Leelanau County (/ˈliːlənɔː/ LEE-lə-naw) is a county located in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2010 census, the population was 21,708. The county seat was until recently the unincorporated community of Leland. On August 3, 2004, county voters approved a proposal to move the county seat to Suttons Bay, closer to the county’s geographic center. In 2008, the county offices completed their move to a new government center built on 45 acres (180,000 m²) of county-owned land, one mile east of the unincorporated village of Lake Leelanau, where a new county law enforcement center was completed.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 2,532 square miles (6,560 km), of which 347 square miles (900 km) is land and 2,185 square miles (5,660 km) (86%) is water. The county is coextensive with the Leelanau Peninsula.
The county has the second-highest proportion of water area of any county in the United States, behind only Keweenaw County, Michigan. Lake Leelanau is the county’s largest body of inland water, formed from the Leland River dam near Leland. Glen Lake, located within the boundaries of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, is considered one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. A substantial portion of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore lies within the county’s borders, including North Manitou and South Manitou Islands. Leelenau has been party to substantial efforts to protect itself from growth, and to foster a nature conservancy.
As of the 2000 United States Census, there were 21,119 people, 8,436 households, and 6,217 families residing in the county. The population density was 61 people per square mile (23/km²). There were 13,297 housing units at an average density of 38 per square mile (15/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 93.52% White, 0.25% Black or African American, 3.66% Native American, 0.24% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 1.34% from other races, and 0.97% from two or more races. 3.29% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 23.3% were of German, 11.5% English, 9.9% Polish, 9.0% Irish, 6.0% French and 5.2% American ancestry. 95.1% spoke English and 2.9% Spanish as their first language.
There were 8,436 households out of which 29.90% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 63.60% were married couples living together, 7.10% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.30% were non-families. 22.30% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.80% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 2.89.
The county population contained 24.40% under the age of 18, 5.70% from 18 to 24, 24.20% from 25 to 44, 28.30% from 45 to 64, and 17.40% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females, there were 99.50 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.10 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $47,062, and the median income for a family was $53,228. Males had a median income of $35,719 versus $25,778 for females. The per capita income for the county was $24,686. About 3.30% of families and 5.40% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.40% of those under age 18 and 4.50% of those age 65 or over.