What are the Key Facts of North Carolina? - Answers

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What are the Key Facts of North Carolina?

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Map of North Carolina
Map of North Carolina which is situated in the southeastern front of the US


North Carolina

State Capital


Largest City



35.5°N 80°W


Old North State”, “Tar Heel State”

Postal Abbreviation



53,819 sq. mi (139,390 sq. km)

Highest Point

Mount Mitchell, 6,684 ft (2,037 m)

Number of Counties

100 (including one consolidated city-county)

Neighboring States

South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia


10,488,084 (2019)

Date of Entering the Union

November 21, 1789

State Anthem

The Old North State


Roy Cooper (Democratic Party)

Lieutenant Governor

Dan Forest (Republican)

U.S. Senators

Richard Burr (Republican), Thom Tillis (Republican)

U.S. House Delegation

10 Republicans, 3 Democrats

GDP (Millions of Dollars)



North Carolinian (official); Tar Heel (colloquial)

Time Zones

UTC−05:00(Eastern); Summer (DST), UTC−04:00 (EDT)


Where is North Carolina?

North Carolina (the 12th state of the United States that was admitted to the union on November 21, 1789) is located in the southeastern region of the USA. It shares its borders with four neighboring states: Tennessee (to the west), South Carolina and Georgia (to the south), and Virginia (to the north). The Atlantic Ocean borders North Carolina to the east.

What is the Geography of North Carolina?

North Carolina is spread across a total area of 53,819 sq. mi (139,391 sq. km), making it the 28th largest state out of the 50 US states. Out of the total area, the land area is spread across 48,711 sq. mi (126,161 sq. km), and the water area is spread across 1,972 sq. mi (5,108 sq. km).

The water bodies occupy around 9.7% of the total area in the state. The longest rivers in North Carolina are Roanoke River, New River, Neuse River, Pee Dee River, Catawba River, Tar River, Yadkin River, Dan River, French Broad River, Cape Fear River, and many more.

Some of the major lakes in the state are Kerr Lake, Lake Jocassee, Lake Waccamaw, Lake Norman, Fontana Lake, Lake Gaston, High Rock Lake, Lake Phelps, Jordan Lake, Lake Hiwassee, Lake Santeetlah, Lake Hickory, Nantahala Lake, Falls Lake, Lake Mattamuskeet, etc.

North Carolina’s mean elevation is 700 feet (213.4 m) above sea level. While Mount Mitchell is the highest elevation point in the state at 6,684 feet above sea level, the shore meeting the Atlantic Ocean at sea level at 0 ft (0 m) is the lowest elevation point.

The most prominent mountains in North Carolina are Mount Mitchell, Mount Craig, Balsam Cone, Mount Gibbes, Celo Knob (Black Mountain Range), Clingmans Dome, Mount Guyot, Mount Chapman, Old Black (Great Smoky Mountain Range), and Richland Balsam (Great Balsam Mountain Range).

North Carolina has three distinct geographical divisions: the Coastal Plains, the Piedmont Division, and the Mountain Division.

Around half of the landform in North Carolina is made up of the Coastal Plains. It consists of flat, swampy lands and gently sloping terrain. The Piedmont Division is mainly made up of hard rock as well as gently sloping hills having sporadic steep ranges, extending to the mountain base. The western part of the country consists of the Mountain Division, covering around 1/5th of the total area of North Carolina.

What is the Climate of North Carolina?

The climatic condition in North Carolina can be majorly categorized as humid subtropical. However, the high slopes of the Appalachian Mountains have a subtropical highland climate. While summer is hot and humid, the season of winter is wet and cold.

In the mountains (above 900 meters or 2,953 ft), the temperature during midsummer revolves within 80 °F (26.7 °C). The nights remain crisp and cool. In the lower valleys, the winter temperature during January revolves within 20 °F (-6.7 °C) and 45 °F (7.2 °C). During midsummer, the coastal regions remain cooler than the inland regions. The temperature of the ocean water remains below 80 °F (26.7 °C).

Precipitation takes place in the state throughout the year. The average precipitation level in the state revolves around 45 inches (1,143 mm). While autumn is the driest season, summer is the wettest season. Mid-April to mid-October is the best time to visit North Carolina.

What is the Economy of North Carolina?

North Carolina has a diverse economy, which is mainly dependent upon industries such as food processing, vehicle parts, technology, pharmaceuticals, and banking. Charlotte is not only one of the 15 metropolitan cities present in the economy but also the second-largest banking center in the US.

The largest research park in the United States is the Research Triangle Park (RTP), which is located in this state. The RTP houses more than 200 companies and is the major innovation hub of the economy.

Livestock products and crops contribute 50% each to the agricultural income of North Carolina. The leading most agricultural products of the state are hogs, broilers, tobacco, greenhouse & nursery products, and turkeys.

The total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for North Carolina has increased from US$413,363.3 million in 2008 to US$563,690.5 million. Over the years in the last two to three decades, the Per Capita Personal Income in the state increased continuously and reached a peak in 2008 to US$37,687. However, following the deep economic of 2007, it fell sharply to US$35,802 in 2009. However, in the last decade, it has improved continuously to reach a new peak of US$46,117 in 2018.

The Real Median Household Income in North Carolina has changed drastically over the years, with considerable fluctuations in the last decade. In 2008 it was US$50,191 but soon tumbled down to US$45,530 in 2012, in a span of just 4-years. However, the situation reversed again, and by 2016 the Real Median Household Income back reached US$56,259. However, in 2017, it tumbled down again to US$50,755 but soon increased to US$53,369 in 2018.

The rate of unemployment was hovering around 4.5% in October 2007. Due to the economic recession of 2007-08, it increased sharply to 10.7% in January 2009 and peaked at 12% in February 2010. With the improvement in the economy, the unemployment rate came down steadily to 3.3% in December 2019.

The income and poverty data released by the US Census Bureau in September 2019 shows that in 2018 there were 1.4 million poor living in poverty in North Carolina, giving it the 15th rank among the 50 US States in terms of the highest poverty rate. Though the poverty rate (the poverty is defined as a family of four living on less than $25,100 per year) in 2018 decreased by 0.7 since 2017, the rate in 2018 was still hovering around 14%.

What is the Transportation System of North Carolina?

The transportation system in North Carolina includes roadways, airways, waterways, and railways. On the east coast, North Carolina has the largest ferry system in the USA.

The public transportation includes Amtrak-run intercity rail and light rail called Lynx in Charlotte. Charlotte Douglas International Airport became the 23rd busiest airport in the world in 2013, and it was also the 2nd busiest hub for American Airlines.

The major airports in North Carolina are Charlotte/Douglas International Airport (in Charlotte), Raleigh-Durham International Airport (in Raleigh), Piedmont Triad International Airport (in Greensboro), Asheville Regional Airport (in Asheville), Wilmington International Airport (in Wilmington), Fayetteville Regional Airport or Grannis Field (in Fayetteville), Albert J. Ellis Airport (in Jacksonville), Coastal Carolina Regional Airport (in New Bern), Concord Regional Airport (in Concord), Pitt-Greenville Airport (in Greenville), and many more.

The major Amtrak-operated passenger railways in North Carolina are the Carolinian between New York and Charlotte, Piedmont between Raleigh and Charlotte, the Crescent between New York and New Orleans, the Palmetto between New York and Savannah, the Silver Meteor between New York and Miami, and the Silver Star between New York and Tampa.

In the state, there are 19 Interstate Highways that is around 1,296 miles (2,086 km) long. Around 70 miles (110 km) of interstate business routes are also present in the state. Some of the longest interstate highways are I-40, I-85, I-95, I-77, I-73, and I-74.

In North Carolina, 36 US Highways are there, which is around 5,588.28 mi (8,993.46 km) long. The longest US Highways in the state are US 64, US 70, US 74, US 158, US 421, US 17, US 321, US 264, US 301, US 13, US 1, US 401, etc.

The 2nd largest state highway system is present in North Carolina, which is around 79,328 mi (127,666 km) long. The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) maintains the state highways. The longest of them are NC 24, NC 87, NC 42, NC 903, NC 27, NC 210, NC 11, NC 55, NC 150, NC 49, and many more.

How did North Carolina get its name?

Britain’s King Charles I had granted his Attorney General Sir Robert Heath in 1629 to create a province in the American territory from Albemarle Sound on the north to St. John’s River to the south (“the Ocean upon the east side and soe to the west and soe fare as the Continent extends itself….”). King Charles I had also asked Sir Robert Heath to name the province as Carolina. The word Carolina originated from “Carolus”, which is the Latin form of “Charles”. In 1710, the territory of Carolina was divided. While the southern part was known as South Carolina, the northern part is known as North Carolina.

Why is North Carolina called the “The Tar Heel State” and “The Old North State”?

North Carolina has two most popular nicknames: “The Tar Heel State” and “The Old North State”.

The Old North State

When the Carolina province was divided in 1710 into two parts While the southern part was called South Carolina, the older northern settlement as North Carolina. The nickname “Old North State” originated from the older northern settlement. This phrase was first used in the book “Defence of the Revolutionary History of the State of North Carolina from the Aspersions of Mr. Jefferson” by Joseph Seawell Jones.

The Tar Heel State

The origin of the nickname “The Tar Heel State” is not clear. However, most historians believe that North Carolina had a long history of producing naval stores (such as tar, turpentine, rosin, and pitch) from the extensive pine forests of the state. From around 1720 to 1870, North Carolina was a leader in the production of naval stores.

Though there are many theories regarding the nickname “The Tar Heel State”, the most popular theory is based upon the book edited by Walter Clark: “Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina in the Great War 1861-1865”.

In the 376th page of the book’s Vol-3, it was mentioned that during one of the fiercest state battles, the column supporting the North Carolina troops was driven from the field. The passing derelict regiment greeted the North Carolinians (who had fought it out alone successfully) after the battle with a question whether they have any tar left. The answer that came quickly said: “No, not a bit; old Jeff’s bought it all up.” They again asked: “Is that so; what is he going to do with it?” The answer came: “He’s going to put on you-un’s heels to make you stick better in the next fight.”

R.B. Creecy’s “Grandfather’s Tales of North Carolina History” (1901) related this story with the statement given by General Robert Edward Lee upon hearing this incident. General Lee said: “God bless the Tar Heel boys.” That’s how North Carolina got its nickname, “The Tar Heel State.”

What are the Popular Tourist Attractions in North Carolina?

The most popular attractions in North Carolina are the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Nantahala National Forest, Pisgah National Forest, Blue Ridge Parkway, The Biltmore Estate, Morehead Planetarium, and Science Center, Linville Gorge and Falls, Battleship North Carolina, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, North Carolina Aquarium, North Carolina Zoo, Outer Banks, Cape Hatteras, Chimney Rock State Park, and Grandfather Mountain.

Facts About North Carolina

1.The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill is the first State University in USA.

2.Fontana Dam is the biggest of its kind in eastern USA and is 480 feet tall.

3.In 1903 the Wright Brothers did the first ever successful powered flight by man. This historic event occurred at Kill Devil Hill close to Kitty Hawk.

The Wright Memorial located at Kitty Hawks stands as a mark of their achievement.

4.A lot of people think that North Carolina was the first state to have declared independence from England with Mecklenburg Declaration of 1775.

5.High Point is billed as the Global Furniture Capital.

6.Grandfather Mountain, which is the tallest peak in Blue Ridge, is the sole private park in the world that has been chosen by the United Nations as an International Biosphere Reserve.

7.Beaufort Town was called Fish Town in early 1700’s when Blackbeard used to visit the coast. It was set up in 1722 as a seaport with the rights to customs collection.

8.The Mile-High Swinging Bridge, close to Linville, is 5,305 feet above the sea level. However, it actually hangs almost 80 feet over the ground.

9.The Outer Banks of North Carolina are home to some of the most gorgeous beaches in USA.

10.Pepsi was discovered and served for the first time in New Bern in 1898.

11.Whitewater Falls, located in Transylvania County, is the tallest waterfall in eastern USA.

12.Beech Mountain is the highest town in USA. It is 5,506 feet above sea level.

13.Cape Hatteras is the biggest lighthouse ever to have been moved thanks to erosion related issues.

14.The seventh President of USA, Andrew Jackson, was born in the Waxsaws, which is on the border shared by North and South Carolina.

15.Tarheels, which is the mascot of University of North Carolina, is also a nickname for people from the state. The nickname has supposedly come from the times when the state generated a lot of tar and a person saw the footprints of someone who had stepped on some of it.

16.Arnold Palmer, who is known to be the player whose positive playing and winning personality took golf to national attention, improved his skills as a part of Wake Forest University’s championship golf team.

17.The place where Charles Karault was born and raised is Wilmington.

18.The 11th President of USA, James K. Polk, was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.

19.Havelock is home to a Marine Base named Cherry Point, which is the biggest air base in the Marine Corps.

20.The first ever African-American member of US Congress, Hiram Rhoades Revels, was born in Fayetteville in 1822.

21.North Carolina is the biggest producer of sweet potatoes in USA. Students at a school in Wilson County had appealed to the North Carolina General Assembly that sweet potato be made the official state vegetable.

22.Andrew Johnson kicked off his career as a tailor’s apprentice in Raleigh, North Carolina. He then became a major figure in reuniting USA as its 17th President.

23.Core Sound Decoy Festival is held every December in Harker’s Island.

24.North Carolina is a leading producer of furniture, brick, tobacco, and textile.

25.North Carolina Seafood Festival is staged every year in the first weekend of October in Morehead City.

26.Saluda, North Carolina is situated right at the top of Saluda Grade.

27.The World War II battleship named North Carolina has been permanently berthed on Cape Fear River, Wilmington. It was rescued from scrap heap in 1960’s through public subscription that included donation of dimes by schoolchildren.

28.The state motto of North Carolina is Esse quam videri, which means to be something rather than to seem to be like it.

29.The oldest English colony in America was situated on Roanoke Island and was founded by Walter Raleigh. The colony vanished mysteriously without any trace except for the word Croatoan, which was scribbled on a nearby tree.

30.Wendell town has been named after Oliver Wendell Holmes, an American writer,

31.Mount Mitchell in Blue Ridge Mountains is the tallest peak among ones that lie east of Mississippi. It is 6,684 feet from sea level.

32.The German and Swiss settlement of New Bern was named to honor the founder’s home in Switzerland, Bern. When Bern was set up it was named by some hunters. They had named the city after the first animal they had come upon in their hunting expedition – a bear. The term Bern is an old Germanic word for Bear, which became the symbol of the city and was adopted by New Bern too.

33.Winston-Salem was where Krispy Kreme Doughnut was founded.

34.North Carolina is the first US state to have founded a state museum of art.

35.Venus Fly Trap is local to Hampstead.

36.North Carolina is among the first US states to have founded a state symphony. The North Carolina Symphony, was set up in 1943, and presently performs almost 185 full-orchestra concerts every year.

37.Fayetteville is where the first ever mini golf course was built.

38.North Carolina has the biggest state-maintained highway system in USA. The highway system in the state presently has 77,400 miles of roads.

39.The first home run of Babe Ruth came on 7th March 1914 in Fayetteville.

40.In 1987 the General Assembly of North Carolina recognized milk as the official state beverage.

41.Winston-Salem was created by joining the two towns Salem and Winston.

42.The oldest town in North Carolina is Bath. It was incorporated in 1705.

43.The biggest home in USA, Biltmore Estate, is located in Ashville. It has a chateau with 255 rooms, lots of gardens and an award winning winery.

44.Columbia is situated in northeastern North Carolina on the Albemarle-Pamlico peninsula. The state is on eastern shore of Scuppernong River. The Indians refer to the area as the place of the sweet bay tree.

45.The first English child born in USA was named Virginia Dare. She was born in 1587 in Roanoke.

46.White Lake, which is located near Elizabethtown, is very unique in the sense that it has a sandy and white bottom and crystal clear water. The lake has also been billed the Nation’s Safest Beach. It is an absolute paradise for children as there are no currents, dangerous depressions and tides. It also does not hold any major danger to swimmers.

47.The Lost Colony Outdoor Drama in Albemarle marks Virginia Dare’s birth. It was originally supposed to run for one year but proved so successful that it was performed for almost 60 straight summers.

48.North Carolina has fresh water streams stretching for 37,000 miles and 1,500 lakes which are at least 10 acres in size.

49.The first ever state owned art museum of USA is in Raleigh.

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Related Maps:
Map of USA Depicting Location of North Carolina
Location of North Carolina
North Carolina County Map
North Carolina County Map
Map of the United States

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