luzerne county is a county in the commonwealth of pennsylvania. according to the u.s. census bureau, the county has a total area of 906 square miles (2,350 km2), of which 890 square miles (2,300 km2) is land and 16 square miles (41 km2) is water. it is northeastern pennsylvania's second-largest county by total area. as of the 2010 census, the population was 320,918, making it the most populous county in the northeastern part of the state. the county seat and largest city is wilkes-barre. other populous communities include hazleton, kingston, nanticoke, and pittston. luzerne county is included in the scranton–wilkes-barre–hazletonmetropolitan statistical area, which has a total population of 555,426 (as of 2017).
on september 25, 1786, luzerne county was formed from part of northumberland county. it was named after chevalier de la luzerne, a french soldier and diplomat during the 18th century. when it was founded, luzerne county occupied a large portion of northeastern pennsylvania. from 1810 to 1878, it was divided into several smaller counties. the counties of bradford, lackawanna, susquehanna, and wyoming were all formed from parts of luzerne county.
the county gained prominence in the 19th and 20th centuries as an active anthracite coal mining region, drawing a large portion of its labor force from european immigrants. at its peak (in 1930), the county's population was 445,109. by the early 21st century, many factories and coal mines were closed. like most counties in the rust belt, luzerne witnessed population loss and urban decay.