Kern County, California

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Kern County is a county located in the southern Central Valley of the U.S. state of California. Established in 1866, it extends east beyond the southern slope of the eastern Sierra Nevada range into the Mojave Desert, and includes parts of the Indian Wells Valley, and the Antelope Valley, and has an area nearly the size of New Jersey. From the Sierras the county extends across the floor of the San Joaquin Valley to the eastern edge of the Temblor Range, part of the Coastal Ranges. To the south the county extends over the ridge of the Tehachapi Mountains. According to the 2000 census, its population was 661,645. The county seat is Bakersfield (since 1874) with the original county seat being the former mining town of Havilah in the mountains between Bakersfield and Tehachapi.

The county has a large agricultural base and is a significant producer of oil, natural gas, hydro-electric power, wind turbine power, and geothermal power. As of 2009, Kern remains California's top oil-producing county, with 81% of the state's 52,144 active oil wells.[2] The county accounts for one-tenth of overall U.S. oil production, and three of the five largest U.S. oil fields are in Kern County. Kern is also noted for its mineral wealth, including gold, borate, and kernite. The largest open pit mine in California, which mines borax, is at Boron in Kern County.[3]

Department of Defense facilities in Kern County include Edwards Air Force Base and China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station. The Mojave Spaceport, operated by the county government, is also in Kern County.

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