Maricopa County Structure, History, and Information
History (est. 1871)
Most of what is now Maricopa County was included as part of the Territory of New Mexico until 1863, when the Arizona Territory was established. The growth of Phoenix and other settlements along the Salt River resulted in the creation of Maricopa County - officially established on February 17, 1871. It was the first new county of the original four counties of Territorial Arizona. The County was named in honor of the Maricopa Indians, who were known to have inhabited the area as early as 1775. Maricopa County’s outer geographical boundaries were set in 1881 and have not changed since.
County government in Arizona is an arm of the state government. Its authority is provided by both the state constitution and the state legislature. Maricopa County funds nearly 15,118 positions to serve the public in areas of public health and health care; transportation infrastructure construction and maintenance; flood control; law enforcement and courts; education; parks and recreation facilities; libraries; animal control; economic and community development; and elections.
When elections occur, citizens vote on whom they want to represent them. Sometimes it is for representation within their city. Other times, it is for representation within our county or even state.
When it is for the county, citizens vote for a representative within his or her district. A district is simply an imaginary boundary dividing up the residents into equal groups. Some districts appear quite large, but there are fewer people living in those areas…as the particular district is mostly desert.
A representative from a district is called a Supervisor. Currently, Maricopa County has five (5) districts and five (5) Supervisors.
Together, the five (5) district representatives, or Supervisors, form the Board of Supervisors. The Board of Supervisors’ direct the work of the County Manager. This is where they represent your area of town to County government. The County Manager essentially runs Maricopa County, based on Supervisor policies.
There are more than 40 departments in Maricopa County. Many of these departments, such as Elections, directly interacts with the public. Some departments, such as Information Technology, perform an internal service to other departments. Some of these departments are run by Directors who are appointed by the County Manager. Others are run by officials who are elected by the citizens of Maricopa County. For more information about a specific department, or to see a full listing of departments, see the County’s sitemap.
See the County Org Chart
Size & Population
Maricopa County has a land area of 9,226 square miles, of which 1,441 square miles are incorporated (15.6 percent) and 7,785 square miles are unincorporated (84.4 percent). It is the fifth largest of Arizona's 15 counties, and the 14th largest county in the United States. Maricopa County is larger than five states and the District of Columbia. The county measures 132 miles from east to west and 103 miles from north to south. Twenty-four cities and towns are located within Maricopa County's outer boundaries.
Maricopa County has a population of over 3,800,000 people (2011), making it one of the most populous counties in the nation.