Queens County is a 109 square mile area that comprises one of the five boroughs of New York City. Named for English Queen Catherine of Braganza, it was founded on November 1st, 1683 as one of the original counties of New York. It originally incorporated present day Nassau County and what is part of present day Suffolk County.
The history of settlement in Queens began in the late 1630s when Dutch settlers expanded the colony of New Netherlands after settling the southern portion of Manhattan and establishing farms in Brooklyn. The earliest portion of Queens to be settled is what is today's Long Island City area.
In the 1640s English settlers began to move into the area with the approval of the Dutch government. Between 1646 and 1656 they established settlements at Newtown (modern Elmhurst), Flushing and Jamaica(which serves as today's county seat). In 1664 the area was surrendered to British control and became part of the colony of New York. With its formation as a county in 1683, the previously founded settlements became official townships. Queens remained a primarily farming community well after the American Revolution and didn't begin to see much urbanization until after 1830, with the bulk of townships being created between 1865 and 1890. On April 28, 1898 Queens was incorporated as a borough of New York City. It was at this point in time that it acquired its present borders, with Nassau County being established in January of 1899.
The population of Queens has seen a dramatic increase over its 300+ year history. With the first census in 1790 there were only 5,393 inhabitants in the county. By the 1890 census, with urbanization fully underway, the number of inhabitants climbed to 87,050. With the subway system being brought into the borough from 1915 on, the population began to grow even more rapidly, with its biggest population booms in the years following World War II. Today Queens has become the most populous of the 5 boroughs with 2,279,379 people as of the 2000 census.