San Juan County, Washington

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San Juan County, Washington
San Juan County Courthouse.JPG
San Juan County Courthouse
Map of Washington highlighting San Juan County
Location in the state of Washington
Map of the United States highlighting Washington
Washington's location in the U.S.
Founded October 31, 1873
Named for San Juan Islands
Seat Friday Harbor
Largest town Friday Harbor
 • Total 621 sq mi (1,608 km2)
 • Land 174 sq mi (451 km2)
 • Water 447 sq mi (1,158 km2), 72%
Population (est.)
 • (2014) 16,015
 • Density 92/sq mi (36/km²)
Congressional district 2nd
Time zone Pacific: UTC-8/-7

San Juan County is a county located in the Salish Sea in the far northwestern corner of the U.S. state of Washington. As of the 2010 census, its population was 15,769.[1] The county seat and only incorporated city is Friday Harbor,[2] located on San Juan Island. The county was formed on October 31, 1873 from Whatcom County[3] and is named for the San Juan Islands, which are in turn named for Juan Vicente de Güemes, 2nd Count of Revillagigedo,[4] the Viceroy of New Spain.

It is the only county in Washington not to have state highways.


The San Juan Islands were the subject of a territorial dispute between Great Britain and the United States from 1846–1872, leading to the Pig War in 1859.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 621 square miles (1,610 km2), of which 174 square miles (450 km2) is land and 447 square miles (1,160 km2) (72%) is water.[5] It is the smallest county in Washington by land area and fourth-smallest by total area.

San Juan County is a cluster of more than 400 islands and rocks with elevations above mean high tide. 128 of these islands and rocks are named. The county has rugged, rocky shoreline and several mountains. The highest point in the county is Mount Constitution on Orcas Island at 2,407 feet (734 m) above sea level.

Geographic features[edit]

Major islands[edit]

There are approximately 743 islands and rocks in the San Juan Island chain. Most of the county's population lives on the largest four islands, which are the only county islands served by the Washington State Ferries. The four largest islands are:

Adjacent counties[edit]

National protected areas[edit]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 554
1880 948 71.1%
1890 2,072 118.6%
1900 2,928 41.3%
1910 3,603 23.1%
1920 3,605 0.1%
1930 3,097 −14.1%
1940 3,157 1.9%
1950 3,245 2.8%
1960 2,872 −11.5%
1970 3,856 34.3%
1980 7,838 103.3%
1990 10,035 28.0%
2000 14,077 40.3%
2010 15,769 12.0%
Est. 2014 16,015 [6] 1.6%
U.S. Decennial Census[7]
1790–1960[8] 1900–1990[9]
1990–2000[10] 2010–2014[1]

As of the census[11] of 2000 there were 14,077 people living in the county in 6,466 households and 4,015 families, resulting in a population density of 80 people per square mile (31/km²). The census reported 9,752 housing units at an average density of 56 per square mile (22/km²). The residents of the county reported their race as 94.99% White, 0.26% Black or African American, 0.83% Native American, 0.89% Asian, 0.09% Pacific Islander, 0.91% from other races, and 2.04% from two or more races. 2.40% of the population identified themselves as Hispanic or Latino of any race. In response to the census question concerning ancestry, 16.7% reported English ancestry; 15.0%, German; 11.6%, Irish; 5.7%, United States or American; 5.4%, French; and 5.0%, Norwegian.

Of the 6,466 households, 22.90% had children under the age of 18; 51.80% were married couples living together; 6.90% had a female householder with no husband present; 37.90% were not families; 30.60% were individuals; and 10.70% were individuals 65 years of age or older, living alone. The average household size was 2.16 persons and the average family size was 2.65.

19.10% of the county's population was under the age of 18; 4.50% ranged in age from 18-24; 21.70%, 25-44; 35.70%, 45-64; and 19.00%, 65 or older. The median age was 47 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.00 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $43,491, and the median income for a family was $51,835. Males had a median income of $36,250 versus $26,516 for females. The per capita income for the county was $30,603. About 6.00% of families and 9.20% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.40% of those under age 18 and 3.10% of those age 65 or over.

San Juan county has the highest per capita income in the state of Washington. Deer Harbor, located in the county, has a per capita income exceeding $100,000. Waldron Island, with a population of 104 in the 2000 census, is considered one of the most impoverished areas in Washington, with about 56% of the people living in poverty.

In a survey by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, San Juan County was ranked the healthiest in the state of Washington.[12]


This county is usually even more liberal than the famously liberal King County, but does not have the reputation King County does because its population is so much smaller, and therefore its effect on elections much weaker. The only area of the county won by George W. Bush in 2004 was the Decatur Island/Blakely Island precinct, with just over 50 votes. Waldron Island's precinct voted 96.5% of the vote to John Kerry. In 2006, Maria Cantwell, the Democrat running for re-election to the U.S. Senate, won all precincts.[13]



Unincorporated communities[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 7, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ Hayes, Derek (1999). Historical Atlas of the Pacific Northwest: Maps of Exploration and Discovery ; British Columbia, Washington, Oregaon, Alaska, Yukon. Sasquatch Books. pp. 72–73. ISBN 978-1-57061-215-2. Retrieved 21 April 2013. 
  4. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved July 16, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  6. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 7, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved January 7, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 7, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 7, 2014. 
  10. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-05-14. 
  11. ^ The News Tribune, February 17, 2010 - Tacoma, WA.,
  12. ^ Leip, David (2005). "2006 Senatorial General Election Results - San Juan County, WA". 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 48°34′N 122°58′W / 48.57°N 122.97°W / 48.57; -122.97