Iowa has 99 counties, but 100 county seats because Lee County has two.

Note! To visit individual counties go to the INDEX PAGE.

The first two counties, Des Moines County and Dubuque County, were created in 1834 when Iowa was still part of the Michigan Territory.


In preparation for Michigan's statehood, part of Michigan Territory was formed into Wisconsin Territory in 1836. Two years later, the western portion was split off to become Iowa Territory. The south-eastern part of Iowa Territory became Iowa, the 29th state in the union, on 28 December 1846, by which point 44 counties had been created.


Counties continued to be created by the state government until 1857, when the last county, Humboldt County, was created.  


One of the most significant days in Iowa county history was January 15, 1851, on which 49 counties were created.


The Iowa Constitution of 1857, which is still in effect today, states that counties must have an area of at least 432 square miles (1,120).  No county can be reduced below that size by boundary changes.


However, exceptions to this rule were granted, as ten counties have areas below this size, but the Constitution deals with total area. The smallest county (Dickinson) has a land area of 381 sq miles, while the largest (Kossuth county) has an area 973 square miles. Polk County is the most densely populated county and contains the state's capital and largest city, Des Moines, Iowa.

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