Van Buren County, Michigan

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Van Buren County administrative offices are located at 219 East Paw Paw Street, Paw Paw, MI 49079; phone: 269-657-8200.

Van Buren County [1] is located in Southwest Michigan bordering on Lake Michigan and Berrien County on the West, Allegan County on the North, Kalamazoo County on the East and Cass County on the South. Van Buren County has a proud history paralleling the story of statehood. Settled for the most part by New York Dutch and New Englanders, it was formed into a County by an Act of the Legislative Council of Michigan and approved October 29, 1829, in the same act that created Cass, Berrien and Kalamazoo Counties. It was not until 1837 that the population of Van Buren County was deemed adequate to justify local self-government. On March 18, 1837, an Act organizing Van Buren County was approved by the Governor of Michigan.

Today, Van Buren County contains 18 townships, 4 cities and 7 villages, with the County seat located in the Village of Paw Paw. The largest city in Van Buren County is South Haven with a population exceeding 5,000. Van Buren County has a land area of 398,887 acres or 623 square miles and its southern boundary is 21 miles from the Indiana State line. Interstate 94, which connects Detroit and Chicago, intersects the County at the midway point between these two major metropolitan areas. Also, the County is within close proximity to the three urban areas of Kalamazoo to the East, Benton Harbor/St. Joseph to the west and Grand Rapids to the north.

Farming is one of the main enterprises in the County as the prevailing winds from Lake Michigan moderate air temperature, making the climate throughout the county favorable for orchard crops and vineyards. In addition, there are over 300 inland lakes and ponds ranging in size from less than 0.1 acre to approximately 300 acres, and the county has 14 miles of shoreline along Lake Michigan. Two minor rivers, the Black River and the Paw Paw River flow through the county as the Black Rivers empties into Lake Michigan at South Haven and the Paw Paw River empties into Paw Paw Lake in Watervliet, located in Berrien County.

  1. Van Buren County Michigan, Master Plan: 2013-2017,, accessed February, 2016.

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