The Santa Barbara County area, including the Northern Channel Islands, was first settled by Native Americans at least 13,000 years ago. Evidence for a Paleoindian presence has been found in the form of a fluted Clovis-like point found in the 1980s along the western Santa Barbara Coast, as well as the remains of Arlington Springs Man found on Santa Rosa Island in the 1960s. For thousands of years, the area was home to the Chumash tribe of Native Americans, complex hunter-gatherers who lived along the coast and in interior valleys leaving rock art in many locations including Painted Cave.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 3,789 square miles (9,810 km2), of which 2,735 square miles (7,080 km2) is land and 1,054 square miles (2,730 km2) (27.8%) is water. Four of the Channel Islands – San Miguel Island, Santa Cruz Island, Santa Rosa Island and Santa Barbara Island – are in Santa Barbara County. They form the largest part of the Channel Islands National Park (which also includes Anacapa Island in Ventura County).
The 2010 United States Census reported that Santa Barbara County had a population of 423,895. The ethnic makeup of Santa Barbara County was 295,124 (69.6%) White, 8,513 (2.0%) African American, 5,485 (1.3%) Native American, 20,665 (4.9%) Asian (1.6% Filipino, 1.0% Chinese, 0.5% Japanese, 0.5% Korean, 0.3% Vietnamese, 0.4% Indian), 806 (0.2%) Pacific Islander, 73,860 (17.4%) from other races, and 19,442 (4.6%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 181,687 persons (42.9%); 38.5% of Santa Barbara County is Mexican, 0.4% Salvadoran, 0.4% Guatemalan, and 0.3% Puerto Rican.
There are 20 independent school districts in Santa Barbara County, and the Santa Barbara County Education Office serves as an intermediate agency between those districts and the California Department of Education. During the 2013 school year, 67,701 students were enrolled in Santa Barbara County schools, kindergarten through grade 12.
There are also a number of private schools in the county. The Los Angeles Archdiocese operates two Catholic high schools and several elementary schools.
The County is governed by a five-member Board of Supervisors. The Board’s three-vote majority has shifted over the years between the north and south. The Board majority now includes three members from the southern portion of the County.
The Board of Supervisors appoints a County Executive Officer, who serves at the pleasure of the Board, to operate the County governmental organization. The County government includes 4296 employees and a budget of $757 million. The County provides various services ranging from health services to law enforcement.
Total: 3,789 sq mi
Land: 2,735 sq mi
Water: 1,054 sq mi
Density: 110/sq mi