North American Overlay Mapping

Layer Notes - Counties and Municipal Regions

The primary political divisions of most States in the United States of America are termed "counties". There are currently 3077 counties as defined under the requirements of CQ Magazine and the Mobile Amateur Radio Awards Club for credit towards their respective awards, though this has changed in the past and may change again in the future.

In Louisiana, divisions are known as "parishes", a name that derives from the influence of the church at their inception.The District of Columbia has no primary divisions or county government, so is not classed as a county. For County Hunting purposes, the DC area counts as either Montgomery or Prince George's in Maryland. County Hunters use the 4 Judicial Districts of Alaska as counties, rather than the 15 Boroughs, 11 Geographic Census Divisions, and one Municipality that divide the state. The five major islands of Hawaii, are also considered counties.

Each county and county equivalent is assigned a three-digit FIPS code that is unique within each State. These codes are assigned in alphabetical order of county or county equivalent within a State, except for the independent cities, which follow the listing of counties. A full list of all counties and associated FIPS codes can be seen by clicking 'Tools' > 'Table Viewer'.

In certain states, there are cities that are independent of any county organization and thus constitute primary divisions of their states. These cities are known as "independent cities" and are treated as equivalent to counties for statistical purposes. However, for County Hunting purposes, the independant cities are included with their surrounding or associated county.

As of 2004, there are 43 such cities in the United States: Anchorage-Alaska, Baltimore-Maryland, Carson City-Nevada, St. Louis-Missouri, and 39 cities in Virginia. For County Hunting purposes, the following lists the counties for which Independant Cities can be used:

Independent Cities have been left in the county lists with the Table Viewer, but can be differentiated from counties by not having a county abbreviation.

Canadian Provinces do not have a standardized county system like most of the US does. Some provinces have counties similar to those in the USA, but even those are subject to change. Ontario for instance has counties, but many of them are being merged into Municipal Regions. Likewise, Mexico does not have counties, but uses Municipal Regions at this level of government. For this reason, the North American Overlay Mapper uses Municipal Regions as the county information for maps covering Canada and Mexico.

The USA counties also have a Radio Amateur-assigned five-letter code for an abbreviation. Whilst not in common use, this code is utilised for some contests and county QSO-parties. A full list of these codes can be seen in the county lists with the Table Viewer.

The different counties and municipal regions have a background layer as well as a foreground overlay in the North American Overlay Mapper. The background layer consists of colored areas and borders that define each county and municipal region area; the foreground overlay consists of colored borders and text. The reason for this separation is so that the county/municipal region borders and text can be overlayed and compared with other data; i.e. to see where the county/municipal regions are on the relief map, or to see which county/municipal regions fall within which state or province area.