Benzie County is a county in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2010 census, the population was 17,525. The county seat is Beulah. The county was initially set off in 1863 and organized in 1869. The name Benzie is derived from the French la rivière aux Bec-scies, "the river of sawbills", bec-scie ("bill-saw") being a type of ducks. Americans altered the pronunciation of the river's name, which became known as the "Betsie River". A similar alteration in pronunciation produced "Benzie". At 321 square miles (831 km²), Benzie County is the smallest of the 83 counties in Michigan. Benzie County is part of the Traverse City, MI Micropolitan Statistical Area.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 860 square miles (2,200 km²), of which 320 square miles (830 km²) is land and 540 square miles (1,400 km²) (63%) is water. It is the smallest county in Michigan by land area.
As of the 2000 census, there were 15,998 people, 6,500 households, and 4,595 families residing in the county. The population density was 50 people per square mile (19/km²). There were 10,312 housing units at an average density of 32 per square mile (12/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 96.39% White, 0.28% Black or African American, 1.59% Native American, 0.16% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.39% from other races, and 1.19% from two or more races. 1.46% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 24.0% were of German, 13.5% Polish, 9.2% Irish, 7.6% American, 6.0% British and 5.0% French ancestry according to Census 2000. 96.8% spoke English and 1.9% Spanish as a first language.
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