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Riverside County, California
Seal of Riverside County, California
Map of California highlighting Riverside County
Location in the state of California
Map of the U.S. highlighting California
California's location in the U.S.
Seat Riverside
Largest city Riverside
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

7,303 sq mi (18,915 km²)
7,207 sq mi (18,667 km²)
96 sq mi (248 km²), 1.31%
 - (2007)
 - Density

215/sq mi (83/km²)
Founded 1893
Named for Riverside, California

Riverside County is a county located in the southeastern part of the U.S. state of California, stretching from Orange County to the Colorado River, which forms the border with Arizona. The County derives its name from the city of Riverside, which is the county seat.

Riverside County is part of the Southern California Inland Empire region, also referred to as the Riverside-San Bernardino Metropolitan Area. The population of Riverside County was 1,545,387 in 2000, and by 2008 the U.S. Census Bureau estimated the population had risen to 2,100,516.

Geographically, the county is mostly desert. Most of Joshua Tree National Park is located in the county. Riverside County lies inland of Los Angeles, and south of San Bernardino. Large numbers of Los Angeles workers have moved to the county in recent years to take advantage of relatively affordable housing. Alongside neighboring San Bernardino County, it was one of the fastest growing parts of the Inland Empire prior to the recent changes in the regional economy. This spawned a wave of toll road construction in the area in the 1990s, starting with the addition of toll commuter lanes to the State Route 91 freeway, the main traffic artery to the western metropolitan area. In addition, smaller, but significant, numbers of people have been moving into southern Riverside County from the San Diego metropolitan area. The cities of Temecula and Murrieta account for 20% of increase in population of Riverside County between 2000 and 2007.

The famous resorts of the Coachella Valley such as Indian Wells, La Quinta, Rancho Mirage, Palm Springs and Palm Desert are located in Riverside County. Indio is the center of an important date growing region.



The indigenous peoples of what is now Riverside County are the Luiseño, Cupeño and Cahuilla Indians.[1] When the initial 27 California counties were established in 1850 the area today known as Riverside County was divided between Los Angeles County and San Diego County. In 1853 the eastern part of Los Angeles County was used to create San Bernardino County. Between 1891 and 1893 several proposals, and legislative attempts, were put forth to form new counties in Southern California. These proposals included one for a Pomona County and one for a San Jacinto County. None of the proposals were adopted until a measure to create Riverside County was signed by Governor Henry H. Markham on March 11, 1893.[2]

The new county would be created from parts of San Bernardino County and San Diego County. On May 2, 1893, seventy percent of voters approved the formation of Riverside County. Voters chose the city of Riverside as the county seat, also by a large margin. Riverside County was officially formed on May 9, 1893, when the Board of Commissioners filed the final canvas of the votes.[2]

The county's population surpassed one million people in 1980 when the current trend of high population growth as a major real estate destination began in the 1970s.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 18,915 km2 (7,303 sq mi) of which 18,667 km2 (7,207 sq mi) is land and 248 km2 (96 sq mi), or 1.31%, is water. At roughly 180 miles (290 km) wide in the east-west dimension, the area of the county is massive. Riverside County, California is roughly the size of the State of New Jersey in total area. County government documents frequently cite the Colorado River town of Blythe as being a "three-hour drive" from the county seat, Riverside. Some view the areas west of San Gorgonio Pass as the Inland Empire portion of the county and the eastern part as either the Mojave Desert or Colorado Desert portion. There are probably at least three geomorphic provinces: the Inland Empire western portion, the Santa Rosa Mountains communities such as Reinhardt Canyon and the desert region. Other possible subdivisions include tribal lands, the Colorado River communities, and the Salton Sink.


Incorporated cities

Riverside County
Median Income,
Banning 1913 28,272 $41,268
Beaumont 1912 28,250 $39,553
Blythe 1916 22,178 $45,302
Calimesa 1990 7,415 $47,406
Canyon Lake 1990 10,939 $70,106
Cathedral City 1981 51,081 $50,654
Corona 1896 144,661 $72,162
Coachella 1946 35,207 $33,402
Desert Hot Springs 1963 22,011 $33,263
Hemet 1910 69,544 $31,749
Indian Wells 1967 4,865 $120,074
Indio 1930 71,654 $45,143
Lake Elsinore 1888 40,985 $54,595
La Quinta 1982 38,340 $71,127
Menifee 2008 60,000 --
Moreno Valley 1984 174,565 $52,426
Murrieta 1991 92,933 $75,102
Norco 1964 27,262 $62,652
Palm Desert 1973 49,539 $61,789
Palm Springs 1938 46,437 $46,399
Perris 1911 47,139 $35,338
Rancho Mirage 1973 16,672 $78,434
Riverside 1883 287,820 $52,023
San Jacinto 1888 31,066 $39,235
Temecula 1989 93,923 $71,754
Wildomar 2008 14,064 $49,081

Unincorporated communities and neighborhoods

New towns

Indian reservations

Riverside County has 12 federally-recognized Indian reservations, which ties it with Sandoval County, New Mexico for second most of any county in the United States. (Sandoval County, however, has two additional joint-use areas, shared between reservations. San Diego County, California is in first place with 18 reservations.)

Adjacent counties

National protected areas

Flora & Fauna

There is a diversity of flora and fauna within Riverside County. Vegetative plant associations feature many desert flora, but there are also forested areas within the county. The California endemic Blue oak, Quercus douglasii is at the southernmost part of it its range in Riverside County.[4]

Transportation infrastructure

Major highways

Public transportation

  • Riverside Transit Agency serves the city of Riverside and the western third of Riverside County, as far east as Banning.
  • Sunline Transit Agency serves Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley area.
  • Palo Verde Valley Transit Agency provides service in Blythe, near the Arizona border.

Riverside County is also served by Greyhound buses. Amtrak trains stop in Riverside and Palm Springs. Metrolink trains provide commuter rail service from western Riverside County to Los Angeles and Orange Counties.


Commercial airports

General aviation airports

Law, government and politics


Riverside County Courthouse

The Riverside Superior Court is responsible for upholding the law for Riverside County. The unified trial court system has a total of 13 courts: Riverside Historic Courthouse, Riverside Hall of Justice, Riverside Family Law Court, Riverside Juvenile Court, Southwest Justice Center - Murrieta, Moreno Valley Court, Banning Court, Hemet Court, Temecula Court, Larson Justice Center - Indio, Larson Justice Center - Annex, Indio Juvenile Court, and Blythe Court.[7]

The main courthouse is the Riverside Historic Courthouse. This landmark, erected in 1903, was modeled after the Grand and Petit Palais in Paris, France. The courthouse, designed by Los Angeles architects Burnham and Bliesner, has a classical design—including a great hall that connects all the departments (courtrooms).[8] In 1994, the courthouse was shut down for seismic retrofits due to the 1992 Landers and 1994 Northridge earthquakes. The courthouse was rededicated in September 1998.[9]

The county continues to feel the impact of a significant backlog of unresolved criminal trials, which has had a ripple effect on civil trials, which had to be suspended altogether on two occasions in the early 2000s.


Presidential Election Results
Year GOP DEM Others
2008 48.7% 293,349 49.7% 299,380 1.6% 10,530
2004 57.8% 322,473 41.0% 228,806 1.1% 6,300
2000 51.4% 231,955 44.9% 202,576 3.7% 16,596
1996 45.6% 178,611 43.1% 168,579 11.3% 44,423
1992 37.1% 159,457 38.6% 166,241 24.3% 104,577
1988 59.5% 199,979 39.6% 133,122 1.0% 3,247
1984 63.5% 182,324 35.5% 102,043 1.0% 2,835
1980 59.9% 145,642 31.5% 76,650 8.6% 20,986
1976 49.2% 97,774 48.5% 96,228 2.3% 4,556
1972 58.0% 108,120 38.4% 71,591 3.6% 6,693
1968 52.9% 83,414 38.8% 61,146 8.3% 13,110
1964 43.1% 61,165 56.8% 80,528 0.1% 95
1960 56.2% 65,855 43.4% 50,877 0.5% 544

Riverside has historically been regarded as a Republican county in presidential and congressional elections. In 1932, it was one of only two counties (the other being Benton County, Oregon) on the entire Pacific coast of the United States to vote for Hoover over Roosevelt[10]. In recent years, however, Democratic registration numbers have been increasing, and Democrats have made inroads in historically Republican strongholds. In 2008, Barack Obama narrowly carried the county, becoming the first Democrat to do so since Bill Clinton in 1992.

In the House of Representatives, a substantial portion of Riverside County lies in California's 45th congressional district, with parts in the 41st, 44th, and 49th districts. All four districts are held by Republicans, the 41st by Jerry Lewis, the 44th by Ken Calvert, the 45th by Mary Bono Mack, and the 49th by Darrell Issa.

In the State Assembly all of the 64th district and parts of the 63rd, 65th, 66th, 71st, and 80th districts lie in the county. The 63rd is represented by Republican Bill Emmerson, the 64th by Republican Brian Nestande, the 65th by Republican Paul Cook, the 71st by Republican Jeff Miller, and the 80th by Democrat Manuel Perez. In the 80th Assembly District, which has a significant Democratic voter registration edge, Democrats were able to take back the district after 14 years of Republican representation with Perez's victory.

In the State Senate all of the 37th district and parts of the 31st, 36th, and 40th districts are located in the county. The 31st, 36th, and 37th districts are held by Republicans, Robert Dutton, Dennis Hollingsworth, and John J. Benoit respectively, and the 40th is held by Democrat Denise Moreno Ducheny.

On Nov. 4, 2008 Riverside County voted 64.8 % for Proposition 8 which amended the California Constitution to ban same-sex marriages.


A General Plan was prepared for the county by the firm of Earth Metrics in the year 1994;[11] in 2003 the County Supervisors authorized updating of this plan with respect to certain unincorporated areas.


Historical populations
Census Pop.  %±
1900 17,897
1910 34,696 93.9%
1920 50,297 45.0%
1930 81,024 61.1%
1940 105,524 30.2%
1950 170,046 61.1%
1960 306,191 80.1%
1970 459,074 49.9%
1980 663,166 44.5%
1990 1,170,413 76.5%
2000 1,545,387 32.0%
Est. 2008 2,100,516 35.9%

As of the census[12] of 2000, there were 1,545,387 people, 506,218 households, and 372,576 families residing in the county. The population density was 214 people per square mile (83/km²). There were 584,674 housing units at an average density of 81 per square mile (31/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 65.58% White, 6.24% Black or African American, 1.18% Native American, 3.69% Asian, 0.25% Pacific Islander, 18.69% from other races, and 4.37% from two or more races. 36.21% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 9.2% were of German, 6.9% English, 6.1% Irish and 5.0% American ancestry according to Census 2000. 67.2% spoke English and 27.7% Spanish as their first language.

In 2006 the county had a population of 2,026,803, up 31.2% since 2000. In 2005 45.8% of the population was non-Hispanic whites. The percentages of African Americans, Asians and Native Americans remained relatively similar to their 2000 figures. The percentage of Pacific Islanders had majorly risen to 0.4. Hispanics now constituted 41% of the population.

There were 506,218 households out of which 38.90% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.50% were married couples living together, 12.00% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.40% were non-families. 20.70% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.30% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.98 and the average family size was 3.47.

In the county the population was spread out with 30.30% under the age of 18, 9.20% from 18 to 24, 28.90% from 25 to 44, 18.90% from 45 to 64, and 12.70% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 99.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.80 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $42,887, and the median income for a family was $48,409. Males had a median income of $38,639 versus $28,032 for females. The per capita income for the county was $18,689. About 10.70% of families and 14.20% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.50% of those under age 18 and 7.60% of those age 65 or over.


Universities and colleges

Military installations

Places of interest

The Golden Era Productions entrance at Gold Base, with a protester

Gold Base, in an unincorporated area in the county, is the international headquarters of the Church of Scientology. The compound includes the studios of Golden Era Productions.[13][14][15][16]

Other sites include:


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ a b Fitch, Robert J. Profile of a Century: Riverside County, California, 1893-1993. Riverside County Historical Commission Press, 1993. Pages v-viii.
  3. ^ a b Husing, John (October 2007). "Inland Empire City Profile 2007" (PDF). Inland Empire Quarterly Economic Report (Redlands: Economics & Politics, Inc) 19 (4). Retrieved 2007-12-01. 
  4. ^ C. Michael Hogan. 2008 Blue Oak: Quercus douglasii,, ed. N. Stromberg
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Riverside Superior Court - Locations
  8. ^ Rededication of the Historic Riverside County Courthouse
  9. ^ California Courts - Main Courthouse
  10. ^
  11. ^ General Plan for Riverside County, Earth Metrics Inc., Burlingame, Ca. (1994)
  12. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  13. ^ "Rural Studio is Scientology Headquarters." San Jose Mercury News. August 13, 1991. 6B California News. Retrieved on October 21, 2009.
  14. ^ Kelly, David. "Scientology foes blast new Riverside County law." Los Angeles Times. January 10, 2009. 1. Retrieved on October 21, 2009.
  15. ^ Glick, Julia. "County ordinance raises questions about Scientology." The Press-Enterprise. Tuesday January 6, 2009. Retrieved on October 21, 2009.
  16. ^ McGavin, Gregor. "Scientologists' presence in Inland area dates back to 1960s." The Press-Enterprise. Tuesday January 15, 2008. Retrieved on October 21, 2009.


External links

Coordinates: 33°44′N 115°59′W / 33.73°N 115.98°W / 33.73; -115.98

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Riverside County [1] is a county in Southern California which extends east into the California Desert.


Desert Cities

The following Riverside County cities are in California's Desert:

Southern California

The following Riverside County cities are in the Southern California region:

  • The Riverside Airshow [2] is currently in its 14th year. It is one day only, but critics love it. In 2007, it will take place on March 31st [3] at the Riverside Airport, 6951 Flight Road, Riverside, CA 92504.
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