Bordered on one side by Humboldt Bay and on the other by mountains, Eureka had its roots since the 1850s in the timber and commercial fishing industries. The city has 27,200 residents within 17 square miles. It is the county seat of Humboldt County. Colleges in Humboldt Bay area (but outside of the city) include College of the Redwoods south of the city and Humboldt State University in Arcata, a town of 16,000 residents eight miles to the north.
The City of Fortuna covers approximately five square miles and is located 16 miles south of Eureka on U.S. 101. Fortuna is the largest city in Humboldt County south of Eureka and has a population of approximately 10,200. The area within the city limits is mostly residential, with the surrounding area predominately rural. Much of the employment in the Fortuna area is related to timber and agriculture. However, within the city the largest percentage of employment is in retail trade and manufacturing. Recreation and tourism also contribute significantly to the city’s economy. Because of its location, the city has served as commercial center for the residents of southern Humboldt County, enabling the city to maintain a relatively stable economy and employment rate during seasonal fluctuations in the timber and tourism industries.