La Paz County is a county in the western part of the U.S. state of Arizona. As of the 2010 census, its population was 20,489, making it the second-least populous county in Arizona. The county seat is Parker. The name of the county is the Spanish word for "the peace", and is taken from the early settlement (now ghost town) of La Paz along the Colorado River. La Paz County was established in 1983 after voters approved separating the northern portion of Yuma County, making it the only county to be established after Arizona became a state in 1912, and currently the second youngest county in the United States (behind the consolidated city-county of Broomfield, Colorado, which was established in 2001). The county did not have a large enough tax base to begin supporting a separate county government immediately and had to rely on state money at first. As a result, Arizona laws were changed to make splitting other existing counties much more difficult. Under the revised Arizona laws, a county shall not be formed or divided by county initiative unless each proposed county would have all of the following characteristics: (1) at least three-fourths of one percent of the total state assessed valuation and at least the statewide per capita assessed valuation; (2) a population of at least three-fourths of one percent of the total state population according to the most recent United States decennial census; (3) at least one hundred square miles of privately owned land; (4) common boundaries with either (a) at least three other existing or proposed counties; or (b) at least two other existing or proposed counties and the state boundary. A county formation commission is required to be formed to evaluate the feasibility of the proposed county. A proposal to divide a county must be approved by a majority of the votes cast in each proposed new county. The Colorado River Indian Reservation is located in the western portion of the county. Part of the reservation extends westward into San Bernardino and Riverside Counties in California.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 4,514 sq mi (11691 km²), of which 4500 sq mi (11655 km²) is land and 14 sq mi (36 km²) (0.3%) is water. The area that now makes up La Paz County was formerly part of Yuma County.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 20,489 people, 9,198 households, and 5,584 families residing in the county. The population density was 4.5//sq mi (1.8/km²). There were 16,049 housing units at an average density of 3.56/sq mi (1.37/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 69.8% white, 12.8% American Indian, 0.6% black or African American, 0.5% Asian, 12.5% from other races, and 3.7% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 23.5% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 22.4% were German, 15.9% were Irish, 15.3% were English, and 2.1% were American.
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