St. Charles County is in the central eastern part of the U.S. state of Missouri. As of the 2010 census, the population was 360,485, making it Missouri's third-most populous county. Its county seat is St. Charles. The county was organized October 1, 1812 and named for Saint Charles Borromeo, an Italian cardinal. The county executive is Steve Ehlmann, since January 2007. St. Charles County is part of the St. Louis, MO-IL Metropolitan Statistical Area and contains many of the city's northwestern suburbs. The wealthiest county in Missouri, St. Charles County is one of the nation's fastest-growing counties. The county is also recognized as very conservative, ranking in the top 100 nationally, and has a gun culture. St. Charles County includes an area of vineyards and wineries whose distinction has been nationally recognized. On its rural outer edge along the south-facing bluffs above the Missouri River is an area of numerous wineries, so that Missouri Route 94 is sometimes called the Missouri Weinstrasse. The area includes the Augusta AVA, designated in 1980 as the first American Viticultural Area by the federal government.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 593 square miles (1,540 km²), of which 560 square miles (1,500 km²) is land and 32 square miles (83 km²) (5.4%) is water. The highest elevation is 901 feet (275 m) northwest of Augusta near Femme Osage Creek headwaters.
As of 2010, there were 360,485 people, 132,906 households, and 77,060 families residing in the county. The population density was 643 people per square mile (1665/km²). There were 142,766 housing units at an average density of 73 persons/km² (188 persons/sq mi). The racial makeup of the county was 91.3% White, 4.4% African American, 0.3% Native American, 2.3% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, and 1.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.9% of the population.
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