The State of Ohio created Columbiana County on March 25, 1803. Residents combined Columbus and Anna, after Christopher Columbus and Queen Anna, to create the county's name. The county was originally parts of Jefferson and Washington Counties. During the American Civil War, Confederate General John Hunt Morgan and his troops were captured in the county, bringing Morgan's Raid to an end. A leading opponent of the Civil War named Clement Vallandigham was born in Columbiana County.
Columbiana County is located in the northeastern portion of Ohio, and it is in the heart of Appalachia. Its eastern border touches the Ohio River and helps form Ohio's boundary with West Virginia. Most residents of the county's 533 square miles live in rural areas. The county averages almost 211 people per square mile. The county's largest community is East Liverpool, which had just over thirteen thousand residents in 2000. Lisbon is the county seat. Unlike many of Ohio's predominantly rural counties, Columbiana County actually experienced a growth in population between 1990 and 2000. In 2000, 112,075 people resided in the county, an increase of 3.5 percent since 1990.
Manufacturing, sales, and service industries are the three largest, employers in Columbiana County. Farming is a distant fifth behind government positions. Historically, East Liverpool was famous for its pottery businesses and earned the nickname "Crockery City." The county also was home to the first paper mill in Ohio. In 1999, the per capita income for Columbiana County residents was approximately twenty-one thousand dollars. More than thirteen percent of the county's residents lived in poverty.
Most voters in Columbiana County claim to be independent. Late nineteenth century industrialists Marcus Hanna and Harvey Firestone were both born in Columbiana County.