North Carolina

state flag of North Carolina

Capital: Raleigh

State abbreviation/Postal code: N.C./NC

Governor: Roy Cooper, D (to Jan. 2021)

Lieut. Governor: Dan Forest, R (to Jan. 2021)

Senators: Richard Burr, R (to Jan. 2023); Thom Tillis, R (to Jan. 2021)

U.S. Representatives: 13

Entered Union (rank): Nov. 21, 1789 (12)

Present constitution adopted: 1971

Motto: Esse quam videri (To be rather than to seem)

State symbols:

flower dogwood (1941)
tree pine (1963)
bird cardinal (1943)
mammal gray squirrel (1969)
insect honeybee (1973)
reptile eastern box turtle (1979)
gemstone emerald (1973)
shell scotch bonnet (1965)
historic boat shad boat (1987)
beverage milk (1987)
rock granite (1979)
dog plott hound (1989)
song “The Old North State” (1927)
colors red and blue (1945)
fruit scuppernong grape (2001)

Nickname: Tar Heel State

Origin of name: In honor of Charles I of England

10 largest cities (2012 est.): Charlotte, 775,202; Raleigh, 423,179; Greensboro, 277,080; Durham , 239,358; Winston-Salem, 234,349; Fayetteville, 202,103; Cary, 145,693; Wilmington, 109,922; High Point, 106,586; Greenville, 87,242

Land area: 53,819 sq mi (139,390 km2)

Geographic center: In Chatham Co., 10 mi. NW of Sanford

Number of counties: 100

Largest county by population and area: Mecklenburg, 919,628 (2010); Robeson, 949 sq mi.

State parks: 29

Residents: North Carolinian

2017 resident population est.: 10,247,632

2010 resident census population (rank): 9,535,483 (10). Male: 4,645,492 (48.70%); Female: 4,889,991 (51.3%). White: 6,528,950 (68.5%); Black: 2,048,628 (21.5%); American Indian: 122,110 (1.3%); Asian: 208,962 (2.2%); Other race: 414,030 (4.3%); Two or more races: 206,199 (2.2%); Hispanic/Latino: 800,120 (8.4%). 2010 percent population 18 and over: 76.1; 65 and over: 12.9; median age: 37.4.

See additional census data

North Carolina State History

English colonists, sent by Sir Walter Raleigh, unsuccessfully attempted to settle Roanoke Island in 1585 and 1587. Virginia Dare, born there in 1587, was the first child of English parentage born in America.

In 1653 the first permanent settlements were established by English colonists from Virginia near the Roanoke and Chowan rivers. The region was established as an English proprietary colony in 1663–1665 and in its early history was the scene of Culpepper's Rebellion (1677), the Quaker-led Cary Rebellion (1708), the Tuscarora Indian War (1711–1713), and many pirate raids.

During the American Revolution, there was relatively little fighting within the state, but many North Carolinians saw action elsewhere. Despite considerable pro-Union, antislavery sentiment, North Carolina joined the Confederacy during the Civil War.

North Carolina's economy is experiencing a shift away from tobacco, furniture and textiles to knowledge-based enterprises such as biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and life sciences. The state was ranked third best state for business in 2010 by Forbes magazine. The major agricultural products are tobacco, corn, cotton, hay, peanuts, and vegetable crops. The state is the country's leading producer of mica and lithium.

Tourism is also important, with visitors spending more than $1 billion annually. Sports include year-round golfing, skiing at mountain resorts, both fresh- and salt-water fishing, and hunting.

Among the major attractions are the Great Smoky Mountains, the Blue Ridge National Parkway, the Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout National Seashores, the Wright Brothers National Memorial at Kitty Hawk, Guilford Courthouse and Moores Creek National Military Parks, Carl Sandburg's home near Hendersonville, and the Old Salem Restoration in Winston-Salem.

Famous North Carolina natives and residents:


The 50 States of America | U.S. State Information
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