The United States has nearly two billion acres of land, but 47% of this land has no inhabitants. When we think of the largest cities in the United States, we think of places like New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago, which may be correct population-wise. But many of those populous metropolitans are not working with much space. The largest cities in land mass are typically more secluded and have wide-open expanses. These top cities may surprise you!
1. Sitka, Alaska
Sitka, Alaska, is a city and borough near Juneau known for its Tlingit culture and Russian heritage. Its city limits only contain 8,500 residents, despite being the largest city in the country in land mass. Sitka’s total area in square miles is 4,811.4, almost four times the size of the state of Rhode Island. 40% of its square mileage is water. It’s situated on Baranof Island’s west side and Chichagof Island’s southern half in the archipelago of the Alaskan Panhandle. While it is one of the most populous cities in the state, most of its land is uninhabited.
2. Juneau, Alaska
Juneau, Alaska, is the state’s capital city, located in the Gastineau Channel and the Alaskan Panhandle. This city is famous for its epic wildlife viewing, outdoor activities, shopping, and breweries. With other 32,000 residents, it is the 3rd most populous city in the state and a popular tourist destination for cruise ships. Juneau is the second largest city in land mass and contains 3,254 square miles. The town has no roads in or out and is surrounded by water, mountains, ice fields, and glaciers. To visit, you must travel by air or boat.
3. Wrangell, Alaska
Wrangell, Alaska, is south of the Tongass National Forest and features many islands in Alexander’s Archipelago. It is one of the oldest towns in Alaska and is strategically located at the mouth of the Stikine River. It was the fifth largest community in the state in the early 1900s but dropped out of the top ten by 1950. Today, Wrangell is the third largest in land mass, with a land area of 2,556 square miles and a total population of only 2,127 residents.
4. Anchorage, Alaska
Anchorage, Alaska, resides on Cook Inlet in the south-central part of the state. The city is a gateway to an abundance of wilderness and mountainous areas and is known for its Alaskan culture, wildlife, and outdoor activities. It is the largest in the state for its population, with over 292,000 residents. Anchorage is the fourth largest city in the US by land mass, with 1,706 square miles of land. Most of its acreage is uninhabited wilderness and mountains.
5. Jacksonville, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida, is on the Atlantic Coast in the Northeastern part of the state. The city boasts one of the largest urban park systems in the country and is known for its authentic cuisine, craft beer scene, and abundance of water activities. Jacksonville is the most populous city in Florida, with over 902,000 people. It has a total area of 874 square miles, making it the largest city in land mass in the contiguous United States and the fifth largest in the nation.
6. Tribune, Kansas
Tribune, Kansas, is a rural town in the western-central part of the state in Greeley County. You will find this small city along Kansas Highway 96, where it’s popular for its historic railroad depot and endless miles of tillable land. This tiny community consists of 772 people but is the sixth largest city in land mass, with 778 square miles. Most of the city’s land is uninhabited pastures and prairies.
7. Anaconda, Montana
Anaconda, Montana, is located at the foot of the Anaconda Ridge in Southwestern Montana. Due to its copper smelting days, the city is one of the most historic in the state. It has a small-town feel, with boutique shopping, walking trails, and an abundance of other recreational activities and wildlife viewing. Anaconda has a population of 9,153 and 741 square miles, making it the seventh largest city in land mass in the country.
8. Butte, Montana
Butte, Montana, is on the outskirts of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness in the state’s southwestern portion. The town is known as the “Richest Hill on Earth” for its gold, silver, and copper mining operations. Butte has a population of over 34,000 people and an area of 716 square miles, making it the eighth largest city in land mass. Most of its land encompasses uninhabited wilderness.
9. Houston, Texas
Houston, Texas, is an enormous metropolis near Galveston and Trinity bays in the southeast portion of the state. The city contains 2.3 million people and is the fourth largest city by population in the country. Houston has world-class dining, shopping, music, and art and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the US. It is also the ninth largest by land mass, with 671 total square miles. The city has an exploding population and utilizes a good majority of its land.
10. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, is the state’s capital and its largest by land and population. The city contains over 649,000 residents and has a land area of 621 square miles. Oklahoma City is known for its cowboy culture and the oil industry. It is an excellent balance of a bustling metropolis and rural ranch and farming communities. Most of its land is rural and suburban, especially the city’s outskirts.
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- Business Insider, Available here: https://www.businessinsider.com/nik-freeman-map-of-us-population-2014-4#:~:text=%E2%80%9CThe%20United%20States%20consists%20of,of%20the%20USA%20remains%20unoccupied.%E2%80%9D
- National Public Radio, Available here: https://www.npr.org/2019/07/26/745731823/the-u-s-has-nearly-1-9-billion-acres-of-land-heres-how-it-is-used