Orange County is a county in Southern California, United States. Its county seat is Santa Ana. According to the 2000
Census, its population was 2,846,289, making it the second most populous county in the state of California, and the fifth
most populous in the United States. The state of California estimates its population as of 2007 to be 3,098,121 people, dropping
its rank to third, behind San Diego County by 148 people.
Unlike other population centers, Orange County residents take
their county name as their label of cultural identity, whereas most population centers in the United States tend to be identified
by a major city. There is no defined urban center to Orange County as there generally is in other areas with one dominant
municipal entity. Orange County is almost uniformly sub-urban with a few interspersed vestigial patches of agriculture. Five
Orange County cities have populations exceeding 170,000 while none have populations surpassing 360,000.
It is also famous
as a tourist destination, as the county is home to such attractions as Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm, as well as sandy
beaches for swimming and surfing, yacht harbors for sailing and pleasure boating, and extensive area devoted to parks and
open space for golf, tennis, hiking, kayaking, cycling, skateboarding, and other outdoor recreation. It is portrayed in the
media as a relatively conservative, affluent region. It is at the center of Southern California's Tech Coast, with Irvine
being the primary business hub.
Thirty-four incorporated cities are located in Orange County; the newest is Aliso Viejo.
Seven of these cities are among the 200 largest cities in the United States.
to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 2,455 km² (948 sq mi), making it the smallest county in Southern
California. Surface water accounts for 411 km² (159 sq mi) of the area, 16.73% of the total; 2,045 km² (789 sq mi)
of it is land.
Orange County is bordered on the southwest by the Pacific Ocean, on the northwest by Los Angeles County,
on the north by San Bernardino County, on the northeast by Riverside County, and on the southeast by San Diego County.
The northwestern part of the county lies on the coastal plain of the Los Angeles Basin, while the southeastern end rises
into the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains. Most of Orange County's population reside in one of two shallow coastal
valleys that lie in the basin, the Santa Ana Valley and the Saddleback Valley. The Santa Ana Mountains lie within the eastern
boundaries of the county and of the Cleveland National Forest. The high point is Santiago Peak (5,687 ft/1,733 m), about 20
mi (32 km) east of Santa Ana. Santiago Peak and nearby Modjeska Peak, just 200 feet (60 m) shorter, form a ridge known as
Saddleback, visible from almost everywhere in the county.
The Santa Ana River is the county's principal watercourse,
flowing through the middle of the county from Northeast to Southwest. Its major tributary to the South and East is Santiago
Creek. Other watercourses within the county include Aliso Creek, San Juan Creek, and Horsethief Creek. In the North, the San
Gabriel River also briefly crosses into Orange County and exits into the Pacific on the Los Angeles-Orange County line between
the cities of Long Beach and Seal Beach. Laguna Beach is home to the county's only natural lakes, Laguna Lakes, which
are formed by water rising up against an underground fault.
Residents sometimes figuratively divide the county into "North
County" and "South County" (meaning Northwest and Southeast --following the county's natural diagonal orientation
along the local coastline). This is more of a cultural and demographic distinction perpetuated by the popular television shows
"The OC" and "Laguna Beach," between the older areas closer to Los Angeles, and the more affluent and
recently developed areas to the South and East. A transition between older and newer development may be considered to exist
roughly parallel to State Route 55 (aka the Costa Mesa Freeway). This transition is accentuated by large flanking tracts of
sparsely developed area occupied until recent years by agriculture and military airfields.
While there is a natural topographical
Northeast-to-Southwest transition from inland elevations to the lower coastal band, there is no formal geographical division
between North and South County. Perpendicular to that gradient, the Santa Ana River roughly divides the county between northwestern
and southeastern sectors (about 40% to 60% respectively, by area), but does not represent any apparent economic, political
or cultural differences, nor does it significantly affect distribution of travel, housing, commerce, industry or agriculture
from one side to the other.
As of August 2006, Orange County has 34 incorporated
cities. The oldest is Anaheim (1870) and the newest is Aliso Viejo (2001).
Aliso Viejo, incorporated in 2001
incorporated in 1870
Brea, incorporated in 1917
Buena Park, incorporated in 1953
Costa Mesa, incorporated
Cypress, incorporated in 1956
Dana Point, incorporated in 1989
Fountain Valley, incorporated in
Fullerton, incorporated in 1904
Garden Grove, incorporated in 1956
Huntington Beach, incorporated in
Irvine, incorporated in 1971
La Habra, incorporated in 1925
La Palma, incorporated in 1955
Beach, incorporated in 1927
Laguna Hills, incorporated in 1991
Laguna Niguel, incorporated in 1989
Woods, incorporated in 1999
Lake Forest, incorporated in 1991
Los Alamitos, incorporated in 1960
Viejo, incorporated in 1988
Newport Beach, incorporated in 1906
Orange, incorporated in 1888
incorporated in 1926
Rancho Santa Margarita, incorporated in 2000
San Clemente, incorporated in 1928
Juan Capistrano, incorporated in 1961
Santa Ana, incorporated in 1886
Seal Beach, incorporated in 1915
incorporated in 1956
Tustin, incorporated in 1927
Villa Park, incorporated in 1962
Yorba Linda, incorporated in 1967
Some of the communities that exist within
city limits are listed below:
Anaheim Hills, Anaheim
Balboa Island, Newport Beach
Corona del Mar, Newport
Crystal Cove/Pelican Hill, Newport Beach
Capistrano Beach, Dana Point
El Modena, Orange
Park, Santa Ana
Floral Park, Santa Ana
Foothill Ranch, Lake Forest
Mesa Verde, Costa Mesa
Beach, Dana Point
Nellie Gail, Laguna Hills
Dove Canyon, Rancho Santa Margarita
Coast, Newport Beach
Portola Hills, Lake Forest
Talega, San Clemente
San Juan Hills,
San Juan Capistrano
San Joaquin Hills, Newport Beach
Santa Ana Heights, Newport Beach
Tustin Ranch, Tustin
West Garden Grove, Garden Grove
Yorba Hills, Yorba Linda
These communities are outside of the city limits in unincorporated county territory:
Orange Park Acres
view of central Orange County South Coast Metro areaMembers of the Tongva and Juaneño/Luiseño nations long inhabited
the area. After the 1769 expedition of Gaspar de Portolà, a Spanish expedition led by Junipero Serra named the area
Vallejo de Santa Ana (Valley of Saint Anne). On November 1, 1776, Mission San Juan Capistrano became the first permanent European
settlement. Among the group of explorers that came with Portolá were José Manuel Nieto and José Antonio
Yorba. Both of these men were given land grants and their heirs also inherited portions of family land. The oldest of the
Orange County land grants or ranchos was Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana granted in 1810 by Ferdinand VII of Spain. The Yorba
heirs Bernardo and Teodosio Yorba inherited ranches in 1834 and 1846 respectively. Their ranches were known as Rancho Cañón
de Santa Ana (Santa Ana Canyon Ranch) and Rancho Lomas de Santiago.The Nieto heirs Juan José and Antonio Nieto were
granted land in 1834. The Nieto ranches were known as Rancho Los Alamitos, Rancho Las Bolsas, and Rancho Los Coyotes. Other
ranches in Orange County were granted by the Mexican government post 1821, year of Mexican Independence, during the Mexican
period in Alta California.
A severe drought in the 1860s devastated the prevailing industry, cattle ranching, and much
land came into the possession of Richard O'Neill, Sr., James Irvine and other land barons. In 1887, silver was discovered
in the Santa Ana Mountains, attracting settlers via the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific Railroads. This growth led the California
legislature to divide Los Angeles County and create Orange County as a separate political entity on March 11, 1889. It was
named for its most famous product (However, there was already a town by the name of Orange, California that was not named
for the fruit, but rather for Orange County, Virginia), but other citrus crops, avocados, and oil extraction were also important
to the early economy.
Orange County benefited from the July 4, 1904 completion of the Pacific Electric Railway, a trolley
connecting Los Angeles with Santa Ana and Newport Beach . The link made Orange County an accessible weekend retreat for celebrities
of early Hollywood. It was deemed so significant that the city of Pacific City changed its name to Huntington Beach in honor
of Henry Huntington, president of the Pacific Electric and nephew of robber baron Collis Huntington. Transportation further
improved with the completion of the State Route and U.S. Route 101 (now mostly Interstate 5) in the 1920s.
such as the boysenberry which was made famous by Buena Park native Walter Knott, began to decline after World War II but the
county's prosperity soared. The completion of Interstate 5 in 1954 helped make Orange County a bedroom community for many
who moved to Southern California to work in aerospace and manufacturing. Orange County received a further boost in 1955 with
the opening of Disneyland.
In 1969, Yorba Linda-born Orange County native Richard Nixon became the 37th President of
the United States.
In the 1980s, the population topped two million for the first time. Orange County had become the second
largest county in California.
A spectacular investment fund melt-down in 1994 led to the criminal prosecution of County
of Orange treasurer Robert Citron. The county lost at least $1.5 billion through high-risk investments in derivatives.
On December 6, 1994, the County of Orange declared Chapter 9 bankruptcy, from which it emerged in June 1995; this was the
largest ever municipal bankruptcy in the U.S.
In recent years, the county has been characterized by conflict between
the older more historic northern and newer southern cities over development, the building of new toll roads, and a recently
defeated proposal to build an international airport at the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station that would have reduced
operations at the existing John Wayne Airport.
Average household income by community
communities are included if their population is greater than 15,000. These numbers are estimates from the 2005 Census updates
for these locales. Numbers are approximate until a new Census occurs.
1. Villa Park: $203,091
2. Anaheim Hills:
3. Coto de Caza: $153,118
4. Laguna Beach: $141,916
5. Yorba Linda: $138,910
6. Newport Beach:
7. Tustin Foothills: $122,685
8. Laguna Niguel: $112,241
9. Laguna Hills: $103,419
11. Dana Point: $97,615
12. San Clemente: $94,576
13. Rossmoor: $93,972
14. Rancho Santa
15. Irvine: $91,114
16. Mission Viejo: $84,934
17. Aliso Viejo: $83,002
18. San Juan
19. West Garden Grove: $78,112
20. La Palma: $77,177
21. Cypress: $76,312
23. Fountain Valley: $73,504
24. Lake Forest: $73,293
25. Los Alamitos: $71,112
27. Costa Mesa: $69,918
28. Seal Beach: $66,131
29. Placentia: $66,083
30. Orange: $62,760
31. Fullerton: $61,462
32. Anaheim: $60,881
33. Tustin: $60,319
34. Buena Park: $57,695
36. Garden Grove: $50,038
37. La Habra: $49,612
38. Santa Ana: $44,505
39. Stanton: $37,840
40. Laguna Woods: $31,212
Orange County is home to many colleges and universities,
Alliant International University
Art Institute of California - Orange County
Laguna Hills BOLD Campus
California State University, Fullerton
Coastline Community College
Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising
Golden West College
Hope International University
Irvine Valley College
Laguna College of Art and
National University Costa Mesa Campus
Orange Coast College
Pepperdine University Irvine Graduate
Santa Ana College
Santiago Canyon College
Soka University of America
Trinity Law School
University of California, Irvine
Whittier Law School
Orange County residents commute to colleges in neighboring counties, including Cerritos College, Biola University and California
State University, Long Beach which are all right next to the L.A.-Orange county borderline.
Its county department of
education also oversees 28 school districts.
Points of interest
The area's warm Mediterranean
climate and 42 miles (68 km) of year-round beaches attract millions of tourists annually. Huntington Beach is a hot spot for
sunbathing and surfing; nicknamed "Surf City, U.S.A.", it is home to many surfing competitions. "eVocal,"
on the west side of Costa Mesa is the center of Orange County's underground artistic movement. "The Wedge,"
at the tip of The Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach, is one of the most famous body surfing spots in the world. Other tourist
destinations include the theme parks Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure in Anaheim and Knott's Berry Farm
in Buena Park. The Anaheim Convention Center is the largest such facility on the West Coast. The old town area in the City
of Orange (the traffic circle at the middle of Chapman Ave. at Glassell) still maintains its 1950s image, and appeared in
the That Thing You Do! movie. Little Saigon is another notable tourist destination, being home to the largest concentration
of Vietnamese people outside of Vietnam. There are also sizable Taiwanese, Chinese, and Korean communities, particularly in
western Orange County. This is evident in several Asian-influenced shopping centers in Asian American hubs like the city of
Notable structures include the Ronald Reagan Federal Building and Courthouse in Santa Ana, the largest building
in the county; the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, the largest house of worship in California; the historic Balboa Pavilion
 in Newport Beach; the Huntington Beach Pier; and the restored Mission San Juan Capistrano.
Some of the most exclusive
(and expensive) neighborhoods in the U.S. are located here, many along the Orange County Coast, and some in north Orange County.
Historical points of interest include Mission San Juan Capistrano (destination of migrating swallows), and the Richard Nixon
Presidential Library & Museum in Yorba Linda. The Nixon Home is a National Historic Landmark, as is the home of a very
different character, Madam Helena Modjeska, in Modjeska Canyon on Santiago Creek.
Since the premiere in fall 2003 of
the hit FOX series The OC, tourism has increased with travelers from across the globe hoping to see the sights seen in the
Bella Terra (formerly Huntington Center)
Downtown Disney (California) Anaheim
Fashion Island Newport Beach
Irvine Spectrum Center
Main Place Santa Ana
Metro Pointe Costa Mesa
South Coast Plaza Costa Mesa
The Block at
The Lab Costa Mesa
The Shops at Mission Viejo
Triangle-Square Mall Costa Mesa
The Village [Orange]
Orange County in popular culture
Film and television
Orange County has been the setting for numerous films and television shows:
It is best-known as the setting of the eponymous 2003 Fox Network television drama The O.C. which is set in the Orange County
coastal harbor town of Newport Beach, California (although the series is actually filmed in Los Angeles County to keep production
costs down). It is a very loose and locally criticized interpretation of the county and its residents.
It is the subject
and setting of the eponymous 2002 movie Orange County. However, the film was not actually filmed in Orange County.
is also the setting of the 2003 sitcom Arrested Development. Most of the series was not filmed in Orange County, but in Culver
City and Marina Del Rey in Los Angeles County. A running joke in the series that pokes fun at The O.C. is that characters
will frequently refer to Orange County as "The O.C.," followed by another character's saying "don't
call it that," (mirroring the fact that few actual Orange County residents use the acronym "O.C.").
closing scene in Rain Man with Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise was shot at the Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center.
The film Better Luck Tomorrow was shot and set in the cities of Cypress and Anaheim.
The film Life as a House was
set in Laguna Beach, although it was filmed in Los Angeles County.
The film Brick was shot and set in San Clemente
MTV's Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County was filmed in the Orange County coastal town of Laguna Beach, California.
A key scene in the film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan was shot
and set at The Block at Orange in the city of Orange.
The Christian Slater film Gleaming The Cube was filmed in Anaheim
and Irvine, at Woodbridge high school.
A plot line in the television drama The West Wing involved a dead liberal Democrat
unexpectedly winning a Congressional seat from an Orange County district.
Orange County is the home of the late Republican
President Teddy Bridges on the (now canceled) ABC drama Commander in Chief.
Sayid Jarrah from the ABC drama Lost was
bound to go to Irvine, where his longtime friend Nadia lives. John Locke, another castaway from the series, is said to have
lived most of his life in Tustin.
Orange County was the location of the 1994 Charlie Sheen movie The Chase.
Park Place, Irvine corporate mall was the location for futuristic scenes in the 1996 film Demolition Man starring Sylvester
Stallone and Wesley Snipes.
The 2006 film A Scanner Darkly was set in the city of Anaheim. A freeway scene was shot
along the Northbound I-5 in Tustin.
The show The Real Housewives of Orange County which is filmed in Coto De Caza.
Costa Mesa is the setting for the The X-Files episode "Hungry".
In the 2001 film The Fast and the Furious,
the scene when the Johnny Tran and his gang catch up with Vin Diesel and Paul Walker blowing up their car was filmed in Little
In season six of the HBO drama The Sopranos while in a coma Tony Soprano dreams he is a businessman
in Costa Mesa.
Orange County has also been used as a shooting location for several films and television programs. Examples
of movies at least partially shot in Orange County are Tom Hanks's That Thing You Do, the Coen Brothers' The Man Who
Wasn't There, and the Martin Lawrence movie Big Momma's House. All three of which were filmed in or around the Old
Towne Plaza in the City of Orange.
Artist that have written songs about Orange County are:
Cold War Kids
Bullets and Octane
Death By Stereo
Bobby Hatfield of the The Righteous Brothers
Jeffries Fan Club
Open Air Stereo
Rage Against the Machine
Reel Big Fish
Rock Kills Kid
In 2006, Gwen Stefani, an Orange County
native, released a song called "Orange County Girl" for her album The Sweet Escape.
A number of novels by best-selling fiction and horror author Dean Koontz, a resident of Newport Beach, are set in the area.
Several of the stories in Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon's collection, A Model World, are set in Orange
County. Chabon studied creative writing at UC Irvine.
Orange County is the place in which Kim Stanley Robinson's
Three Californias Trilogy is set. These books depict three different futures of the Orange County (survivors of a nuclear
war in The Wild Shore, a developer's dream gone mad in The Gold Coast, and an ecotopian utopia in Pacific Edge). Philip
K. Dick's novel A Scanner Darkly was also set in Orange County.
From his first novel, "Laguna Heat," to
more recent books such as "California Girl," mystery-writer T. Jefferson Parker has set many of his novels in Orange
The modern fantasy novel "All the Bells on Earth" by James P. Blaylock is set in Orange.
be noted that among the Christian population, the majority of the population with German ancestry follows the various Protestant
denominations while the ethnic Irish, Hispanic, and other populations follow Roman Catholicism. There are about 1.04 million
Catholics in Orange County . Also, there are about 35 synagogues to serve the sizeable Jewish community in the county.
Orange County has a history of large master planned communities. Nearly 30% of the county was created
as master planned communities, the most notable being the City of Irvine, Coto de Caza, Anaheim Hills, Tustin Ranch, Ladera
Ranch, Talega, Rancho Santa Margarita, and Mission Viejo. Irvine has become the model master planned city, encompassing many
villages which were all planned under a master plan by the Irvine Company in the mid-1960s. Many communities within California
and throughout the country (and even outside the country including China) have used these Orange County developments as models
for their own planning. Elements such as community clubhouses, numerous community pools, pocket parks, horse trails, and active
associations were first established in Orange County master planned communities and have been copied in numerous places throughout
the United States.
Main article: Notable Orange County residents
Orange County's proximity to Los Angeles, the entertainment capital of the United States, many film and media celebrities
have moved or bought second homes in the county. Actor John Wayne, who lived in Newport Beach, is the namesake for Orange
County's John Wayne Airport. Orange County has also produced many homegrown celebrities, including golfer Tiger Woods,
basketball player Dennis Rodman, a number of professional ballplayers, including retired slugger Mark McGwire, actor Kevin
Costner, comedian/actors Steve Martin and Will Ferrell, actresses Michelle Pfeiffer and Diane Keaton, and singers Chester
Bennington, Bonnie Raitt, Gwen Stefani, Jeff Buckley, and Drake Bell.
The county's most famous resident was perhaps
Richard Nixon, the 37th President of the United States, who was born in Yorba Linda and lived in San Clemente for several
years following his resignation. His presidential library is in Yorba Linda.