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Cowlitz County is a county located in the U.S. state of Washington. It forms the Longview, Washington Metropolitan Statistical Area which encompasses all of Cowlitz County. The county seat is at Kelso, and its largest city is Longview. Its name derives from a Cowlitz word meaning "seeker" (in a spiritual sense). It was formed on April 21, 1854.

Cowlitz County is home to approximately 94,000 residents. Roughly 56% of those live in the incorporated cities of Castle Rock, Kelso, Longview, Kalama, and Woodland. The remaining 44% live in rural, unincorporated communities such as Ryderwood, Toutle, Yale, Silver Lake, Lexington, Ariel and Cougar. The county covers 1,144 square miles within the southwestern region of Washington. Once known as the “Timber Capital of the World,” Cowlitz County is home to Douglas fir, hemlock and western cedar trees which cover much of its rugged terrain. Cowlitz County still produces a large supply of logs and finished lumber for domestic and international markets, but has become more diversified. Adjacent transportation corridors including Interstate 5, the Columbia River and a major rail line have allowed Cowlitz County to access major markets throughout the world. Recently, Cowlitz County has become known for its tourist attractions and tourism has become a growing industry. The May 18, 1980 eruption of nearby Mount St. Helens forever changed the landscape and the role tourism plays as an industry in Cowlitz County.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,166 square miles (3,021 km²), of which, 1,139 square miles (2,949 km²) of it is land and 28 square miles (72 km²) of it (2.37%) is water.

As of the census² of 2000, there were 92,948 people, 35,850 households, and 25,059 families residing in the county. The population density was 82 people per square mile (32/km²). There were 38,624 housing units at an average density of 34 per square mile (13/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 91.80% White, 0.52% Black or African American, 1.52% Native American, 1.30% Asian, 0.13% Pacific Islander, 2.11% from other races, and 2.62% from two or more races. 4.55% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 18.6% were of German, 11.2% United States or American, 10.4% English, 8.6% Irish and 7.0% Norwegian ancestry according to Census 2000. 94.6% spoke English and 3.5% Spanish as their first language.

There were 35,850 households out of which 32.80% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.60% were married couples living together, 10.70% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.10% were non-families. 24.30% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.70% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.55 and the average family size was 3.01. In the county, the population was spread out with 26.80% under the age of 18, 8.30% from 18 to 24, 27.50% from 25 to 44, 24.10% from 45 to 64, and 13.30% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 98.20 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.80 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $39,797, and the median income for a family was $46,532. Males had a median income of $40,378 versus $25,710 for females. The per capita income for the county was $18,583. About 10.30% of families and 14.00% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.50% of those under age 18 and 6.60% of those age 65 or over.



 

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