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In the United States, a county is a political and geographic subdivision of a state, usually assigned some governmental authority. The term "county" is used in 48 of the 50 U.S. states. The exceptions are Louisiana and Alaska, where the functionally equivalent subdivisions are called, respectively, parishes and boroughs. Numerous consolidated city–counties exist throughout the U.S. in which a city has merged with its county to form one unified jurisdiction with the governmental powers of both entities.

The U.S. federal government uses the term "county equivalent" to describe administrative or statistical areas that are comparable to counties. Louisiana parishes; the organized boroughs of Alaska; the District of Columbia; and the independent cities of the states of Virginia, Maryland, Missouri, and Nevada are equivalent to counties for administrative purposes. Alaska's Unorganized Borough is divided into 11 census areas which are statistically equivalent to counties. As of 2013, the United States has 3,007 counties and 137 county equivalents for a total of 3,144 counties and county equivalents.

The number of counties per state ranges from the 3 counties of Delaware to the 254 counties of Texas.

Counties still have significant governmental functions in all states except Rhode Island and Connecticut. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has removed most government functions from eight of its 14 counties.


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