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Galveston County, Texas facts for kids

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Galveston County
Galveston County Courts Building
Galveston County Courts Building
Official seal of Galveston County
Map of Texas highlighting Galveston County
Location within the U.S. state of Texas
Map of the United States highlighting Texas
Texas's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Texas
Founded 1838
Named for City of Galveston
Seat Galveston
Largest city League City
 • Total 874 sq mi (2,260 km2)
 • Land 378 sq mi (980 km2)
 • Water 495 sq mi (1,280 km2)  57%
 • Total 350,682
 • Density 401.24/sq mi (154.92/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district 14th

Galveston County ( gal-VIS-tən) is a county in the U.S. state of Texas, located along the Gulf Coast adjacent to Galveston Bay. As of the 2020 U.S. Decennial Census, the population was 350,682. The county was founded in 1838. The county seat is the City of Galveston, founded the following year of 1839, located on Galveston Island. The most populous municipality in the county is League City, a suburb of Houston at the northern end of the county, which surpassed Galveston in population during the early 2000s.

Galveston County is part of the nine-county Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land (Greater Houston) metropolitan statistical area.


One of the first major settlements in the area that is now Galveston County was the town of Campeche on Galveston Island, created by the pirate Jean Lafitte. Lafitte created a prosperous pirate kingdom around the Galveston Bay until the United States Navy ousted him from the area. The area came under Mexican rule where Galveston became a significant port through the Texas Revolution.

Galveston County was formally established under the Republic of Texas on May 15, 1838. The county was formed from territory taken from Harrisburg, Liberty, and Brazoria counties, with governmental organization taking place in 1839. The island and city of Galveston was by far the most important population center. The city of Galveston was the republic's largest city and its center of commerce and culture. Port Bolivar on the Bolivar Peninsula was a port of secondary importance. Other development in the area was initially mostly ranching interests and small farming communities. Texas soon joined the United States and Galveston's importance continued to grow as it came to dominate the worldwide cotton trade. As railroads between Galveston, Harrisburg, Houston and other towns were built during the 19th century, small communities grew up along the rail lines. Nevertheless, Galveston still dominated. At the end of the 19th century, a group of investors established Texas City directly across the West Bay from Galveston with the hope of making it a competing port city. The port began operations just before the start of the 20th century.

Map of Galveston County
Map of Galveston County in 1879

The 1900 Galveston Hurricane devastated the county killing an estimated 6000 people on the island alone and numerous others in the rest of the county. The Port of Galveston was closed for some time as rebuilding occurred. The Port of Texas City, however, was able to re-open almost immediately allowing shipping through Galveston County to continue largely unimpeded and proving the merit of the new port city.

Investors had long worried that the Texas coast was a dangerous place to establish major commercial operations because of the threat of hurricanes, and the 1900 disaster seemed to prove that. Though Galveston rebuilt its port and other major operations quickly, major investment moved inland, largely to Houston. Soon Houston and Texas City had outpaced Galveston as major ports.

The oil boom in Texas began in 1901 and soon pipelines and refineries were built in Texas City. Industrial growth blossomed, especially during World War II. Galveston's manufacturing sector, however, was more stagnant during the 20th century.

Galveston, traditionally an attractive tourist destination even before the storm, transformed itself into a major, nationally known destination. The island's entertainment business spread throughout the county with major casino districts in Kemah and Dickinson enabled by a lax attitude among law enforcement in the county (Houstonians often humorously referred to the Galveston County line as the Maceo-Dickinson line). The county prospered as oil fueled Texas City's industrial growth and wealthy tourists flocked to Galveston and the other entertainment districts.

The gambling empire was destroyed in the 1950s as state law enforcement finally dismantled it. Galveston's economy crashed as did the economies of some other county municipalities that were dependent on tourism. Texas City's economy weathered the storm because of its strong industry.

The establishment on NASA's Johnson Space Center in 1963 soon created new growth opportunities for the county municipalities near Clear Lake and Harris County. The Clear Lake area communities in Harris and Galveston Counties soon became more tied toward each other while the island of Galveston languished for many years as businesses increasingly left for the mainland.

Tourism, of the more legitimate variety, has gradually redeveloped in the county, both on the island and on the mainland, and today has become a major industry in the county. Aerospace and related service industries continue to be important in the Clear Lake area of the county. Texas City has become an important petrochemical center.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 874 square miles (2,260 km2), of which 378 square miles (980 km2) is land and 495 square miles (1,280 km2) (57%) is water.

Galveston County is located on the plains of the Texas Gulf Coast in the southeastern part of the state. The county is bounded on the northeast by Galveston Bay and on the northwest by Clear Creek and Clear Lake. Much of the county covers Galveston Bay, and is bounded to the south by the Galveston Seawall and beaches on the Gulf of Mexico.

Adjacent counties


Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 4,529
1860 8,229 81.7%
1870 15,290 85.8%
1880 24,121 57.8%
1890 31,476 30.5%
1900 44,116 40.2%
1910 44,479 0.8%
1920 53,150 19.5%
1930 64,401 21.2%
1940 81,173 26.0%
1950 113,066 39.3%
1960 140,364 24.1%
1970 169,812 21.0%
1980 195,940 15.4%
1990 217,399 11.0%
2000 250,158 15.1%
2010 291,309 16.5%
2020 350,682 20.4%
U.S. Decennial Census
1850–2010 2010 2020

2020 census

Galveston County, Texas - Demographic Profile
(NH = Non-Hispanic)
Race / Ethnicity Pop 2010 Pop 2020 % 2010 % 2020
White alone (NH) 172,652 191,358 59.27% 54.57%
Black or African American alone (NH) 39,229 43,120 13.47% 12.30%
Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH) 1,052 1,036 0.36% 0.30%
Asian alone (NH) 8,515 12,202 2.92% 3.48%
Pacific Islander alone (NH) 128 223 0.04% 0.06%
Some Other Race alone (NH) 426 1,455 0.15% 0.41%
Mixed Race/Multi-Racial (NH) 4,037 12,652 1.39% 3.61%
Hispanic or Latino (any race) 65,270 88,636 22.41% 25.28%
Total 291,309 350,682 100.00% 100.00%

Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos can be of any race.

Political organization

The head of a Texas County, as set up in the Texas Constitution, is the County Judge, who sits as the chair of the county's Commissioners Court. The county is split into four geographical divisions called Precincts. Each precinct elects a Commissioner to sit as a representative of their precinct on the commissioners court and also for the oversight of county functions in their area.

Other elected positions in Galveston County include a county clerk, a district attorney, a district clerk, a county clerk, a sheriff, nine constables, a tax assessor-collector, a county treasurer, and every judge in the county except municipal judges, who are appointed by the officials of their respective cities.


Major highways

  • Texas 146.svg State Highway 146


Scholes International Airport at Galveston (IATA: GLSICAO: KGLS), the county's sole publicly owned airport, is a two-runway airport located on Galveston Island in Galveston. The airport is primarily used for general aviation, offshore energy transportation, and some limited military operations.

Privately owned airports for private use include Creasy Airport and Kami-Kazi Airport, both inn unincorporated areas.

The closest airport with regularly scheduled commercial service is William P. Hobby Airport, located in Houston. The Houston Airport System stated that Galveston County is also within the primary service area of George Bush Intercontinental Airport, an international airport near Houston in Harris County.

Private heliports for private use include:

  • University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston has two heliports: one for Ewing Hall and one for its emergency room.
  • Republic Helicopters Heliport is in an unincorporated area, adjacent to Hitchcock.


All rail traffic is currently industry-related. Regularly scheduled passenger rail service in Galveston County ceased on April 11, 1967.

Mass transit

The City of Galveston is served by Island Transit, a public transportation agency.


Galveston County has unincorporated areas in several areas. Most of them are on the Bolivar Peninsula. Others are outside of Hitchcock and Santa Fe along Texas State Highway 6, and the three communities in the "Bayshore" area: Bacliff, San Leon, and Bayview.



Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities

Alta Loma, previously unincorporated, became a part of Santa Fe in 1978.


Eight independent school districts (ISDs) serve Galveston County communities:

  • Clear Creek ISD
  • Dickinson ISD
  • Friendswood ISD
  • Galveston ISD
  • High Island ISD
  • Hitchcock ISD
  • Santa Fe ISD
  • Texas City ISD

A ninth school district, La Marque Independent School District, was subsumed into Texas City ISD in 2016 after the Texas Education Agency revoked its accreditation due to poor academic and financial performance.

Higher education

The city of Galveston is home to Texas A&M University at Galveston, an extension of the main A&M campus in College Station, and the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

The Texas Legislature specified that the following community colleges also serve the area: College of the Mainland for Texas City (including former La Marque), Hitchcock, Santa Fe, Friendswood, and Dickinson school districts as well as the Galveston County portion of Clear Creek ISD (in other words mainland Galveston County); and Galveston College for Galveston ISD and High Island ISD (the islands).

Public libraries

The Galveston County Library System operates libraries in most of the larger towns and cities. The Rosenberg Library in Galveston has the distinction of being the oldest public library in Texas, and serves as the headquarters for the Galveston County Library System. Its librarian also functions as the Galveston County librarian. Also, seven other libraries are in Galveston County, including the Genevieve Miller Library in Hitchcock, the La Marque Public Library, the Helen Hall Public Library in League City, the Moore Memorial Public Library in Texas City, the Dickinson Public Library, the Friendswood Public Library, and the Mae Bruce Library in Santa Fe.

Notable people

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Condado de Galveston para niños

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