Riverside County, located in the state of California, is renowned for its citrus industry. An entire empire was built around the sweet and tasty navel orange. In the last few decades, the county has seen a spectacular population growth. Between 1980 and 1990, the number of residents increased by more than 76%, making Riverside the fastest-growing county in California.
By 1992, the county had a population of more than 1.3 million people, more than the entire population of 13 states, including Maine, Nevada, Hawaii and New Hampshire. At present, the population of Riverside County is estimated to be 2.3 million people, making it the fourth largest county by population in California and the tenth largest in the United States. It is included in the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario Metropolitan Statistical Area, also known as the Inland Empire. As a result, Orange County, the County and the City of Riverside began to become more attractive for new or relocated offices, corporations and financial centers in the late 1990s and 2000s.
Despite the national trend towards Democrats, Republicans have continued to win Riverside County at the state level. In 2008, Riverside County voted 64.8% in favor of Proposition 8, which amended the California Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriages. The county government documents often cite Blythe, on the Colorado River, as being a three-hour drive from the county seat of Riverside. Riverside County is organized as a general law county as provided in the California Government Code.
When California's initial 27 counties were established in 1850, the area now known as Riverside County was divided between Los Angeles County and San Diego County. In the late 18th century, Spanish missionary fathers from San Gabriel (Los Angeles County), San Juan Capistrano (Orange County) and San Luis Rey (San Diego) began to colonize the land and gradually used the inner valley of what is now western Riverside County to grow grain and livestock. Novice explorers and trail lovers can discover more than 120 historic sites that are right here in Riverside County. It was one of the main focal points of civil rights movements in the United States, especially in African-American sections of Riverside and in mostly Mexican-American communities of Coachella Valley visited by César Chávez, a member of agricultural union struggle.
The indigenous peoples of valleys, mountains and deserts of what is now Riverside County are Serrano, Payómkawichum, Mohave, Cupeno, Chemehuevi, Cahuilla and Tongva. There are 19 official wilderness areas in Riverside County that are part of National Wildlife Preservation System. The Riverside County Sheriff provides judicial protection, jail management and forensic services throughout Riverside County. Taking its name from city of Riverside, Riverside County was formed in 1893 from small part of San Bernardino County and larger part of San Diego County.