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King County, Washington facts for kids

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King County
City Hall Park and King County Courthouse in downtown Seattle
City Hall Park and King County Courthouse in downtown Seattle
Flag of King County
Official logo of King County
Map of Washington highlighting King County
Location within the U.S. state of Washington
Map of the United States highlighting Washington
Washington's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Washington
Founded December 22, 1852
Named for
Seat Seattle
Largest city Seattle
 • Total 2,307 sq mi (5,980 km2)
 • Land 2,116 sq mi (5,480 km2)
 • Water 191 sq mi (490 km2)  8.3%
 • Total 2,269,675
 • Estimate 
2,252,305 Decrease
 • Density 1,073/sq mi (414/km2)
Time zone UTC−8 (Pacific)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−7 (PDT)
Congressional districts 1st, 7th, 8th, 9th

King County is located in the U.S. state of Washington. The population was 2,269,675 in the 2020 census, making it the most populous county in Washington, and the 13th-most populous in the United States. The county seat is Seattle, also the state's most populous city.

King County is one of three Washington counties that are included in the SeattleTacomaBellevue metropolitan statistical area. (The others are Snohomish County to the north, and Pierce County to the south.) About two-thirds of King County's population lives in Seattle's suburbs.


The county was originally named after William Rufus King who was Vice President when the Washington Territory was created in 1853. In 1986, a motion was introduced to change the namesake to Martin Luther King Jr.

On February 24, 1986, the King County Council passed Council Motion 6461 five votes to four setting forth the historical basis for the renaming of King County in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Because only the state can charter counties, this change was not made official until April 19, 2005, when the Governor signed Senate Bill 5332 into law.

The County Council submitted a vote to the public on February 27, 2006 to change the county's logo from a royal crown to an image of King. On March 12, 2007, the new logo was unveiled.

Martin Luther King Jr. visited King County for two days in November 1961.


The county was formed out of territory within Thurston County on December 22, 1852, by the Oregon Territory legislature, and was named after Alabama resident William R. King, who had just been elected Vice President of the United States under President Franklin Pierce. Seattle was made the county seat on January 11, 1853.

King County originally extended to the Olympic Peninsula. According to historian Bill Speidel, when peninsular prohibitionists threatened to shut down Seattle's saloons, Doc Maynard engineered a peninsular independence movement; King County lost what is now Kitsap County, but preserved its entertainment industry.

On February 24, 1986, the King County Council passed Motion 6461 renaming King County to commemorate the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), the civil rights leader, rather than William Rufus de Vane King (1786-1853), the vice-president-elect for whom the county was named in 1852. The stated reason for the change was the revelation that "William Rufus DeVane King was a slaveowner and a "gentle slave monger" according to John Quincy Adams."


Map of King County

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 2,307 square miles (5,980 km2), of which 2,116 square miles (5,480 km2) is land and 191 square miles (490 km2) (8.3%) is water. King County has nearly twice the land area of the state of Rhode Island. The highest point in the county is Mount Daniel at 2,426 meters (7,959 feet) above sea level.

King County borders Snohomish County to the north, Kitsap County to the west, Kittitas County to the east, and Pierce County to the south. It also shares a small border with Chelan County to the northeast. King County includes Vashon Island and Maury Island in Puget Sound.

Geographic features

Granite Mountain King County Washington 2
The Cascade Range (including Granite Mountain shown here) dominates the eastern part of King County.



Major highways

  • I-5 (big).svg Interstate 5
  • I-90 (big).svg Interstate 90
  • I-405 (big).svg Interstate 405
  • US 2.svg U.S. Route 2
  • WA-18.svg State Route 18
  • WA-99.svg State Route 99
  • WA-520.svg State Route 520
  • WA-167.svg State Route 167

Adjacent counties

National protected areas


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 302
1870 2,120 602.0%
1880 6,910 225.9%
1890 63,989 826.0%
1900 110,053 72.0%
1910 284,638 158.6%
1920 389,273 36.8%
1930 463,517 19.1%
1940 504,980 8.9%
1950 732,992 45.2%
1960 935,014 27.6%
1970 1,156,633 23.7%
1980 1,269,749 9.8%
1990 1,507,319 18.7%
2000 1,737,034 15.2%
2010 1,931,249 11.2%
2020 2,269,675 17.5%
2021 (est.) 2,252,305 16.6%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790–1960 1900–1990
1990–2000 2010–2020

The center of population of the state of Washington in 2010 was located in eastern King County (47°19′51″N 121°37′12″W / 47.330750°N 121.619994°W / 47.330750; -121.619994 (Washington center of population, 2010)). King County's own center of population was located on Mercer Island (47°32′54″N 122°13′48″W / 47.548320°N 122.229983°W / 47.548320; -122.229983 (King County center of population, 2010)).

As of the fourth quarter of 2021, the median home value in King County was $817,547, an increase of 19.6% from the prior year.

Racial and Ethnic Composition since 1960

Racial composition 2020 2010 2000 1990 1980 1970 1960
White (non-Hispanic) 54.2% 64.8% 73.4% 83.2% 87.2% - -
Asian (non-Hispanic) 19.8% 14.5% 10.8% 7.8% - - 2.0%
Hispanic or Latino 10.7% 8.9% 5.4% 2.9% 2.1% 1.8% -
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 6.5% 6.0% 5.4% 5.0% 4.4% 3.5% 2.9%
Pacific Islander (non-Hispanic) 0.9% 0.7% 0.5% - - - -
Native American (non-Hispanic) 0.5% 0.7% 0.9% 1.1% - - 0.3%
Mixed (non-Hispanic) 6.8% 4.1% 4.0% - - - -

2010 census

As of the 2010 census, there were 1,931,249 people, 789,232 households, and 461,510 families residing in the county. The population density was 912.9 inhabitants per square mile (352.5/km2). There were 851,261 housing units at an average density of 402.4 per square mile (155.4/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 68.7% White (64.8% Non-Hispanic White), 6.2% African American, 14.6% Asian, 0.8% Pacific Islander, 0.8% Native American, 3.9% from other races, and 5.0% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 8.9% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 17.1% were German, 11.6% were English, 11.1% were Irish, 5.5% were Norwegian, and 2.9% were American.

Of the 789,232 households, 29.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.3% were married couples living together, 9.1% had a female householder with no husband present, 41.5% were non-families, and 31.0% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 3.05. The median age was 37.1 years.

The median income for a household in the county was $68,065 and the median income for a family was $87,010. Males had a median income of $62,373 versus $45,761 for females. The per capita income for the county was $38,211. About 6.4% of families and 10.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.5% of those under age 18 and 8.6% of those age 65 or over.

Native American tribes

King County is home two federally-recognized tribes, the Muckleshoot tribe and the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe tribe, and other unrecognized groups. The Muckleshoot Indian Reservation is located southeast of Auburn and is home to a resident population of 3,606 as of the 2000 census.

The Snoqualmie tribe's casino property was federally recognized as their reservation in 2006, however few tribe members live near the reservation.




Census-designated places

Other unincorporated communities

Ghost towns


K–12 schools

  • Auburn School District
  • Bellevue School District
  • Enumclaw School District
  • Federal Way Public Schools
  • Highline School District
  • Issaquah School District
  • Kent School District
  • Lake Washington School District
  • Mercer Island School District
  • Northshore School District
  • Renton School District
  • Riverview School District
  • Seattle Public Schools
  • Shoreline School District
  • Snoqualmie Valley School District
  • Tahoma School District
  • Tukwila School District
  • Vashon Island School District

Public libraries

Most of King County is served by the King County Library System, while the city of Seattle is served by its own system.

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Condado de King (Washington) para niños

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