|Region of the San Diego Metro Area|
Santee in East County
East County cities
|County||San Diego County|
East County does not have an official geographic definition. It commonly includes the four cities east of San Diego and South Bay— El Cajon, La Mesa, Santee, and Lemon Grove—as well as suburban unincorporated communities such as Lakeside, Spring Valley, Jamul, and Alpine. Many sources also include vast swathes of the backcountry of San Diego County also known as the Mountain Empire, including communities along Interstate 8 such as Pine Valley and Descanso, and communities along the rural section of California State Route 94 such as Potrero, Boulevard, and Jacumba.  Other sources consider communities within the entire eastern two-thirds of the county to be East County, thereby encompassing places like Ramona, Julian, and Borrego Springs,   The Ramona urban area—Ramona, San Diego Country Estates and Barona Mesa—is often considered part of inland North County due to its association with Poway, Rancho Bernardo, Escondido and other North County Inland communities. 
The populace of East County primarily dwells in the interior valleys east of San Diego proper while some development encroaches the coastal foothills.
A broader definition of East County exists that includes the Cuyamaca Mountains, Laguna Mountains, and Palomar Mountain, as well as the desert area of Anza-Borrego State Park.  Yet, this definition, when used by SANDAG, excludes the East Suburban centers. 
Prominent geologic formations include El Capitan, a large dome-shaped mountain overlooking Santee and Lakeside.
East County is the fourth most populous region in the San Diego metropolitan area, though its population is almost equivalent to that of South Bay.
Populations listed are 2010 Census populations
- La Presa – 34,169
- Rancho San Diego – 21,208
- Lakeside – 20,648
- Winter Gardens – 20,631
- Casa de Oro-Mount Helix – 18,762
- Bostonia – 15,379
- Alpine – 14,236
- Jamul – 6,163
- Harbison Canyon – 3,841
- Granite Hills – 3,035
- Crest – 2,593
East County is served by Santee School District, Grossmont Union High School District, Cajon Valley Union School District, Lakeside Union School District, Lemon Grove School District, and La Mesa-Spring Valley School District.
- See, e.g., East County Magazine neighborhoods, . Retrieved 19 March 2011.
- See, e.g., Mellin, Maribeth, and Onstott, Jane. Insider's Guide to San Diego. 5th ed. Morris Book Publishing. 2010. p. 8
- See also Vaughn, Jacqueline, and Cortner, Hanna J. Funding Fire: A Losing Proposition? The California Journal of Politics and Policy. Vol. 2, Issue 1. 2010. p.10.
- North County Times: Coastal and Inland cities
- Mellin, Maribeth, and Onstott, Jane. Insider's Guide to San Diego. 5th ed. Morris Book Publishing. 2010. p. 8
- "MSA: East Suburban". Retrieved April 10, 2011.