Rural Urban Definitions

Rural - Urban Maps

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania's definition of rural and urban is based on population density. Population density is calculated by dividing the total population of a specific area by the total number of square land miles of that area. According to the 2020 Census, the population of Pennsylvania is 13,002,700 and the number of square miles of land in Pennsylvania is 44,742. Therefore, the population density is 291 people per square mile.


County or school district definition

A county or school district is rural when the number of people per square mile within the county or school district is fewer than 291. Counties and school districts that have 291 people or more per square mile are considered urban.

Municipal definition

The U.S. Census Bureau has not yet identified 2020 urbanized areas. Therefore, the Center is continuing to use the 2010 municipal definition of rural as follows: a municipality is rural when the population density within the municipality is fewer than the 2010 statewide average density of 284 people per square mile, or the total population is less than 2,500, unless more than 50 percent of the population lives in an urbanized area as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau. All other municipalities are considered urban.

Applying the definition

According to the Center's definition, there are 48 rural counties and 19 urban counties in Pennsylvania. In 2020, nearly 3.4 million residents called these rural counties home, or 26 percent of the state's 13.0 million residents.
At the school district level, 238 of the state's 500 public school districts are rural. During the 2020-2021 school year, 374,732 public school students attended school in rural districts, or 25 percent of the state's nearly 1.41 million public school students.
At the municipal level, 1,592, or 62 percent, of the state's 2,562 municipalities are rural and 970 municipalities, or 38 percent, are urban.

Population Density by County, 2020
٭ Note: Highlighted counties are rural.

A-D E-M N-Y
Adams - 196
Allegheny - 1,676
Armstrong - 106
Beaver - 392
Bedford - 49
Berks - 480
Blair - 242
Bradford - 55
Bucks - 1,035
Butler - 233
Cambria - 209
Cameron - 13
Carbon - 171
Centre - 139
Chester - 665
Clarion - 67
Clearfield - 71
Clinton - 44
Columbia - 139
Crawford - 88
Cumberland - 432
Dauphin - 511
Delaware - 3,041
Elk - 39
Erie - 351
Fayette - 173
Forest - 18
Franklin - 194
Fulton - 34
Greene - 67
Huntingdon - 52
Indiana - 107
Jefferson - 69
Juniata - 63
Lackawanna - 467
Lancaster - 550
Lawrence - 254
Lebanon - 369
Lehigh - 1,013
Luzerne - 360
Lycoming - 95
McKean - 44
Mercer - 173
Mifflin - 114
Monroe - 279
Montgomery - 1,656
Montour - 140
Northampton - 805
Northumberland - 206
Perry - 83
Philadelphia - 11,379
Pike - 105
Potter - 16
Schuylkill - 190
Snyder - 121
Somerset - 72
Sullivan - 14
Susquehanna - 53
Tioga - 37
Union - 142
Venango - 82
Warren - 47
Washington - 243
Wayne - 73
Westmoreland - 355
Wyoming - 71
York - 481