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San Francisco Bay Area

The San Francisco Bay Area, with a population of over seven million residents, is the metropolitan area that lies along the San Francisco Bay. This area consists of cities of various size that lie more or less contiguously around the length of the bay. Three large cities dominate the area: San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland. Because, unlike most other metropolitan areas in the United States, no single large city dominates the region, residents generally refer to the region generically as the Bay Area, without associating it with any one city. However, because San Francisco was historically the first major city in the area, and because of its densely urbanized character in constrast to its neighbors, people in the region often refer to San Francisco as simply the City.

The combined area of the nine Bay Area counties is 19,000 km2.

Because the hills, mountains, and large bodies of water produce such vast geographic diversity within this region, the Bay Area offers a signficant variety of microclimates. The areas near the Pacific Ocean are generally characterized by relatively small temperature variations during the year, with cool foggy summers and mild rainy winters. Inland areas, especially those separated from the ocean by hills or mountains, have hotter summers and colder overnight temperatures during the winter.

The population distribution of the Bay Area is generally subdivided into several smaller subregions.

  • The region north of the Golden Gate Bridge is known as the North Bay. This area consists of Marin County and extends northward into the Napa[?] and Sonoma Valley[?] wine regions. With some exceptions, this region is relatively affluent, and is generally the least urbanized part of the Bay Area, with many areas of undeveloped park land. It is the only section of the Bay Area that is not served by a commuter rail transit service.

  • The eastern side of the bay, dominated by the city of Oakland but also including Berkeley as well as several suburbs, is known as the East Bay. The region, partly thanks to the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) rail service, has extended beyond the East Bay hills into suburban communities such as Walnut Creek, Concord, and Antioch. The weather on the eastern side of the hills is markedly warmer in the summer.

  • The communites along the southern edge of the Bay, synonymous with Silicon Valley, is also known as the South Bay. It includes the city of San Jose, as well as many smaller communities.

  • The area between the South Bay and the city of San Francisco is known as the San Francisco Peninsula. This area consists of a series of suburban communites along the Bay, as well as various towns along the Pacific coast.

  • San Francisco is generally placed in a category by itself.

Table of contents

Counties and Cities (incomplete)

Alameda County

Contra Costa County

Marin County

Napa County

San Francisco County

San Mateo County


Santa Clara County

Solano County

Sonoma County

Related Articles

List of San Francisco Bay Area writers

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