Kountze (pronounced 'Coontz') is a city in Hardin County, Texas, United States. The population was 2,115 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Hardin County. The city is part of the Beaumont–Port Arthur Metropolitan Statistical Area. Kountze was originally established as a railroad town in 1881. The seat of Hardin County, Kountze boasts an area of more than 89 percent forested lush green terrain. Local area produces over 3.5 million board feet (8,300 m³) of lumber annually. Kountze describes itself as: "The Big Light in The Big Thicket" - a Thicket is that vast area of tangled, often impenetrable woods, streams and marshes. Now portions of this thicket are nationally protected as the Big Thicket National Preserve. The cradle of this country's oil industry is found in the Big Thicket of east Texas. The thicket is a 50 miles (80 km) circle of swampland about 30 miles (48 km) north of Beaumont. In 1991 Kountze became the first American town with a Muslim mayor in African-American Charles Bilal.