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Essex County is a county located in the northeastern part of the U.S. state of New Jersey. As of the United States 2000 Census, the population was 793,633, ranking it second in the state after Bergen County. Its county seat is Newark. It is part of the New York Metropolitan Area.

Essex County is the second most densely populated county in the state, after Hudson County. Newark, with a population density of 11,400 people/square mile, is the largest municipality in the county both in terms of area (24.14 square miles) and population (280,000). At the opposite end, Caldwell is the smallest in area (1.2 square miles) and Roseland is smallest in population (5,298); however even these small towns have population densities (6,396 people/square mile and 1,464 people/square mile, respectively) that rival many big cities, and are well above the state's average, which is the highest in the nation.

While many residents commute to New York City, Organon, Anheuser-Busch, Automatic Data Processing, Inc., CIT Group, Hoffmann-LaRoche, Grainger, Dun & Bradstreet and Prudential have large facilities in Essex County or are headquartered there, and there are numerous factories and large office parks scattered throughout.

Essex County was one of the quickest counties in America to become fully urbanized and was the first county in the country to create a county park system, to ensure that it did not lose all its land to development.

The various towns of the county, especially Newark, the Oranges, and the Caldwells can be seen in every episode of the HBO mob drama The Sopranos, which is set in North Caldwell.

The county is also home to Newark Liberty International Airport and Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal.