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Cities whose elevation exceeds their population

Llano, California, small city, Llano, Los Angeles County, 93544, Llano CA, population smaller than elevation

I've lived in the great city of Palmdale since 1993.  Driving around this area, I pass signs for the little towns I pass through, you know the kind?  Green signs that list the elevation and population of tiny little towns, like Llano, for example, about whose existence I would live my life in blissful ignorance were it not for the sign.  Anyway, I noticed that the elevation of Llano is higher than its population.  I have a feeling there are quite a few little towns in the high desert that share this property.  I know what you're thinking: "Oh yeah, sure Llano's elevation is higher than its population, but that's only because of an accidental choice of feet to measure the elevation -- what if it were measured in meters?  Or fathoms?"  To answer that I propose that the population be measured in the same units as the elevation -- by measuring the total height of all the residents of the town, as if they were stood one atop the other, with the mayor of the town at the bottom, his feet at sea level.  If the head of the top person on this tower is still not high enough to reach the average elevation of the town, then the town has this magical property of being higher than its population.  Or maybe that's not what you were thinking, so, umm...  Never mind!


I was able to find on the cacities.org website an authoritative listing of all 478 California cities with population, updated 10/3/2003.  Then my breakthrough came with the discovery of the USGS Geographic Names Information System, which lists 1018 "features" in California with a feature type of "ppl" (populated place, e.g. city, town, settlement, etc.).  For each one, it lists the population and elevation of the feature. As luck would have it, all 478 cities listed in the cacities.org website were also listed in the USGS website.

16 California Cities with Elevation exceeding their Population

So here are the sixteen cities in California whose population (in people) exceeds their elevation (in feet above sea level), listed in increasing order of population minus elevation:

Feature NameElevationPopulation
(USGS)
 P - E 
Loyalton4936862-4074
Dorris4240886-3354
Tulelake40351020-3015
Portola48602227-2633
Etna2929781-2148
Fort Jones2747660-2087
Alturas43662892-1474
Montague25381456-1082
Big Bear Lake67545438-1316
Amador City954196-758
Colfax24401496-944
Bishop41473575-572
Weed34662978-488
Mammoth Lakes79207093-827
Dunsmuir22891923-366
Vernon20091-109
Plymouth1086980-106

If I expand the search to include all the unincorporated communities listed in the answers.com website, (860 cities and towns are listed, including all but one of the 478 in the cacities website (Aliso Viejo is missing from answers.com).  However, La Crescenta was listed twice, and both Mount Shasta and Mt Shasta were listed, so I guess there are really only 858 different cities and towns listed), then I come up with

62 Unincorporated Towns whose Elevation exceeds its Population

Acton, Avery, Bear Valley, Belden, Big Pine, Blairsden, Boron, Canyondam, Chester, Chinese Camp, Clio, Cobb, Covelo, Crescent Mills, Cromberg, Fall River Mills, Foresthill, Frazier Park, Gazelle, Georgetown, Graeagle, Greenville, Hayfork, Independence, Inyokern, Johannesburg, Julian, Kernville, Kings Beach, Kirkwood, Laytonville, Lebec, Lewiston, Littlerock, Lone Pine, Mariposa, Markleeville, McCloud, McKittrick, Meadow Valley, Middletown, Mineral, Mi-Wuk Village, Mokelumne Hill, Mountain Mesa, Murphys, North Edwards, Ocotillo, Olancha, Pine Valley, Randsburg, Running Springs, Shaver Lake, Shoshone, Tahoe Vista, Tecopa, Twain, Twain Harte, Upper Lake, Westwood, Wofford Heights, and Wrightwood.

Not every town listed in answers.com is also listed as a "ppl" in the USGS database.  For example, Llano isn't a ppl, according to USGS.  And there are 379 ppl's that are not listed in answers.com, 87 of which have elevation larger than population, by the way.  So this leaves unanswered the question of whether there are other towns like Llano where green road signs post an elevation that exceeds its population.


 Here's an interesting plot of the world's population density against the elevation at which people live.