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Q: Number of Cities, Towns and Villages in the United States ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   4 Comments )
Subject: Number of Cities, Towns and Villages in the United States
Category: Reference, Education and News > General Reference
Asked by: townattorneygeneral-ga
List Price: $40.00
Posted: 14 Apr 2005 08:40 PDT
Expires: 14 May 2005 08:40 PDT
Question ID: 509183
There are more than 3,000 counties in the U.S. I want to know how many
cities, towns, villags, hamlets, municipalities and other such
governing groups exist in the US (which could, but does not have to,
include any or all US possessions and/or Puerto Rico), but excludes the  3,00+ 
counties, and excludes service-type governmental disricts such as
fire, school, sewage, water, police, and tax. My purpose is to
identify the potential number of new jobs which can be created for
attorneys as a "Town Attorney General" (basically, a civil prosecutor)
and their support staff of secretaries, paralegals, investigators,
researchers and others. The figure may already be available, but if
not it probably can be determined by reference to such sources as the
US Postal Service, United Parcel Service, Federal Express, various
map-makers or cartographers (which often list the names of communities
as part of their maps).
Subject: Re: Number of Cities, Towns and Villages in the United States
Answered By: leapinglizard-ga on 14 Apr 2005 10:09 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Dear townattorneygeneral,

The U.S. Census counted 25,375 places in 2000. A file containing the 
name, type, and location of each place can be downloaded in plain ASCII
or .zip compressed format from the following page.

U.S. Census: Census 2000 Gazetteer Files

U.S. Census: Census 2000 Gazetteer Files: compressed version of Places

After processing the file with a custom-made script, I find that nine
types of places are listed by the Census: borough, Census Designated 
Place (CDP), city, comunidad, county, municipality, town, urbana, and
village. I consider that three of these -- borough, CDP, and county --
do not qualify as self-governing entities. For each of the six remaining
types of place, below are the number identified as such.

    city        10,016
    comunidad      147
    municipality     1
    town         4,431
    urbana          78
    village      3,770
    total       18,443

I therefore conclude that there are 18,443 cities, towns, villages,
and other such governing groups in the United States. In case you're
wondering, the sole place identified as a municipality is Anchorage.

If you have any concerns about my answer, please advise me through a
Clarification Request so that I have a chance to fully meet your needs
before you assign a rating.



Request for Answer Clarification by townattorneygeneral-ga on 14 Apr 2005 13:46 PDT
I'm very satisfied with the answer. I had estimated about 18,000 in my
own website, based on far less information (somebody else's estimate,
as I recall). I would like to know if the figures exclude Puerto Rico
and other US possessions, or include PR/possessions, if you know the

Clarification of Answer by leapinglizard-ga on 14 Apr 2005 16:08 PDT
The Census website says, "With the exception of Puerto Rico, Island
Areas are not included in these files."

I've determined that there are exactly 225 Puerto Rice places in the
files, accounting for all the comunidad and urbana listings. After
subtracting those, we arrive at a total of 18,218 places in the 50

townattorneygeneral-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $10.00
The answer was obtain most professionally, and with the utmost
accuracy and authority, and the researcher added his/her own
programming expertise to extract data from a data pile. Well done,

Subject: Re: Number of Cities, Towns and Villages in the United States
From: leapinglizard-ga on 14 Apr 2005 16:41 PDT
Thank you for the rating and tip. Much appreciated.

Subject: Re: Number of Cities, Towns and Villages in the United States
From: nelson-ga on 14 Apr 2005 23:02 PDT
Please note that towns in New York State are not in the places file. 
They are county subdivisions in census parlance.  They are

I am not sure, but I believe that boroughs in New Jersey are municipalities.
Subject: Re: Number of Cities, Towns and Villages in the United States
From: leapinglizard-ga on 14 Apr 2005 23:25 PDT
Please note that the Census knows what it's doing. County subdivisions
are not self-contained municipal entities. They cover towns and
villages that are already included among the places. Boroughs are not

Subject: Re: Number of Cities, Towns and Villages in the United States
From: nelson-ga on 15 Apr 2005 10:04 PDT
I have to respectfully disagree.  Please see
(full disclosure: I contributed heavily to this article).  Then,
please read about towns at (an official state
of N.Y. publication that I have nothing to do with).  Then point out
N.Y. towns in the places file.

Census definitions do not always match reality.  Although towns may
not be "places", they are certainly municipalities under N.Y. law. 
They are not some governemntless stretches of land subject to the
county.  In N.Y. towns ARE county subdivisions.  Only cities and
villages (and perhaps some Native American reservations) are places. 
(I'm not counting CDPs because they do not have govt.)

For N.J., see  It
appears that boroughs are indeed municipalities.  (Perhaps you were
thinking of N.Y.C. boroughs, which do not have a fully-functional
county govt.)

I am not trying to make your life difficult.  I am just sharing
knowledge I have so that the questioner can get the full information
he/she needs.

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