On February 18, 1805, the Ohio government authorized the creation of Highland County. The county was originally parts of Ross, Adams, and Clermont Counties. Residents chose the name Highland because the county is situated on high land between the Scioto and Little Miami Rivers.
Highland County is located in southeastern Ohio. It is predominantly rural, with less than one percent of the county's 553 square miles consisting of urban areas. The county seat is Hillsboro, which, with a population of 6,368 people, was the county's largest city in 2000. Unlike many of Ohio's more rural counties, Highland County experienced a sizable increase in population -- roughly 14.4 percent -- between 1990 and 2000, raising the total number of residents to 40,875 people. The county averages seventy-four people per square mile.
The largest employers in Highland County are manufacturing businesses. Retail positions and government are the second and third largest employers respectively. The county does have a tourist industry, with Fort Hill State Memorial, Rocky Fork State Park, and Paint Creek State Park being the primary attractions. In 1999, the per capita income in the county was approximately 19,200 dollars, with 12.5 percent of the people living in poverty.
Most voters in Highland County claim to be independents, yet in recent years, they have overwhelmingly supported Republican Party candidates at the national level.
Cartoonist Milton Caniff and temperance advocate Eliza Jane Thompson, who founded the Women's Christian Temperance Union, rank among the counties more prominent residents. Ohio Governors Allen Trimble and Joseph B. Foraker also resided in the county.