|— City —|
|• Total||1.8 sq mi (4.5 km2)|
|• Land||1.8 sq mi (4.5 km2)|
|• Water||0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)|
|Elevation||1,191 ft (363 m)|
|• Density||1,187.4/sq mi (459.1/km2)|
|Time zone||Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC-4)|
|GNIS feature ID||0493746|
The settlement which became Harlan was first settled by Samuel and Chloe Howard in 1796, who allocated 12 acres (49,000 m2) of their land to become the county seat in 1812. They named the town Mount Pleasant when it was incorporated in 1876 due to the presence of a nearby Indian burial mound. It was renamed Harlan by the Kentucky General Assembly in 1912 since there was already a "Mount Pleasant" in the state.
Harlan is the site of a criminal case in which a man, Condy Dabney, was convicted in 1924 of murdering a person who was later found alive.
In the 1990s a flood wall was completed on the city's west side along the four lane bypass U.S. Route 421. The additional flood protection allowed new commercial development.
Harlan is located at .(36.841487, -83.320066)
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.8 square miles (4.7 km2), all land.
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,081 people, 926 households, and 550 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,187.4 people per square mile (459.1/km²). There were 1,060 housing units at an average density of 604.8 per square mile (233.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 91.01% White, 7.02% Black or African American, 0.29% Native American, 0.86% Asian, and 0.82% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 0.62% of the population.
|U.S. Census Bureau|
There were 926 households out of which 24.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.3% were married couples living together, 14.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.6% were non-families. 39.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 19.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.17 and the average family size was 2.91.
In the city the population was spread out with 21.3% under the age of 18, 8.1% from 18 to 24, 25.8% from 25 to 44, 25.1% from 45 to 64, and 19.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 89.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 81.8 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $17,270, and the median income for a family was $29,135. Males had a median income of $37,500 versus $20,852 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,572. About 23.8% of families and 32.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 40.0% of those under age 18 and 20.6% of those age 65 or over.
Educational institutions 
Two school districts, the Harlan County Public Schools and the Harlan Independent Schools, are based in the city. The independent schools, whose district roughly coincides with the city limits of Harlan, feature Harlan Elementary, Harlan Middle, and Harlan High.
Harlan County High School, which opened in 2008 as the consolidation of the county district's three previous high schools (James A. Cawood, Evarts, and Cumberland), serves all other public high school students in the county. Harlan also features a campus of Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College.
Some storylines of the FX Networks drama Justified take place in Harlan, although no scenes have been filmed there. Harlan was also featured in a Darrell Scott song called "You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive", a Steve Earle song "Harlan Man", and Anna McGarrigle's song "Goin' Back to Harlan" (notably covered by Emmylou Harris).
Notable natives 
- Karl Spillman Forester - federal judge for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky
- Richard Hill - Actor, star of the movie Deathstalker
- Wallace Jones - NBA player
- James E. Keller - former Justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court
- Nick Lachey - singer
- Cawood Ledford - University of Kentucky basketball & football announcer
- George Ella Lyon - author
- Don Whitehead - two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and author
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- Rennick, Robert M. (1987). "Kentucky Place Names". University Press of Kentucky. p. 131. Retrieved 2013-04-28.
- Borchard, Edwin M (1932). Convicting the Innocent; Sixty-Five Actual Errors of Criminal Justice. p. 55. ISBN 1-4086-7960-4.
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- Census Bureau Retrieved on 2010-2-12