Pierce County is a county in the U.S. state of Washington. As of the 2010 Census, the population was 795,225, making it the second-most populous county in Washington behind King County. The county seat and largest city is Tacoma. Formed out of Thurston County on December 22, 1852, by the legislature of Oregon Territory, it was named for U.S. President Franklin Pierce. Pierce County is in the Seattle metropolitan area (formally the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA metropolitan statistical area).
Pierce County is notable for being home to Mount Rainier, the tallest mountain and a volcano in the Cascade Range. Its most recent recorded eruption was between 1820 and 1854. There is no imminent risk of eruption, but geologists expect that the volcano will erupt again. If this should happen, parts of Pierce County and the Puyallup Valley would be at risk from lahars, lava, or pyroclastic flows. The Mount Rainier Volcano Lahar Warning System was established in 1998 to assist in the evacuation of the Puyallup River valley in case of eruption.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,806 square miles (4,680 km²), of which 1,670 square miles (4,300 km²) is land and 137 square miles (350 km²) (7.6%) is water. The highest natural point in Washington, Mount Rainier at 14,410 feet (4,392 m), is located in Pierce County.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 795,225 people, 299,918 households, and 202,174 families residing in the county. The population density was 476.3 inhabitants per square mile (183.9/km²). There were 325,375 housing units at an average density of 194.9 per square mile (75.3/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 74.2% white, 6.8% black or African American, 6.0% Asian, 1.4% American Indian, 1.3% Pacific islander, 3.5% from other races, and 6.8% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 9.2% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 20.5% were German, 13.1% were Irish, 10.7% were English, 6.3% were Norwegian, and 4.2% were American.
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