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A Gazetteer for the United States and Canada

Opelika, Alabama

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 The location of Opelika 

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Census Data for Opelika ...

Population ...

The most recent Census Estimate<1> was for 2015 and it gives Opelika a population of 29,527 people.

The last Decennial Census<2> was in 2010, giving Opelika a population of 26,477 people.

The city of Opelika is located in Lee County. The 2010 Census gave Lee County a population of 140,247 people. This means that Opelika had 18.88% of the county's total population, making it Lee's 2nd most populous community.

At the same time, Alabama had a population of 4,779,736 people, meaning that Opelika had 0.55% of the total population of Alabama - making it the state's 19th most populous community.

Area ...

When the Census Bureau conducts a census for a city like Opelika, they draw a boundary around the area in which they are going to conduct their count - this is called a sampling area (or a polygon). The shape of the sampling area can be quite complex and it's important to keep in mind that the boundaries of the sampling area may or may not match the recognized boundaries of the city.

Things like the population, area and housing for Opelika reflect the sampling area. Since the shape of the sampling area and the actual boundaries of&$160;Opelika might be slightly different, it's best to check with the U.S. Census Bureau if you need precision.

The 2010 Census shows that the sample polygon for Opelika has a total area of 60.5 square miles [156.7 km²]. Of this total, 59.6 square miles [154.3 km²] is land, with the balance (1.52%) being water (0.92 square miles [2.4 km²]).

Lee County has a land area of 607 square miles [1,573.5 km²]. At 59.6 square miles [154.3 km²], Opelika has 9.81% of the county's total land area.

Not only does the sampling area define boundaries, it also has a GPS location (latitude & longitude) that indicates a point within the sampling area (usually at the center of the polygon). At the time of the 2010 Census, the sampling area was located at:

Lat:   32° 38' 49"   (or 32.65°)

Lon:   -85° 23' 21"   (or -85.39°)

More information on this topic and the changes between the 2000 Census and the 2010 Census can be found in the section for our Census-to-Census Observations ... (see below).

Population Density ...

Using the population (26,477 people) and land area (59.6 square miles [154.3 km²]) values from the 2010 Census, Opelika had a population density of 437.6 people per square mile [168.9 people/km²].

In comparison, the 2000 Census shows Opelika had a population of 23,498 people and a land area of 52.8 square miles [136.7 km²]. This gives a population density of 439.7 people per square mile [169.8 people/km²]

NOTE: Be aware that when comparing population density between the 2000 Census and the 2010 Census, there were changes in the sampling area for Opelika. You need to be careful when making such a comparison, the differences are likely to lead to a misleading comparison. More information about the nature of these differences can be found in the section Census-to-Census Observations ... (see below).

Housing Units ...

At the time of the 2010 Census, Opelika had 11,751 Housing Units<3> and with its population of 26,477 people, this averages 2.25 people per Housing Unit.

The 2010 Census shows Opelika had a land area of 59.6 square miles [154.3 km²]. This translates to 194.2 Housing Units per square mile [75 housing units/km²].

From the Census of 2000: Opelika had 10,281 Housing Units, a population of 23,498 people and a land area of 52.8 square miles [136.7 km²]. This gives a density of 2.29 people per Housing Unit and 192.4 Housing Units per square mile [74.3 housing units/km²].

NOTE: Repeating the caution above (under Population Density), be aware that when comparing Housing Units between the 2000 and the 2010 Census, there were changes in the sampling area for Opelika and you need to be careful when comparing between the censuses. More information about the nature of these the changes can be found in the section called Census-to-Census Observations ... (see below).

Lee County ...

The community of Opelika is located in Lee County and is the County Seat for Lee County.

The county had a population of 140,247 people at the 2010 Census. With it's population of 26,477 people, Opelika represented 18.88% of the county's total.

In addition, where the city of Opelika has a population density of 437.6 people per square mile [168.9 people/km²], Lee County averages 230.8 people per square mile [89.1 people/km²].

For more information, please visit our Census Page for Lee County.

Population Rings for Opelika ...

To help identify the number of people who live in Opelika and the surrounding area, we have drawn concentric rings centered on Opelika. We counted the number of communities within each ring and summed their populations.<4>

RadiusNo of
Since 2010
5 mi [8 km]129,527+11.52%
10 mi [16 km]391,710+14.67%
15 mi [24 km]6101,512+13.01%
20 mi [32 km]12121,819+11.07%
25 mi [40 km]16171,498+10.12%
30 mi [48 km]21374,769+7.64%

US Census QuickFacts ...

The Census Bureau has created documents containing demographic information called QuickFacts. Although they don't create QuickFacts for all communities, they do have one for Opelika. Not only does the QuickFact have details about Opelika, it also contains a comparison between Opelika and the state of Alabama.

Click here for the Opelika QuickFact (QF-0157048).

The following communities are near Opelika and also have Census QuickFacts:

2015 Est.
Since 2010
AuburnQF-010307662,059+16.26%   SW  
ValleyQF-01782049,464-0.63%   NE  
LanettQF-01412966,452-0.25%   NE  
Phenix CityQF-015947237,570+14.47%   SE  
TuskegeeQF-01773048,817-10.62%   SW  
Columbus (GA)QF-1319000200,579+5.63%   SE  

For more about neighboring communities, please visit our Nearby Page for Opelika. For an expanded list of the communities that are closest to Opelika, see our County-by-County Page for Opelika.

A Census QuickFact is available for Lee County (QF-13081).

Below are QuickFacts for the counties that border Lee County.

2015 Est.
Since 2010
ChambersQF-0101734,123-0.27%   N  
MaconQF-0108719,105-10.94%   SW  
RussellQF-0111359,660+12.68%   SE  
TallapoosaQF-0112340,844-1.86%   NW  
Harris (GA)QF-1314533,381+4.24%   E  
Muscogee (GA)QF-13215200,579+5.63%   E  

Census-to-Census Observations ...

Introduction ...

When the Census Bureau takes a census count (or enumeration) for Opelika, they start by specifying the boundaries of the area to be counted. This area (or sampling area) is a polygon and its shape can be quite complex - it may or may not match the geographical boundaries of Opelika. It's important to note that from one Census to the next, the shape and location of the polygon can change. If you need precision or details about the methodology of the Census, you should visit the U.S. Census Bureau for a definitive answer.

Area ...

The sampling area (or polygon) given for the 2010 Census is 13.24% larger than the 2000 Census.

The 2010 Census shows that the total area for Opelika was 60.5 square miles [156.7 km²]. Of this total, 59.6 square miles [154.3 km²] is land, with the balance (1.52%) being water (0.92 square miles [2.4 km²]).

The 2000 Census shows a total area of 53.4 square miles [138.4 km²]. Of this total, 52.8 square miles [136.7 km²] is land, with the balance (1.1%) being water (0.66 square miles [1.7 km²]).

Location ...

While generally coinciding with the GPS location (latitude/longitude) of Opelika, the latitude and longitude given by the Census Bureau actually indicates the GPS location of the polygon for Opelika.

For the 2010 Census, the location was given as:

Lat:   32.660739°   (or 32°39'38" N)

Lon:   -85.378890°   (or -85°22'44" W)

For the 2000 Census, the location given was:

Lat:   32.647183°   (or 32°38'49" N)

Lon:   -85.389404°   (or -85°23'21" W)

The difference indicates that the U.S. Census Bureau moved the location of the polygon for the 2010 Census 5,902 feet to the northeast<5> of the location that was used in the 2000 Census.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN) have assigned a unique GNIS identifier (#2404435) to Opelika. This identifier also marks a GSP point on the map, and that point lies within the boundaries of Opelika. The GNIS point has been mapped to the latitude/longitude:

Lat:   32.660002°   (or 32°39'36" N)

Lon:   -85.380324°   (or -85°22'49" W)

The GSP location given for the 2010 Census lies 515 feet to the northeast<6> of the point given by the GNIS for Opelika. For more information about this and the relationship of the various Federal Codes, please visit our Misc Page for Opelika.

Miscellaneous Information for Opelika ...

The Federal government has assigned various identifying codes to each community, county and state. At one time or another, the US Census Bureau has referenced one (or more) of the following identifiers when referring to either Lee County or the city of Opelika:

The GNIS Codes ...

The current system of identification is called the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS). The following GNIS codes relate to Opelika:

GNIS ID for Opelika: 2404435

GNIS ID for Lee County: 161566

GNIS ID for Alabama: 1779775

The FIPS Codes ...

An earlier (and largely obsolete) identification method was called the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS):

State Code: 01 (Alabama)

County Code: 081 (Lee County)

Place Code: 57048 (Opelika)

State & County Code: 01/081 (Alabama / Lee County)

State & Place Code: 01/57048 (Alabama / Opelika)

Misc. Census Codes ...

Opelika is located in Census Region #3 (the South Region) and Division #6 (the East South-Central Division).

The US Postal Service ZIP Code ...

While some people have used a ZIP code to identify a community, the purpose of the ZIP code was to make mail delivery more efficient by grouping addresses together. Although the ZIP Code doesn't specifically identify a city like Opelika, it does identify addresses that are in (or near) Opelika. It's important to remember that the boundaries of a ZIP Code can be changed, re-assigned or overlapped with other ZIP Codes.

The ZIP code for Opelika: 36801-36804<7>

Census ZCTA Codes ...

The US Census Bureau created statistical entities that they call ZIP Code Tabulation Areas (ZCTAs) and these ZCTAs are frequently confused with the ZIP codes that come from the US Postal Service (USPS).

ZCTAs were first created for the 2000 Census and at that time, they were based upon the USPS ZIP codes. While largely covering the same areas, the boundaries of a ZCTA do not necessarily match the boundaries of a postal ZIP code with the same number. For example, while a postal ZIP code can cross a county or state line, a Census ZCTA can not. They should be treated as separate entities with no correlation between them.

For more information about the various Federal identification codes, please visit our Misc Page for Opelika.

Other Roadside Stops ...

Visit our Community Index for Alabama

About Lee County

About Alabama

Off-the-Road Links ...

The official website of the U.S. Census Bureau

The official website of the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN)

The official website of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

The official website for Opelika:

The official website for State of Alabama:

Footnotes ...

<1>Every year, the US Census Bureau creates a population estimate for the preceeding year. Keep in mind that this value is an estimate and not an actual count. The most recent Census estimate is for the year 2015.

- Return to Citation

<2>Every 10 years (eg- 1990, 2000, 2010), the US Census Bureau conducts a Constitutionally-mandated count (or enumeration) of people living within the United States. This count is called a Decennial Census. The last Decennial Census was the 2010 Census, with the next one planned for 2020.

- Return to Citation

<3>A Housing Unit is a broad term for those places where people live (whether occupied or temporarily vacant), such as a house, an apartment, a mobile home, or an area that is considered as a separate living quarter. Separate living quarters (consisting of one or more rooms) are considered to be those places where people live, sleep and eat separately from others and that have access to the outside (either directly or by a shared hallway).

- Return to Citation

<4>The communities in our count are those provided by the 2010 Census, so keep in mind that our population rings will only include the people living in those communities. Smaller communities usually don't participate directly in the Census and therefore they won't be included. While our count is a close approximation, it shouldn't be considered as a complete or accurate count.

- Return to Citation

<5>The calculated bearing (or the angle) to the 2010 Census location is 326 degrees.

- Return to Citation

<6>The calculated bearing (or the angle) to the GNIS point is 301 degrees.

- Return to Citation

<7>When looking for a ZIP Code, whether Opelika or elsewhere, it's always best to check the website of the United States Postal Service (USPS).

- Return to Citation

For additional information, please visit our Glossary for Opelika.


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This page was last modified: 23 Dec 2016
By John Hall