The beautiful coastline of the county, including Big Sur, California State Route 1 and the 17 Mile Drive between Monterey and Pacific Grove, has made the county world famous. Monterey County is also the site of a Monarch butterfly preserve.
Monterey County was one of the original counties of California, created in 1850 at the time of statehood. Parts of the county were given to San Benito County in 1874.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 9,767 km² (3,771 mi²). 8,604 km² (3,322 mi²) of it is land and 1,163 km² (449 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 11.91% water.
As of the census2 of 2000, there are 401,762 people, 121,236 households, and 87,896 families residing in the county. The population density is 47/km² (121/mi²). There are 131,708 housing units at an average density of 15/km² (40/mi²). The racial makeup of the county is 55.92% White, 3.75% Black or African American, 1.05% Native American, 6.03% Asian, 0.45% Pacific Islander, 27.82% from other races, and 4.98% from two or more races. 46.79% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 121,236 households out of which 39.10% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.00% are married couples living together, 11.60% have a female householder with no husband present, and 27.50% are non-families. 21.20% of all households are made up of individuals and 8.20% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 3.14 and the average family size is 3.65.
In the county the population is spread out with 28.40% under the age of 18, 10.90% from 18 to 24, 31.40% from 25 to 44, 19.30% from 45 to 64, and 10.00% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 32 years. For every 100 females there are 107.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 107.70 males.
The median income for a household in the county is $48,305, and the median income for a family is $51,169. Males have a median income of $38,444 versus $30,036 for females. The per capita income for the county is $20,165. 13.50% of the population and 9.70% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 17.40% are under the age of 18 and 6.80% are 65 or older.