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Census Data for South Lake Tahoe

Population ...

The most recent Census Estimate<1> was for 2019 and it gave South Lake Tahoe a population of 22,915 people.

The last Decennial Census<2> was in 2010, which gave South Lake Tahoe a population of 21,403 people.

The city of South Lake Tahoe is located in El Dorado County. The 2010 Census gave El Dorado County; a population of 181,058 people. This means that South Lake Tahoe had 11.82% of the county's total population, making it El Dorado's most populous community.

At the same time, California had a population of 37,253,956 people, meaning that South Lake Tahoe had 0.06% of the total population of California - making it the state's 284th most populous community.

Area ...

The 2010 Census shows that the sampling area for South Lake Tahoe has a total area of 16.6 square miles [43 km²]. Of this total, 10.16 square miles [26.3 km²] is land, with the balance (38.8%) being water (6.44 square miles [16.7 km²]).

El Dorado County has a land area of 1,707 square miles [4,423.4 km²]. At 10.16 square miles [26.3 km²], South Lake Tahoe has 0.59% of the county's total land area.

  • Continue Reading ...
    • When the Census Bureau conducts a census for a city like South Lake Tahoe, they draw a boundary around the area in which they are going to conduct their count - this defines the sampling area (usually 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 population, area and housing for South Lake Tahoe reflect the sampling area. Since the shape of the sampling area and the actual boundaries of South Lake Tahoe might be different, it's best to check with the U.S. Census Bureau to resolve any difference between the two.
    • 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 the center of the polygon, known as the centroid). At the time of the 2010 Census, the sampling area was located at:
    • Lat:   38° 56' 21"   (or 38.94°)
    • Lon:   -119° 58' 55"   (or -119.98°)
    • 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).

Housing Units ...

At the time of the 2010 Census, South Lake Tahoe had 15,087 Housing Units<3> and with its population of 21,403 people, this averages 1.42 people per Housing Unit.

  • Continue Reading ...
    • The 2010 Census shows South Lake Tahoe had a land area of 10.16 square miles [26.3 km²]. This translates to 908 Housing Units per square mile [350.8 housing units/km²].
    • From the Census of 2000: South Lake Tahoe had 14,005 Housing Units, a population of 23,609 people and a land area of 10.06 square miles [26 km²]. This gives a density of 1.69 people per Housing Unit and 849 Housing Units per square mile [327.8 housing units/km²].
    • Note: Repeating the caution above (under Population Density), be aware that when comparing Housing Units between the 2010 and the 2000 Census, there were changes in the sampling area for South Lake Tahoe and you need to be careful when comparing between the censuses. More information about the changes can be found in the section called Census-to-Census Observations ... (see below).

El Dorado County ...

The community of South Lake Tahoe is located in El Dorado County<4>.

The county had a population of 181,058 people at the 2010 Census. With it's population of 21,403 people, South Lake Tahoe represented 11.82% of the county's total.

In addition, where the city of South Lake Tahoe has a population density of 1,289 people per square mile [497.7 people/km²], El Dorado County averages 106 people per square mile [40.93 people/km²].

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

Census-to-Census Observations ...

Introduction ...

When the Census Bureau takes a census count (or enumeration) for South Lake Tahoe, 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 South Lake Tahoe. It's important to note that from one Census to the next, the shape and location of the polygon can change.

  • Continue Reading ...
    • Although we don't have specific information about the shape of the polygon for South Lake Tahoe or how it changed has over time, there is some information that can give us some hints. For example, since the shape of the sampling area is directly related to the shape of the polygon, any change to area probably indicates a new shape for the polygon.
    • If you need precision or details about the methodology of the Census, you should visit the U.S. Census Bureau for a definitive answer.

Location ...

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

  • Continue Reading ...
    • For the 2010 Census, the location was given as:
    • Lat:   38.939230°   (or 38°56'21" N)
    • Lon:   -119.982216°   (or -119°58'55" W)
    • For the 2000 Census, the location given was:
    • Lat:   38.929237°   (or 38°55'45" N)
    • Lon:   -119.984347°   (or -119°59'3" W)
    • The difference indicates that the U.S. Census Bureau moved the location of the polygon for the 2010 Census 3,693 feet to the north<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 (#2411938) to South Lake Tahoe. This identifier also marks a GPS point on the map, and that point lies within the boundaries of South Lake Tahoe. The GNIS point has been mapped to the latitude/longitude:
    • Lat:   38.939346°   (or 38°56'21" N)
    • Lon:   -119.982710°   (or -119°58'57" W)
    • The GPS location given for the 2010 Census lies 146.3 feet to the east<6> of the point given by the GNIS for South Lake Tahoe. For more information about this and the relationship of the various Federal Codes, please visit our Misc Page for South Lake Tahoe.

Miscellaneous Information for South Lake Tahoe ...

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

  • The GNIS Codes ...
    • The current system of identification is called the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS). The following GNIS codes relate to South Lake Tahoe:
    • GNIS ID for South Lake Tahoe: 2411938
    • GNIS ID for El Dorado County: 277273
    • GNIS ID for State of California: 1779778
  • Misc. Census Codes ...
    • South Lake Tahoe is located in Census Region #4 (the West Region) and Division #9 (the Pacific Division).
  • The US Postal Service ZIP Code ...
    • While some people have used ZIP codes to identify a community, the ZIP codes were actually created to make mail delivery more efficient by grouping addresses together. Although a ZIP Code doesn't specifically identify a city like South Lake Tahoe, they do identify addresses that are in (or near) the city. It's important to remember that the boundaries of the ZIP Code can be changed, re-assigned, eliminated or overlapped with other ZIP Codes.
    • Our list of ZIP codes for South Lake Tahoe:<7>
    • 96150, 96151, 96154, 96155, 96156, 96157 & 96158.
  • 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 South Lake Tahoe.

The official website for South Lake Tahoe:

The official website for El Dorado County:

The official website for State of California:

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)

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 2019.
<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.
<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).
<4>If you're interested in how the shape of California's counties, including El Dorado, have changed over time, we recommend the Atlas of Historical County Boundaries.
<5>The calculated bearing (or angle) to the 2010 Census location is 350 degrees and a distance of 3,693 feet.
<6>The calculated bearing (or angle) to the GNIS point is 253 degrees and a distance of 146.3 feet.
<7>When looking for a ZIP Code, whether South Lake Tahoe or elsewhere, it's always best to check the website of the United States Postal Service (USPS).


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This page was last modified/updated: 07 Apr 2024