List of counties in Washington

There are 39 counties in the U.S. state of Washington. Washington came from what was the western part of Washington Territory and was admitted to the Union as the 42nd state in 1889.[1] The first counties were created from unorganized territory in 1845.[2] Eight of the counties were created by Oregon governments prior to the organization of Washington Territory, 26 were created during Washington's territorial period, and five more were created after Washington became a state (Benton, Chelan, Grant, Ferry, and Pend Oreille).[3]

Counties of Washington
LocationState of Washington
Populations2,266 (Garfield) – 1,931,249 (King)
Areas175 square miles (450 km2) (San Juan) – 5,268 square miles (13,640 km2) (Okanogan)
GovernmentCounty government
Subdivisionscities, towns, townships, unincorporated communities, Native reservations, census designated place

Article XI of the Washington State Constitution addresses the organization of counties. New counties must have a population of at least 2,000 and no county can be reduced to a population below 4,000 due to partitioning to create a new county.[4] At least one early county, named Quillehuyte, was disestablished by the territorial government due to low population.[5] To alter the area of a county, the state constitution requires a petition of the "majority of the voters" in that area. A number of county partition proposals in the 1990s interpreted this as a majority of people who voted, until a 1998 ruling by the Washington Supreme Court clarified that they would need a majority of registered voters.[6]

The Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) code, used by the United States government to uniquely identify counties, is provided with each entry. The FIPS code links in the table point to U. S. Census "quick facts" pages for each county.

Washington's postal abbreviation is WA and its FIPS state code is 53.


FIPS code[7] County seat[8] Est.[8] Origin[2] Etymology[2][9] Population[8] Area[8] Map
Adams County 001 Ritzville1883Whitman CountyJohn Adams (1735–1826), 2nd U.S. President 18,728 1,925 sq mi
(4,986 km2)
Asotin County 003 Asotin1883Garfield CountyThe Nez Percé name for Eel Creek 21,623 636 sq mi
(1,647 km2)
Benton County 005 Prosser1905Yakima and Klickitat CountiesThomas Hart Benton (1782–1858), a U.S. Senator from Missouri 175,177 1,703 sq mi
(4,411 km2)
Chelan County 007 Wenatchee1899Okanogan and Kittitas CountiesA Native American word meaning "deep water", referring to Lake Chelan 72,453 2,922 sq mi
(7,568 km2)
Clallam County 009 Port Angeles1854Jefferson CountyA Klallam word meaning "brave people" or "the strong people" 71,404 1,745 sq mi
(4,520 km2)
Clark County 011 Vancouver1845Original countyWilliam Clark (1770–1838), the co-captain of the Lewis and Clark Expedition 425,363 628 sq mi
(1,627 km2)
Columbia County 013 Dayton1875Walla Walla CountyThe Columbia River 4,078 869 sq mi
(2,251 km2)
Cowlitz County 015 Kelso1854Original countyCowlitz, an Indian tribe 102,410 1,139 sq mi
(2,950 km2)
Douglas County 017 Waterville1883Lincoln CountyStephen A. Douglas (1813–1861), U.S. Senator from Illinois 38,431 1,821 sq mi
(4,716 km2)
Ferry County 019 Republic1899Stevens CountyElisha P. Ferry (1825–1895), 1st Governor of Washington State 7,551 2,204 sq mi
(5,708 km2)
Franklin County 021 Pasco1883Whitman CountyBenjamin Franklin (1706–1790), writer, orator, inventor, and U.S. Founding Father 78,163 1,242 sq mi
(3,217 km2)
Garfield County 023 Pomeroy1881Columbia CountyJames A. Garfield (1831–1881), 20th U.S. President 2,266 710 sq mi
(1,839 km2)
Grant County 025 Ephrata1909Douglas CountyUlysses S. Grant (1822–1885), 18th U.S. President 89,120 2,681 sq mi
(6,944 km2)
Grays Harbor County 027 Montesano1854Thurston CountyGrays Harbor, a body of water named after explorer and merchant Robert Gray (1755–1806) 72,797 1,917 sq mi
(4,965 km2)
Island County 029 Coupeville1853Thurston CountyConsists solely of islands, including Whidbey and Camano islands 78,506 209 sq mi
(541 km2)
Jefferson County 031 Port Townsend1852Thurston CountyThomas Jefferson (1743–1826), 3rd U.S. President and principal author of the Declaration of Independence 29,872 1,809 sq mi
(4,685 km2)
King County 033 Seattle1852Thurston CountyWilliam R. King (1786–1853), U.S. Vice President under Franklin Pierce; officially renamed in 2005 after civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929–1968) 1,931,249 2,126 sq mi
(5,506 km2)
Kitsap County 035 Port Orchard1857King and Jefferson CountiesChief Kitsap (d. 1860), leader of the Suquamish tribe 251,133 396 sq mi
(1,026 km2)
Kittitas County 037 Ellensburg1883Yakima CountyKittitas tribe word of uncertain meaning, with popular translations ranging from "white chalk" to "land of the plenty" 40,915 2,297 sq mi
(5,949 km2)
Klickitat County 039 Goldendale1859Walla Walla CountyKlickitat tribe, also meaning "robber" and "beyond" 20,318 1,872 sq mi
(4,848 km2)
Lewis County 041 Chehalis1845Original countyMeriwether Lewis (1774–1809), the co-captain of the Lewis and Clark Expedition 75,455 2,408 sq mi
(6,237 km2)
Lincoln County 043 Davenport1883Whitman CountyAbraham Lincoln (1809–1865), 16th U.S. President 10,570 2,311 sq mi
(5,985 km2)
Mason County 045 Shelton1854King CountyCharles H. Mason (1830–1859), 1st Secretary of Washington Territory 60,699 961 sq mi
(2,489 km2)
Okanogan County 047 Okanogan1888Stevens CountyA Salish word meaning "rendezvous" 41,120 5,268 sq mi
(13,644 km2)
Pacific County 049 South Bend1851Lewis CountyThe Pacific Ocean 20,920 975 sq mi
(2,525 km2)
Pend Oreille County 051 Newport1911Stevens CountyThe Pend d'Oreille tribe, named by French traders for their "ear bobs" 13,001 1,400 sq mi
(3,626 km2)
Pierce County 053 Tacoma1852Thurston CountyFranklin Pierce (1804–1869), 14th U.S. President 795,225 1,676 sq mi
(4,341 km2)
San Juan County 055 Friday Harbor1873Whatcom CountySan Juan Islands, itself derived from Juan Vicente de Güemes 15,769 175 sq mi
(453 km2)
Skagit County 057 Mount Vernon1883Whatcom CountyThe Skagit tribe 116,901 1,735 sq mi
(4,494 km2)
Skamania County 059 Stevenson1854Clark CountyA Chinookan word meaning "swift water" 11,066 1,656 sq mi
(4,289 km2)
Snohomish County 061 Everett1861Island CountyThe Snohomish tribe, word origin disputed 713,335 2,090 sq mi
(5,413 km2)
Spokane County 063 Spokane1879 aStevens CountyThe Spokane tribe, meaning "people of the sun" 471,221 1,764 sq mi
(4,569 km2)
Stevens County 065 Colville1863Walla Walla CountyIsaac Stevens (1818–1862), 1st Governor of the Washington Territory 43,531 2,478 sq mi
(6,418 km2)
Thurston County 067 Olympia1852Lewis CountySamuel Thurston (1815–1851), the Oregon Territory's first delegate to U.S. Congress 252,264 727 sq mi
(1,883 km2)
Wahkiakum County 069 Cathlamet1854Cowlitz CountyWakaiakam, chief of the Kathlamet tribe 3,978 264 sq mi
(684 km2)
Walla Walla County 071 Walla Walla1854Skamania CountyThe Walla Walla tribe, and also a Nez Percé name for running water 58,781 1,270 sq mi
(3,289 km2)
Whatcom County 073 Bellingham1854Island CountyWhatcom, chief of the Nooksack tribe and named for a Nooksack word meaning "noisy water" 201,140 2,120 sq mi
(5,491 km2)
Whitman County 075 Colfax1871Stevens CountyMarcus Whitman (1802–1847), a Methodist missionary 44,776 2,159 sq mi
(5,592 km2)
Yakima County 077 Yakima1865Ferguson County (defunct)The Yakama tribe, meaning "runaway [waters]" or "big belly" 243,231 4,296 sq mi
(11,127 km2)

Former county names

Former counties

  • Ferguson County, named for Washington legislator James L. Ferguson, was established on January 23, 1863 from Walla Walla County and dissolved on January 18, 1865. Yakima County was established in its place.[17][18]
  • Quillehuyte County was split from Jefferson and Clallam counties in 1868 and returned to those counties a year later.[5]

Proposed counties

  • The representatives at the Cowlitz Convention of 1851 discussed a proposal to form Columbia Territory, which included a number of new counties in what later became Washington. The next session of the Oregon Territorial Legislature created only one of counties: Thurston County (which was originally proposed as Simmons County).[19][20]
  • Buchanan County was proposed in 1856 as a division of Clark County.[21]
  • Other proposed counties during Washington's statehood have included (with proposal dates): Big Bend (1891), Palouse (1891 and 1903), Sherman (1891), Washington (1891), McKinley (1903), Steptoe (1903), Coulee (1905).[22]


  • ^a A first attempt to organize Spokane County in 1858 failed. It was re-organized in 1859 but then annexed into Stevens County in 1864 before finally reappearing in 1879.[23]


  1. "Historical Timeline of Events Leading to the formation of Washington State". Archived from the original on 2012-02-07. Retrieved 2008-08-09.
  2. Smith 1913, p. 1 (As noted on p. 15, Pend Oreille County was not included in this tally because it was organized after the article was first published in 1909.)
  3. Article XI, Section 3 ("New Counties") of the Washington State Constitution
  4. Smith 1913, p. 11
  5. Hal Spencer (February 6, 1998). "New counties dealt major blow". The Spokesman-Review. AP. p. B8.
    "Cedar County Committee v. Munro (No. 64958-8)". FindLaw. February 5, 1998.
  6. "EPA County FIPS Code Listing". US Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved 2008-05-06.
  7. National Association of Counties. "NACo - Find A County". Retrieved 2011-03-04.
  8. Phillips, James W. (1971). Washington State Place Names. University of Washington Press. ISBN 0-295-95158-3. OCLC 1052713900 via The Internet Archive.
  9. Ott, Jen (July 1, 2008). "Chehalis -- Thumbnail History". Retrieved 2012-09-26.
  10. "Chapter 77 (S.B. 297), Changing Name of Chehalis County". Session Laws of the State of Washington. 1915. p. 250.
  11. Wilma, David (April 19, 2006). "Washington Territorial Legislature creates Sawamish (Mason) County on April 15, 1854". Retrieved 2012-03-05.
  12. Wilma, David (July 27, 2006). "Slaughter County is renamed Kitsap County on July 13, 1857". Retrieved 2012-03-16.
  13. Smith 1913, pp. 7–8
  14. Smith 1913, pp. 1–2
  15. Holman 1910, pp. 3–5
  16. Becker, Paula (September 20, 2005). "Ferguson County is established on January 23, 1863". Retrieved 2012-03-05.
  17. "Milestones for Washington State History -- Part 2: 1851 to 1900". March 6, 2003. Retrieved 2012-03-05.
  18. Smith 1913, pp. 3–4
  19. Meany 1922, pp. 11–12
  20. Smith 1913, p. 7
  21. Smith 1913, pp. 13–14
  22. Smith 1913, p. 9


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