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5 See also
The principal industries of Multnomah County are manufacturing, transportation, wholesale and retail trade, and tourism. Because Oregon does not have a sales tax, while Washington, the neighboring state to the north and fifteen minutes' drive away, has one, many inhabitants of southwestern Washington visit Portland to make purchases.
The Port of Portland, established in 1891 and combined with the City of Portland's Commission of Public Docks in 1973, ranks third in total waterborne commerce on the West Coast. Portland is one of the five largest auto import ports in the nation and is the West Coast's leading exporter of grain and lumber.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,206 km² (466 mi²). 1,127 km² (435 mi²) of it is land and 79 km² (30 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 6.53% water. The county is both the smallest in size and largest in population in Oregon.
As of the census2 of 2000, there are 660,486 people, 272,098 households, and 152,102 families residing in the county. The population density is 586/km² (1,518/mi²). There are 288,561 housing units at an average density of 256/km² (663/mi²). The racial makeup of the county is 79.16% White, 5.67% Black or African American, 1.03% Native American, 5.70% Asian, 0.35% Pacific Islander, 4.03% from other races, and 4.07% from two or more races. 7.51% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 272,098 households out of which 26.50% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.90% are married couples living together, 10.80% have a female householder with no husband present, and 44.10% are non-families. 32.50% of all households are made up of individuals and 8.60% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.37 and the average family size is 3.03.
In the county, the population is spread out with 22.30% under the age of 18, 10.30% from 18 to 24, 33.80% from 25 to 44, 22.50% from 45 to 64, and 11.10% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 35 years. For every 100 females there are 98.00 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 96.10 males.
The median income for a household in the county is $41,278, and the median income for a family is $51,118. Males have a median income of $36,036 versus $29,337 for females. The per capita income for the county is $22,606. 12.70% of the population and 8.20% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 15.40% are under the age of 18 and 9.80% are 65 or older.
Multnomah County was created on December 22, 1854. It was the thirteenth county created in Oregon Territory. The land was taken from the eastern portion of Washington and the northern part of Clackamas Counties. The borders have remained relatively unchanged to the present.
Multnomah County was created when the people living in Portland found it difficult to travel to Hillsboro to conduct business at the county seat of Washington County. They also thought that they were paying too much in taxes to support the farmers in the rural areas surrounding Portland. In 1854, Portland businessmen petitioned the Territorial Legislature for a new county and Multnomah County was created at the subsequent session. The City of Portland was chartered in 1851 and made the county seat in 1854. The Multnomah County Commissioners met for the first time on January 17, 1855.
At various times in the 20th century, an initiative has been placed on the county ballot to merge Portland with the County government. None of these proposals have been approved.