Hampshire County, Massachusetts

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Hampshire County is a non-governmental county located in the U.S. state of Massachusetts. As of 2000, the population was 152,251. Its most populous municipality is Amherst and its county seat is Northampton.[1]

Hampshire County is part of the Springfield Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Contents

Law and government

Hampshire County was formed in 1662 out of Middlesex County, an original county of the Massachusetts Bay Colony which organized counties in 1643. Like a number of Massachusetts counties, Hampshire County exists today only as a historical geographic region and a judicial district and has no county government. All former county functions were assumed by state agencies in 1999. The sheriff and some other regional officials with specific duties are still elected locally to perform duties within the county region, yet there is no county council or commissioner. However, communities are now granted the right to form their own regional compacts for sharing services. Hampshire County and Hampden County are part of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission.

See also: League of Women Voters page on Massachusetts counties and Hampshire Council of Governments.

Geography

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 545 square miles (1,411.5 km2), of which 529 square miles (1,370.1 km2) is land and 16 square miles (41.4 km2) (3.01%) is water.

Hampshire County is the middle section of the Pioneer Valley.

Adjacent counties

Hampshire County is the only county in Massachusetts surrounded in all directions by other counties of Massachusetts: all other counties in the state are adjacent to at least one other state or the open ocean.

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