Tucker County, West Virginia is the least diverse place in America. Cue the eye rolls.

Randy Olson — a true “data visualization” guy — put in some work on the diversity of every county in the United States. There’s some detail on it here, and on his own blog here. Here’s how the process worked:

To calculate racial diversity, I computed the entropy on the “% ethnicity” data for each county using the 6 ethnic categories the U.S. Census tracks: White (non-Latino), African American, Native American, Asian American, Latino, and Other. A county will come out with high entropy when all 6 ethnic categories are as even as possible (i.e., each ~16.7%), whereas it will come out with low entropy if the county is only inhabited by people of one ethnic category. I’ve included the raw census data if you want to tinker with it yourself.

Let’s get right into it. Here are the five most diverse counties in the U.S.:

  1. Aleutians West Census Area, Alaska (31.4 percent white/non-Latino, 5.7 percent African American, 15.1 percent Native American, 28.3 percent Asian American, 13.1 percent Latino, and 6.4 percent other)
  2. Aleutians East Borough, Alaska (13.5 percent white/non-Latino), 6.7 percent African American, 27.7 percent Native American, 35.4 percent Asian American, 12.3 percent Latino, and 4.4 percent other)
  3. Queens County, New York (27.6 percent white/non-Latino, 17.7 percent African American, 0.3 percent Native American, 22.8 percent Asian American, 27.5 percent Latino, and 4 percent other)
  4. Alameda County, California (34.1percent white/non-Latino, 12.2 percent African American, 0.3 percent Native American, 25.9 percent Asian American, 22.5 percent Latino, and 5.1 percent other)
  5. Solano County, California (40.8 percent white/non-Latino, 14.2 percent African American, 0.5% Native American, 14.3 percent Asian American, 24 percent Latino, and 6.2 percent other)

And here are the five least diverse:

  1. Tucker County, West Virginia (100 percent white/non-Latino)
  2. Robertson County, Kentucky (100 percent white/non-Latino)
  3. Hooker County, Nebraska (100 percent white/non-Latino)
  4. Hand County, South Dakota (99 percent white/non-Latino and 1 percent Latino)
  5. Owsley County, Kentucky (98 percent white/non-Latino and 2 percent Latino)

Couple of quick observations:

1. Overall, the Midwest and upper New England — New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine — were predominantly white. Stereotypes reinforced, Part 1.

2. The two least diverse counties happen in West Virginia and Kentucky — with Kentucky having two of the five least diverse. Stereotypes reinforced, Part 2.

3. David McKinley is the Congressman associated with the least diverse district in America. One of his primary financial backers? The NRA. His rating on the Pro-Life scale? “A.” Stereotypes reinforced, Part 3.

4. Robertson County is actually dry, interestingly. Less so stereotypes being reinforced there.

Overall, a lot of these maps underscore basic ideas/assumptions about parts of America — namely, that the south has a lot of white hicks, the Midwest and upper New England have a lot of white people, and far western states are more diverse (as well as Queens, long-noted for its diversity). I’d say one of the bigger lessons of these maps is that while stereotypes are generally not good, they also tend to emerge from actual data at some point.


Ted Bauer