​What Distinguishes a County from a City?

All of California's residents live within the boundaries of a county; there are 58 in California. Counties have many roles in our state, and often serve as agents for the state, delivering front line services mandated at the state level. Those services include such things as running elections, safeguarding public health, providing official document recording services and prosecuting alleged criminals and housing the convicted in jails. A wide variety of social services are provided by counties.
In most counties within California, the vast majority of residents also live within the boundaries of incorporated cities, which provide them with residential services such as garbage pickup, code enforcement and animal regulation. The County of Sacramento is unique in that we have a large percentage of residents who live in the county, but not within the boundary of any of our seven incorporated cities. Those residents, who live in the unincorporated area, rely upon the county to provide city-like services to them as well.
Sacramento County is also unique in that it houses not only a city with the same name, which serves as the County seat, but is also home to the state legislature and State Capitol.
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