A Gazetteer for the United States and Canada

Charleston, West Virginia

Nearby Census Genealogy
Cemeteries Tidbits &
Other WV

Learn About
The Commemorative
Quarter for
West Virginia
The Commemorative Quarter for West Virginia

Census Data for Charleston ...

Population ...

The most recent Census Estimate<1> was for 2017 and it gives Charleston a population of 47,929 people.

The last Decennial Census<2> was in 2010, giving Charleston a population of 51,400 people.

The city of Charleston is located in Kanawha County. The 2010 Census gave Kanawha County a population of 193,063 people. This means that Charleston had 26.62% of the county's total population, making it Kanawha's most populous community.

At the same time, West Virginia had a population of 1,852,994 people, meaning that Charleston had 2.77% of the total population of West Virginia - making it the state's most populous community.

Area ...

When the Census Bureau conducts a census for a city like Charleston, 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 Charleston reflect the sampling area. Since the shape of the sampling area and the actual boundaries of Charleston 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 Charleston has a total area of 32.66 square miles [84.6 km²]. Of this total, 31.52 square miles [81.6 km²] is land, with the balance (3.49%) being water (1.14 square miles [2.9 km²]).

Kanawha County has a land area of 901 square miles [2,335.1 km²]. At 31.52 square miles [81.6 km²], Charleston has 3.5% 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:   38° 20' 55"   (or 38.35°)             [Map]

Lon:   -81° 37' 56"   (or -81.63°)

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 (51,400 people) and land area (31.52 square miles [81.6 km²]) values from the 2010 Census, Charleston had a population density of 1,573 people per square mile [607 people/km²].

In comparison, the 2000 Census shows Charleston had a population of 53,421 people and a land area of 31.6 square miles [81.9 km²]. This gives a population density of 1,633 people per square mile [630 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 Charleston. You need to be careful when making such a comparison, the differences are likely to lead to an apple-to-oranges comparison. More information about the changes can be found in the section Census-to-Census Observations ... (see below).

Housing Units ...

At the time of the 2010 Census, Charleston had 26,205 Housing Units<3> and with its population of 51,400 people, this averages 1.96 people per Housing Unit.

The 2010 Census shows Charleston had a land area of 31.52 square miles [81.6 km²]. This translates to 802 Housing Units per square mile [309.8 housing units/km²].

From the Census of 2000: Charleston had 27,131 Housing Units, a population of 53,421 people and a land area of 31.6 square miles [81.9 km²]. This gives a density of 1.97 people per Housing Unit and 829 Housing Units per square mile [320.3 housing units/km²].

NOTE: Repeating the caution above (under Population Density), be aware that when comparing Housing Units between the 2000 Census and the 2010 Census, there were changes in the sampling area for Charleston 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).

Kanawha County ...

Charleston is located in Kanawha County and is the County Seat for Kanawha County.

The county had a population of 193,063 people at the 2010 Census. With it's population of 51,400 people, Charleston represented 26.62% of the county's total.

In addition, where the city of Charleston has a population density of 1,573 people per square mile [607 people/km²], Kanawha County averages 214.1 people per square mile [82.7 people/km²].

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

Population Rings for Charleston ...

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

  Radius   No of
  Since 2010    
5 mi   [8 km]260,422-6.83%
10 mi   [16 km]771,888-6.86%
15 mi   [24 km]1382,740-6.8%
20 mi   [32 km]1990,288-6.35%
25 mi   [40 km]24101,156-5.85%
30 mi   [48 km]30107,579-5.52%

Census-to-Census Observations ...

Introduction ...

When the Census Bureau takes a census count (or enumeration) for Charleston, 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 Charleston. 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 ...

There is only a very minor difference in the sampling area given between the 2010 Census and the 2000 Census.

The 2010 Census shows that the total area for Charleston was 32.66 square miles [84.6 km²]. Of this total, 31.52 square miles [81.6 km²] is land, with the balance (3.49%) being water (1.14 square miles [2.9 km²]).

The 2000 Census shows a total area of 32.71 square miles [84.7 km²]. Of this total, 31.6 square miles [81.9 km²] is land, with the balance (3.38%) being water (1.1 square miles [2.9 km²]).

Location ...

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

For the 2010 Census, the location was given as:

Lat:   38.348692°   (or 38°20'55" N)             [Map]

Lon:   -81.632324°   (or -81°37'56" W)

For the 2000 Census, the location given was:

Lat:   38.349497°   (or 38°20'58" N)             [Map]

Lon:   -81.633294°   (or -81°37'59" W)

The difference indicates that the U.S. Census Bureau moved the location of the polygon for the 2010 Census 403.8 feet to the southeast<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 (#2390575) to Charleston. This identifier also marks a GSP point on the map, and that point lies within the boundaries of Charleston. The GNIS point has been mapped to the latitude/longitude:

Lat:   38.348472°   (or 38°20'54" N)             [Map]

Lon:   -81.632163°   (or -81°37'55" W)

The GSP location given for the 2010 Census lies 92.5 feet to the northwest<6> of the point given by the GNIS for Charleston. For more information about this and the relationship of the various Federal Codes, please visit our Misc Page for Charleston.

Miscellaneous Information for Charleston ...

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 Kanawha County or the city of Charleston:

The GNIS Codes ...

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

GNIS ID for Charleston: 2390575

GNIS ID for Kanawha County: 1550026

GNIS ID for West Virginia: 1779805

The FIPS Codes ...

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

State Code: 54 (West Virginia)

County Code: 039 (Kanawha County)

Place Code: 14600 (Charleston)

State & County Code: 54/039 (West Virginia / Kanawha County)

State & Place Code: 54/14600 (West Virginia / Charleston)

Misc. Census Codes ...

Charleston is located in Census Region #3 (the South Region) and Division #5 (the South Atlantic Division).

US Postal Service ZIP Codes ...

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 Charleston, 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 Charleston :

25301, 25302, 25303, 25304, 25305, 25309, 25311, 25312, 25313, 25314, 25317, 25350, 25356, 25357, 25360, 25361, 25364, 25375, 25387, 25389, 25392 & 25396.<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 Charleston.

Other Roadside Stops ...

Visit our Community Index for West Virginia

About Kanawha County

About West Virginia

Off-the-Road Links ...

The official website of the U.S. Census Bureau

The official website for Charleston:

The official website for Kanawha County:

The official website for State of West Virginia:

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 2017.

- 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 angle) to the 2010 Census location is 223 degrees and a distance of 403.8 feet.

- Return to Citation

<6>The calculated bearing (or angle) to the GNIS point is 29 degrees and a distance of 92.5 feet.

- Return to Citation

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

- Return to Citation


Tidbits &
Other   WV

Sitemap Privacy
of Use


Please keep in mind that we can not guarantee the accuracy or timeliness of the information on this website, so use with care. We encourage you to double-check the information that is critical to you.

If you've found an error or have additional information that you would like to share, please don't hesitate to write. Click here to contact us.

Copyright 2016
All Rights Reserved
This page was last modified: 13 Nov 2018
By John Hall