Orange County is a county in the U.S. state of California. Its county seat is Santa Ana. As of the 2010 census, its population was 3,010,232, up from 2,846,293 at the 2000 census, making it the third most populous county in California, behind Los Angeles County and San Diego County. It is the sixth most populous county in the United States as of 2009 while at the same time is also the smallest area-wise county in Southern California, being roughly half the size of the next smallest county, Ventura. The county is famous for its tourism, as the home of such attractions as Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm, as well as several beaches along its more than 40 miles (64 km) of coastline. It is also known for its affluence and political conservatism. In fact, a 2005 academic study listed three Orange County cities as being among America’s 25 “most conservative,” making it the only county in the country containing more than one such city.
Orange County also became well known for being the largest US county ever to have gone bankrupt, when in 1994, longtime treasurer Robert Citron’s investment strategies left the county with inadequate capital to allow for any raise in interest rates for its trading positions. When the conservative residents of Orange County voted down a proposal to raise taxes in order to balance the budget, bankruptcy followed shortly thereafter. Citron later pleaded guilty to six felonies regarding the matter.
Whereas most population centers in the United States tend to be identified by a major city, there is no defined urban center in Orange County. It is mostly suburban, except for some traditionally urban areas at the centers of the older cities of Anaheim, Santa Ana, Orange, Huntington Beach, and Fullerton. There are also several edge city-style developments such as South Coast Metro and Newport Center.
The city of Santa Ana serves as the governmental center of the county, Anaheim as its main tourist destination, and Irvine as its major business and financial hub. Three Orange County cities have populations exceeding 200,000: Santa Ana, Anaheim, and Irvine.
Thirty-four incorporated cities are located in Orange County; the newest is Aliso Viejo, which was incorporated in 2001. Anaheim was the first city incorporated in Orange County, in 1870 when the region was still part of neighboring Los Angeles County.