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A county-equivalent in the United States is a type of area that is not inside any county. The county-equivalents are defined by the federal government. They are used for administrative and statistical reasons.
As of the 2000 census there were 3,141 county-equivalents in the United States. The number went down to 3,140 in 2001. That is because the city of Clifton Forge, Virginia changed from being a city to being a town.
Types of county-equivalents
There are three types of county-equivalents.
The first type of county-equivalent is an area of a state which is similar to a county.
Examples of this type:
- Louisiana has parishes instead of counties
- In Alaska:
The second type of county-equivalent is a city that is not inside any county.
Examples of this type:
- In Virginia, cities are not legally part of the counties that they are in, so they are considered county-equivalents.
- Three other cities in the United States are not legally part of any county: Baltimore, Maryland; Carson City, Nevada; and St. Louis, Missouri. These three cities are also county-equivalents.
- Washington, D.C. is a county-equivalent.
- Prior to 1997, the Census Bureau had recognized the portion of Yellowstone National Park within Montana as separate from any county, despite the fact that the State of Montana had recognized this land as being within adjacent counties since 1978. This area is no longer considered a county equivalent.
The third type of county-equivalent is an area that doesn't have any county-level government and the United States Census Bureau decides to treat it as a county-equivalent.
Example of this type:
- Alaska has boroughs, but the boroughs do not cover the whole state. The area not covered by boroughs is called the Unorganized Borough. In 1970, the Unorganized Borough was divided into areas for statistical reasons. Each of those areas is considered a county-equivalent.
- "Louisiana". United States Census Bureau. http://www.census.gov/geo/www/guidestloc/st22_la.html. Retrieved July 31, 2012.
- "Alaska". United States Census Bureau. http://www.census.gov/geo/www/guidestloc/st02_ak.html. Retrieved July 31, 2012.
- "Virginia". United States Census Bureau. http://www.census.gov/geo/www/guidestloc/st51_va.html. Retrieved July 31, 2012.
- County or Statistically Equivalent Entity at the United States Census Bureau website