to the National Atlas Home page
About | Fact Sheets | Contact Us | Partners | Products | Site Map | FAQ | Help | Follow us on Twitter 
Part of Project LogoAgricultureBiologyBoundariesClimateEnvironmentGeologyGovernmentHistoryMappingPeopleTransportationWater
to the Interactive Map MakerMap LayersPrintable MapsWall MapsDynamic MapsArticlesMapping Professionals

Map Layer Info

Two Million-Scale County Boundaries of the United States

What this map layer shows:

The boundaries for counties and county equivalents at a scale of 1:2,000,000 as of 2001.
opens the U.S. Geological Survey home page
Background Information
Sample map Sample Map
A county is the primary, or first-order, subdivision of a State. These subdivisions may be referred to as counties or by other designations, depending on the State; all are considered county equivalents. First-order subdivisions of the States include the parishes of Louisiana, the boroughs and census areas of Alaska, and the independent cities of Maryland, Missouri, Nevada, and Virginia. An independent city functions at the same level as a county and, as the name implies, is geographically and governmentally independent of a county. The District of Columbia has no primary subdivisions. Data for many of the map layers in The National Atlas were compiled at the county level, so the county boundaries layer is one of the key data layers used for georeferencing and displaying National Atlas data.

Counties play widely varying roles within the governments of the States. Historically, the framers of the Constitution of the United States gave exclusive powers to the States to establish their own local governments. As a result, local governments reflect the history, philosophies, geography, and needs of each State. Most of the counties and county equivalents in the United States have fully functioning governments, although in the States of Connecticut and Rhode Island, none of the county subdivisions have functioning governments. Traditionally, counties have provided services to their citizens, such as record keeping, maintenance of rural roads, property assessment, the administration of elections, and other public services. Today, many county governments are moving into areas such as economic development, consumer protection, planning and zoning, and water quality.

The 2-Million-Scale County Boundaries map layer features boundaries for counties and county equivalents for the United States, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Historic county boundaries map layers for 1980, 1990, and 2000 are also available as is a more recent map layer published in 2012 at a scale of 1:1,000,000. The National Atlas of the United States compiled all these map layers, using a variety of sources; the sources are listed in the National Atlas Metadata. Descriptive information includes county and State names and the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) codes for each county. FIPS codes are standardized numeric codes used to ensure uniform identification of geographic entities through all Federal Government agencies.

In cooperation with national mapping programs in Canada and Mexico, we also produce a map layer of political boundaries across North America.


Map Maker Sample
County Boundaries 2001