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A Gazetteer for the United States and Canada

Rainbow City, Alabama

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 The location of Rainbow City 

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Census Data for Rainbow City ...

Population ...

The most recent Census Estimate<1> was for 2015 and it gives Rainbow City a population of 9,580 people.

The last Decennial Census<2> was in 2010, giving Rainbow City a population of 9,602 people.

The city of Rainbow City is located in Etowah County. The 2010 Census gave Etowah County a population of 104,430 people. This means that Rainbow City had 9.19% of the county's total population, making it Etowah's 2nd most populous community.

At the same time, Alabama had a population of 4,779,736 people, meaning that Rainbow City had 0.2% of the total population of Alabama - making it the state's 66th most populous community.

Area ...

When the Census Bureau conducts a census for a city like Rainbow City, 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 Rainbow City reflect the sampling area. Since the shape of the sampling area and the actual boundaries of&$160;Rainbow City 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 Rainbow City has a total area of 25.6 square miles [66.3 km²]. Of this total, a small amount of the area is covered by water (0.15 square miles [0.4 km²]).

Etowah County has a land area of 534 square miles [1,385.6 km²]. At 25.46 square miles [65.9 km²], Rainbow City has 4.76% 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:   33° 56' 38"   (or 33.94°)

Lon:   -86° 3' 41"   (or -86.06°)

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 (9,602 people) and land area (25.46 square miles [65.9 km²]) values from the 2010 Census, Rainbow City had a population density of 375 people per square mile [144.8 people/km²].

In comparison, the 2000 Census shows Rainbow City had a population of 8,428 people and a land area of 25.13 square miles [65.1 km²]. This gives a population density of 333 people per square mile [128.6 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 Rainbow City. You need to be careful when making such a comparison, the differences are likely to lead to an incorrect 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, Rainbow City had 4,534 Housing Units<3> and with its population of 9,602 people, this averages 2.12 people per Housing Unit.

The 2010 Census shows Rainbow City had a land area of 25.46 square miles [65.9 km²]. This translates to 177.1 Housing Units per square mile [68.4 housing units/km²].

From the Census of 2000: Rainbow City had 3,824 Housing Units, a population of 8,428 people and a land area of 25.13 square miles [65.1 km²]. This gives a density of 2.2 people per Housing Unit and 151.1 Housing Units per square mile [58.3 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 Rainbow City and you need to be careful when comparing results between the censuses. More information about the changes can be found in the section called Census-to-Census Observations ... (see below).

Etowah County ...

The community of Rainbow City is located in Etowah County.

The county had a population of 104,430 people at the 2010 Census. With it's population of 9,602 people, Rainbow City represented 9.19% of the county's total.

In addition, where the city of Rainbow City has a population density of 375 people per square mile [144.8 people/km²], Etowah County averages 195.2 people per square mile [75.4 people/km²].

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

Population Rings for Rainbow City ...

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

RadiusNo of
Since 2010
5 mi [8 km]460,135-1.29%
10 mi [16 km]971,404-1.06%
15 mi [24 km]1478,928-0.84%
20 mi [32 km]18104,853-0.77%
25 mi [40 km]34181,341-0.52%
30 mi [48 km]44228,695---

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 Rainbow City. Not only does the QuickFact have details about Rainbow City, it also contains a comparison between Rainbow City and the state of Alabama.

Click here for the Rainbow City QuickFact (QF-0163288).

The following communities are near Rainbow City and also have Census QuickFacts:

2015 Est.
Since 2010
SouthsideQF-01718328,572+1.9%   S  
GadsdenQF-012869636,084-2.09%   N  
AttallaQF-01030285,899-2.46%   NW  
GlencoeQF-01299925,153-0.14%   E  
BoazQF-01079129,688+1.43%   N  
JacksonvilleQF-013827212,222-2.6%   SE  
AlbertvilleQF-010098821,462+1.43%   NW  
AnnistonQF-010185222,347-3.28%   SE  

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

A Census QuickFact is available for Etowah County (QF-01055).

Below are QuickFacts for the counties that border Etowah County.

2015 Est.
Since 2010
BlountQF-0100957,673+0.61%   W  
CalhounQF-01015115,620-2.49%   SE  
CherokeeQF-0101925,859-0.5%   NE  
DeKalbQF-0104971,130---   NE  
MarshallQF-0109594,725+1.83%   NW  
Saint ClairQF-0111587,074+4.16%   SW  

Census-to-Census Observations ...

Introduction ...

When the Census Bureau takes a census count (or enumeration) for Rainbow City, 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 Rainbow City. 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 1.17% larger than the 2000 Census.

The 2010 Census shows that the total area for Rainbow City was 25.6 square miles [66.3 km²]. Of this total, 25.46 square miles [65.9 km²] is land, with the balance (0.57%) being water (0.15 square miles [0.4 km²]).

The 2000 Census shows a total area of 25.31 square miles [65.5 km²]. Of this total, 25.13 square miles [65.1 km²] is land, with the balance (0.68%) being water (0.17 square miles [0.5 km²]).

Location ...

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

For the 2010 Census, the location was given as:

Lat:   33.928777°   (or 33°55'43" N)

Lon:   -86.084228°   (or -86°5'3" W)

For the 2000 Census, the location given was:

Lat:   33.943964°   (or 33°56'38" N)

Lon:   -86.061546°   (or -86°3'41" W)

The difference indicates that the U.S. Census Bureau moved the location of the polygon for the 2010 Census 8,816 feet to the southwest<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 (#2404588) to Rainbow City. This identifier also marks a GSP point on the map, and that point lies within the boundaries of Rainbow City. The GNIS point has been mapped to the latitude/longitude:

Lat:   33.929224°   (or 33°55'45" N)

Lon:   -86.085756°   (or -86°5'8" W)

The GSP location given for the 2010 Census lies 490.1 feet to the east<6> of the point given by the GNIS for Rainbow City. For more information about this and the relationship of the various Federal Codes, please visit our Misc Page for Rainbow City.

Miscellaneous Information for Rainbow City ...

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 Etowah County or the city of Rainbow City:

The GNIS Codes ...

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

GNIS ID for Rainbow City: 2404588

GNIS ID for Etowah County: 161553

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: 055 (Etowah County)

Place Code: 63288 (Rainbow City)

State & County Code: 01/055 (Alabama / Etowah County)

State & Place Code: 01/63288 (Alabama / Rainbow City)

Misc. Census Codes ...

Rainbow City 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 Rainbow City, it does identify addresses that are in (or near) Rainbow City. 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 Rainbow City: 35906<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 Rainbow City.

Other Roadside Stops ...

Index of Cities, Towns and Villages for Alabama

About Etowah 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 Rainbow City:

The official website for Etowah County:

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 128 degrees.

- Return to Citation

<6>The calculated bearing (or the angle) to the GNIS point is 250 degrees.

- Return to Citation

<7>When looking for a ZIP Code, whether Rainbow City 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 Rainbow City.


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