law and vary widely. In some states including Connecticut and Rhode Island, counties are geographic entities, but not governmental jurisdictions. At the other extreme, Maryland counties and the county-equivalent City of Baltimore handle almost all services, including public education, although the state retains an active oversight authority with many of these services.
The average number of counties per state is 62. The state with the most counties is Texas with 254; while the state with fewest is Delaware with three. As of the 2000 Census, the ave
age county population was about 100,000. The most populous county is Los Angeles County, California, with an estimated population of 9,880,000 (2009 Census estimate), greater than all but eight U.S. states. The least populous is Loving County, Texas, with 82 residents as of 2010.
County geographical area
The largest county or county-equivalent is the Unorganized Borough, Alaska, which is more than 330,000 square miles (850,000 km2). The five largest counties or county-equivalents are also all in Alaska; elsewhere the largest by land area is San Bernardino County, California, which is more than 20,000 square miles (52,000 km2). The smallest county by land area is Kalawao County, Hawaii, which is 13 square miles (34 km2).
Independent cities such as Baltimore are independent of counties. They differ from consolidated city–counties such as Denver, Colorado, New Orleans, Louisiana, Indianapolis, Indiana and San Francisco, California, where a city and county have been merged into one unified jurisdiction. A consolidated city-county is simultaneously a city, which is a municipal corporation (municipality), and a county, which is an administrative division of a state, having the powers and responsibilities of both types of entities.
The site of a county's administration, and often the county courthouse, is called the county seat ("parish seat" or "borough seat" in Louisiana or Alaska). Several Northeastern counties officially use the term "shire town" for the county seat.