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Spanish Missionaries from Mission San Gabriel Arcángel established a church at the village of Politania in 1810. Father Francisco Dumetz named the church San Bernardino on May 20, 1810, after the feast day of St. Bernardino of Siena. The Franciscans also gave the name San Bernardino to the snowcapped peak in Southern California, in honor of the saint and it is from him that the county derives its name. In 1819, they established the San Bernardino de Sena Estancia, a mission farm in what is now Redlands.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 20,105 square miles (52,070 km2), of which 20,057 square miles (51,950 km2) is land and 48 square miles (120 km2) (0.2%) is water. It is the largest county by area in California and the largest in the United States (excluding boroughs in Alaska). It is slightly larger than the states of New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island combined. It borders both Nevada and Arizona.
The 2010 United States Census reported that San Bernardino County had a population of 2,035,210. The racial makeup of San Bernardino County was 1,153,161 (56.7%) White, Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1,001,145 persons (49.2%), 181,862 (8.9%) African American, 22,689 (1.1%) Native American, 128,603 (6.3%) Asian, 6,870 (0.3%) Pacific Islander, 439,661 (21.6%) from other races, and 102,364 (5.0%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1,001,145 persons (49.2%).
San Bernardino County is a county in which candidates from both major political parties have won in recent elections. The Democratic Party carried the county in 2008 and 2012, when Barack Obama won majorities of the county’s votes, and in 1992 and 1996, when Bill Clinton won pluralities. Republican George W. Bush took the county in 2000 by a plurality and in 2004 by a majority. The county is split between heavily Latino, middle-class, and Democratic areas and more wealthy conservative areas.
The county operates the San Bernardino County Consolidated Fire District (commonly known as the San Bernardino County Fire Department). The department provides “all-risk” fire, rescue, and emergency medical services to all unincorporated areas in the county except for several areas served by independent fire protection districts, and several cities that chose to contract with the department.