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Factfinder for the Nation: Census Geography – Concepts and Products

Report Number CFF No. 8 (Rev.)


The Census Bureau produces published and unpublished statistics from its censuses and surveys for States, counties, cities, etc., and from the decennial census, for smaller areas down to the size of a city block. Some of these geographic entities are governmental (i.e., legally defined) units, while others are established specifically for statistical purposes. Preparing for and taking a census also requires a variety of geographic tools and products that are helpful to the data user as well as to the Bureau in activities such as computerized location-coding, mapping, and graphic display.

These tools allow users to interrelate local and census statistics for a variety of planning and administrative purposes.

This Factfinder outlines and illustrates some of the Bureau's geographic concepts and lists important statistical and reference products and related geographic tools available to the data user. The legend on page 5 tells where to obtain them and explains the media symbols.

Most of the definitions and references are those used for the 1990 Census of Population and Housing. The Bureau's demographic surveys; the 1987 Economic, Agriculture, and Governments Censuses and their related surveys; and other statistical programs share much of the geography above the level of census tracts. Figure 4 on page 3 summarizes the geographic areas from which data are available from the latest decennial census as well as from other censuses and selected surveys. For censuses earlier than 1987, the reader should see Factfinder CFF 8 (1985 edition). All governmental boundaries are those reported in effect as of January 1 of the particular census year.

Page Last Revised - October 8, 2021
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