Dakota County is the third-most populous county in Minnesota, with a total estimated population of 421,751 in 2017. Since 1970, the percentage of residents living in the rural parts of the County has slowly declined (from 9.6 percent in 1970 to 4.5 percent in 2017)*. Most (95 percent plus) of the population lives in urban areas that comprise less than half (40 percent) of the geographic land use in the County. This makes the urban area (1,708 people per square mile) much denser in population than the rural area (52 people per square mile). Other comparisons between Dakota County’s urban and rural areas are shown below. Rural & Urban Comparison
* Urban area includes cities mostly in the north and west parts of the County. These cities are Apple Valley, Burnsville, Eagan, Farmington, Hastings, Inver Grove Heights, Lakeville, Lilydale, Mendota, Mendota heights, Rosemount, South St. Paul, Sunfish Lake, and West St. Paul.
Rural: includes the remaining smaller cities and townships.
Source: American Community Survey 5-year Estimates and Integration Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS), National Historical Geographic Information System (NHGIS), University of Minnesota, www.nhgis.org