Whatcom County, Washington facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Whatcom County, Washington
Seal of Whatcom County, Washington
Map
Map of Washington highlighting Whatcom County
Location in the state of Washington
Map of the USA highlighting Washington
Washington's location in the U.S.
Statistics
Founded March 9, 1854
Seat Bellingham
Largest City Bellingham
Area
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

2,503 sq mi (6,483 km²)
2,107 sq mi (5,457 km²)
397 sq mi (1,028 km²), 16%
PopulationEst.
 - (2015)
 - Density

212,284
99/sq mi (38/km²)
Time zone Pacific: UTC-8/-7
Website: www.co.whatcom.wa.us
Entering-Whatcom-County sign at county line in Washington, 1970
Sign at county boundary, 1970
Whatcom County, Washington - Sheriff Vehicle
Sheriff's Department vehicle in Bellingham

Whatcom County /ˈhwɒtkəm/ is a county located in the U.S. state of Washington. As of the 2010 census, the population was 201,140. It is bordered by Canada on the north, Okanogan County on the east, Skagit County on the south, and the Strait of Georgia on the west. The county seat and largest city is Bellingham.

The county was created from Island County by the Washington Territorial Legislature on March 9, 1854. It originally included the territory of present-day San Juan and Skagit counties, which were later organized after additional settlement. Its name derives from the Lummi word Xwotʼqom, meaning "noisy water."

Whatcom County comprises the Bellingham, WA Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Description

Whatcom County's northern border is the Canada–US border with the Canadian province of British Columbia. Adjoining the county on the north are five of metropolitan Vancouver's suburbs, Delta, White Rock, Surrey, Langley, and, in the central Fraser Valley, Abbotsford.

Several shopping malls and other services in Bellingham and elsewhere in the county are geared to cross-border shopping and recreation. The five crossing points are two at Blaine (one at the Peace Arch, located on the Interstate 5 crossing; and the other a commercial and passenger crossing on the Pacific Highway at State Route 543, both to Surrey, British Columbia); as well as at Lynden (SR 539, to Aldergrove); Sumas (SR 9, to Abbotsford); and Point Roberts (Tyee Drive, to Tsawwassen).

Geography

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 2,503 square miles (6,480 km2), of which 2,107 square miles (5,460 km2) is land and 397 square miles (1,030 km2) (16%) is water.

The county includes Lake Whatcom, which empties into Bellingham Bay by way of Whatcom Creek. Physiographically, Whatcom County is an extension of the Fraser Valley or "Lower Mainland" area of British Columbia. This is essentially the lowland delta plain of the Fraser River. At some periods in the past one of the Fraser River's lower arms entered Bellingham Bay near Bellingham via what is now the mouth of the Nooksack River.

A very small part of the county, Point Roberts, about 5 square miles (13 km2), is an extension of the Tsawwassen Peninsula, which is bisected by the Canada–US border along the 49th Parallel. The highest point in the county is the peak of the active volcano Mount Baker at 10,778 feet (3,285 m) above sea level. The lowest points are at sea level along the Pacific Ocean.

Geographic features

  • Bellingham Bay
  • Birch Bay
  • Cascade Mountains
    • Chuckanut Mountains
    • Mount Baker, highest point in Whatcom County
    • American Border Peak
    • Sumas Mountain
    • Mount Shuksan
  • Chilliwack River/Chilliwack Lake
  • Eliza Island
  • Lake Whatcom
  • Lummi Island
  • Lummi Bay
  • Nooksack River
  • North Lookout Mountain, known locally as Galbraith Mountain
  • Portage Island
  • Semiahmoo Bay
    • Semiahmoo Spit
  • Skagit River/Ross Lake
  • Sumas River

National protected areas

  • Mount Baker National Recreation Area
  • Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest (part)
  • North Cascades National Park (part)
  • Ross Lake National Recreation Area (part)
  • Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail (part)

State protected areas

  • Birch Bay State Park
  • Lake Terrell Wildlife Refuge
  • Larrabee State Park
  • Lookout Mountain (DNR)
  • Lummi Island (part) (DNR)
  • Stewart Mountain (DNR)
  • Lake Whatcom Watershed

Major highways

Adjacent counties

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 352
1870 534 51.7%
1880 3,137 487.5%
1890 18,591 492.6%
1900 24,116 29.7%
1910 49,511 105.3%
1920 50,600 2.2%
1930 59,128 16.9%
1940 60,355 2.1%
1950 66,733 10.6%
1960 70,317 5.4%
1970 81,950 16.5%
1980 106,701 30.2%
1990 127,780 19.8%
2000 166,814 30.5%
2010 201,140 20.6%
Est. 2015 212,284 5.5%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790–1960 1900–1990
1990–2000 2010–2015

2000 census

As of the census of 2000, there were 166,814 people, 64,446 households, and 41,116 families residing in the county. The population density was 79 people per square mile (30/km²). There were 73,893 housing units at an average density of 35 per square mile (13/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 88.41% White, 0.69% Black or African American, 2.82% Native American, 2.78% Asian, 0.14% Pacific Islander, 2.49% from other races, and 2.66% from two or more races. 5.21% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. Of people of European ancestry, 15.5% identified as German, 9.2% as English, 8.2% as Dutch, 7.9% as Irish, 7.0% as Norwegian and 6.6% as United States or American ancestry.

There were 64,446 households out of which 30.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.20% were married couples living together, 8.80% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.20% were non-families. 25.60% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.40% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.51 and the average family size was 3.03.

In the county, the population was spread out with 24.10% under the age of 18, 14.20% from 18 to 24, 27.50% from 25 to 44, 22.50% from 45 to 64, and 11.60% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 97.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.00 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $40,005, and the median income for a family was $49,325. Males had a median income of $37,589 versus $26,193 for females. The per capita income for the county was $20,025. About 7.80% of families and 14.20% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.20% of those under age 18 and 8.30% of those age 65 or over.

2010 census

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 201,140 people, 80,370 households, and 48,862 families residing in the county. The population density was 95.5 inhabitants per square mile (36.9/km2). There were 90,665 housing units at an average density of 43.0 per square mile (16.6/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 85.4% white, 3.5% Asian, 2.8% American Indian, 1.0% black or African American, 0.2% Pacific islander, 3.3% from other races, and 3.8% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 7.8% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 20.8% were German, 12.8% were Irish, 12.6% were English, 8.0% were Dutch, 6.9% were Norwegian, and 4.4% were American.

Of the 80,370 households, 28.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.0% were married couples living together, 8.8% had a female householder with no husband present, 39.2% were non-families, and 27.8% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 2.97. The median age was 36.6 years.

The median income for a household in the county was $49,031 and the median income for a family was $64,586. Males had a median income of $47,109 versus $34,690 for females. The per capita income for the county was $25,407. About 7.8% of families and 15.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.9% of those under age 18 and 7.1% of those age 65 or over.

Communities

Cities

Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities

Ghost town


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