Belknap County is one of ten counties in the U.S. state of New Hampshire. It is located in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region, a little southeast of the state’s geographic center. The county seat is Laconia. According to the 2010 census, the county’s population was 60,088.
Belknap County was formed in 1840 by removing parts of northeastern Merrimack County and northwestern Strafford County. It is named after Dr. Jeremy Belknap, a renowned preacher, historian, and author of The History of New Hampshire. The first County Court was held in the town of Meredith, at a village known as Meredith Bridge on the Winnipesaukee River. In 1855, the town of Laconia was separated from Meredith.
As of the census of 2000, there were 56,325 people, 22,459 households, and 15,496 families residing in the county. The population density was 140 people per square mile. There were 32,121 housing units at an average density of 80 per square mile. The racial makeup of the county was 97.61% White, 0.29% Black or African American, 0.30% Native American, 0.55% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.16% from other races, and 1.06% from two or more races. 0.74% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 17.2% were of English, 13.6% Irish, 13.3% French, 12.2% French Canadian, 8.5% American, 6.9% Italian and 5.7% of German ancestry according to Census 2000. 95.0% spoke English, 2.7% French and 1.2% Spanish as their first language.
There were 22,459 households out of which 30.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.7% were married couples living together, 9.20% had a female householder with no husband present, and 3% were non-families. 24.40% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.70% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 2.91.
In the county the population was spread out with 23.60% under the age of 18, 6.70% from 18 to 24, 28.10% from 25 to 44, 26.40% from 45 to 64, and 15.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 97.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.10 males.
The average income for a household in the county was $43,605, and the average income for a family was $50,510. Males had an average income of $34,741 and $25,445 for females. The per capita income for the county was $22,758. About 4.50% of families and 6.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.60% of those under age 18 and 4.90% of those age 65 or over.
The Republican party is the majority political party in Belknap County, holding all 20 seats in the state legislature in 2012. In the 2004 U.S. Presidential election, George W. Bush carried Belknap by an 11.9% margin over John Kerry, with Kerry winning statewide by 1.4%. But in 2008, the county voted for Barack Obama by a 1.2% margin over John McCain, with Obama carrying the Granite State by 9.6% over McCain.