Located in California, Orange County has a population of 3,010,232 residents according to the 2010 census. Thus, ranking it the third most populated county in the state, and sixth most populated county within the United States, and more populated than the population of 21 different U.S. states. Santa Ana is the county’s seat. In addition, Orange County’s four biggest cities include Santa Ana, Anaheim, Huntington Beach, and Irvine, which each having over 200,000 residents. Furthermore, there are many cities in Orange County located on the Pacific coast, which include Laguna Beach, San Clemente, Newport Beach, and Dana Point.
Orange County’s location put it within the Metropolitan Statistical Area of Los Angeles-Long Beach – Anaheim, California. The county has 34 incorporated cities, with Aliso Viejo being the most recently incorporated (2001). In 1870, Anaheim was the initial city to be incorporated in the county, at the time the area had still be neighboring with Los Angeles County. Unlike with the majority of populated areas around the United States, Orange County is not identified with a major city, and the county does not have a defined urban center. With the exception of a few traditionally urban regions in the middle of older cities (Orange, Huntington Beach, Fullerton, Anaheim, Santa Ana), Orange County is mainly suburban.
The county has many developments with edge-city style including Newport Center, Irvine Business Center, South Coast Metro, etc. Additionally, the county is popular for tourist attractions. Some of the attractions that draw people into Orange County both locally, nationally, and worldwide include Knott’s Berry Farm, and especially Disneyland along with various beaches that span over 40 miles of the coastal line.
Orange County is not only a great place to hang out, it is popular for political conservatism too. In 2005, three cities in Orange County were listed by an academic study as being in the top 25 most conservative cities in America. The only other county in the United States to have more than a single county listed, was Maricopa County, AZ.
The area of present day Orange County was originally inhabited by Native American groups Luiseno, Juaneno, and Tongva. However, in 1769 Junipero Serra, a Spanish explorer on the Gaspar de Portola expedition had named the region Valle de Santa Ana, which translates into Valley of Saint Anne.
On November 1st, 1776, the first permanent European settlement was established, Mission San Juan Capistrano.
In the 1860s, the area suffered a devastating drought which affected cattle ranchers, which resulted in much of the land falling into the possession of James Irvine, Richard O’Neill Sr., among other land barons.
During 1887, silver was found within the mountains of Santa Ana which gained the attention of settlers by Southern Pacific Railroads and Santa Fe.