How Big Is Rural Wisconsin?

Farm with forested hills in background
Photo: Elvis Kennedy (

Wisconsin’s population at the time of the 2010 census was around 5.6 million people.  It will come as no surprise that most people (and Wisconsin’s population growth) is in urban areas: roughly 4 million of the total, or 70 percent.

In fact, Wisconsin’s rural population hit 1 million in 1880, and hasn’t quite doubled after more than 135 years, inching up to 1.7 million (or 30 percent).

What about the urban and rural split in land area?

Do you know what percent of Wisconsin’s land area was considered rural according to the 2010 census?

A. 67 percent

B. 77 percent

C. 87 percent

D. 97 percent

Answer: D is the correct answer!  Astoundingly, yes, 97 percent of Wisconsin is still considered rural.  In the 2010 census, urban areas were defined as having more than 50,000 people.