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North Carolina (/ˌkærəˈlnə/ (About this soundlisten)) is a U.S. state located in the southeastern region of the United States. North Carolina is the 28th largest and United States by population">9th-most populous of the 50 United States. It is bordered by Virginia to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, Georgia and South Carolina to the south, and Tennessee to the west. Raleigh is the state's capital and Charlotte is its largest city. The Charlotte metropolitan area"> Charlotte metropolitan area, with an estimated population of 2,569,213 in 2018, is the most populous metropolitan area in North Carolina, the 23rd-most populous in the United States, and the largest banking center in the nation after New York City.[9] The Raleigh metropolitan area is the second-largest metropolitan area in the state, with an estimated population of 1,362,540 in 2018, and is home to the largest research park in the United States, Research Triangle Park"> Research Triangle Park.

North Carolina was established as a royal colony in 1729 and is one of the original Thirteen Colonies. North Carolina is named in honor of King Charles I of England who first formed the English colony, with Carolus being Latin for "Charles". On November 21, 1789, North Carolina became the 12th state to ratify the United States Constitution. North Carolina declared its Secession in the United States">secession from the Union (American Civil War) on May 20, 1861, becoming the last of eleven states to join the Confederate States. Following the Civil War, the state was restored to the Union on June 25, 1868.[10] On December 17, 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright successfully piloted the world's first controlled, sustained flight of a powered, heavier-than-air aircraft at Kill Devil Hills in North Carolina's Outer Banks. North Carolina uses the slogan "First in Flight" on state license plates to commemorate this achievement.

North Carolina is defined by a wide range of elevations and landscapes. From west to east, North Carolina's elevation descends from the Appalachian Mountains to the Piedmont and Atlantic coastal plain. North Carolina's Mount Mitchell at 6,684 feet (2,037 m) is the highest-point in North America east of the Mississippi River"> Mississippi River.[11] Most of the state falls in the humid subtropical climate zone; however, the western, mountainous part of the state has a subtropical highland climate.

History

Ceremony of Secotan warriors in North Carolina. Watercolour painted by English colonist John White in 1585.
A plaque to commemorate the first indigenous person who was converted to Christianity, Manteo at the Roanoke Colony
Dr. M. T. Pope (after whom the Pope House Museum was named), a prominent citizen of Raleigh.
The North Carolina Museum of History"> North Carolina Museum of History, Raleigh

Woodland-culture Native Americans were in the area around 1000 BCE; starting around 750 CE, Mississippian-culture Indians created larger political units with stronger leadership and more stable, longer-term settlements. During this time, important buildings were constructed as pyramidal, flat-topped buildings. By 1550, many groups of American Indians lived in present-day North Carolina, including Chowanoke, Roanoke, Pamlico, Machapunga, Coree, Cape Fear Indians, Waxhaw, Waccamaw, and Catawba.[12]

Juan Pardo explored the area in 1566–1567, establishing Fort San Juan in 1567 at the site of the Native American community of Joara, a Mississippian culture regional chiefdom in the western interior, near the present-day city of Morganton. The fort lasted only 18 months; the local inhabitants killed all but one of the 120 men Pardo had stationed at a total of six forts in the area.[13] A later expedition by Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe followed in 1584, at the direction of Sir Walter Raleigh.[12]

In June 1718, the pirate Blackbeard ran his flagship, the Queen Anne's Revenge, aground at Beaufort Inlet, North Carolina, in present-day Carteret County. After the grounding her crew and supplies were transferred to smaller ships. In November, after appealing to the governor of North Carolina, who promised safe-haven and a pardon, Blackbeard was killed in an ambush by troops from Virginia.[14] In 1996 Intersal, Inc., a private firm, discovered the remains of a vessel likely to be the Queen Anne's Revenge, which was added to the US National Register of Historic Places.[15]

North Carolina became one of the English Thirteen Colonies and with the territory of South Carolina was originally known as the Province of North-Carolina. The northern and southern parts of the original province separated in 1729. Originally settled by small farmers, sometimes having a few slaves, who were oriented toward subsistence agriculture, the colony lacked cities or towns. Pirates menaced the coastal settlements, but by 1718 the pirates had been captured and killed. Growth was strong in the middle of the 18th century, as the economy attracted Scots-Irish, Quaker, English and German immigrants. A majority of the colonists generally supported the American Revolution, and a smaller number of Loyalists than in some other colonies such as Georgia, South Carolina, Delaware, New York.

During colonial times, Edenton served as the state capital beginning in 1722, and New Bern was selected as the capital in 1766. Construction of Tryon Palace, which served as the residence and offices of the provincial governor William Tryon, began in 1767 and was completed in 1771. In 1788 Raleigh was chosen as the site of the new capital, as its central location protected it from coastal attacks. Officially established in 1792 as both county seat and state capital, the city was named after Sir Walter Raleigh, sponsor of Roanoke, the "lost colony" on Roanoke Island.[16] The population of the colony more than quadrupled from 52,000 in 1740 to 270,000 in 1780 from high immigration from Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania plus immigrants from abroad.[17]

North Carolina made the smallest per-capita contribution to the war of any state, as only 7,800 men joined the Continental Army under General George Washington; an additional 10,000 served in local militia units under such leaders as General Nathanael Greene.[18] There was some military action, especially in 1780–81. Many Carolinian frontiersmen had moved west over the mountains, into the Washington District (later known as Tennessee), but in 1789, following the Revolution, the state was persuaded to relinquish its claim to the western lands. It ceded them to the national government so that the Northwest Territory could be organized and managed nationally.

After 1800, cotton and tobacco became important export crops. The eastern half of the state, especially the Tidewater region, developed a slave society based on a plantation system and slave labor. Many free people of color migrated to the frontier along with their European-American neighbors, where the social system was looser. By 1810, nearly 3 percent of the free population consisted of free people of color, who numbered slightly more than 10,000. The western areas were dominated by white families, especially Scots-Irish, who operated small subsistence farms. In the early national period, the state became a center of Jeffersonian and Jacksonian democracy, with a strong Whig presence, especially in the West. After Nat Turner's slave uprising in 1831, North Carolina and other southern states reduced the rights of free blacks. In 1835 the legislature withdrew their right to vote.

On May 20, 1861, North Carolina was the last of the Confederate states to declare secession from the Union, 13 days after the Tennessee legislature voted for secession. Some 125,000 North Carolinians served in the military; 20,000 were killed in battle, the most of any state in the Confederacy, and 21,000 died of disease. The state government was reluctant to support the demands of the national government in Richmond, and the state was the scene of only small battles.

With the defeat of the Confederacy in 1865, the Reconstruction Era began. The United States abolished slavery without compensation to slaveholders or reparations to freedmen. A Republican Party coalition of black freedmen, northern carpetbaggers and local scalawags controlled state government for three years. The white conservative Democrats regained control of the state legislature in 1870, in part by Ku Klux Klan violence and terrorism at the polls, to suppress black voting. Republicans were elected to the governorship until 1876, when the Red Shirts, a paramilitary organization that arose in 1874 and was allied with the Democratic Party, helped suppress black voting. More than 150 black Americans were murdered in electoral violence in 1876.

Post civil war-debt cycles pushed people to switch from subsistence agriculture to commodity agriculture. Among this time the notorious Crop-Lien system developed and was financially difficult on landless whites and blacks, due to high amounts of usury. Also due to the push for commodity agriculture, the free range was ended. Prior to this time people fenced in their crops and had their livestock feeding on the free range areas. After the ending of the free range people now fenced their animals and had their crops in the open. Template Template-Fact" style="white-space:nowrap;">[citation needed]

Democrats were elected to the legislature and governor's office, but the Populists attracted voters displeased with them. In 1896 a biracial, Populist-Republican Fusionist coalition gained the governor's office and passed laws that would extend the voting franchise to blacks and poor whites. The Democrats regained control of the legislature in 1896 and passed laws to impose Jim Crow and racial segregation of public facilities. Voters of North Carolina's 2nd congressional district elected a total of four African-American United States Congress">congressmen through these years of the late 19th century.

Political tensions ran so high that a small group of white Democrats in 1898 planned to take over the Wilmington government if their candidates were not elected. In the Wilmington Insurrection of 1898, more than 1,500 white men attacked the black newspaper and neighborhood, killed numerous men, and ran off the white Republican mayor and aldermen. They installed their own people and elected Alfred M. Waddell as mayor, in the only coup d'état in United States history.[19]

In 1899 the state legislature passed a new constitution, with requirements for poll taxes and literacy tests for voter registration which disenfranchised most black Americans in the state.[20] Exclusion from voting had wide effects: it meant that black Americans could not serve on juries or in any local office. After a decade of white supremacy, many people forgot that North Carolina had ever had thriving middle-class black Americans.[21] Black citizens had no political voice in the state until after the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 were passed to enforce their constitutional rights. It was not until 1992 that another African American was elected as a US Representative from North Carolina.

As in the rest of the former Confederacy, North Carolina had become a one-party state, dominated by the Democratic Party. Impoverished by the Civil War and vicious debt cycles, the state continued with an economy based on tobacco, cotton textiles and commodity agriculture. Towns and cities remained few in the east. A major industrial base emerged in the late 19th century in the counties of the Piedmont, based on cotton mills established at the fall line. Railroads were built to connect the new industrializing cities. The state was the site of the first successful controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air flight, by the Wright brothers, near Kitty Hawk on December 17, 1903. In the first half of the 20th century, many African Americans left the state to go North for better opportunities, in the Great Migration. Their departure changed the demographic characteristics of many areas.

North Carolina was hard hit by the Great Depression, but the New Deal programs of Franklin D. Roosevelt for cotton and tobacco significantly helped the farmers. After World War II, the state's economy grew rapidly, highlighted by the growth of such cities as Charlotte, Raleigh, and Durham in the Piedmont. Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill form the Research Triangle, a major area of universities and advanced scientific and technical research. In the 1990s, Charlotte became a major regional and national banking center. Tourism has also been a boon for the North Carolina economy as people flock to the Outer Banks coastal area and the Appalachian Mountains anchored by Asheville.

By the 1970s, spurred in part by the increasingly leftward tilt of national Democrats, conservative whites began to vote for Republican national candidates and gradually for more Republicans locally. The Greensboro Sit-ins played a crucial role in the Civil Rights Movement to bring full equality to American blacks.

Native Americans, lost colonies, and permanent settlement

Map of the coast of Virginia and North Carolina, drawn 1585–1586 by Theodor de Bry, based on map by John White of the Roanoke Colony

North Carolina was inhabited for at least ten thousand years by succeeding prehistoric indigenous cultures. The Hardaway Site saw major periods of occupation as far back as 10,000 years. Before 200 AD, they were building earthwork mounds, which were used for ceremonial and religious purposes. Succeeding peoples, including those of the ancient Mississippian culture established by 1000 AD in the Piedmont, continued to build or add on to such mounds. In the 500–700 years preceding European contact, the Mississippian culture built large, complex cities and maintained far-flung regional trading networks. Its largest city was Cahokia, located in present-day Illinois near the Mississippi River.

Historically documented tribes in the North Carolina region include the Carolina Algonquian-speaking tribes of the coastal areas, such as the Chowanoke, Roanoke, Pamlico, Machapunga, Coree, and Cape Fear Indians, who were the first encountered by the English; the Iroquoian-speaking Meherrin, Cherokee, and Tuscarora of the interior; and Southeastern Siouan tribes, such as the Cheraw, Waxhaw, Saponi, Waccamaw Siouan">Waccamaw, and Catawba.

Spanish explorers traveling inland in the 16th century met Mississippian culture people at Joara, a regional chiefdom near present-day Morganton. Records of Hernando de Soto attested to his meeting with them in 1540. In 1567 Captain Juan Pardo led an expedition to claim the area for the Spanish colony and to establish another route to protect silver mines in Mexico. Pardo made a winter base at Joara, which he renamed Cuenca. His expedition built Fort San Juan and left a contingent of 30 men there, while Pardo traveled further, and built and garrisoned five other forts. He returned by a different route to Santa Elena on Parris Island, South Carolina, then a center of Spanish Florida. In the spring of 1568, natives killed all but one of the soldiers and burned the six forts in the interior, including the one at Fort San Juan. Although the Spanish never returned to the interior, this effort marked the first European attempt at colonization of the interior of what became the United States. A 16th-century journal by Pardo's scribe Bandera and archaeological findings since 1986 at Joara have confirmed the settlement.[13][22]

John White returns to find the colony abandoned

In 1584, Elizabeth I granted a charter to Sir Walter Raleigh, for whom the state capital is named, for land in present-day North Carolina (then part of the territory of Virginia).[23] It was the second American territory which the English attempted to colonize. Raleigh established two colonies on the coast in the late 1580s, but both failed. The fate of the "Lost Colony" of Roanoke Island remains one of the most widely debated mysteries of American history. Virginia Dare"> Virginia Dare, the first English child to be born in North America, was born on Roanoke Island on August 18, 1587; Dare County is named for her.

As early as 1650, settlers from the Virginia colony moved into the area of Albemarle Sound. By 1663, King Charles II of England granted a charter to start a new colony on the North American continent; it generally established North Carolina's borders. He named it Carolina in honor of his father Charles I.[24] By 1665, a second charter was issued to attempt to resolve territorial questions. In 1710, owing to disputes over governance, the Carolina colony began to split into North Carolina and South Carolina. The latter became a crown colony in 1729.

In the 1700s, a series of smallpox epidemics swept the South, causing high fatalities among the Native Americans, who had no immunity to the new disease (it had become endemic in Europe).[25] According to the historian Russell Thornton, "The 1738 epidemic was said to have killed one-half of the Cherokee, with other tribes of the area suffering equally."[26]

Colonial period and Revolutionary War

Reconstructed royal governor's mansion Tryon Palace in New Bern

After the Spanish in the 16th century, the first permanent European settlers of North Carolina were English colonists who migrated south from Virginia. The latter had grown rapidly and land was less available. Nathaniel Batts was documented as one of the first of these Virginian migrants. He settled south of the Chowan River and east of the Great Dismal Swamp in 1655.[27] By 1663, this northeastern area of the Province of Carolina, known as the Albemarle Settlements, was undergoing full-scale English settlement.[28] During the same period, the English monarch Charles II gave the province to the Lords Proprietors, a group of noblemen who had helped restore Charles to the throne in 1660. The new province of "Carolina" was named in honor and memory of King Charles I (Latin: Carolus). In 1712, North Carolina became a separate colony. Except for the Earl Granville holdings, it became a royal colony seventeen years later.[29] A large revolt happened in the state in 1711 known as Cary's Rebellion.

Differences in the settlement patterns of eastern and western North Carolina, or the South Carolina Lowcountry">Low Country and uplands, affected the political, economic, and social life of the state from the 18th until the 20th century. The Tidewater in eastern North Carolina was settled chiefly by immigrants from rural England and the Scottish Highlands. The upcountry of western North Carolina was settled chiefly by Scots-Irish, English, and German Protestants, the so-called "cohee". Arriving during the mid- to late 18th century, the Scots-Irish from what is today Northern Ireland were the largest non-English immigrant group before the Revolution; English indentured servants were overwhelmingly the largest immigrant group before the Revolution.[30][31][32][31][32][33] During the American Revolutionary War, the English and Highland Scots of eastern North Carolina tended to remain loyal to the British Crown, because of longstanding business and personal connections with Great Britain. The English, Welsh, Scots-Irish, and German settlers of western North Carolina tended to favor American independence from Britain.

Most of the English colonists had arrived as indentured servants, hiring themselves out as laborers for a fixed period to pay for their passage. In the early years the line between indentured servants and African slaves or laborers was fluid. Some Africans were allowed to earn their freedom before slavery became a lifelong status. Most of the free colored families formed in North Carolina before the Revolution were descended from unions or marriages between free white women and enslaved or free African or African-American men. Because the mothers were free, their children were born free. Many had migrated or were descendants of migrants from colonial Virginia.[34] As the flow of indentured laborers to the colony decreased with improving economic conditions in Great Britain, planters imported more slaves, and the state's legal delineations between free and slave status tightened, effectively hardening the latter into a racial caste. The economy's growth and prosperity was based on slave labor, devoted primarily to the production of tobacco.

On April 12, 1776, the colony became the first to instruct its delegates to the Continental Congress to vote for independence from the British Crown, through the Halifax Resolves passed by the North Carolina Provincial Congress"> North Carolina Provincial Congress. The date of this event is memorialized on the state flag and state seal. Throughout the Revolutionary War, fierce guerrilla warfare erupted between bands of pro-independence and pro-British colonists. In some cases the war was also an excuse to settle private grudges and rivalries. A major American victory in the war took place at King's Mountain along the North Carolina– South Carolina border; on October 7, 1780, a force of 1000 mountain men from western North Carolina (including what is today the state of Tennessee) and southwest Virginia overwhelmed a force of some 1000 British troops led by Major Patrick Ferguson. Most of the soldiers fighting for the British side in this battle were Carolinians who had remained loyal to the Crown (they were called "Tories" or Loyalists). The American victory at Kings Mountain gave the advantage to colonists who favored American independence, and it prevented the British Army from recruiting new soldiers from the Tories.

1st Maryland Regiment holding the line at the Battle of Guilford

The road to Yorktown and America's independence from Great Britain led through North Carolina. As the British Army moved north from victories in Charleston and Camden, South Carolina, the Southern Division of the Continental Army and local militia prepared to meet them. Following General Daniel Morgan's victory over the British Cavalry Commander Banastre Tarleton at the Battle of Cowpens on January 17, 1781, southern commander Nathanael Greene led British Lord Charles Cornwallis across the heartland of North Carolina, and away from the latter's base of supply in Charleston, South Carolina. This campaign is known as "The Race to the Dan" or "The Race for the River".[29]

In the Battle of Cowan's Ford, Cornwallis met resistance along the banks of the Catawba River at Cowan's Ford on February 1, 1781, in an attempt to engage General Morgan's forces during a tactical withdrawal.[35] Morgan had moved to the northern part of the state to combine with General Greene's newly recruited forces. Generals Greene and Cornwallis finally met at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse"> Battle of Guilford Courthouse in present-day Greensboro on March 15, 1781. Although the British troops held the field at the end of the battle, their casualties at the hands of the numerically superior Continental Army were crippling. Following this "Pyrrhic victory", Cornwallis chose to move to the Virginia coastline to get reinforcements, and to allow the Royal Navy to protect his battered army. This decision would result in Cornwallis' eventual defeat at Yorktown, Virginia, later in 1781. The Patriots' victory there guaranteed American independence.

Antebellum period

On November 21, 1789, North Carolina became the twelfth state to ratify the United States Constitution">Constitution. In 1840, it completed the North Carolina State Capitol">state capitol building in Raleigh, still standing today. Most of North Carolina's slave owners and large plantations were located in the eastern portion of the state. Although North Carolina's plantation system was smaller and less cohesive than that of Virginia, Georgia, or South Carolina, significant numbers of planters were concentrated in the counties around the port cities of Wilmington and Edenton, as well as suburban planters around the cities of Raleigh, Charlotte, and Durham in the Piedmont. Planters owning large estates wielded significant political and socio-economic power in antebellum North Carolina, which was a slave society. They placed their interests above those of the generally non-slave-holding "yeoman" farmers of western North Carolina. In mid-century, the state's rural and commercial areas were connected by the construction of a 129 mi (208 km) wooden plank road, known as a "farmer's railroad", from Fayetteville in the east to Bethania (northwest of Winston-Salem).[29]

Map of the roads and railroads of North Carolina, 1854

Besides slaves, there were a number of free people of color in the state. Most were descended from free African Americans who had migrated along with neighbors from Virginia during the 18th century. The majority were the descendants of unions in the working classes between white women, indentured servants or free, and African men, indentured, slave or free.[36] After the Revolution, Quakers and Mennonites worked to persuade slaveholders to free their slaves. Some were inspired by their efforts and the language of the Revolution to arrange for manumission of their slaves. The number of free people of color rose markedly in the first couple of decades after the Revolution.[37]

On October 25, 1836, construction began on the Wilmington and Raleigh Railroad[38] to connect the port city of Wilmington with the state capital of Raleigh. In 1849 the North Carolina Railroad was created by act of the legislature to extend that railroad west to Greensboro, High Point, and Charlotte. During the Civil War, the Wilmington-to-Raleigh stretch of the railroad would be vital to the Confederate war effort; supplies shipped into Wilmington would be moved by rail through Raleigh to the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia.

During the antebellum period, North Carolina was an overwhelmingly rural state, even by Southern standards. In 1860 only one North Carolina town, the port city of Wilmington, had a population of more than 10,000. Raleigh, the state capital, had barely more than 5,000 residents.

While slaveholding was slightly less concentrated than in some Southern states, according to the 1860 census, more than 330,000 people, or 33% of the population of 992,622, were enslaved African Americans.[39] They lived and worked chiefly on plantations in the eastern Tidewater. In addition, 30,463 free people of color lived in the state.[39] They were also concentrated in the eastern coastal plain, especially at port cities such as Wilmington and New Bern, where a variety of jobs were available. Free African Americans were allowed to vote until 1835, when the state revoked their suffrage in restrictions following the slave rebellion of 1831 led by Nat Turner. Southern slave codes criminalized willful killing of a slave in most cases.[40]

American Civil War

Union troops capture Fort Fisher, 1865

North Carolina was known as a ' Slave State' by 1860, in which one-third of the population was enslaved. This was a smaller proportion than in many other Southern states. The state did not vote to join the Confederacy until President Abraham Lincoln called on it to invade its sister state, South Carolina, becoming the last or penultimate state to officially join the Confederacy. The title of "last to join the Confederacy" has been disputed; although Tennessee's informal secession on May 7, 1861, preceded North Carolina's official secession on May 20,[41][42] the Tennessee legislature did not formally vote to secede until June 8, 1861.[43]

Despite the State supplying the Confederacy with at least 125,000 troops, and Union with approx. 15,000 troops of all ranks it saw little action on its territory. The supply of Confederate troops was by far the greatest number of any of the Confederate States, of which approximately 40,000 of those died: more than half from disease, the remainder from battlefield wounds and starvation.[44] Elected in 1862, Governor Zebulon Baird Vance tried to maintain state autonomy against Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Richmond.

Statue of a Confederate soldier Silent Sam, North Carolina at Chapel Hill">University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, by John Wilson

After secession, some North Carolinians refused to support the Confederacy. Some of the yeoman farmers in the state's mountains and western Piedmont region remained neutral during the Civil War, while some covertly supported the Union cause during the conflict. Approximately 2,000 North Carolinians from western North Carolina enlisted in the Union Army and fought for the North in the war. Two additional Union Army regiments were raised in the coastal areas of the state, which were occupied by Union forces in 1862 and 1863. Numerous slaves escaped to Union lines, where they became essentially free.

Confederate troops from all parts of North Carolina served in virtually all the major battles of the Army of Northern Virginia, the Confederacy's most famous army. The largest battle fought in North Carolina was at Bentonville, which was a futile attempt by Confederate General Joseph Johnston to slow Union General William Tecumseh Sherman's advance through the Carolinas in the spring of 1865.[29] In April 1865, after losing the Battle of Morrisville, Johnston surrendered to Sherman at Bennett Place, in what is today Durham. North Carolina's port city of Wilmington was the last Confederate port to fall to the Union, in February 1865, after the Union won the nearby Second Battle of Fort Fisher, its major defense downriver.

Bennett Place historic site in Durham

The first Confederate soldier to be killed in the Civil War was Private Henry Wyatt from North Carolina, in the Battle of Big Bethel in June 1861. At the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863, the 26th North Carolina Regiment participated in Pickett/Pettigrew's Charge and advanced the farthest into the Northern lines of any Confederate regiment. During the Battle of Chickamauga, the 58th North Carolina Regiment advanced farther than any other regiment on Snodgrass Hill to push back the remaining Union forces from the battlefield. At Appomattox Court House in Virginia in April 1865, the 75th North Carolina Regiment, a cavalry unit, fired the last shots of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the Civil War. For many years, North Carolinians proudly boasted that they had been "First at Bethel, Farthest at Gettysburg and Chickamauga, and Last at Appomattox".

Geography

Köppen climate types of North Carolina
North Carolina topographic map. North Carolina's three topographic regions are evident: the Appalachian Mountains in brown, the Piedmont in yellow, and the Atlantic Coastal Plain in green.
Deer in the Eno River as it flows through the Piedmont region of North Carolina
View at end of Cherohala Skyway near Tellico Plains

North Carolina is bordered by South Carolina on the south, Georgia on the southwest, Tennessee on the west, Virginia on the north, and the Atlantic Ocean on the east. The United States Census Bureau"> United States Census Bureau places North Carolina in the South Atlantic division of the southern region.[45]

North Carolina consists of three main geographic regions: the Atlantic coastal plain, occupying the eastern portion of the state; the central Piedmont region, and the Mountain region in the west, which is part of the Appalachian Mountains. The coastal plain consists of more specifically-defined areas known as the Outer Banks, a string of sandy, narrow barrier islands separated from the mainland by sounds or inlets, including Albemarle Sound and Pamlico Sound"> Pamlico Sound, the tidewater region, the native home of the venus flytrap, and the inner coastal plain, where longleaf pine trees are native.

So many ships have been lost off Cape Hatteras that the area is known as the "Graveyard of the Atlantic"; more than 1,000 ships have sunk in these waters since records began in 1526. The most famous of these is the Queen Anne's Revenge (flagship of the pirate Blackbeard), which went aground in Beaufort Inlet in 1718.[46]

The coastal plain transitions to the Piedmont region along the Atlantic Seaboard fall line, the elevation at which waterfalls first appear on streams and rivers. The Piedmont region of central North Carolina is the state's most populous region, containing the six largest cities in the state by population.[47] It consists of gently rolling countryside frequently broken by hills or low mountain ridges. Small, isolated, and deeply eroded mountain ranges and peaks are located in the Piedmont, including the Sauratown Mountains, Pilot Mountain, the Uwharrie Mountains, Crowder's Mountain, King's Pinnacle, the Brushy Mountains, and the South Mountains. The Piedmont ranges from about 300 feet (91 m) in elevation in the east to about 1,500 feet (460 m) in the west.

The western section of the state is part of the Appalachian Mountain range. Among the subranges of the Appalachians located in the state are the Great Smoky Mountains, Blue Ridge Mountains, and Black Mountains.[48][49] The Black Mountains are the highest in the eastern United States, and culminate in Mount Mitchell (North Carolina)">Mount Mitchell at 6,684 feet (2,037 m), the highest point east of the Mississippi River"> Mississippi River.[49][50]

North Carolina has 17 major river basins. The five basins west of the Blue Ridge Mountains flow to the Gulf of Mexico, while the remainder flow to the Atlantic Ocean.[51] Of the 17 basins, 11 originate within the state of North Carolina, but only four are contained entirely within the state's border – the Cape Fear, the Neuse, the White Oak, and the Tar Pamlico Sound">Pamlico basin.[52]

Flora and fauna

Climate

Snow in Old Fort, North Carolina caused by the 2009 Blizzard
A rainy day at Charlotte Motor Speedway"> Charlotte Motor Speedway

Elevation above sea level is most responsible for temperature change across the state, with the mountain area being coolest year-round. The climate is also influenced by the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf Stream, especially in the coastal plain. These influences tend to cause warmer winter temperatures along the coast, where temperatures only occasionally drop below the freezing point at night. The coastal plain averages around 1 inch (2.5 cm) of snow or ice annually, and in many years, there may be no snow or ice at all.[53]

The Atlantic Ocean exerts less influence on the climate of the Piedmont region, which has hotter summers and colder winters than along the coast, though the average daily maximum is still below 90 °F (32 °C) in most locations.[53]

North Carolina experiences severe weather in both summer and winter, with summer bringing threat of hurricanes, tropical storms, heavy rain, and flooding.[54] Destructive hurricanes that have hit North Carolina include Hurricane Fran, Hurricane Florence, Hurricane Floyd, and Hurricane Hazel, the latter being the strongest storm ever to make landfall in the state, as a Category 4 in 1954. Hurricane Isabel ranks as the most destructive of the 21st century.[55][56]

North Carolina averages fewer than 20  tornadoes per year, many of them produced by hurricanes or tropical storms along the coastal plain. Tornadoes from thunderstorms are a risk, especially in the eastern part of the state. Western Piedmont is often protected by the mountains, which tend to break up storms as they try to cross over; the storms will often re-form farther east. A phenomenon is known as "cold-air damming" often occurs in the northwestern part of the state, which can weaken storms but can also lead to major ice events in winter.[57]

In April 2011, the worst tornado outbreak in North Carolina's history occurred. Thirty confirmed tornadoes touched down, mainly in the Eastern Piedmont and Sandhills, killing at least 24 people.[58][59] In September 2019 Hurricane Dorian hit the area.

Monthly normal high and low temperatures (Fahrenheit) for various North Carolina cities.
City Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Asheville[60] 47/27 51/30 59/35 68/43 75/51 81/60 84/64 83/63 77/56 68/45 59/36 49/29
Boone[61] 42/21 45/23 52/29 61/37 69/46 76/54 79/58 78/57 72/50 63/39 54/31 45/24
Cape Hatteras[62] 52/39 54/40 59/45 66/53 74/61 81/69 85/74 84/73 80/69 72/60 64/51 56/43
Charlotte[60] 51/30 55/33 63/39 72/47 79/56 86/64 89/68 88/67 81/60 72/49 62/39 53/32
Fayetteville[63] 54/33 59/35 66/42 75/50 82/59 89/68 91/72 90/70 84/64 75/52 67/43 56/35
Greensboro[63] 48/30 53/32 61/39 70/47 78/56 85/65 88/69 86/68 80/61 70/49 61/40 51/32
Raleigh[63] 51/31 55/34 63/40 72/48 80/57 87/66 90/70 88/69 82/62 73/50 64/41 54/33
Wilmington[64] 56/36 60/38 66/44 74/52 81/60 87/69 90/73 88/71 84/66 76/55 68/45 59/38
Climate data for North Carolina (1980–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 49.9
(9.9)
53.7
(12.1)
61.8
(16.6)
71
(22)
78.1
(25.6)
85.2
(29.6)
88.1
(31.2)
86.8
(30.4)
80.8
(27.1)
71.6
(22.0)
62.5
(16.9)
52.5
(11.4)
70.2
(21.2)
Average low °F (°C) 28.4
(−2.0)
30.9
(−0.6)
37.2
(2.9)
45.2
(7.3)
54
(12)
63
(17)
66.8
(19.3)
65.8
(18.8)
58.9
(14.9)
47.2
(8.4)
38.3
(3.5)
30.8
(−0.7)
47.2
(8.4)
Average precipitation inches (mm) 3.7
(94)
3.5
(89)
4.2
(110)
3.5
(89)
3.8
(97)
4.3
(110)
4.8
(120)
4.7
(120)
4.3
(110)
3.3
(84)
3.3
(84)
3.5
(89)
46.9
(1,196)
Source: USA.com[65]


Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
United States Census">1790393,751
United States Census">1800478,10321.4%
United States Census">1810556,52616.4%
United States Census">1820638,82914.8%
United States Census">1830737,98715.5%
United States Census">1840753,4192.1%
United States Census">1850869,03915.3%
United States Census">1860992,62214.2%
United States Census">18701,071,3617.9%
United States Census">18801,399,75030.7%
United States Census">18901,617,94915.6%
United States Census">19001,893,81017.1%
United States Census">19102,206,28716.5%
United States Census">19202,559,12316.0%
United States Census">19303,170,27623.9%
United States Census">19403,571,62312.7%
United States Census">19504,061,92913.7%
United States Census">19604,556,15512.2%
United States Census">19705,082,05911.5%
United States Census">19805,881,76615.7%
United States Census">19906,628,63712.7%
United States Census">20008,049,31321.4%
United States Census">20109,535,48318.5%
Est. 201810,383,6208.9%
Source: 1910–2010[66]
2018 estimate[67]

The United States Census Bureau"> United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of North Carolina was 10,383,620 on July 1, 2018, an 8.89% increase since the United States Census">2010 Census.[67] Of the people residing in North Carolina, 58.5% were born in North Carolina, 33.1% were born in another US state, 1.0% were born in Puerto Rico, U.S. Island areas, or born abroad to American parent(s), and 7.4% were born in another country.[68]

Ethnicity

Demographics of North Carolina covers the varieties of ethnic groups that reside in North Carolina, along with the relevant trends.

The state's racial composition in the 2010 Census:[69]

North Carolina Racial Breakdown of Population
Racial composition 1990[70] 2000[71] 2010[72]
White 75.6% 72.1% 68.5%
Black 22.0% 21.6% 21.4%
Asian 0.8% 1.4% 2.2%
Native 1.2% 1.2% 1.3%
Native Hawaiian and
other Pacific Islander
0.1% 0.1%
United States Census">Other race 0.5% 2.3% 4.3%
Two or more races 1.3% 2.3%

Languages

As of 2010, 89.66% (7,750,904) of North Carolina residents age 5 and older spoke English at home as a primary language, while 6.93% (598,756) spoke Spanish, 0.32% (27,310) French, 0.27% (23,204) German, and Chinese (which includes Mandarin) was spoken as a main language by 0.27% (23,072) of the population over the age of five. In total, 10.34% (893,735) of North Carolina's population age 5 and older spoke a mother language other than English.[73] North Carolina is also home to a spectrum of different dialects of Southern American English and Appalachian English.

Top 15 Non-English Languages Spoken in North Carolina
Language Percentage of population
(as of 2010)[73]
Spanish 6.93%
French 0.32%
German 0.27%
Chinese (including Mandarin) 0.27%
Vietnamese 0.24%
Arabic 0.17%
Korean 0.16%
Tagalog 0.13%
Hindi 0.12%
Gujarati, Russian, and Hmong (tied) 0.11%
Italian and Japanese (tied) 0.08%
Cherokee language">Cherokee 0.01%[74]

Religion

Religion in North Carolina (2014)[75]
Religion Percent
Protestant
76%
Evangelical
  
35%
Mainline
  
19%
Historically Black
  
12%
None
10%
Catholic
9%
Mormon
1%
Eastern Orthodox
1%
Jehovah's Witness
1%
Jewish
1%
Other faith
1%

North Carolina residents, like those of other Southern states, since the colonial era have historically been overwhelmingly Protestant, first Anglican, then Baptist and Methodist. Before the Civil War, the Baptists split into regional associations of the North and South, over the issue of slavery.

By the late 19th century, the largest Protestant denomination in North Carolina was the Baptist, when both whites and blacks were considered, but the latter people had set up their own organizations. After emancipation, black Baptists quickly set up their own independent congregations in North Carolina and other states of the South, as they wanted to be free of white supervision.[76][77][78] Black Baptists developed their own state and national associations, such as the Baptist Convention USA, Inc.">National Baptist Convention USA, Inc..[77]

While the Baptists in total (counting both blacks and whites) have maintained the majority in this part of the country (known as the Bible Belt), a wide variety of faiths are practiced by other residents in the state, including Judaism, Islam, Baha'i, Buddhism, and Hinduism. As of 2010 the Baptist Convention">Southern Baptist Convention was the biggest denomination, with 4,241 churches and 1,513,000 members; the second largest was the United Methodist Church, with 660,000 members and 1,923 churches. The third was the Roman Catholic Church, with 428,000 members in 190 congregations. The fourth greatest was the Presbyterian Church (USA), with 186,000 members and 710 congregations; this denomination was brought by Scots-Irish immigrants who settled the backcountry in the colonial era.[79]

The state also has a special history with the Moravian Church, as settlers of this faith (largely of German origin) settled in the Winston-Salem area in the 18th and 19th centuries. Presbyterians, historically Scots-Irish, have had a strong presence in Charlotte and in Scotland County.

Currently, the rapid influx of northerners and immigrants from Latin America is steadily increasing ethnic and religious diversity: the number of Roman Catholics and Jews in the state has increased, as well as general religious diversity. The second-largest Protestant denomination in North Carolina after Baptist traditions is Methodism, which is strong in the northern Piedmont, especially in populous Guilford County. There are also a substantial number of Quakers in Guilford County and northeastern North Carolina. Many universities and colleges in the state have been founded on religious traditions, and some currently maintain that affiliation, including:[80]

The state also has several major seminaries, including the Baptist Theological Seminary">Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, and the Hood Theological Seminary (AME Zion) in Salisbury.

Most populous counties

In 2016, the US Census Bureau released 2015 population estimate counts for North Carolina's counties. Mecklenburg County has the largest population, while Wake County has the second largest population in North Carolina.[81]

Major cities

In 2017, the US Census Bureau released 2016 population estimate counts for North Carolina's cities with populations above 70,000. Charlotte has the largest population, while Raleigh has the highest population density of North Carolina's largest cities.[82]

Largest combined statistical areas

Charlotte skyline

North Carolina has three major Combined Statistical Areas with populations of more than 1.6 million (U.S. Census Bureau 2017 estimates):[84]

  • Charlotte metropolitan area">Metrolina: Charlotte–Concord–Gastonia, North Carolina–South Carolina – population 2,684,121[84]
  • The Research Triangle: Raleigh–Durham–Chapel Hill, North Carolina – population 2,199,459[84]
  • The Piedmont Triad: Greensboro–Winston-Salem–High Point, North Carolina – population 1,663,532[84]

Economy

North Carolina's 2018 total gross state product was $496 billion.[85] Based on American Community Survey 2010-2014 data, North Carolina's median household income was $46,693. It ranked forty-first out of fifty states plus the District of Columbia for median household income. North Carolina had the fourteenth highest poverty rate in the nation at 17.6%. 13% of families were below the poverty line. [86]

The state has a very diverse economy because of its great availability of hydroelectric power, Template Template-Fact" style="white-space:nowrap;">[citation needed] its pleasant climate, and its wide variety of soils. The state ranks third among the South Atlantic states in population, but leads the region in industry Template Template-Fact" style="white-space:nowrap;">[citation needed] and agriculture. Template Template-Fact" style="white-space:nowrap;">[citation needed] North Carolina leads the nation in the production of tobacco,[87] textiles, and furniture. Template Template-Fact" style="white-space:nowrap;">[citation needed] Charlotte, the state's largest city, is a major textile and trade center. According to a Forbes article written in 2013 Employment in the "Old North State" has gained many different industry sectors. Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) industries in the area surrounding North Carolina's capital have grown 17.9 percent since 2001, placing Raleigh-Cary at No. 5 among the 51 largest metro areas in the country where technology is booming. Template Template-Fact" style="white-space:nowrap;">[citation needed] In 2010, North Carolina's total gross state product was $424.9 billion,[88] while the state debt in November 2012, according to one source, totalled US$2.4bn,[89] while according to another, was in 2012 US$57.8bn.[90] In 2011, the civilian labor force was at around 4.5 million with employment near 4.1 million.

North Carolina is the leading U.S. state in production of flue-cured tobacco and sweet potatoes, and comes second in the farming of pigs and hogs, trout, and turkeys.[91][92] In the three most recent USDA surveys (2002, 2007, 2012), North Carolina also ranked second in the production of Christmas trees.[91][93][94]

North Carolina has 15 metropolitan areas,[95] and in 2010 was chosen as the third-best state for business by Forbes Magazine, and the second-best state by Chief Executive Officer Magazine.[96] Since 2000, there has been a clear division in the economic growth of North Carolina's urban and rural areas. While North Carolina's urban areas have enjoyed a prosperous economy with steady job growth, low unemployment, and rising wages, many of the state's rural counties have suffered from job loss, rising levels of poverty, and population loss as their manufacturing base has declined. According to one estimate, one-half of North Carolina's 100 counties have lost population since 2010, primarily due to the poor economy in many of North Carolina's rural areas. However, the population of the state's urban areas is steadily increasing.[97]

Transportation

A North Carolina license plate

Transportation systems in North Carolina consist of air, water, road, rail, and public transportation including intercity rail via Amtrak and light rail in Charlotte. North Carolina has the second-largest state highway system in the country as well as the largest ferry system on the east coast.[98]

North Carolina's airports serve destinations throughout the United States and international destinations in Canada, Europe, Central America, and the Caribbean. In 2013 Charlotte Douglas International Airport"> Charlotte Douglas International Airport ranked as the 23rd busiest airport in the world.[99]

North Carolina has a growing passenger rail system with Amtrak serving most major cities. Charlotte is also home to North Carolina's only light rail system known as the Lynx.

Government and politics

Gubernatorial election results[100]
Year Democratic Republican
North Carolina gubernatorial election">1952 67.5% 796,306 32.5% 383,329
North Carolina gubernatorial election">1956 67.0% 760,480 33.1% 375,379
North Carolina gubernatorial election">1960 54.5% 735,248 45.5% 613,975
North Carolina gubernatorial election">1964 56.6% 790,343 43.4% 606,165
North Carolina gubernatorial election">1968 52.7% 821,233 47.3% 737,075
North Carolina gubernatorial election">1972 48.5% 729,104 51.0% 767,470
North Carolina gubernatorial election">1976 65.0% 1,081,293 33.9% 564,102
North Carolina gubernatorial election">1980 61.9% 1,143,145 37.4% 691,449
North Carolina gubernatorial election">1984 45.4% 1,011,209 54.3% 1,208,167
North Carolina gubernatorial election">1988 43.9% 957,687 56.1% 1,222,338
North Carolina gubernatorial election">1992 52.7% 1,368,246 43.2% 1,121,955
North Carolina gubernatorial election">1996 56.0% 1,436,638 42.8% 1,097,053
North Carolina gubernatorial election">2000 52.0% 1,530,324 46.3% 1,360,960
North Carolina gubernatorial election">2004 55.6% 1,939,154 42.9% 1,495,021
North Carolina gubernatorial election">2008 50.3% 2,146,189 46.9% 2,001,168
North Carolina gubernatorial election">2012 43.2% 1,931,580 54.6% 2,440,707
North Carolina gubernatorial election">2016 49.0% 2,309,157 48.8% 2,298,880
Presidential election results[100]
Year Democratic Republican
United States presidential election in North Carolina">1952 53.9% 652,803 46.1% 558,107
United States presidential election in North Carolina">1956 50.7% 590,530 49.3% 575,062
United States presidential election in North Carolina">1960 52.1% 713,136 47.9% 655,420
United States presidential election in North Carolina">1964 56.2% 800,139 43.9% 624,844
United States presidential election in North Carolina">1968 29.2% 464,113 39.5% 627,192
United States presidential election in North Carolina">1972 28.9% 438,705 69.5% 1,054,889
United States presidential election in North Carolina">1976 55.3% 927,365 44.2% 741,960
United States presidential election in North Carolina">1980 47.2% 875,635 49.3% 915,018
United States presidential election in North Carolina">1984 37.9% 824,287 61.9% 1,346,481
United States presidential election in North Carolina">1988 41.7% 890,167 58.0% 1,237,258
United States presidential election in North Carolina">1992 42.7% 1,114,042 43.4% 1,134,661
United States presidential election in North Carolina">1996 44.0% 1,107,849 48.7% 1,225,938
United States presidential election in North Carolina">2000 43.2% 1,257,692 56.0% 1,631,163
United States presidential election in North Carolina">2004 43.6% 1,525,849 56.0% 1,961,166
United States presidential election in North Carolina">2008 49.7% 2,142,651 49.4% 2,128,474
United States presidential election in North Carolina">2012 48.4% 2,178,391 50.4% 2,270,395
United States presidential election in North Carolina">2016 46.2% 2,189,316 49.8% 2,362,631
North Carolina State Legislative Building"> North Carolina State Legislative Building

The government of North Carolina is divided into three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. These consist of the North Carolina Council of State">Council of State (led by the Governor), the bicameral legislature (called the North Carolina General Assembly">General Assembly), and the state court system (headed by the North Carolina Supreme Court"> North Carolina Supreme Court). The state constitution delineates the structure and function of the state government. North Carolina has 13 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and two seats in the U.S. Senate.

North Carolina's party loyalties have undergone a series of important shifts in the last few years: While the 2010 midterms saw Tar Heel voters elect a bicameral North Carolina Republican Party">Republican majority legislature for the first time in over a century, North Carolina has also become a Southern swing state in presidential races. Since Southern Democrat Jimmy Carter's comfortable victory in the state United States presidential election in North Carolina">in 1976, the state had consistently leaned Republican in presidential elections until Democrat Barack Obama narrowly won the state United States presidential election in North Carolina">in 2008. In the 1990s, Democrat Bill Clinton came within a point of winning the state United States presidential election in North Carolina">in 1992 and also only narrowly lost the state United States presidential election in North Carolina">in 1996. In the early 2000s, Republican George W. Bush easily won the state by over 12 points.

By 2008, demographic shifts, population growth, and increased liberalization in densely populated areas such as the Research Triangle, Charlotte, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Fayetteville, and Asheville, propelled Barack Obama to victory in North Carolina, the first Democrat to win the state since 1976. In United States presidential election in North Carolina">2012, North Carolina was again considered a competitive swing state, with the Democrats even holding their 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. However, Republican Mitt Romney ultimately eked out a 2-point win in North Carolina, the only 2012 swing state that Obama lost, and one of only two states (along with United States presidential election in Indiana">Indiana) to flip from Obama in 2008 to the GOP in 2012.

In 2012, the state elected a Republican Governor (Pat McCrory) and Lieutenant Governor (Dan Forest) for the first time in more than two decades, while also giving the Republicans veto-proof majorities in both the State House of Representatives and the State Senate.

North Carolina registered voters as of May 22, 2019[101]
Party Number of Voters Percentage
Colorado Democratic Party">Democratic 2,470,114 37.12%
Unaffiliated 2,139,585 32.15%
Colorado Republican Party">Republican 2,003,702 30.11%
Libertarian 37,407 0.56%
Green 1,439 0.02%
American Constitution 1,691 0.02%
Total 6,653,938 100%

Because of gerrymandering in redistricting after the 2010 census, Democrats have been underrepresented in the state and Congressional delegations since 2012, although they have sometimes represented more than half the state's population.[102]

Several U.S. House of Representatives seats flipped control in 2012, with the Republicans holding nine seats to the Democrats' four. In the 2014 mid-term elections, Republican David Rouzer won the state's seventh congressional district seat, increasing the congressional delegation party split to 10-3 in favor of the GOP.

The state was sued for racial gerrymandering the districts, which resulted in minority voting power being diluted in some areas, resulting in this skewed representation. The federal court ordered redistricting in 2015. The Republican-dominated legislature intended to give their party as much advantage as possible.[102]

“I propose that we draw the maps to give a partisan advantage to 10 Republicans and three Democrats because I do not believe it’s possible to draw a map with 11 Republicans and two Democrats,” David Lewis, a Republican state representative who led the redistricting effort, said at the time.

[102]

" North Carolina Republicans won 10 of the 13 seats in 2016, when Democrats got 47 percent of the statewide vote. In 2018 Republicans took nine, with one seat undecided, even though Democrats got 48 percent of the overall vote. (Excluding one district where a Republican ran unopposed, Democrats’ share in 2018 was 51 percent.)"[102]

(The undecided election in North Carolina's 9th congressional district is because the bipartisan State Election Board refused in February 2019 to certify the results, after an investigation found evidence of widespread ballot fraud committed by Republican operatives.)[103]

Two suits challenging the state congressional district map were led by "two dozen voters, the state Democratic Party, the state chapter of the League of Women Voters, and the interest group Common Cause".[102] They contend that the redistricting resulted in deliberate under-representation of a substantial portion of voters. This case reached the United States Supreme Court in March 2019, which also heard a related partisan gerrymandering case from Maryland.[102]

Education

Primary and secondary education

A lesson at New Kituwah Academy on the Qualla Boundary in North Carolina. This bilingual language immersion school, operated by the Cherokee Indians">Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, teaches the same curriculum as other state primary schools

Elementary and secondary public schools are overseen by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction"> North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. The North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction"> North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction is the secretary of the North Carolina State Board of Education"> North Carolina State Board of Education, but the board, rather than the superintendent, holds most of the legal authority for making public education policy. In 2009, the board's chairman also became the "chief executive officer" for the state's school system.[104] North Carolina has 115 public school systems, each of which is overseen by a local school board.[105][106] A county may have one or more systems within it. The largest school systems in North Carolina are the Wake County Public School System, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Guilford County Schools"> Guilford County Schools, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, and Cumberland County Schools.[107] In total there are 2,425 public schools in the state, including 99 charter schools.[105] North Carolina Schools were segregated until the Brown v. Board of Education trial and the release of the Pearsall Plan.

Colleges and universities

In 1795, North Carolina opened the first public university in the United States—the University of North Carolina (now named the North Carolina at Chapel Hill">University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). More than 200 years later, the North Carolina system">University of North Carolina system encompasses 17 public universities including North Carolina State University"> North Carolina State University, North Carolina A&T State University"> North Carolina A&T State University, North Carolina Central University"> North Carolina Central University, the North Carolina at Chapel Hill">University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the North Carolina at Greensboro">University of North Carolina at Greensboro, East Carolina University, Western Carolina University, Winston-Salem State University"> Winston-Salem State University, the North Carolina at Asheville">University of North Carolina at Asheville, the North Carolina at Charlotte">University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the North Carolina at Pembroke">University of North Carolina at Pembroke, UNC Wilmington, Elizabeth City State University, Appalachian State University, Fayetteville State University, and UNC School of the Arts, and .[108] Along with its public universities, North Carolina has 58 public community colleges in its North Carolina Community College System">community college system. The largest university in North Carolina is currently North Carolina State University"> North Carolina State University, with more than 34,000 students.[109]

Old Well at UNC-Chapel Hill
Duke Chapel at Duke University
Wait Chapel at Wake Forest University
The Joyner Library clock tower at East Carolina University
The New Quad at North Carolina at Charlotte">UNC Charlotte

North Carolina is also home to many well-known private colleges and universities, including Duke University, Wake Forest University, Pfeiffer University, Lees-McRae College, Davidson College, Barton College, North Carolina Wesleyan College"> North Carolina Wesleyan College, Elon University, Guilford College, Livingstone College, Salem College, Shaw University (the first historically black college or university in the South), Laurel University, Meredith College, Methodist University, Belmont Abbey College (the only Catholic college in the Carolinas), Campbell University, University of Mount Olive, Montreat College, High Point University, Lenoir-Rhyne University (the only Lutheran university in North Carolina) and Wingate University.

Map of Universities in North Carolina.png">
Tree map depicting post-secondary education institutions in North Carolina. Each is sized by its relative share of degrees awarded. The colors noted in the key below refer to the type of institution. From left to right, these are 1) Public, 4+ year, 2) Public, 2 year 3) Private, not-for-profit 4+ year 4) Private, for-profit 4+ year, 5) Private, for-profit, 2 year 6) Private, for-profit, <2 year 7) Private, non-profit, 2 year 8) Private, non-profit, <2 year.

Media