Covina is often mistaken for West Covina, which is actually larger in both area and population, located to its south and west. Irwindale lies to the west, Azusa and Glendora are to the north, the unincorporated community of Charter Oak to the northeast, San Dimas to the east, and Walnut to the southeast.
It has been a sister city of Jalapa, Mexico, since 1964. A replica of a giant stone Olmec head, located in front of the city police station, was given to the city in 1989 by the Mexican state of Veracruz.
As of the censusGR2 of 2000, there were 46,837 people, 15,971 households, and 11,754 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,594.5/km² (6,723.7/mi²). There were 16,364 housing units at an average density of 906.5/km² (2,349.1/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 62.10% White, 5.03% Black or African American, 0.90% Native American, 9.82% Asian, 0.21% Pacific Islander, 17.18% from other races, and 4.78% from two or more races. 40.29% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 15,971 households out of which 38.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.6% were married couples living together, 16.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.4% were non-families. 20.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.89 and the average family size was 3.36.
In the city the population was spread out with 28.1% under the age of 18, 9.5% from 18 to 24, 31.1% from 25 to 44, 20.4% from 45 to 64, and 10.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 92.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $48,474, and the median income for a family was $55,111. Males had a median income of $40,687 versus $32,329 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,231. About 8.9% of families and 11.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.4% of those under age 18 and 6.9% of those age 65 or over.
The city was founded in 1882 by Joseph Swift Phillips, and tradition has it that it was named by either he, his wife Mrs. Cornelia (Hunt) Phillips, or his surveyor Frederick Eaton, in 1885 when the survey was finished. One of them supposedly noticed the many vineyards nestled in the San Gabriel Valley and devised the name "Covina" from "cove of vineyards".
The city was incorporated in 1901. However, it would be orange and grapefruit trees, not vineyards, that would soon blanket the area and make it famous. By 1909, the city was the third largest orange producer in the world, and it still claimed to have "the best oranges in the world" as late as the 1950s. Since World War II, however, the orange groves have been largely replaced by single family and multiple family dwellings.
The Covina Valley Historical Society maintains an extensive archive illustrating the city's history in the 1911-built Firehouse Jail Museum, Covina's first municipal building, located immediately behind City Hall in Covina's Old Town.
The city's slogan, "One Mile Square and All There" was coined by Mrs F. E. Wolfarth, the winner of a 1922 slogan contest sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, when the incorporated area of the city was only (some say slightly less than) one square mile, making it the smallest city in area in the country.
Today, it claims to have the largest movie theater multiplex in Los Angeles County. Opened in 1997, the Covina AMC 30 located at Arrow Hwy. and Azusa Ave. is one of the busiest theatres in America. The movie theater was built on the site of a former Sears building, which was demolished for this purpose.
During the election held March 6, 2007, nine candidates ran for two of the five positions on the city council, and the voters rejected the 10-year renewal of a 6% Utility Users Tax the city has had since 1999. Only 3,797 ballots were cast out of 21,633 registered voters.
Scenes from several movies were filmed in Covina, including: