Special Report

This Is the Smallest City in America

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The federal government breaks down places where people live into a number of categories. The best known are states, metropolitan areas, and counties. Another, which is not as well known, is core-based statistical areas. There are 927 of them in the United States, and the smallest one is Vernon, Texas. (These are the 25 smallest countries and territories in the world.)

CBSAs include both metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas. Metropolitan statistical areas have at least one urbanized area of 50,000 or more population, while micropolitan statistical areas have at least one urban cluster with a population between 10,000 and 50,000. Each also includes the “adjacent territory that has a high degree of social and economic integration with the core as measured by commuting ties,” per the Census definition. 

These were originally set up by the U.S. Office of Management.

Of the 12 smallest CBSAs, six are in Texas. Vernon is northwest of Dallas, near the Oklahoma border. It has a population of 12,552, which is down 7.26% from the 2010 census. The population has been shrinking since 1980. (This is the fastest shrinking city in America.)

Vernon’s population is 51% white and 34% Latino or Hispanic, according to the Census Bureau. The median annual household income is an unusually low $42,533, more than $20,000 below the U.S. median. The poverty rate is an extraordinarily high 21.8%. The city covers just under 8 square miles.

Despite its many economic struggles, Vernon describes itself as “Where the West Really Begins,” trying to promote the city as an attractive place to visit for business and tourism. The city is governed by a mayor and city commission but has a professional city manager who runs the city day-to-day.

Click here to see the smallest city in America

50. Cordele, GA
> Population: 22,034

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Source: Jeffrey Beall / Wikimedia Commons

49. Sterling, CO
> Population: 21,974

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48. Maryville, MO
> Population: 21,743

47. Clarksdale, MS
> Population: 21,564

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46. Elk City, OK
> Population: 21,468

45. Beatrice, NE
> Population: 21,431

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44. Worthington, MN
> Population: 21,400

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43. Raymondville, TX
> Population: 21,161

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42. Liberal, KS
> Population: 21,038

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41. Port Lavaca, TX
> Population: 21,001

40. Price, UT
> Population: 20,760

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39. Borger, TX
> Population: 20,677

38. Dumas, TX
> Population: 20,654

Source: BOB WESTON / iStock via Getty Images

37. Grenada, MS
> Population: 20,610

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36. Jamestown, ND
> Population: 20,498

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sdho/

35. Huron, SD
> Population: 20,498

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34. Pierre, SD
> Population: 20,457

Source: Renelibrary / Wikimedia Commons

33. Pearsall, TX
> Population: 20,379

32. Evanston, WY
> Population: 20,215

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31. Othello, WA
> Population: 20,027

Source: Ammodramus / Wikimedia Commons

30. Guymon, OK
> Population: 19,997

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Source: Esdelval / Getty Images

29. Ruidoso, NM
> Population: 19,939

28. Carroll, IA
> Population: 19,914

Source: Scott A. Miller / Wikimedia Commons

27. Storm Lake, IA
> Population: 19,772

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26. Parsons, KS
> Population: 19,586

Source: By Jon Platek - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15786991 / Wikimedia Commons

25. Fairmont, MN
> Population: 19,484

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24. Los Alamos, NM
> Population: 19,462

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23. West Point, MS
> Population: 19,352

Source: dhughes9 / iStock via Getty Images

22. Andrews, TX
> Population: 18,879

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21. Portales, NM
> Population: 18,350

Source: websterwebfoot / Flickr

20. Fairfield, IA
> Population: 18,347

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Source: Billy Hathorn / CC BY-SA 3.0

19. Hereford, TX
> Population: 18,277

Source: By Skywayman at English Wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39705377 / Wikimedia Commons

18. Spirit Lake, IA
> Population: 17,549

Source: Jorge Moro / iStock via Getty Images

17. Vineyard Haven, MA
> Population: 17,461

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Source: Thomas R Machnitzki ([email protected]) / Wikimedia Commons

16. Helena-West Helena, AR
> Population: 17,299

Source: Kbytes / iStock via Getty Images

15. Maysville, KY
> Population: 17,035

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14. Brownsville, TN
> Population: 17,002

Source: 28247036@N04 / Flickr

13. Winnemucca, NV
> Population: 16,962

Source: Billy Hathorn / Wikimedia Commons

12. Snyder, TX
> Population: 16,662

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Source: Bubba73 (Jud McCranie) / Wikimedia Commons

11. Fitzgerald, GA
> Population: 16,614

10. Pecos, TX
> Population: 16,130

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9. Atchison, KS
> Population: 16,015

Source: hawkvalleygarden / Flickr

8. Spencer, IA
> Population: 15,976

Source: mj0007 / iStock via Getty Images

7. Sweetwater, TX
> Population: 14,835

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6. Vermillion, SD
> Population: 14,246

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5. Zapata, TX
> Population: 14,172

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4. Ketchikan, AK
> Population: 13,747

Source: By Jeffrey Beall - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32431279 / Wikimedia Commons

3. Craig, CO
> Population: 13,144

Source: SloMoe / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

2. Lamesa, TX
> Population: 12,974

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Source: BOB WESTON / iStock via Getty Images

1. Vernon, TX
> Population: 12,552

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