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North Carolina

North Carolina is a southern state in the United States. North Carolina is one of the thirteen colonies that revolted against British rule in the American Revolution. It 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. It was named in honor of King Charles I of England.

The USS North Carolina was named in honor of this state.



Originally inhabited by a number of native tribes, including the Cherokee, North Carolina was the first American territory the English attempted to colonize. Sir Walter Raleigh, for whom the state capital is named, chartered two colonies on the North Carolina 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.

By the late seventeenth century, several permanent settlements had taken hold in the Carolina territory, which encompassed present-day South Carolina and Tennessee as well. In 1712, North Carolina became a separate colony. It reverted to a royal colony seventeen years later. In April 1776, the colony became the first to instruct its delegates to the Continental Congress to vote for independence from the British crown.

On November 21, 1789, North Carolina ratified the Constitution to become the twelfth state in the Union. Between the American Revolutionary War and the American Civil War, North Carolina worked to establish its state and local governments. In 1840, it completed the state capitol building in Raleigh, still standing today. In mid-century the state's rural and commercial areas were further connected by construction of a 129 mile (208 km) wooden plank road, known as a "farmer's railroad," from Fayetteville in the east to Bethania (northwest of Winston-Salem).

In 1860 North Carolina was a slave state with a population of slightly less than 1 million, approximately one-third of whom were enslaved. There were also about 30,000 free blacks residing in the state. Somewhat divided on whether to support the North or the South in the Civil War, North Carolina was the last state to secede from the Union in 1861. Governor Ellis, leader of the state at the war's beginning in 1861, famously declared in response to President Lincoln's call for 75,000 troops to suppress the "rebellion" that "you can get no troops from North Carolina." However, under his leadership and that of his successor, Governor Zebulon Baird Vance of Asheville, elected in 1862, the Tar Heel State did provide 125,000 troops to the Confederacy, more than any other Confederate state. Approximately 40,000 of those troops never returned home, dead of battlefield wounds, disease and privation. Although few major engagements took place in North Carolina itself, her troops served in virtually all the major battles of the Army of Northern Virginia. The largest battle that occurred in North Carolina was at Bentonville, a futile attempt by Confederate Gen. Joseph Johnston to slow Union Gen. Sherman's advance into the Carolinas in the spring of 1865. Gen. Johnston surrendered one of the largest Confederate armies near Durham in late April 1865, weeks after Gen. Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox, but the final surrender in North Carolina came at Waynesville in Western North Carolina in May, when remnants of Thomas' Cherokee Legion laid down their arms.

Over the past century, North Carolina has grown to become a leader in agriculture and industry. The state's industrial output--mainly textiles, chemicals, electrical equipment , paper and paper products --ranked eighth in the nation in the early 1990s. Tobacco, one of North Carolina's earliest sources of revenue, remains vital to the local economy. Recently, technology has become a driving force in the state, especially with the creation of the Research Triangle Park between Raleigh and Durham in the 1950's.

North Carolina has had three constitutions:

  • 1776: This one was ratified December 18, 1776, as the first constitution of the independent state. The Declaration of Rights was ratified the preceding day.
  • 1868: This was framed in accordance with the Reconstruction Acts after North Carolina was readmitted into the Union. It was a major reorganization and modification of the original into fourteen articles.
  • 1971: This is a minor consolidation of the 1868 constitution and subsequent amendments.

Law and Government

The capital of North Carolina is Raleigh and its governor is Mike Easley, a Democrat. Its two U.S. senators are Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr, both Republicans.

Executive branch

The governor, lieutenant governor, and eight elected department heads form the North Carolina Council of State; Ten other department heads appointed by the Governor form the North Carolina Cabinet. The state's current governor is Democrat Mike Easley. See List of North Carolina Governors

Legislative branch

The North Carolina General Assembly consists of two houses, a 50-member Senate and a 120-member House of Representatives. For the 2003-2004 session, the current President Pro Tempore is Democrat Marc Basnight; The House Speaker is Democrat James B. Black. The prior term's power sharing Co-Speaker arrangement is no longer in effect, as the House Democrats won a decided victory and majority of the seats in the 2004 election.

Judicial branch

The Supreme Court of North Carolina is the state's highest appellate court; it numbers seven justices. the North Carolina Court of Appeals is the only intermediate appellate court in the state; it consists of fifteen judges who rule in rotating panels of three.


Main article: Geography of North Carolina

See also List of North Carolina counties; List of cities in North Carolina; List of unincorporated communities in North Carolina.

The State of North Carolina is included between the parallels 34 and 3630' north latitude, and between the meridians 7530' and 8430' west longitude.

A Rainy Day in the Smokies
A Rainy Day in the Smokies

Its western boundary is the crest of the Smoky Mountains, which, with the Blue Ridge, forms a part of the great Appalachian system, extending almost from the mouth of the Saint Lawrence River to the Gulf of Mexico; its eastern is the Atlantic Ocean. Its mean breadth from north to south is about one hundred miles (160 km); its extreme breadth is one hundred and eighty-eight miles (303 km). The extreme length of the State from east to west is five hundred miles (800 km). The area embraced within its boundaries is fifty-two thousand two hundred and eighty-six square miles (135,000 km²).

Major geographic features include the Blue Ridge Mountains in the west, the Piedmont region of the central portion of the state, the Coastal Plain, and Cape Fear, Cape Hatteras, and the Outer Banks off the eastern coast. These regions are roughly divided by their elevation, with the Coastal Plain extending to areas below 400 feet above sea level; the Piedmont encompassing those areas between 400 and 1,500 feet; and the Mountain region referring to areas from 1,500 feet to the highest Appalachian peaks at more than 6,000 feet.


According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the state's 2003 total gross state product was $314 billion. Its 2003 Per Capita Personal Income was $28,071, 38th in the nation. North Carolina's agricultural outputs are poultry and eggs, tobacco, hogs, milk, nursery stock, cattle, and soybeans. Its industrial outputs are tobacco products, textile goods, chemical products, electric equipment, machinery, and tourism. North Carolina is also the largest film making state outside of California. Movie Studios are located in Shelby, Raleigh-Durham, Charlotte, and the most popular, EUE Screen Gems Studios in Wilmington. Some of the film/telelvision credits filmed there include: Dawson's Creek, One Tree Hill, Cape Fear, Maximum Overdrive, and The Crow.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2003, North Carolina's population was estimated at 8,407,248 people.

The racial makeup of the state is:

The 5 largest ancestry groups in North Carolina are African American (21.6%), American (13.9%), English (9.5%), German (9.5%), Irish (7.4%).

6.7% of North Carolina's population were reported as under 5, 24.4% under 18, and 12.0% were 65 or older. Females made up approximately 51% of the population.


The religious affiliations of the citizens of North Carolina are:

  • Protestant 83%
  • Roman Catholic 6%
  • Other Christian 2%
  • Other Religions 1%
  • Non-Religious 5%

The three largest Protestant denominations in North Carolina are: Baptist (47% of the total state population), Methodist (13%), Presbyterian (4%).

Important cities and towns

Small towns/areas with interesting names:


Colleges and universities

Professional sports teams

Miscellaneous information

Also see

External links

Last updated: 10-15-2005 12:54:37
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