It could be the cliff-lined beaches, giant redwoods or booming tech and entertainment industries – but one thing’s for sure: California is a popular place to call home. According to the latest Census data, the Golden State is officially the most populous state in the country. Here’s a quick rundown:
Population density: According to U.S. Census Bureau data, California’s population density is 253.64 people per square mile, making it the 11th most densely populated state in the country. Given California’s large size (in terms of surface area), this is especially impressive.
Population notes: According to the Public Policy Institute of California, “one of out of every eight U.S. residents lives in California.” The report notes that California’s population is expected to reach 45 million people by 2050. Both the San Francisco Bay Area and the Greater Los Angeles Area are two of the country’s most populated urban areas.
State capital: Sacramento
Major cities in California include: Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Fresno, Sacramento, Oakland, Santa Ana and Anaheim.
Fun fact: If California were a country, it would be the sixth largest economy in the world, according to the World Economic Forum.
Whether you’re a cowboy or an aerospace engineer, Texas is a fantastic place to call home. The Lone Star State boasts a rich history, ample job opportunities, authentic tex-mex, a major space center, presidential libraries and plenty of vibrant cities. Here’s a quick rundown:
Population density: According to U.S. Census Bureau data, Texas’s population density is only 111 people per square mile, making it the 24th most densely populated state. Considering the state’s large surface area, you can expect to find plenty of wide-open spaces here. You’ll find many Texas residents living in and around major cities, such as Dallas and Houston.
Population notes: According to the Texas Demographic Center, much of the state’s population growth was fueled by large urban places, such as Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Frisco, Mckinney, Sugar Land, El Paso and Pearland. These 10 cities had the great numeric change between 2010 and 2018.
State capital: Austin
Major cities in Texas include: Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth, Irving, Plano and Corpus Christi.
Fun fact: The popular Texas slogan, “Don’t Mess with Texas,” comes from a 1990’s anti-littering advertising campaign, according to The New York Times.
If you’re looking for warm, balmy winters, you’ll find it in Florida. The average January – February temperatures in South Florida hover around the 75-degree mark, making it prime beach weather year-round. The peninsula is the southeasternmost state in the U.S., and is surrounded on all three sides by the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. Here’s a quick rundown:
Population density: According to U.S. Census Bureau data, Florida’s population density is a whopping 400.52 people per square mile, making it the eighth most densely populated state. Given its popularity with retirees and snowbirds, it’s no wonder Florida is one of the most densely populated states in the country.
Population notes: The U.S. Census Bureau notes that the State of Florida ranked second in numeric growth between 2018 and 2019, adding 233,420 residents in just a year. Florida also had the ninth highest percent growth out of all 50 states.
State capital: Tallahassee
Major cities in Florida include: Tallahassee, Orlando, Miami, Tampa, Jacksonville, St. Petersburg, Hialeah and Fort Lauderdale.
Fun fact: The Florida Everglades, visited by over one million people every year, is the largest tropical wilderness east of the Mississippi River.
4. New York
The State of New York is well-known for being home to the most densely populated major city in the country: New York City. The iconic city is one of the most important financial, commercial and cultural centers in the entire world. In addition to the city, the State of New York boasts a diverse geography with notable mountains, lakes and rivers throughout the state. Here’s a quick rundown:
Population density: According to U.S. Census Bureau data, New York’s population density is 412.80 people per square mile, making it the seventh most densely populated state. Much of the population lives in and around New York City.
Population notes: Despite New York’s large population, the state continues to see a decline in population year after year. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, New York was one of 10 states that lost population between 2018 and 2019, losing around 76,790 people (or -.4 percent).
State capital: Albany
Major cities in New York include: New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, Yonkers, Syracuse and Albany.
Fun fact: New York City makes up almost half of the entire population of the State of New York.
The State of Pennsylvania is well-known for its central role in American history. Both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were drafted in the city of Philadelphia. Today, Pennsylvania has become a major financial industry leader with multiple Fortune 500 companies calling the state home. Here’s a quick rundown:
Population density: According to U.S. Census Bureau data, Pennsylvania’s population density is 286.12 people per square mile, making it the ninth most densely populated state. Much of the population can be found in and around Philadelphia. The largest city in the state is home to over 1.5 million people.
Population notes: Pennsylvania Real Time News reports that the state’s population is flattening after several decades of slow growth. From 2018 to 2019, Pennsylvania only gained a total of 1,067 people.
Major cities in Pennsylvania include: Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Erie, Reading, Scranton, Lancaster, Bethlehem, Levittown and Harrisburg.
Fun fact: Rich in history, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was one of the 13 original colonies in America.
From the rich farmland to the skyscrapers of Chicago, this unique Midwestern state offers one of the most diverse economies and geographic landscapes in the country. It is also home to a slew of natural resources, including coal, petroleum and timber. Often referred to as the “Land of Lincoln,” the State of Illinois is home to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum as well as the future Barack Obama Presidential Center. Here’s quick rundown:
Population density: According to U.S. Census Bureau data, Illinois’s population density is 228.24 people per square mile, making it the 12th most densely populated state. A large chunk of Illinois’s population is centered around Chicago, which is home to over 2 million people.
Population notes: Illinois Policy reports that the state’s “population dropped by 168,700 people from 2010 to 2019, the largest raw decline of any state.” From 2018 to 2019, U.S. Census Bureau data shows that Illinois’s population dropped by 51,250 people.
State capital: Springfield
Major cities in Illinois include: Chicago, Springfield, Aurora, Rockford, Joliet, Naperville and Peoria.
Fun fact: Illinois is nicknamed “The Prairie State.”
Dubbed “The Buckeye State” for its Buckeye trees, Ohio is home to both expansive, rural regions and several large cities (i.e. Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati). It is also referred to as “the mother of presidents,” as eight U.S. presidents were originally from Ohio. Here’s a quick rundown:
Population density: According to U.S. Census Bureau data, Ohio’s population density is 286.07 people per square mile, making it the 10th most densely populated state. Cleveland.com notes that the City of Cleveland ranks first in the state for population density, followed by Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo.
Population notes: Ohio’s overall population growth is slowing, reports WOSU Public Media. Unlike the rest of the state, though, the City of Columbus has experienced a dramatic uptick in population recently. WOSU Public Media reports that Columbus had “one of the largest numeric additions to its population of any city in the country.”
State capital: Columbus
Major cities in Ohio include: Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo, Akron, Dayton, Parma, Canton and Youngstown.
Fun fact: Ohio is famous for being a “swing state” during national elections.
This Southern U.S. state boasts beautiful beaches, flat farmland and rolling mountains. The capital city of Atlanta also offers the fifth highest job growth rate in the U.S., with major companies like Delta Air Lines and Coca Cola calling the area home. In addition, the popular city of Savannah, Georgia attracts tourists for its historic architecture and famous sites. Here’s a quick rundown:
Population density: According to U.S. Census Bureau data, Georgia’s population density is 184.61 people per square mile, making it the 17th most densely populated state. Much of the population is located in and around the Atlanta, Columbus and the Augusta-Richmond area, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Population notes: Georgia is one of the fastest growing states in the country. According to the latest Census data, the population of Georgia grew by a little over 106,000 residents from 2018 to 2019, making it one of the top 10 states for numeric growth.
State capital: Atlanta
Major cities in Georgia include: Atlanta, Columbus, Savannah and Athens.
Fun fact: Thanks to the state’s generous tax credits for film productions, Georgia is now a major hub for the film industry.
9. North Carolina
From the Appalachian Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean, the State of North Carolina boasts a wide-ranging landscape, a diverse population and a booming economy. The Southeastern state, with its large metropolitan areas and many tiny towns, offers the best of both urban living and small town life. The state is also famous for its scrumptious BBQ and exceptionally friendly residents. Here’s a quick rundown:
Population density: According to U.S. Census Bureau data, North Carolina’s population density is 215.72 people per square mile, making it the 15th most densely populated state. According to the Carolina Population Center, North Carolina has a large proportion of residents living in rural areas. The organization states that “North Carolina’s rural population is larger than that of any other state except for Texas.”
Population notes: North Carolina is growing quickly. From 2018 to 2019, the state grew by over 106,000 people. According to the latest Census figures, North Carolina ranked fourth for numeric growth and 10th for percent growth from 2018 to 2019. The Carolina Population Center notes that this “marks the fourth year in a row that North Carolina has grown by more than 100,000 new residents.”
State capital: Raleigh
Major cities in North Carolina include: Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Asheville, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Wilmington, Cary, High Point and Fayetteville.
Fun fact: North Carolina’s motto “first in flight” references the Wright Brothers’ strides in aviation. The flight of their plane “Kitty Hawk” marked the first flight in the U.S., which took place in North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
This Midwestern state borders four Great Lakes, and is the only state in the U.S. to be made up of two separate peninsulas (the Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula). Given its access to the Great Lakes and to thousands of smaller, inland lakes, Michigan is one of the most popular destinations in the country for boating. Here’s a quick rundown:
Population density: According to U.S. Census Bureau data, Michigan’s population density is 176.64 people per square mile, making it the 18th most densely populated state. Much of the population is located in and around Detroit, Grand Rapids and Warren.
Population notes: Michigan Radio notes that while Michigan’s population is “creeping upward,” its growth rate continues to be hindered by declining birth rates and less immigration in America. The organization also states that “for the first time since 2010, Michigan lost more residents to other states than it gained over the past year.”
State capital: Lansing
Major cities in Michigan include: Detroit, Grand Rapids, Warren, Sterling Heights, Lansing, Ann Arbor and Flint.
Fun fact: Michigan is considered the U.S. automotive industry capital, with several major car companies headquartered the Detroit area.
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