Essex County is a county in the northeastern part of the U.S. state of Massachusetts. As of the 2010 census, the total population was 743,159, making it the third-most populous county in the state. It is part of the Greater Boston area (the Boston–Cambridge–Newton, MA–NH Metropolitan Statistical Area). The largest city in Essex County is Lynn. The county was named after the English county of Essex. It has two traditional county seats: Salem and Lawrence. Prior to the dissolution of the county government in 1999, Salem had jurisdiction over the Southern Essex District, and Lawrence had jurisdiction over the Northern Essex District, but currently these cities do not function as seats of government. However, the county and the districts remain as administrative regions recognized by various governmental agencies, which gathered vital statistics or disposed of judicial case loads under these geographic subdivisions, and are required to keep the records based on them. The county has been designated the Essex National Heritage Area by the National Park Service.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 828 square miles (2,140 km²), of which 493 square miles (1,280 km²) is land and 336 square miles (870 km²) (41%) is water. Essex County is adjacent to Rockingham County, New Hampshire to the north, the Atlantic Ocean (specifically the Gulf of Maine and Massachusetts Bay) to the east, Suffolk County to the south, Middlesex County to the west and a very small portion of Hillsborough County, New Hampshire to the far north west in Methuen. All county land is incorporated into towns or cities.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 743,159 people, 285,956 households, and 188,005 families residing in the county. The population density was 1,508.8 inhabitants per square mile (582.6/km²). There were 306,754 housing units at an average density of 622.8 per square mile (240.5/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 81.9% white, 3.8% black or African American, 3.1% Asian, 0.4% American Indian, 8.2% from other races, and 2.6% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 16.5% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 23.3% were Irish, 17.1% were Italian, 12.6% were English, 6.1% were German, and 3.6% were American.
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