WASHINGTON, April 29, 2002 (Associated Press) - The nation's fastest-growing counties are mostly in the South and near major cities, the Census Bureau said Monday.

But the fastest-growing county is in the West. Douglas County, Colo., located near Denver, grew 13.6 percent over a 15-month period. The West is the nation's fastest-growing region.

The bureau reported population increases in 55 percent of the 3,141 counties in the United States, according to estimates made for April 1, 2000, to July 1, 2001.

The Washington suburb of Loudoun, County, Va., had the second-largest growth at 12.6 percent, followed by the Atlanta suburb of Forsyth County, Ga., at 12.1 percent.

The only Northern city in the top 10 was Scott County, Minn., outside Minneapolis. It grew 9.9 percent. Maricopa, Ariz., had the largest population increase of any county, growing by 122,649 people. That represented a 4 percent increase, bringing its population to 3.19 million.

The nation's largest county, Los Angeles County, grew by 118,156 people, a 1.2 percent increase that brought is population up to 9.64 million.

Loving County, Texas, is the least populous county, with fewer than 100 residents as of July 1.

The estimates are based on 2000 Census data, adjusted by data and estimates for births, deaths and migration.

The top 10 counties for growth by percentage were:

  1. Douglas, Colo., 13.6 percent.
  2. Loudoun, Va., 12.6.
  3. Forsyth, Ga., 12.1.
  4. Rockwall, Texas, 11.4.
  5. Williamson, Texas, 11.2.
  6. Henry, Ga., 11.1.
  7. Spencer, Ky., 10.8.
  8. Flagler, Fla., 10.3.
  9. Collin, Texas, 10.1.
  10. Scott, Minn., 9.9.

Copyright 2002, The Associated Press