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About the County

Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, the county has a rich history that spans from its agricultural roots to its current position as a global hub of innovation and technology.

The county was originally inhabited by various Native American tribes, including the Ohlone and Miwok peoples. Spanish explorers arrived in the late 1700s and established missions, bringing with them European diseases that devastated the native populations.

In the mid-1800s, California experienced a gold rush that brought many people to the area. However, it was agriculture that ultimately became the county's economic foundation. The region's fertile soil and temperate climate proved ideal for growing fruits and vegetables, and by the late 1800s, Santa Clara County was known as the "Valley of Heart's Delight" for its bountiful orchards.

The 1900s saw the rise of technology in the region, beginning with the founding of Stanford University in 1891. During World War II, many military research and development projects were located in the area, and after the war, many of the scientists and engineers stayed to continue their work.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the area became home to a number of high-tech companies, including Hewlett-Packard, Intel, and Apple. The region's innovative spirit and entrepreneurial culture led to the development of the personal computer and the internet, and Silicon Valley became synonymous with technological progress and advancement.

However, this prosperity was not shared equally by all residents of Santa Clara County. Many of the region's agricultural workers were poorly paid and lived in substandard conditions, and labor union activity was common. In the 1960s, Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers led a series of strikes and boycotts in support of better wages and working conditions for farmworkers.

Today, Santa Clara County is a diverse community of over 1.9 million people. The county has a large Hispanic population, making up over a quarter of local residents. Asian Americans also make up a significant portion of the population, with many immigrants from Vietnam, China, India, and many other countries settling in the area.

Departments and Agencies

Get contact and general information on County departments and agencies.

The County’s role in local government

The County of Santa Clara, as one part of the local government structure in the region, is dedicated to supporting the needs of its residents. The County government is responsible for a wide range of services, acting as both an agent of the State of California and as a local government entity. Its responsibilities include law enforcement, maintaining roads and parks and recreation facilities, providing social services to vulnerable populations, and running a health system that provides medical care to over 2 million people each year.

One of the County's primary missions is to act as a safety net for its most vulnerable residents, including low-income families, seniors, and individuals experiencing homelessness. The County operates a variety of programs and services aimed at addressing these issues, such as emergency shelter and housing assistance, food assistance, and mental health services.

In addition to these services, the County also plays an important role in promoting economic development and supporting local businesses. The County has a number of programs aimed at helping entrepreneurs and small business owners, such as low-interest loans and assistance with regulatory compliance.

Overall, the County is dedicated to supporting the needs of its residents and ensuring that our community remains vibrant and thriving for generations to come.