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Tulare County, California
County of Tulare
Visalia Acequia Ave..JPG
Moro Rock-View from Potwisha.jpg
2006 12 29 - Terminus Dam (3).JPG
Images, from top down, left to right: Acequia Avenue in Visalia, Allensworth Hotel in Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park, Moro Rock in Sequoia National Park, Lake Kaweah
Official seal of Tulare County, California
Location in the state of California
Location in the state of California
Country United States
State California
Regions San Joaquin Valley and Sierra Nevada
Metro area Visalia-Porterville Metropolitan Area
Incorporated 1852
Named for Tulare Lake, which is named for the tule rush that lined its shores
County seat Visalia
Largest city Visalia
Incorporated cities 8
 • Total 4,839 sq mi (12,530 km2)
 • Land 4,823 sq mi (12,490 km2)
 • Water 14 sq mi (40 km2)
Highest elevation
14,501 ft (4,420 m)
 • Total 473,117
 • Density 97.772/sq mi (37.750/km2)
Time zone UTC−8 (Pacific)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−7 (PDT)
Area code 559, 661
FIPS code 06-107
GNIS feature ID 277318

Tulare County ( tuu-LAIR-ee) is a county in the U.S. state of California. As of the 2020 census, the population was 473,117. The county seat is Visalia. The county is named for Tulare Lake, once the largest freshwater lake west of the Great Lakes. Drained for agricultural development, the site is now in Kings County, which was created in 1893 from the western portion of the formerly larger Tulare County.

Tulare County comprises the Visalia-Porterville, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area. The county is located south of Fresno, spanning from the San Joaquin Valley east to the Sierra Nevada.

Sequoia National Park is located in the county, as is part of Kings Canyon National Park, in its northeast corner (shared with Fresno County), and part of Mount Whitney, on its eastern border (shared with Inyo County). As of the 2020 census, the population was 473,117, up from 442,179 at the 2010 census.


Tulare County, California (1920)
Road sign, 1920

The land was occupied for thousands of years by varying cultures of indigenous peoples. Beginning in the eighteenth century, Spain established missions to colonize California and convert the American Indians to Christianity. Comandante Pedro Fages, while hunting for deserters in the Central Valley in 1772, discovered a great lake surrounded by marshes and filled with rushes; he named it Los Tules (the tules). It is from this lake that the county derives its name. The root of the name Tulare is found in the Nahuatl word tullin, designating cattail or similar reeds.

After Mexico achieved independence, it continued to rule California. After the Mexican Cession and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, the area became part of the United States. Tulare County was soon formed from parts of Mariposa County only 4 years later in 1852. There were two early attempts to split off a new Buena Vista County in 1855, and Coso County in 1864, but both failed. Parts of the county's territory were given to Fresno County in 1856, to Kern County and to Inyo County in 1866 and to Kings County in 1893.

The infectious disease Tularemia caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis is named after Tulare County.

In 1908 Colonel Allen Allensworth and associates founded Allensworth as a black farming community. They intended to develop a place where African Americans could thrive free of white discrimination. It was the only community in California founded, financed and governed by African Americans. While its first years were highly successful, the community encountered environmental problems from dropping water tables which eventually caused it to fail. Today the historic area is preserved as the Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 4,839 square miles (12,530 km2), of which 4,824 square miles (12,490 km2) is land and 14 square miles (36 km2) (0.3%) is water.

Giant Forest
Sequoia National Park is located within Tulare County
Mount Whitney 2003-03-25
Mount Whitney is located on the Tulare-Inyo County line



  • Angora River
  • Alpine River
  • Kaweah River
  • Needlerock River
  • Monarch River


  • Allensworth Historic District
  • Alpaugh Park
  • Balch Park
  • Bartlett Park
  • Cutler Park
  • Horse Creek Recreation Area
  • Kings River Nature Preserve
  • Lackeys Cabin
  • Lake Kaweah Recreation Area
  • Mineral King Game Refuge
  • Mooney Grove Park / Ancient Oak Forest Preserve
  • Sequoia National Park
  • Woodville Park
  • West Main Street Park

National protected areas

Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park is a national park in the southern Sierra Nevada, east of Visalia. It was established in 1890 as the second U.S. national park, after Yellowstone. The park spans 404,051 acres (1,635.14 km2). Encompassing a vertical relief of nearly 13,000 feet (3,962 m), the park contains among its natural resources the highest point in the contiguous 48 United States, Mount Whitney, at 14,505 feet (4,421 m) above sea level. The park is south of and contiguous with Kings Canyon National Park; the two are administered by the National Park Service as one unit, called Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.


Major highways

  • California 43.svg State Route 43
  • California 63.svg State Route 63
  • California 65.svg State Route 65
  • California 99.svg State Route 99
  • California 137.svg State Route 137
  • California 180.svg State Route 180
  • California 190.svg State Route 190
  • California 198.svg State Route 198
  • California 201.svg State Route 201
  • California 216.svg State Route 216
  • California 245.svg State Route 245

Public transportation

Tulare County Area Transit (TCaT) provides a intracounty bus service linking the population centers. One TCaT route connects to Delano in Kern County.

The cities of Tulare, Porterville, and Visalia have their own local intracity bus services.

Greyhound and Orange Belt Stages provide long-distance, intercity bus service outside the county.


The Porterville Municipal Airport, located 3 nautical miles (3.5 mi; 5.6 km) from Downtown Porterville, has very limited commercial passenger service with WestAir. The airport offers general aviation to the public; it is also home to Porterville Air Attack Base on the south part of the airport. The Visalia Municipal Airport is a city-owned airport for the city of Visalia, California. Mefford Field is a city-owned general aviation airport located in Tulare.

The nearest full-operation commercial airports are Bakersfield's Meadows Field Airport to the south, and Fresno's Fresno Yosemite International Airport to the north.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 4,638
1870 4,533 −2.3%
1880 11,281 148.9%
1890 24,574 117.8%
1900 18,375 −25.2%
1910 35,440 92.9%
1920 59,031 66.6%
1930 77,442 31.2%
1940 107,152 38.4%
1950 149,264 39.3%
1960 168,403 12.8%
1970 188,322 11.8%
1980 245,738 30.5%
1990 311,921 26.9%
2000 368,021 18.0%
2010 442,179 20.2%
2020 473,117 7.0%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010 2020

2020 census

Tulare County, California - Demographic Profile
(NH = Non-Hispanic)
Race / Ethnicity Pop 2010 Pop 2020 % 2010 % 2020
White alone (NH) 143,935 125,022 32.55% 26.43%
Black or African American alone (NH) 5,497 5,332 1.24% 1.13%
Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH) 3,323 3,458 0.75% 0.73%
Asian alone (NH) 14,204 15,997 3.21% 3.38%
Pacific Islander alone (NH) 370 511 0.08% 0.11%
Some Other Race alone (NH) 641 2,132 0.14% 0.45%
Mixed Race/Multi-Racial (NH) 6,144 10,770 1.39% 2.28%
Hispanic or Latino (any race) 268,065 309,895 60.62% 65.50%
Total 442,179 473,117 100.00% 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.

The 2020 United States Census reported that Tulare County had a population of 473,117 and the population was spread out, with 31.0% under the age of 18, 69.0% from 18 to 64, 6.5% from 65 to 74, 3.2% from 75 to 84 and 1.4% who were 85 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years.

The racial makeup of Tulare County including Hispanics was 186,255 (39.4%) White, 6,668 (1.4%) African American, 10,645 (2.2%) Native American, 17,194 (3.6%) Asian, 723 (0.1%) Pacific Islander, 165,230 (34.9%) from other races, and 86,402 (18.2%) from two or more races. There were 309,895 people (65.5%) of Hispanic or Latino origin, of any race. 3.7% were of German, 3.2% English, 2.8% Irish, 2.4% Portuguese and 2.3% American ancestry according to Census 2020. 48.7% spoke English, 47.4% Spanish and 1.0% Indo-European as their first language.

There were 144,109 households, out of which 45.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.5% were married couples living together, 15.2% had a male householder with no spouse present, 24.1% had a female householder with no husband present, 20.8% were non-families, and 8.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.20 and the average family size was 3.57.

There were 150,652 household units, and 141,987 occupied housing units in the county. The population density was 98.1 people per square mile (37.9/km2).

The median income for a household in the county was $57,692, and the median income for a family was $53,330. The per capita income for the county was $23,096. About 18.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.0% of those under age 18 and 13.8% of those age 65 or over.


Places by population, race, and income

2010 Census

The 2010 United States Census reported that Tulare County had a population of 442,179. The racial makeup of Tulare County was 265,618 (60.1%) White, 7,196 (1.6%) African American, 6,993 (1.6%) Native American, 15,176 (3.4%) Asian, 509 (0.1%) Pacific Islander, 128,263 (29.0%) from other races, and 18,424 (4.2%) from two or more races. There were 268,065 people (60.6%) of Hispanic or Latino origin, of any race.


The dairy industry, with sales of milk products, brings in the most revenue for the county, typically more than US$1 billion a year annually. Oranges, grapes, and cattle-related commodities also earn hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

In 2001, Tulare became the most productive county in the U.S. in terms of agricultural revenues, at US$3.5 billion annually. It surpassed Fresno County's US$3.2 billion, which had held the top spot for over two decades. Due to the importance of agriculture in the county as well as its location in the state, since 1968 the city of Tulare has been the site of the annual World Ag Expo, the world's largest agricultural exposition.

Minor league sports teams, such as the baseball Visalia Rawhide of the class-A level California League (an affiliate to the Arizona Diamondbacks), two teams of the Minor League Football Association in Tulare and Visalia, and four teams of the Central California Basketball League based in Porterville, attract many residents and add to the amenities in the county.

Top employers

According to the county's 2020 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the county are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 County of Tulare 5,106
2 Visalia Unified School District 3,355
3 Kaweah Delta Medical Center 2,000
4 Sierra View District Hospital 1,800
5 Ruiz Food Production, Inc 1,800
6 Wal-Mart Distribution Center 1,692
7 Porterville Developmental Center 1,173
8 College of the Sequoias 1,160
9 Jostens 720
10 City of Visalia 653

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