Members of the Tongva, Juaneño, and Luiseño Native American groups long inhabited the area. After the 1769 expedition of Gaspar de Portolà, a Spanish expedition led by Junipero Serra named the area Valle de Santa Ana (Valley of Saint Anne). On November 1, 1776, Mission San Juan Capistrano became the area's first permanent European settlement. Among those who came with Portolá were José Manuel Nieto and José Antonio Yorba. Both these men were given land grants—Rancho Los Nietos and Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana, respectively. The Nieto heirs were granted land in 1834. The Nieto ranches were known as Rancho Los Alamitos, Rancho Las Bolsas, and Rancho Los Coyotes. Yorba heirs Bernardo Yorba and Teodosio Yorba were also granted Rancho Cañón de Santa Ana (Santa Ana Canyon Ranch) and Rancho Lomas de Santiago, respectively. Other ranchos in Orange County were granted by the Mexican government during the Mexican period in Alta California.
A severe drought in the 1860s devastated the prevailing industry, cattle ranching, and much land came into the possession of Richard O'Neill, Sr., James Irvine and other land barons. In 1887, silver was discovered in the Santa Ana Mountains, attracting settlers via the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific Railroads.
This growth led the California legislature to divide Los Angeles County and create Orange County as a separate political entity on March 11, 1889. The county is said to have been named for the citrus fruit in an attempt to promote immigration by suggesting a semi-tropical paradise–a place where anything could grow.
Other citrus crops, avocados, and oil extraction were also important to the early economy. Orange County benefited from the July 4, 1904 completion of the Pacific Electric Railway, a trolley connecting Los Angeles with Santa Ana and Newport Beach. The link made Orange County an accessible weekend retreat for celebrities of early Hollywood. It was deemed so significant that Pacific City changed its name to Huntington Beach in honor of Henry E. Huntington, president of the Pacific Electric and nephew of Collis Huntington. Transportation further improved with the completion of the State Route and U.S. Route 101 (now mostly Interstate 5) in the 1920s.
Agriculture, such as that involving the boysenberries made famous by Buena Park native Walter Knott, began to decline after World War II. However, the county's prosperity soared during this time. The completion of Interstate 5 in 1954 helped make Orange County a bedroom community for many who moved to Southern California to work in aerospace and manufacturing. Orange County received a further boost in 1955 with the opening of Disneyland.
In 1969, Yorba Linda-born Orange County native Richard Nixon became the 37th President of the United States.
In the 1980s, Orange County had become the second most populous county in California as the population topped two million for the first time.
In 1994, an investment fund meltdown led to the criminal prosecution of treasurer Robert Citron. The county lost at least $1.5 billion through high-risk investments in bonds. The loss was blamed on derivatives by some media reports. On December 6, 1994, the County of Orange declared Chapter 9 bankruptcy, from which it emerged on June 12, 1996. The Orange County bankruptcy was at the time the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.
In recent years, land use conflicts have arisen between established areas in the north and less developed areas in the south. These conflicts have regarded issues such as construction of new toll roads and the repurposing of a decommissioned air base. El Toro Marine Corps Air Station was designated by a voter measure in 1994 to be developed into an international airport to complement the existing John Wayne Airport. But subsequent voter initiatives and court actions have caused the airport plan to be permanently shelved. Instead, it will become the Orange County Great Park.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 948 square miles (2,460 km2), of which 791 square miles (2,050 km2) is land and 157 square miles (410 km2) (16.6%) is water. It is the smallest county in Southern California. The average annual temperature is about 68 °F (20 °C).
Orange County is bordered on the southwest by the Pacific Ocean, on the north by Los Angeles County, on the northeast by San Bernardino County and Riverside County, and on the southeast by San Diego County.
The northwestern part of the county lies on the coastal plain of the Los Angeles Basin, while the southeastern end rises into the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains. Most of Orange County's population reside in one of two shallow coastal valleys that lie in the basin, the Santa Ana Valley and the Saddleback Valley. The Santa Ana Mountains lie within the eastern boundaries of the county and of the Cleveland National Forest. The high point is Santiago Peak (5,689 feet (1,734 m)), about 20 mi (32 km) east of Santa Ana. Santiago Peak and nearby Modjeska Peak, just 200 feet (60 m) shorter, form a ridge known as Saddleback, visible from almost everywhere in the county. The Peralta Hills extend westward from the Santa Ana Mountains through the communities of Anaheim Hills, Orange, and ending in Olive. The Loma Ridge is another prominent feature, running parallel to the Santa Ana Mountains through the central part of the county, separated from the taller mountains to the east by Santiago Canyon.
The Santa Ana River is the county's principal watercourse, flowing through the middle of the county from northeast to southwest. Its major tributary to the south and east is Santiago Creek. Other watercourses within the county include Aliso Creek, San Juan Creek, and Horsethief Creek. In the North, the San Gabriel River also briefly crosses into Orange County and exits into the Pacific on the Los Angeles-Orange County line between the cities of Long Beach and Seal Beach. Laguna Beach is home to the county's only natural lakes, Laguna Lakes, which are formed by water rising up against an underground fault.
Residents sometimes divide the county into north Orange County and south Orange County. In effect, this is a division of the county into northwestern and southeastern halves following the county's natural diagonal orientation along the coast. This is more of a cultural and demographic distinction perpetuated by the popular television shows The OC, The Real Housewives of Orange County and Laguna Beach. The distinction exists between the older areas closer to Los Angeles and the more affluent and recently developed areas to the south. A transition between older and newer development may be considered to exist roughly parallel to State Route 55, also known as the Costa Mesa Freeway. This transition is accentuated by large flanking tracts of sparsely developed area occupied until recent years by agriculture and military airfields.
While there is a northeast to southwest topographic transition from elevated areas inland to the lower coastal band, there is no formal geographic division between North and South County. Perpendicular to that gradient, the Santa Ana River roughly divides the county into northwestern and southeastern sectors. Each sector comprises 40 to 60 percent of the county respectively by area. There are significant political, demographic, economic, and cultural distinctions between North and South Orange County, with North Orange County having greater populations of people of color, younger populations, greater percentages of renters, lower median incomes, higher rates of unemployment, and greater proportions of voters registered as Democrats versus as Republicans. However, certain areas in both North and South Orange County vary from these general trends.Los Angeles County (North).San Diego County (South).Riverside County (East).San Bernardino County (Northeast).Cleveland National Forest (part)Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge
The 2010 United States Census reported that Orange County had a population of 3,010,232. The racial makeup of Orange County was 1,830,758 (60.8%) White (44.0% non-Hispanic white), 50,744 (1.7%) African American, 18,132 (0.6%) Native American, 537,804 (17.9%) Asian, 9,354 (0.3%) Pacific Islander, 435,641 (14.5%) from other races, and 127,799 (4.2%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1,012,973 persons (33.7%).
The Hispanic and Latino population is predominantly of Mexican origin; this group accounts for 28.5% of the county's population, followed by Salvadorans (0.8%), Guatemalans (0.5%), Puerto Ricans (0.4%), Cubans (0.3%), Colombians (0.3%), and Peruvians (0.3%). Santa Ana with its population reportedly 75 percent Hispanic/Latino, is among the most Hispanic/Latino percentage cities in both California and the U.S., esp. of Mexican-American descent. See also Logan Park (Santa Ana), the city's largest and oldest barrio.
Among the Asian population, 6.1% are Vietnamese, followed by Koreans (2.9%), Chinese (2.7%), Filipinos (2.4%), Indians (1.4%), Japanese (1.1%), Cambodians (0.2%) Pakistanis (0.2%), Thais (0.1%), Indonesians (0.1%), and Laotians (0.1%). According to KPCC in 2014, Orange County has the largest proportion of Asian Americans in Southern California, where one in five residents are Asian American. There is also a significant Muslim population in the county.
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,846,289 people, 935,287 households, and 667,794 families residing in the county, making Orange County the second most populous county in California. The population density was 1,392/km2 (3,606/sq mi). There were 969,484 housing units at an average density of 474/km2 (1,228/sq mi). The racial makeup of the county was 64.8% White, 13.6% Asian, 1.7% African American, 0.7% Native American, 0.3% Pacific Islander, 14.8% from other races, and 4.1% from two or more races. 30.8% are Hispanic or Latino of any race. 8.9% were of German, 6.9% English and 6.0% Irish ancestry according to Census 2000. 58.6% spoke only English at home; 25.3% spoke Spanish, 4.7% Vietnamese, 1.9% Korean, 1.5% Chinese (Cantonese or Mandarin) and 1.2% Tagalog.
In 1990, still according to the census there were 2,410,556 people residing in the county. The racial makeup of the county was 78.6% White, 10.3% Asian or Pacific Islander, 1.8% African American, 0.5% Native American, and 8.8% from other races. 23.4% were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Out of 935,287 households, 37.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.9% married couples were living together, 10.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.6% were non-families. 21.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.00 and the average family size was 3.48.
Ethnic change has been transforming the population. By 2009, nearly 45 percent of the residents spoke a language other than English at home. Whites now comprise only 45 percent of the population, while the numbers of Hispanics grow steadily, along with Vietnamese, Korean and Chinese families. The percentage of foreign-born residents jumped to 30 percent in 2008 from 6 percent in 1970. The mayor of Irvine, Sukhee Kang, was born in Korea, making him the first Korean-American to run a major American city. “We have 35 languages spoken in our city,” Kang observed. The population is diverse age-wise, with 27.0% under the age of 18, 9.4% from 18 to 24, 33.2% from 25 to 44, 20.6% from 45 to 64, and 9.9% 65 years of age or older. The median age is 33 years. For every 100 females there were 99.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.7 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $61,899, and the median income for a family was $75,700 (these figures had risen to $71,601 and $81,260 respectively as of a 2007 estimate). Males had a median income of $45,059 versus $34,026 for females. The per capita income for the county was $25,826. About 7.0% of families and 10.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.2% of those under age 18 and 6.2% of those age 65 or over.
Residents of Orange County are known as "Orange Countians".
Orange County is the base for several religious organizations:Forty Martyrs Armenian Apostolic Church, located in Santa Ana is one of two Armenian Apostolic Church, otherwise referred to as "Armenian Orthodox Church" or "Gregorian Church" in Orange County.St. Mary Armenian Church, located in Costa Mesa is one of two Armenian Apostolic Church, otherwise referred to as "Armenian Orthodox Church" or "Gregorian Church" in Orange County.
Both Armenian churches were presented with a resolution declaring every April 24 Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day by the Orange County Board of Supervisors, passed unanimously on May 10, 2016.Reverend Robert Schuller's Crystal Cathedral is in Garden Grove. Bankrupt; sold to the Catholic Church.The Newport Beach California Temple, one of four temples operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Southern California.Family International, also known as "The Children of God", was founded in 1968 in Huntington Beach by David Berg.The Islamic Center of IrvineThe Shia Islamic Center of Orange County (IECOC)Chuck Smith, early leader in the Jesus People movement and founder of Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa.Pao Fa Temple in Irvine is one of the largest Buddhist monasteries and temples in the United States.The Purpose Driven Life author Rick Warren and his Saddleback Church (the largest church in California) are in Lake Forest.The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange headed by Bishop Kevin Vann. There are about 1.04 million Catholics in Orange County.Trinity Broadcasting Network began as Channel 40 in Tustin, now in Costa Mesa.Monasteries of the Vedanta Society and St. Michael's Abbey are located in Trabuco Canyon.The Vineyard Christian Fellowship movement began in Orange County.The Jain Center of Southern California in Buena Park, California, largest center for followers of Jain faith, originally started by Jains from IndiaThe Islamic Society of Orange County in Garden Grove. Established in 1976 and is one of the largest Mosques in US.The Sikh Center of Orange County located in Santa AnaIslamic Institute of Orange County, an Islamic Center in Orange County.
Orange County is a charter county of California; its seat is Santa Ana.
The elected offices of the county government consist of the five-member Board of Supervisors, Assessor, Auditor-Controller, Clerk-Recorder, District Attorney-Public Administrator, Sheriff-Coroner, and Treasurer-Tax Collector. Except for the Board of Supervisors, each of these elected officers are elected by the voters of the entire county and oversee their own County departments.
As of February 2017, the six countywide elected officers are:Assessor: Claude Parrish, Republican (since January 5, 2015)Auditor-Controller: Eric Woolery, CPA, Republican (since January 5, 2015)Clerk-Recorder: Hugh Nguyen, Republican (since April 3, 2013)District Attorney-Public Administrator: Tony Rackauckas, Republican (since January 4, 1999)Sheriff-Coroner: Sandra Hutchens, Republican (since June 10, 2008)Treasurer-Tax Collector: Shari Freidenrich, CPA, Republican (since January 3, 2011)
A seventh countywide elected officer, the County Superintendent of Schools does not oversee a county department, instead (jointly with an independently-elected County Board of Education) overseeing the wholly independent, anachronistically-named Orange County Department of Education.
Each of the five members of the Board of Supervisors is elected from a regional district, and together, the board oversees the activities of the county's agencies and departments and sets policy on development, public improvements, and county services. At the beginning of each calendar year, the Supervisors select a Chair and Vice Chair amongst themselves. The Chair presides over board meetings, and the Vice Chair presides when the Chair is not present. The Board appoints the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, the County Counsel, the Performance Audit Director, and the Director of the Office of Independent Review. The Board also appoints the County Executive Officer to act as the chief administrative officer of the county and the manager of all agencies and departments not under the sole jurisdiction of an elected county official nor the sole jurisdiction of one of the four aforementioned officers appointed by the Board.
As of February 2017, the members of the Orange County Board of Supervisors are:District 1: Andrew Do, Republican (since February 3, 2015)District 2: Michelle Park Steel, Republican (since January 5, 2015)District 3: Todd Spitzer, Republican (since January 7, 2013; previously January 6, 1997–November 19, 2002)District 4: Shawn Nelson, Republican (since June 22, 2010)District 5: Lisa Bartlett, Republican (since December 2, 2014)
The County Department of Education is wholly separate from the County government and is jointly overseen by the elected County Superintendent of Schools and the five-member Orange County Board of Education, whose trustees are popularly elected from five separate trustee areas.
As of January 2017, the six elected officials overseeing the Orange County Department of Education are:Trustee Area 1: Beckie Gomez, DemocratTrustee Area 2: David Boyd, No Party PreferenceTrustee Area 3: Ken Williams, RepublicanTrustee Area 4: Jack Bedell, RepublicanTrustee Area 5: Linda Lindholm, RepublicanSuperintendent of Schools: Al Mijares, Republican
The VA loan limit for Orange County is $625,500 as of 2016.
On July 12, 2010, it was revealed that former Sheriff Mike Carona received over $215,000 in pension checks in 2009, despite his felony conviction. A 2005 state law denied a public pension to public officials convicted of wrongdoing in office, however, that law only applied to benefits accrued after December 2005. Carona became eligible for his pension at age 50, and is also entitled, by law, to medical and dental benefits. It was noted that the county's retirement system faces a massive shortfall totaling $3.7 billion unfunded liabilities, and Carona was one of approximately 400 retired Orange County public servants who received more than $100,000 in benefits in 2009. Also on the list of those receiving extra-large pension checks is former treasurer-tax collector Robert Citron, whose investments, which were made while consulting psychics and astrologers, led Orange County into bankruptcy in 1994.
Citron, a Democrat, funneled billions of public dollars into questionable investments, and at first the returns were high and cities, schools and special districts borrowed millions to join in the investments. But the strategy backfired, and Citron's investment pool lost $1.64 billion. Nearly $200 million had to be slashed from the county budget and more than 1,000 jobs were cut. The county was forced to borrow $1 billion.
The California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility filed a lawsuit against the pension system to get the list. The agency had claimed that pensioner privacy would be compromised by the release. A judge approved the release and the documents were released late June 2010. The release of the documents has reopened debate on the pension plan for retired public safety workers approved in 2001 when Carona was sheriff.
Called "3 percent at 50," it lets deputies retire at age 50 with 3 percent of their highest year's pay for every year of service. Before it was approved and applied retroactively, employees received 2 percent. "It was right after Sept. 11," said Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach. "All of a sudden, public safety people became elevated to god status. The Board of Supervisors were tripping over themselves to make the motion." He called it "one of the biggest shifts of money from the private sector to the public sector." Moorlach, who was not on the board when the plan was approved, led the fight to repeal the benefit. A lawsuit, which said the benefit should go before voters, was rejected in Los Angeles County Superior Court in 2009 and is now under appeal. Carona opposed the lawsuit when it was filed, likening its filing to a "nuclear bomb" for deputies.
Orange County has long been known as a Republican stronghold and has consistently sent Republican representatives to the state and federal legislatures. Republican majorities in Orange County helped deliver California's electoral votes to Republican presidential candidates Richard Nixon (1960, 1968 and 1972), Gerald Ford (1976), Ronald Reagan (1980 and 1984) and George H. W. Bush (1988). The Republican margin began to narrow in the 1990s and 2000s as the state trended Democratic, and in 2016, Hillary Clinton won the county with a majority. This was the first time Orange County had voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since Franklin D. Roosevelt's 1936 landslide re-election for a second term.
Only four Democrats have carried the county in a statewide race in the last 50 years--Jerry Brown in his gubernatorial re-election campaign in 1978, March Fong Eu for Secretary of State and Kenneth Cory for State Controller, both also in 1978 and Kathleen Connell for Controller in 1998.
The 73rd Assembly Seat is largely considered the safest Republican state assembly seat and currently held by Bill Brough. The highest ranking Republican elected official in California, Board of Equalization Vice Chair Diane Harkey, is also an Orange County resident.
Although Democrats have made inroads in the northern end of the county since the mid-1980s, Orange County politics are still dominated by Republicans. Four of the county's seven U.S. Representatives, three of its five State Senators, and five of its seven State Assemblymembers are Republicans. All five members of the County Board of Supervisors are Republicans as well, as are the seven countywide elected officials.
† Special election
In the United States House of Representatives, Orange County is split between seven congressional districts:California's 38th congressional district, represented by Democrat Linda Sánchez,California's 39th congressional district, represented by Republican Ed Royce,California's 45th congressional district, represented by Republican Mimi Walters,California's 46th congressional district, represented by Democrat Lou Correa,California's 47th congressional district, represented by Democrat Alan Lowenthal,California's 48th congressional district, represented by Republican Dana Rohrabacher, andCalifornia's 49th congressional district, represented by Republican Darrell Issa.
In the California State Senate, Orange County is split between 5 districts:the 29th Senate District, represented by Democrat Josh Newman,the 32nd Senate District, represented by Democrat Tony Mendoza,the 34th Senate District, represented by Republican Janet Nguyen,the 36th Senate District, represented by Republican Patricia Bates, andthe 37th Senate District, represented by Republican John Moorlach.
According to the Orange County Registrar of Voters, as of May 21, 2012, Orange County had 1,612,145 registered voters. Of these, 42.17% (679,877) are registered Republicans, and 31.41% (506,389) are registered Democrats. An additional 22.01% (354,820) declined to state a political party.
Orange County has produced such notable Republicans as President Richard Nixon (born in Yorba Linda and lived in Fullerton and San Clemente), U.S. Senator John F. Seymour (previously Mayor of Anaheim), and U.S. Senator Thomas Kuchel (of Anaheim). Former Congressman Christopher Cox (of Newport Beach), a White House counsel for President Ronald Reagan, is also a former chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Orange County was also home to former Republican Congressman John G. Schmitz, a presidential candidate in 1972 from the ultra-conservative American Independent Party and the father of Mary Kay Letourneau. In 1996, Curt Pringle (later Mayor of Anaheim) became the first Republican-elected Speaker of the California State Assembly in decades.
While the growth of the county's Hispanic and Asian populations in recent decades has significantly influenced the culture of Orange County, its conservative reputation has remained largely intact. Partisan voter registration patterns of Hispanics, Asians and other ethnic minorities in the county have tended to reflect the surrounding demographics, with resultant Republican majorities in all but the central portion of the county. When Loretta Sanchez, a Blue Dog Democrat, defeated veteran Republican Bob Dornan in the congressional contest of 1996, she was continuing a trend of Democratic representation of that district that had been interrupted by Dornan's 1984 upset of former Congressman Jerry Patterson. Until 1992, Sanchez herself was a moderate Republican, and she is viewed as being somewhat more moderate than other Democrats from Southern California.
Republicans have responded to the influx of non-white immigrants by making more explicit efforts to court the Hispanic and Asian vote. In 2004, George W. Bush captured 60% of the county's vote, up from 56% in 2000, despite a higher Democratic popular vote statewide compared with the 2000 election. Although Barbara Boxer won statewide, and fared better in Orange County than she did in 1998, Republican Bill Jones defeated her in the county, 51% to 43%. While the 39% that John Kerry received is higher than the percentage Bill Clinton won in both 1992 and 1996, the percentage of the vote George W. Bush received in 2004 (59.7% of the vote) is the highest any presidential candidate has received since 1988, showing a still-dominant GOP presence in the county. In 2006, Senator Dianne Feinstein won 45% of the vote in the county, the highest margin of a Democrat in a Senate race in over four decades, but Orange was nevertheless the only Coastal California county to vote for her Republican opponent Dick Mountjoy. In terms of voter registration, the Democratic Party has a plurality or majority of registrations only in the cities of Buena Park, Laguna Beach, Santa Ana and Stanton.
The county is featured prominently in the book Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New American Right by Lisa McGirr. She argues that the county's conservative political orientation in the 20th century owed much to its settlement by farmers from the Great Plains, who reacted strongly to communist sympathies, the civil rights movement, and the turmoil of the 1960s in nearby Los Angeles — across the "Orange Curtain".
In the 1970s and 1980s, Orange County was one of California's leading Republican voting blocs and a sub-culture of residents to hold "Middle American" values that emphasized a capitalist religious morality in contrast to West coast liberalism that well existed there.
Orange County has many Republican voters from culturally conservative Asian-American, Middle Eastern and Latino immigrant groups. The large Vietnamese-American communities in Garden Grove and Westminster are predominantly Republican; Vietnamese Americans registered Republicans outnumber those registered as Democrats by 55% to 22%. Republican Assemblyman Van Tran was elected to become the first Vietnamese-American to serve in a state legislature and joined with Texan Hubert Vo as the highest-ranking elected Vietnamese-American in the United States prior to the 2008 election of Joseph Cao in Louisiana's 2nd congressional district. In the 2007 special election for the vacant county supervisor seat following Democrat Lou Correa's election to the state senate, two Vietnamese-American Republican candidates topped the list of 10 candidates, separated from each other by only seven votes, making the Orange County Board of Supervisors entirely Republican; Correa is the sole Democrat to have served on the Board since 1987 and only the fifth since 1963.
The following table includes the number of incidents reported and the rate per 1,000 persons for each type of offense.
Orange County is the headquarters of many Fortune 500 companies including Ingram Micro (#69) and First American Corporation (#312) in Santa Ana, Broadcom (#343) in Irvine, Western Digital (#439) in Lake Forest and Pacific Life (#452) in Newport Beach. Irvine is the home of numerous start-up companies and also is the home of Fortune 1000 headquarters for Allergan, Edwards Lifesciences, Epicor, Standard Pacific and Sun Healthcare Group. Other Fortune 1000 companies in Orange County include Beckman Coulter in Brea, Quiksilver in Huntington Beach and Apria Healthcare Group in Lake Forest. Irvine is also the home of notable technology companies like PC-manufacturer Gateway Inc., router manufacturer Linksys, video/computer game creator Blizzard Entertainment, and in-flight product manufacturer Panasonic Avionics Corporation. Also, the prestigious Mercedes-Benz Classic Center USA is located in the City of Irvine. Online Trading Academy, a professional trader education company, is also based in Irvine. Many regional headquarters for international businesses reside in Orange County like Mazda, Toshiba, Toyota, Samsung, Kia Motors, in the City of Irvine, Mitsubishi in the City of Cypress, and Hyundai in the City of Fountain Valley. Fashion is another important industry to Orange County. Oakley, Inc. and Del Taco are headquartered in Lake Forest. Hurley International is headquartered in Costa Mesa. Both the network cyber security firm Milton Security Group and the shoe company Pleaser USA, Inc. are located in Fullerton. St. John is headquartered in Irvine. Tustin, California is home to Ricoh Electronics, New American Funding, Safmarine and Rockwell Collins. Wet Seal is headquartered in Lake Forest. PacSun is headquartered in Anaheim. Restaurants such as Taco Bell, El Pollo Loco, In-N-Out Burger, Claim Jumper, Marie Callender's, Wienerschnitzel, have headquarters in the City of Irvine as well. Gaikai also holds its headquarters in the Orange County.
Orange County contains several notable shopping malls. Among these are South Coast Plaza (the largest mall in California, and the third largest in the United States) in Costa Mesa and Fashion Island in Newport Beach. Other significant malls include the Brea Mall, Main Place Santa Ana, The Shops at Mission Viejo, The Outlets at Orange, the Irvine Spectrum Center, and Downtown Disney. The outlets at San Clemente are the newest addition to shopping in Orange County and are set to open before the end of 2015.
Tourism remains a vital aspect of Orange County's economy. Anaheim is the main tourist hub, with the Disneyland Resort's Disneyland being the second most visited theme park in the world. Also Knotts Berry Farm which gets about 7 million visitors annually located in the city of Buena Park. The Anaheim Convention Center receives many major conventions throughout the year. Resorts within the Beach Cities receive visitors throughout the year due to their close proximity to the beach, biking paths, mountain hiking trails, golf courses, shopping and dining.
Orange County is the home of many colleges and universities, including:
Some institutions not based in Orange County operate satellite campuses, including the University of Southern California, National University, Pepperdine University, and Springfield College.
The Orange County Department of Education oversees 28 school districts.
Television stations KOCE-TV, the main PBS station in the Southland and KDOC-TV, an independent, are located in Orange County.
County-wide politics and government coverage is primarily provided by The Orange County Register and Voice of OC. OC Weekly is an alternative weekly publication and Excélsior is a Spanish-language newspaper. A few communities are served by the Los Angeles Times' publication of the Daily Pilot, the Huntington Beach Independent and the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot. Orange Coast was established in 1974, and is the oldest continuously published lifestyle magazine in the region. OC Music Magazine is also based out of Orange County, serving local musicians and artists.
Orange County is served by radio stations from the Los Angeles area. There are a few radio stations that are actually located in Orange County. KYLA 92.7 has a Christian format. KSBR 88.5 FM airs a jazz music format branded as "Jazz-FM" along with news programming. KUCI 88.9FM is a free form college radio station that broadcasts from UC Irvine. KWIZ 96.7 FM, located in Santa Ana, airs a regional Mexican music format branded as "La Rockola 96.7". KWVE-FM 107.9 is owned by the Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa. KWVE-FM is also the primary Emergency Alert System station for the county. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim also own and operate a sports-only radio station from Orange, KLAA. KX 93.5 FM broadcasts out of Laguna Beach and features an eclectic mix of mostly Alternative Rock.
Transit in Orange County is offered primarily by the Orange County Transportation Authority. The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) cited OCTA as the best large public transportation system in the United States for 2005. OCTA manages the county's bus network and funds the construction and maintenance of local streets, highways, and freeways; regulates taxicab services; maintains express toll lanes through the median of California State Route 91; and works with Southern California's Metrolink to provide commuter rail service along three lines—the Orange County Line, the 91 Line, and the Inland Empire-Orange County Line.
Ground transportation in Orange County relies heavily on three major interstate highways: the Santa Ana Freeway (I-5), the San Diego Freeway (I-405 and I-5 south of Irvine), and the San Gabriel River Freeway (I-605), which only briefly enters Orange County territory in the northwest. The other freeways in the county are state highways, and include the perpetually congested Riverside and Artesia Freeway (SR 91) and the Garden Grove Freeway (SR 22) running east-west, and the Orange Freeway (SR 57), the Costa Mesa Freeway (SR/SR 55), the Laguna Freeway (SR 133), the San Joaquin Transportation Corridor (SR 73), the Eastern Transportation Corridor (SR 261, SR 133, SR 241), and the Foothill Transportation Corridor (SR 241) running north-south. Minor stub freeways include the Richard M. Nixon Freeway (SR 90), also known as Imperial Highway, and the southern terminus of Pacific Coast Highway (SR 1). There are no U.S. Highways in Orange County, though two existed in the county until the mid-1960s: 91 and 101. 91 went through what is now the state route of the same number, and 101 was replaced by Interstate 5. SR-1 was once a bypass of US-101 (Route 101A).
The bus network comprises 6,542 stops on 77 lines, running along most major streets, and accounts for 210,000 boardings a day. The fleet of 817 buses is gradually being replaced by CNG (Compressed natural gas)-powered vehicles, which already represent over 40% of the total fleet. Service is operated by OCTA employees and First Transit under contract. OCTA operates one bus rapid transit service, Bravo, on Harbor Boulevard. In addition, OCTA offers paratransit service for the disabled, also operated by MV.
Starting in 1992, Metrolink has operated three commuter rail lines through Orange County, and has also maintained Rail-to-Rail service with parallel Amtrak service. On a typical weekday, over 40 trains run along the Orange County Line, the 91 Line and the Inland Empire-Orange County Line. Along with Metrolink riders on parallel Amtrak lines, these lines generate approximately 15,000 boardings per weekday. Metrolink also began offering weekend service on the Orange County Line and the Inland Empire-Orange County line in the summer of 2006. As ridership has steadily increased in the region, new stations have opened at Anaheim Canyon, Buena Park, Tustin, and Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo. Plans for a future station in Placentia are underway and is expected to be completed by 2014.
Since 1938, the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad and later Amtrak, has operated the Pacific Surfliner regional passenger train route (previously named the San Diegan until 2000) through Orange County. The route includes stops at eight stations in Orange County including San Clemente Pier (selected trips), San Juan Capistrano, Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo (selected trips), Irvine, Santa Ana, Orange (selected trips), Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC), and Fullerton Transportation Center.
A streetcar line in Anaheim is undergoing environmental impact assessment. This line will connect the Disneyland Resort, Convention Center, and Angel Stadium to the ARTIC transportation hub, in the city of Anaheim. The Santa Ana/Garden Grove Fixed Guideway Project plans a streetcar line connecting Downtown Santa Ana to the Depot at Santa Ana has completed the environmental document and is entering the design phase. OCTA has also proposed connecting the two systems via Harbor Boulevard and the West Santa Ana Branch corridor.
A car and passenger ferry service, the Balboa Island Ferry, comprising three ferries running every five minutes, operates within Newport Harbor between Balboa Peninsula and Balboa Island in Newport Beach. The Catalina Flyer connects the Balboa Peninsula to Avalon with daily round-trip passage through about nine months of the year. The Catalina Express connects Dana Point to Avalon (with departures from two greater Long Beach ports also connecting to Two Harbors).
Orange County's only major airport is John Wayne Airport. Although its abbreviation (SNA) refers to Santa Ana, the airport is in fact located in unincorporated territory surrounded by the cities of Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, and Irvine. Unincorporated Orange County (including the John Wayne Airport) has mailing addresses, which go through the Santa Ana Post Office. For this reason, SNA was chosen as the IATA Code for the airport. The actual Destination Moniker which appears on most Arrival/Departure Monitors in airports throughout the United States is "Orange County", which is the common nickname used for the OMB Metropolitan Designation: Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, California. Its modern Thomas F. Riley Terminal handles over 9 million passengers annually through 14 different airlines.
The area's warm Mediterranean climate and 42 miles (68 km) of year-round beaches attract millions of tourists annually. Huntington Beach is a hot spot for sunbathing and surfing; nicknamed "Surf City, U.S.A.", it is home to many surfing competitions. "The Wedge", at the tip of The Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach, is one of the most famous body surfing spots in the world. Southern California surf culture is prominent in Orange County's beach cities.
Other tourist destinations include the theme parks Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim and Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park. Since the 2011 closure of Wild Rivers in Irvine, the county is home to just one water park: Soak City in Buena Park. The Anaheim Convention Center is the largest such facility on the West Coast. The old town area in the City of Orange (the traffic circle at the middle of Chapman Ave. at Glassell) still maintains its 1950s image, and appeared in the That Thing You Do! movie.
Little Saigon is another tourist destination, being home to the largest concentration of Vietnamese people outside of Vietnam. There are also sizable Taiwanese, Chinese, and Korean communities, particularly in western Orange County. This is evident in several Asian-influenced shopping centers in Asian American hubs like the city of Irvine.
Historical points of interest include Mission San Juan Capistrano, the renowned destination of migrating swallows. The Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum is in Yorba Linda and the Richard Nixon Birthplace home, located on the grounds of the Library, is a National Historic Landmark. John Wayne's yacht, the Wild Goose or USS YMS-328, is in Newport Beach. Other notable structures include the home of Madame Helena Modjeska, located in Modjeska Canyon on Santiago Creek; Ronald Reagan Federal Building and Courthouse in Santa Ana, the largest building in the county; the historic Balboa Pavilion in Newport Beach; and the Huntington Beach Pier. The county has nationally known centers of worship, such as Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, the largest house of worship in California; Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, one of the largest churches in the United States; and the Calvary Chapel.
Since the premiere in fall 2003 of the hit Fox series The O.C., and the 2007 Bravo series "The Real Housewives of Orange County" tourism has increased with travelers from across the globe hoping to see the sights seen in the shows.
Orange County has some of the most exclusive and expensive neighborhoods in the U.S., many along the Orange Coast, and some in north Orange County.
Orange County has been the setting for numerous written works and motion pictures, as well as a popular location for shooting motion pictures.
The city of San Juan Capistrano is the place where writer Johnston McCulley located the first novella about Zorro, entitled The Curse of Capistrano. It was published in 1919 and later renamed The Mark of Zorro.
Huntington Beach annually plays host to the U.S. Open of Surfing, AVP Pro Beach Volleyball and Vans World Championship of Skateboarding. It was also the shooting location for Pro Beach Hockey. USA Water Polo, Inc. has moved its headquarters to Huntington Beach. Orange County's active outdoor culture is home to many surfers, skateboarders, mountain bikers, cyclists, climbers, hikers, kayaking, sailing and sand volleyball.
The Major League Baseball team in Orange County is the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The team won the World Series under manager Mike Scioscia in 2002. In 2005, new owner Arte Moreno wanted to change the name to "Los Angeles Angels" in order to better tap into the Los Angeles media market, the second largest in the country. However, the standing agreement with the city of Anaheim demanded that they have "Anaheim" in the name, so they became the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. This name change was hotly disputed by the city of Anaheim, but the change stood and still stands today, which prompted a lawsuit by the city of Anaheim against Angels owner Arte Moreno, won by Moreno. It has been widely unpopular in Orange County.
The county's National Hockey League team, the Anaheim Ducks, won the 2007 Stanley Cup beating the Ottawa Senators. They also came close to winning the 2003 Stanley Cup finals after losing in Game 7 against the New Jersey Devils.
The Toshiba Classic, the only PGA Champions Tour event in the area, is held each March at The Newport Beach Country Club. Past champions include Fred Couples (2010), Hale Irwin (1998 and 2002), Nick Price (2011), Bernhard Langer (2008) and Jay Haas (2007). The tournament benefits the Hoag Hospital Foundation and has raised over $16 million in its first 16 years.
The Los Angeles Blues are a USL Pro team and are the only professional soccer club in Orange County. The team's first season was in 2011 and it was successful as Charlie Naimo's team made it to the quarter-finals of the playoffs. With home games played at Titan Stadium on the campus of California State University, Fullerton the Blues look to grow in the Orange County community and reach continued success. Former and current Blues players include Walter Gaitan, Bright Dike, Maykel Galindo, Carlos Borja, and goalkeeper Amir Abedzadeh.
The National Football League football left the county when the Los Angeles Rams relocated to St. Louis in 1995. Anaheim city leaders are in talks with the NFL to bring a Los Angeles-area franchise to Orange County, though they are competing with other cities in and around Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Clippers played some home games at The Arrowhead Pond, now known as the Honda Center, from 1994 to 1999, before moving to Staples Center, which they share with the Los Angeles Lakers.
These communities are outside of city limits in unincorporated county territory.
Orange County has a history of large planned communities. Nearly 30 percent of the county was created as master planned communities, the most notable being the City of Irvine, Coto de Caza, Anaheim Hills, Tustin Ranch, Tustin Legacy, Ladera Ranch, Talega, Rancho Santa Margarita, and Mission Viejo. Irvine is often referred to as a model master-planned city because its villages of Woodbridge, Northwood, University Park, and Turtle Rock that were laid out by the Irvine Company of the mid-1960s before it was bought by a group of investors that included Donald Bren.
The population ranking of the following table is based on the 2010 census of Orange County.
† county seat
Due to Orange County's proximity to Los Angeles, many film and media celebrities have moved or bought second homes in the county. Actor John Wayne, who lived in Newport Beach, is the namesake for Orange County's John Wayne Airport. Others include Holocaust and World War II survivor, Christian author and lecturer Cornelia ten Boom. Orange County has also produced many homegrown celebrities, including golfer Tiger Woods, Rapper Ca$his. a number of professional ballplayers, including retired slugger Mark McGwire and pitcher Walter Johnson, WWE Wrestler, Chavo Guerrero Jr. actor, Kevin Costner, John Stamos, actor and radio personality R.J. Adams a.k.a. Bob Shannon, comedian/actors Steve Martin and Will Ferrell, actresses Michelle Pfeiffer and Diane Keaton, and singers Jackson Browne, Chester Bennington, Bonnie Raitt, Gwen Stefani, Jeff Buckley, Marc Cherry, Drake Bell, and Major League Ballhawk John Witt.
The county's most famous resident was perhaps Richard Nixon, the 37th President of the United States, who was born in Yorba Linda and lived in San Clemente for several years following his resignation. His presidential library is in Yorba Linda.
Orange County was also home to The Righteous Brothers: Bill Medley of Santa Ana, and Bobby Hatfield of Anaheim. The Santa Ana High School auditorium now bears Medley's name. Another less well-known sports figure from a previous era was Clifford C. Cravath, for many years judge of the Laguna Beach Municipal Court. Known as "Gavvy" Cravath as a professional baseball player from 1910 to 1920, he was the major league home run king prior to Babe Ruth's emergence as a slugger.