The population of the Orange County metro soared during the 1980s and 1990s and today is home to nearly 3.1 million residents. Anaheim is the largest city, with 345,700 citizens, followed by Santa Ana. Over the next five years the county is expected to grow at an annual rate of 0.6 percent with the highest growth in outer-lying communities where undeveloped land is available.
The aerospace and technology industries comprise a significant portion of Orange County’s economy, creating products that are sold to national and global markets. Defense spending has built a strong local aerospace market, and the improving economy has boosted tech sales. Employment in the missile and space industry remains high, while manufacturers of aircraft parts continue to produce equipment to meet government needs. Homeland security and defense contracts for technology and telecommunications-related goods also support Orange County’s smaller electronics firms.
The travel and tourism industry is improving in line with national employment growth. The Walt Disney Co. recently completed a $1.1 billion overhaul of Disney's California Adventure theme park. The company expanded the 55-acre site by 12 acres and used the space for new attractions.
Orange County’s high-tech sector is experiencing a revival as major companies move to the area. Private research and development, coupled with work done at numerous universities, will play a vital role in the growing high-tech base, which offers employment at companies such as Broadcom and Google. Medical device research and production is also expanding with companies such as Beckman Coulter, Endologix, Edwards Lifesciences and Allergan.
Orange County’s elevations range from sea level at the coast to 5,687 feet at Santiago Peak in the Saddleback Mountains. The western edge of Orange County is defined by 42 miles of Pacific Ocean beachfront, one of the longest uninterrupted stretches of public beaches in the world.