Fewest County Borders – Part I: Hawaii County, HI

On November 11, 2007 · 4 Comments

Technically the fewest number of county borders is zero, a situation that occurs frequently on islands. As an example, individual Hawaiian islands are not split by county borders with the exception of Molokai, found mostly in Maui County but also cradling the minuscule Kalowao County – the smallest county in the United States – on its northern shore. Hawaii seems to be a good place to start exploring this situation further.



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By definition Islands are noncontiguous unless someone decides to draw an artificial line across it, like Molokai. Otherwise it will be self-contained and won’t have any borders. So let’s take a look at these islands and decide which one of the remaining three counties might be the best candidate for “fewest” borders. Honolulu County is composed mostly of Oahu but also administers a string of minor islands, shoals and reefs stretching hundreds of miles northwest to Kure. Kauai County comes closer with just the island of Kauai and its nearby neighbor, Nihau. That leaves Hawaii County, composed solely of the “Big Island” of the same name, as a possible candidate. It is a county, it is self contained, and it is composed of a single chunk of earth surrounded by water.Other candidates on the mainland should also be considered. The Massachusetts counties of Dukes (Martha’s Vineyard) and Nantucket spread over open water but both contain minor islands along with their more famous brethren. Island County, Washington also comes close with two islands: Whidbey and Camano. Likewise Alaska’s Kodiak and Aleutian counties along with those that line the Inside Passage spread across open water but all contain numerous islands. If we must split hairs and say which county in the United States has the fewest borders, Hawaii County, HI would be as good a candidate as any. However this is really just a trivia question, and a pretty lame one at that. Too many geography quizzes depend upon Hawaii as a stumper. Things get more interesting on the mainland.

On November 11, 2007 · 4 Comments

4 Responses to “Fewest County Borders – Part I: Hawaii County, HI”

  1. vadim74 says:

    […] hammered out a great article on Hawaii[…]

  2. Fritz Keppler says:

    I agree with you that Hawai’i County has the fewest number of lines as a county. Water lines count in my book! Interestingly, Honolulu County actually borders on three entities, namely Maui and Kaua’i Counties, and Midway Island, which of course is an unincorporated territory, not foreign yet not entirely domestic either. (This is due to the fact, as you have noted, that the islands west of Kaua’i are under the administration of Hawai’i County)

  3. Jeff Rundell says:

    I have recently come across your wonderful site. I started reading your most recent posts, but then decided to back to the beginning.

    Island County is border free but Camano is very close to the mainland in the NE, as in “you can throw a baseball across” close! San Juan County, with many more islands than Island, also has more water around it.

    Kodiak Island Borough does not qualify because it includes a strip on coastline (on the Alaska Peninsula), as do Ketchikan, Wrangell & Petersburg in the SE. Sitka has no mainland but consists of all of Baranof Island but only half of Chichagof, so there is a border there.

    New York & Richmond Counties in NYC each have a very short land boundary, so the only zero boundary counties are Hawaii, Honolulu, Kauai, San Juan, Island, Dukes & Nantucket.

    Other Hawaii County claims to fame: The southern most US county, & the county that has the largest % of its state’s area – 62.7%.

    • Wow, you really did go back to the beginning! When I go back and look at some of those earliest 12MC articles from 2007 I begin to notice how much the site has evolved over the years. Sometimes I wish I could do a “do over” on some of them.

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