Resources were compiled to support nominators in preparing their Nomination Forms. Questions about any of these resources can be directed to

Rural and Urban Definitions

Those interested in nominating their community as a health equity zone must indicate whether their community is rural or urban. To support communities in making this determination, the Community Advisory Council and Community Workgroup created definitions of rural and urban based on population density and key characteristics of each geographic area.


Please note, the characteristics of each geographic area are not an exhaustive list and interested communities do not need to meet all characteristics.


Rural Definition

Urban Definition

Rural is defined as remote areas on open land that are sparsely populated; small towns (places with fewer than 2,500 people); and larger towns with populations ranging from 2,500 to 49,999.​ Rural areas also have one or more of the following characteristics.  

Urban is defined as densely populated areas of 50,000 people or more with at least 1,000 people per square mile and the surrounding suburbs.Urban areas also have one or more of the following characteristics.  


Remoteness of location and geographic isolation; further proximity to quality resources; presence of open countryside and natural resources; varied access to public parks and recreational areas; household use of wells for drinking water; and/or prevalence of air and water pollution associated with agricultural and manufacturing industries. 

Residential crowding; increased risk of disease outbreaks associated with population density and environmental contamination; reduced tree canopy coverage and usable green spaces; varied access to public parks and recreational areas; prevalence of air and water pollution associated with urbanization; and/or depletion of natural resources. 

Public Access

Limited availability of public transportation and reliance on personal vehicle; difficulty meeting basic needs such as food and housing due to limited availability of resources; lack of availability of support services for houseless individuals; long distance travel to access medical and behavioral health care services​; and/or impacts to service accessibility due to seasonal changes.  

Close proximity to public transit, international airports, railways, seaports; presence of large public education and healthcare institutions; service shortages associated with population density, and/or availability of healthy food options varies by neighborhood. 


Major industries are agricultural, forestry, and manufacturing; limited options for educational attainment and employment opportunities; and/or out-migration of highly skilled workers. 

History of redlining or residential displacement; high cost of living relative to income; competition for employment; and/or major employment industries are finance, science, and technology 


Limited access to reliable broadband; less ownership of computers and other electronic devices; and/or less reliance on electronic devices to receive information. 


Availability of advanced technologies in healthcare and communications; rapid means of communicating information; decentralized/fragmented communication systems; multiple streams of information sharing; and/or access to computers and high-quality broadband varies by neighborhood.  


Slow-paced way of life; strong relationships between people; willingness to help others in distress; and/or limited access to culturally and linguistically relevant resources. 


Fast-paced way of life; presence of cultural centers and culturally appropriate resources varies by neighborhood; diversity of people from different backgrounds and cultures; and/or neighborhoods with high proportions of immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. 


Map of Zip Codes in Washington State

This map of rural and urban zip codes in Washington state can be used as a resource to support nominators in determining whether their community is rural or urban. The data is based on a rural-urban classification system developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Learn how to use this map to look up your whether your community is rural or urban.


Please note, this data has limitations and the designation as rural or urban may not align with how your community identifies itself. Nominators are not required to use this tool to determine whether their community is rural or urban.


Map Error: Pomeroy extends to the Washington border.

Data Resources

The Information by Location mapping tool lets you explore and compare your community with those around you. It displays information for a variety of topics presenting a community’s rank between 1 (lowest) and 10 (highest).

The Community Report Dashboard allows you to see a variety of health measures for a given geography. You can select which county(s) you would like data for and which data you would like to see. Data can be viewed as a map or as trends over time.

The U.S. Census Bureau publishes demographic and socioeconomic information for a variety of geographies, including counties, cities, towns, zip codes, and congressional districts. You can use their data table search to look up a topic for a given geography.