County Seal

County Info


  • Total 607 sq mi (1,570 km2)
  • Land 445 sq mi (1,150 km2)
  • Water 162 sq mi (420 km2)

Highest elevation[2]    3,234 ft (986 m)

Population (April 1, 2010)[3]

  • Total 262,382
  • Estimate (2016)[4] 274,673
  • Density 430/sq mi (170/km2)


Santa Cruz County was one of the original counties of California, created in 1850 at the time of statehood. In the original act, the county was given the name of “Branciforte” after the Spanish pueblo founded there in 1797. A major watercourse in the county, Branciforte Creek, still bears this name. Less than two months later on April 5, 1850,[7] the name was changed to “Santa Cruz” (“Holy Cross”).

Mission Santa Cruz, established in 1791 and completed in 1794, was destroyed by the 1857 Fort Tejon earthquake, but a smaller-scale replica was erected in 1931.