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North Carolina, US (Population: 8,856,505)
State Capitol: Raleigh

Major Cities: Charlotte, Greensboro, Durham, Winston-Salem, Fayetteville, Cary, High Point, Wilmington, Asheville

State Nickname/Motto: Old North State/Tar Heel State – Esse quam videri: To Be, Rather Than to Seem

Statehood Granted: November 21, 1789

History: North Carolina was originally inhabited by many different native peoples, including the Cherokee, Tuscarora, Cheraw, Pamlico, Meherrin, Coree, Machapunga, Cape Fear Indians, Waxhaw, Saponi, Tutelo, Waccamaw, Lumbee, Coharie, and Catawba. North Carolina was the second American territory the Europeans attempted to colonize. Sir Walter Raleigh, for whom the state capital is named, chartered two colonies on the North Carolina (then Virginia) coast in the late 1580s, both ending in failure. The demise of one, the "Lost Colony" of Roanoke Island, remains one of the great mysteries of American history. Virginia Dare, the first English child to be born in North America, was born in North Carolina. Dare County is named for her.

Geography: Highest point: Mt. Mitchell 6,684 feet. North Carolina consists of three main geographic sections: the coastal plain, which occupies the eastern 45% of the state; the Piedmont region, which contains the middle 35%; and the Appalachian Mountains and foothills, which take up the remaining 20% of the state in the west. The coastal plain begins in the east as a chain of narrow, sandy barrier islands known as the Outer Banks. The Outer Banks form two sounds—Albemarle Sound in the north and Pamlico Sound in the south; they are the two largest landlocked sounds in the United States. Immediately inland, the coastal plain is relatively flat, with rich soils ideal for growing tobacco, soybeans, and cotton. The coastal plain is North Carolina's most rural section, with few large towns or cities.

Ethnic Diversity: One Race (98.5%), White (71.4%), Black or African American (21.0%), American Indian and Alaska Native (1.3%), Asian (1.7%), Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (0.0%), Some other race (3.1%), Two or more races (1.5%), Hispanic or Latino (6.3%)*

Famous State People:

  • John Coltrane (1926-1967) - Tenor and soprano saxophonist, bandleader, and composer; Born in Hamlet.
  • Elizabeth Hanford Dole (1936 - ) Secretary of Transportation (1983 - 87) and Labor (1989 - 90) and president of the American Red Cross (1990 - ); born in Salisbury.
  • Andy Griffith (1926 - ) Actor made famous in television shows such as The Andy Griffith Show and Matlock; born in Mt. Airy.
  • Pleasant Hanes (1845-1925) Founder of the Hanes Corporation; born in Winston-Salem.
  • Andrew Jackson (1767 - 1845) Seventh President of the United States, was born in the Waxsaws area on the border of North and South Carolina.
  • Arnold Palmer (1929 - ) Recognized as the player whose aggressive play and winning personality raised golf to national attention, honed his skills on the championship golf team of Wake Forest University.
  • Caleb Bradham (1867 - 1934) Pharmacist from New Bern, North Carolina, created the first Pepsi-Cola for dyspepsia, or indigestion. In 1902 Bradham began bottling the soft drink in the back room of his drugstore.
  • Herman Lay (1909 - 1982) Owner of the company Frito-Lay, Inc.; born in Charlotte.
  • Sugar Ray Leonard (1956 - ) Olympic boxing champion; born in Wilmington.
  • William Sydney Porter (1862 - 1910) Writer who used the pen name O. Henry; raised in Greensboro.
  • Hiram Rhoades Revels (1822 - 1901) First African-American member of the United States Congress; born in Fayetteville.
  • Andrew Johnson (1808 - 1875) Started his career as a tailor's apprentice in Raleigh, North Carolina and rose to lead in the reuniting of the nation as the seventeenth President of the United States.
  • Ava Gardner (1922 - 1990) Became a Hollywood star and acted in more than 20 films by the age of 28; born in Smithfield.
  • James K. Polk (1795 - 1849) Eleventh President of the United States; born in Mecklenburg County.
  • Michael Jordan (1963 - ) Basketball superstar who led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA titles; grew up in Wilmington.

  • Major Colleges/Universities: University of North Carolina System, Appalachian State University, East Carolina University, North Carolina State University, Western Carolina University, Belmont Abbey College, Davidson College, Duke University, Wake Forest University, North Carolina A&T State University, North Carolina Central University, Warren Wilson College, Montreat College, AB Technical College

    State and National Parks: Carolina Beach State Park, Cliffs of the Neuse State Park, Crowders Mountain State Park, Eno River State Park, Falls Lake State Recreation Area, Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, Fort Macon State Park, Goose Creek State Park, Gorges State Park, Hammocks Beach State Park, Hanging Rock State Park, Jockey's Ridge State Park, Jones Lake State Park, Jordan Lake State Recreation Area, Kerr Lake State Recreation Area, Lake James State Park, Lake Norman State Park, Lake Waccamaw State Park, Lumber River State Park, Medoc Mountain State Park, Merchants Millpond State Park, Morrow Mountain State Park, Mount Jefferson State Natural Area, Mount Mitchell State Park, New River State Park, Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area, Pettigrew State Park, Pilot Mountain State Park, Raven Rock State Park, Singletary Lake State Park, South Mountains State Park, Stone Mountain State Park, Weymouth Woods-Sandhills Nature Preserve, William B. Umstead State Park, Appalachian National Scenic Trail, Blue Ridge Parkway, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Cape Lookout National Seashore, Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site, Croatan National Forest, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Guilford Courthouse National Military Park, Moores Creek National Battlefield, Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, Wright Brothers National Memorial, Uwharrie National Forest

    Misc: Due to geography, rich history, and growing industry, North Carolina provides a large range of recreational activities from swimming at the beach to skiing in the mountains. North Carolina offers fall colors, freshwater and saltwater fishing, hunting, bird-watching, agritourism, ATV trails, ballooning, rock climbing, biking, hiking, skiing, boating and sailing, camping, canoeing, caving (spelunking), gardens, and arboretums. North Carolina has theme parks, aquariums, zoos, museums, historic sites, lighthouses, elegant theaters, concert halls, and fine dining.

    *U.S. Census - 2005