NACo's County Governance Project provides a comprehensive guide to county government structure, authority, services and finances. Dig into individualized state profiles and the national database to learn about the intricacies of county governance by state, share information with policymakers and educate the public on the importance of counties.

Counties 101

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Counties Matter: Stronger Counties. Stronger America.

Counties Matter. Counties serve nearly every American every day. Urban, suburban and rural — counties work with states, the federal government and other public and private partners to keep our communities healthy, safe and vibrant.

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The County Landscape

Counties are one of America’s original forms of government, dating back to 1634 when the first county governments (shires) were established in Virginia. The organization and structure of today’s 3,069 county governments are chartered under state constitutions or laws and are tailored to fit the needs and characteristics of the state and local areas.


County Explorer Data

Explore your county through over 1000 indicators and nearly 100 datasets.


Governing on the Ground

Governing on the Ground is an inside look at the complex challenges faced by officials as they strive to strengthen their communities. The book features 30 short chapters contributed by county leaders.

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County Governance Project

NACo's County Governance Project provides a comprehensive guide to county government structure, authority, services and finances.

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Counties Work Game & Curriculum

NACo, together with iCivics, has created an online game and curriculum to educate students grade levels 6-12 about the important role and functions of county government. 

State Profiles

Learn about county governance in your state

Explore state profiles featuring data on county structure, county authority, health and human services, infrastructure, public amenities, zoning and development, public safety, schools, finances and more!

National Database

Compare information across all 48 states with county governments.

Dig into specific datasets, maps and charts within each of the four main categories – County Basics, County Authority & Structure, County Services and County Finances.

In any data table, use the search bar at the top to isolate similar states based on specific data points or click on an indicator name to sort the data. All maps are available on NACo's County Explorer.

For additional information on the data, refer to the state profiles by clicking on a state's name in any table, or download the full dataset to view various data notes included only in that file. Please contact us at with any questions.

County Services

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Glossary & Definititions