San Bernardino County is truly a wild and remarkable expanse of southern California. With an area of 20,105 square miles, San Bernardino County is the largest county in the contiguous United States. The thinly populated deserts and mountains stretch from where the bulk of the county population resides, the roughly 480 square miles south of the San Bernardino Mountains in San Bernardino Valley, to the Nevada border and the Colorado River. Much like the rest of the Inland Empire, San Bernardino County has experienced a residential housing boom over the past ten years. This boom accounted for a 325,776 person increase in the county’s population.
San Bernardino Demographics
According to the 2010 United States Census:
- Population 2,035,210
- 20,105 square miles
- Largest county in the contiguous United States by area
- San Bernardino County is larger than Bosnia and Herzegovina or Costa Rica
- Population Breakdown:
- White Persons 56.7%
- African American Persons 8.9%
- Native American Persons 1.1%
- Asian Persons 6.3%
- Pacific Islander or Native Hawaiian Persons 0.3%
- Other Races 21.6%
- Two or more races 5%
- Hispanic or Latino Persons 49.2%
San Bernardino History
Franciscan monks lived in San Bernardino before the county was officially founded. These monks gave the name San Bernardino to the snowcapped peaks, in honor of St. Bernardino. A member of the Franciscan order, Father Francisco Dumetz named San Bernardino on May 20, 1810. This day was also the feast day of St. Bernardino of Siena.
The creation of the county followed in 1853. San Bernardino County was formed from parts of Los Angeles County. The county seat remained San Bernardino. Given that the original San Bernardino County was so expansive; parts of the county’s territory were given to Riverside County to aid in its formation in 1893.
San Bernardino County and Nature
Many parts of San Bernardino County are still as wild and untouched as they may have been when the county was founded in 1853. San Bernardino County plays host to at least 35 official wilderness areas. This is the largest number of any county in the United States.
These wilderness areas are part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. While most of these wilderness areas lie entirely within the county, a few are shared with neighboring counties. In addition, two of these areas are shared with the neighboring states of Arizona and Nevada.
Part of the charm of San Bernardino County is how many parts of it have not changed since Father Francisco Dumetz first named San Bernardino in 1810. Even with the rapid population growth in the Inland Empire, San Bernardino County has managed to preserve its rich history of natural beauty and breathtaking vistas.