East County

View Atop Mount Helix

East County is a region of San Diego County, California. It is east of the city of San Diego.

East County does not have an official geographic definition. It commonly includes the four cities east of San Diego and South Bay—El Cajon, La Mesa, Santee, and Lemon Grove—as well as suburban unincorporated communities such as Lakeside, Spring Valley, Jamul, and Alpine. Many sources also include vast swathes of the backcountry of San Diego County also known as the Mountain Empire, including communities along Interstate 8 such as Pine Valley and Descanso, and communities along the rural section of California State Route 94 such as Potrero, Boulevard, and Jacumba.[1] Other sources consider communities within the entire eastern two-thirds of the county to be East County, thereby encompassing places like Ramona, Julian, and Borrego Springs,[2][3] although the Ramona urban area—Ramona, San Diego Country Estates and Barona Mesa—is often considered part of inland North County.[4]

The populace of East County primarily dwells in the interior valleys east of San Diego proper while some development encroaches the coastal foothills.

A broader definition of East County exists that includes the Cuyamaca Mountains, Laguna Mountains, and Palomar Mountain, as well as the desert area of Anza-Borrego State Park.[5] Yet, this definition, when used by SANDAG, excludes the East Suburban centers.[6]

Prominent geologic formations include El Capitan, a large dome-shaped mountain overlooking Santee and Lakeside.

East County is the fourth most populous region in the San Diego metropolitan area, though its population is almost equivalent to that of South Bay.


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