Hidalgo County is a county in the U.S. state of Texas. The county seat is Edinburg and the largest city is McAllen. The county is named for Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, the priest who raised the call for Mexico’s independence from Spain. It is located in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas and is one of the fastest-growing counties in the United States. As of 2017, the United States Census Bureau estimates the population of Hidalgo County to be 860,661, making it the eighth-most populous county in Texas.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,583 square miles (4,100 km), of which 1,571 square miles (4,070 km) are land and 12 square miles (31 km) (0.8%) are covered by water. The northern part of the county has sandy and light loamy soils over deep reddish or mottled, clayey subsoils. In some areas, limestone lies within 40 inches of the surface. The southern part of the county has moderately deep to deep loamy surfaces over clayey subsoils. Along the Rio Grande, brown to red clays occur. Hidalgo County is in the South Texas Plains vegetation area, which features grasses, mesquite, live oaks, and chaparral. Native plants, reduced in recent years by extensive farming, include chapote, guayacan, ebony, huisache, brasil, and yucca.
In 1982, 91% of the land was in farms and ranches, with 52% of the farmland under cultivation and 85% irrigated; 51 to 60% of the county was considered prime farmland. The primary crops were sorghum, cotton, corn, and vegetables; Hidalgo County led Texas counties in the production of cabbage, onions, cantaloupes, carrots, and watermelons. The primary fruits and nuts grown in the county were grapefruit, oranges, and pecans. Cattle, milk cows, and hogs were the primary livestock products. Natural resources included caliche, sand, gravel, oil, and gas. Oil and gas production in 1982 totaled 98,487,211,000 cubic feet (2.7888472×10 m) of gas-well gas, 139,995 barrels of crude oil, 1,101,666 barrels of condensate, and 15,784,000 cubic feet (447,000 m) of casinghead gas. The climate is subtropical and subhumid. Temperatures range from an average low of 47 °F (8 °C) in January to an average high to 96 °F (36 °C) in July; the average annual temperature is 73 °F (23 °C). Rainfall averages 23 inches (580 mm) a year, and the growing season lasts for 320 days of the year.
As of the 2015 Texas Population Estimate Program, the population of the county was 841,667, non-Hispanic whites 62,232 (7.4%). Black Americans 2,973 (0.3%). Other non-Hispanic 11,106 (1.3%). Hispanics and Latinos (of any race) 765,356 (90.9%).
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 774,769 people residing in the county. 88.0% were White, 1.0% Asian, 0.6% Black or African American, 0.3% Native American, 8.8% of some other race and 1.3% of two or more races. 90.6% were Hispanic or Latino (of any race).
There were 216,471 households, and 179,668 families residing in the county. The population density was 363 people per square mile (140/km²). There were 248,287 housing units at an average density of 123 per square mile (47/km²). There were 216,471 households out of which 54.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 65.00% were married couples living together, 18.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 17.0% were non-families. 14.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.55 and the average family size was 3.94.
In the county, the population was spread out with 34.7% under the age of 18, 10.7% from 18 to 24, 27.1% from 25 to 44, 18.2% from 45 to 64, and 9.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 28.3 years. For every 100 females there were 94.40 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.90 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $30,134, and the median income for a family was $31,760. Males had a median income of $22,635 versus $17,526 for females. The per capita income for the county was $12,130. About 32.60% of families and 35.80% of the population were below the poverty line, including 47.4% of those under age 18 and 29.8% of those age 65 or over. The county’s per-capita income makes it one of the poorest counties in the United States. In 2009, it was tied with Bronx County, New York for “the greatest share of people receiving food stamps: 29 percent.”
Las Milpas, previously unincorporated, was annexed by Pharr in 1987.
The United States Office of Management and Budget has designated Hidalgo County as the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX Metropolitan Statistical Area. The United States Census Bureau ranked the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX Metropolitan Statistical Area as the 70th most populous metropolitan statistical area of the United States as of July 1, 2012.
The Office of Management and Budget has further designated the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX Metropolitan Statistical Area as a component of the more extensive McAllen-Edinburg, TX Combined Statistical Area, the 60th most populous combined statistical area and the 67th most populous primary statistical area of the United States as of July 1, 2012.