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One in Five Americans Live in Rural Areas

America Counts Staff


About 60 million people, or one in five Americans, live in rural America.

The term “rural” means different things to different people. For many, it evokes images of farmlands and pastoral landscapes. For our purposes, we define rural based on the official Census Bureau classification. What is urban and what is rural is defined after each decennial census using specific criteria related to population thresholds, density, distance and land use.

In general, rural areas are sparsely populated, have low housing density, and are far from urban centers. Urban areas make up only 3 percent of the entire land area of the country but are home to more than 80 percent of the population. Conversely, 97 percent of the country’s land mass is rural but only 19.3 percent of the population lives there.

For more, go to Defining Rural at the U.S. Census Bureau - Opens as PDF.


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