Riverside County a 7,208 square mile portion of what is known as the Inland Empire stretches all of the way to Arizona at its easternmost point. Historically a ranching community, Riverside County experienced rapid residential growth after potential homeowners fled Orange and Los Angeles County’s inflated housing market. Between the publication of the 2000 and 2010 Census the population of Riverside County grew by 644,254 people. The cities of Temecula and Murrieta account for 20% of the increase in population of Riverside County between 2000 and 2007.
- Current Population 2,189,641
- 4th most populous county in California
- 2010 Census Breakdown
- White Persons 61%
- African American Persons 6.4%
- Native American Persons 1.1%
- Asian Persons 6%
- Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islanders 0.3%
- Persons reporting two or more races 4.8%
- Hispanic or Latino Persons 45.5%
Riverside County has a rich history in its many indigenous peoples. The Luiseno, Cupeno and Cahuilla still maintain reservations in the County and lend their unique cultures to the area. Riverside County has 12 federally-recognized Native American reservations and is second in the nation with San Diego County having the most, 18 reservations.
In 1850 when the initial 27 California counties were established Riverside County did not exist. Los Angeles and San Diego Counties encompassed what would later become Riverside County. Finally in 1893 a measure to create Riverside County was signed by Governor Henry H. Markham on March 11. On May 2, 1893, seventy percent of voters approved the formation of Riverside County. Riverside County was officially formed on May 9, 1893. As the county used the city for its namesake, voters chose Riverside as the county seat.
Later, Riverside County would become noteworthy when Cesar Chavez visited the Coachella Valley during the Mexican-American farm labor union struggle. Riverside County would again become vocal during the midcentury African-American Civil Rights Movement.
Riverside County Today
Currently, Riverside County is flourishing with a vast landscape of business parks and residential housing tracts. The indigenous peoples of Riverside County have flourished as well. In the early 1980s, the county government attempted to shut down small bingo halls operated by two Native American tribes. The tribes joined forces and brought suit against the government. This case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court, which ruled in the tribes’ favor. As a result of this decision, Congress enacted the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in 1988 to establish a legal framework for the relationship between Indian gaming and state governments. Now 12 casinos operate in the Riverside County area, 9 of which are Native American owned.