North Carolina was one of the original Thirteen Colonies, originally known as Carolina, and the home of the first English colony in the Americas. On 20 May, 1861, it became the last of the Confederate states to secede from the Union, and was readmitted on 4 July, 1868. It was also the location of the first successful manned powered heavier-than-air flight, by the Wright brothers, at Kill Devil Hills near Kitty Hawk in 1903. Today, it is a fast-growing state with an increasingly diverse economy and population. As of 1 July, 2007, the population estimate is 9,061,032 (a 12% increase since 1 April, 2000).
North Carolina has a wide range of elevations, from sea level on the coast to almost 6,700 feet (2,042 m) in the mountains. The climate in the coastal and Piedmont regions of eastern and central North Carolina is similar to other southern states such as Georgia and South Carolina, while the climate in the western mountains is closer to that found in New England or the upper Midwest. While the coastal plains, especially the tidewater areas, are strongly influenced by the Atlantic Ocean, the western, mountainous part of the state is more than 300 miles (500 km) from the coast, resulting in considerably less maritime influence. As such, the climate of the state ranges from a warm, humid subtropical climate near the coast to a humid continental climate in the mountains. Most of the state falls in the humid subtropical zone.
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 classifies North Carolina as a southern state in the subcategory of being one of the South Atlantic States.
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. The extreme eastern section of the state contains The Outer Banks, a string of sandy, narrow islands which form a barrier between the Atlantic Ocean and inland waterways. 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, melons, and cotton. The coastal plain is North Carolina's most rural section, with few large towns or cities. Agriculture remains an important industry. The major rivers of this section, the Neuse River, Tar River, Pamlico River, and the Cape Fear River, tend to be slow-moving and wide.
The coastal plain transitions to the Piedmont region along the "fall line", a line which marks the elevation at which waterfalls first appear on streams and rivers. The Piedmont region of central North Carolina is the state's most urbanized and densely populated section - all five of the state's largest cities are located in the Piedmont. It consists of gently rolling countryside frequently broken by hills or low mountain ridges. A number of 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 300–400 feet (90–120 m) elevation in the east to over 1,000 feet (300 m) in the west. Due to the rapid population growth of the Piedmont, many of the farms and much of the rural countryside in this region is being replaced by suburbanization - shopping centers, housing developments, and large corporate office parks. Agriculture is steadily declining in importance in this region. The major rivers of the Piedmont, such as the Yadkin and Catawba, tend to be fast-flowing, shallow, and narrow.
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, Great Balsam Mountains, Pisgah Mountains, and the Black Mountains. The Black Mountains are the highest in the Eastern United States, and culminate in Mount Mitchell at 6,684 feet (2,037 m). It is the highest point east of the Mississippi River. Although agriculture remains important, tourism has become the dominant industry in the mountains. One agricultural pursuit which has prospered and grown in recent decades is the growing and selling of Christmas Trees. Due to the higher altitude in the mountains, the climate often differs starkly from the rest of the state. Winters in western North Carolina typically feature significant snowfall and subfreezing temperatures more akin to a midwestern state than a southern one.
North Carolina has 17 major river basins. Five of the state's river basins - the Hiwassee, Little Tennessee, French Broad, Watauga and New - are part of the Mississippi River Basin, which drains to the Gulf of Mexico. All the others flow to the Atlantic Ocean. Of the 17 basins, 11 originate within the state of North Carolina, but only four are contained entirely within the state's borders - the Cape Fear, Neuse, White Oak and Tar-Pamlico.
The coastal plain is influenced by the Atlantic Ocean which keeps temperatures mild in winter and moderate in the summer. Daytime high temperatures on the coast average less than 89 °F (31.6 °C) during the summer. In the winter, the coast has the mildest temperatures in the state, with daytime temperatures rarely dropping below 40 °F (4.4 °C); the average daytime winter temperature in the coastal plain is usually in the mid-60's. Temperatures in the coastal plain rarely drop below freezing even at night. The coastal plain usually receives only one inch (2.5 cm) of snow and/or ice annually, and in some years there may be no snow or ice at all.
The Atlantic Ocean has less influence on the Piedmont region, and as a result the Piedmont has hotter summers and colder winters than the coast. Daytime highs in the Piedmont usually average over 90 °F (32.2 °C) in the summer. While it is not common for temperatures to reach over 100 °F (37.8 °C) in North Carolina, when it happens, the highest temperatures are to be found in the lower areas of the Piedmont, especially around the city of Fayetteville. Additionally, the weaker influence of the Atlantic Ocean means that temperatures in the Piedmont often fluctuate more widely than the coast.
In the winter, the Piedmont is much less mild than the coast, with daytime temperatures that are usually in the mid 50's, and temperatures often drop below freezing at night. The region averages from 3-5 inches of snowfall annually in the Charlotte area to 6-8 inches in the Raleigh-Durham area. The Piedmont is especially notorious for sleet and freezing rain. It can be heavy enough in some storms to snarl traffic and collapse trees and power lines. Annual precipitation and humidity is lower in the Piedmont than either the mountains or the coast, but even at its lowest, the precipitation is a generous 40 in (102 cm) per year.
The Appalachian Mountains are the coolest area of the state, with daytime temperatures averaging in the low 40's and upper 30's for highs in the winter and often falling into the teens (−9 °C) or lower in winter nights. Relatively cool summers have temperatures rarely rising above 80 °F (26.7 °C). Snowfall in the mountains is usually 14–20 in (36–51 cm) per year, but it is often greater in the higher elevations. For example, during the Blizzard of 1993 more than 50 inches (130 cm) of snow fell on Mount Mitchell.
Severe weather is not a rare event in North Carolina. On average, the state receives a direct hit from a hurricane once a decade. Tropical storms arrive every 3 or 4 years. In some years several hurricanes or tropical storms can directly hit the state or brush across the coastal areas. Only Florida and Louisiana are hit by hurricanes more often. On average, North Carolina has 50 days of thunderstorm activity per year, with some storms becoming severe enough to produce hail and damaging winds. Although many people believe that hurricanes only menace coastal areas, the rare hurricane which moves inland quickly enough can cause severe damage. In 1989 Hurricane Hugo caused heavy damage in Charlotte and even as far inland as the Blue Ridge Mountains in the northwestern part of the state. North Carolina averages less than 20 tornadoes per year. Many of these are produced by hurricanes or tropical storms along the coastal plain. Tornadoes from thunderstorms are a risk, especialy in the eastern part of the state. The western piedmont is often protected by the mountains breaking storms up as they try to cross over them. The storms will often reform farther east. Also a weather feature known as cold air damming occurs in the western part of the state . This can also weaken storms but can also lead to major ice events in winter ."
|Monthly normal high and low temperatures (Fahrenheit) for various North Carolina cities.|
Native Americans, The Lost Colony and Permanent Settlement
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, Coharie, and Catawba. 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 Virginia). Raleigh established two colonies on the coast in the late 1580s, both ending in failure. It was the second American territory the British attempted to colonize. 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.
As early as 1650, colonists from the Virginia colony moved into the area of Albemarle Sound. By 1663, Charles II granted a charter to establish a new colony on the North American continent which generally established its borders. He named it Carolina in honor of his father Charles I.  By 1665, a second charter was issued to attempt to resolve territorial questions. In 1710, due to disputes over governance, the Carolina colony began to split into North Carolina and South Carolina. The latter became a crown colony in 1729.
Colonial Period and Revolutionary War
The first permanent European settlers of North Carolina were British colonists who migrated south from Virginia, following a rapid growth of the colony and the subsequent shortage of available farmland. 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. By 1663, this northeastern area of the Province of Carolina, known as the Albemarle Settlements, was undergoing full-scale British settlement. 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. With the exception of the Earl Granville holdings, it became a royal colony seventeen years later.
Differences in the settlement patterns of eastern and western North Carolina, or the Low country and uplands, affected the political, economic, and social life of the state from the eighteenth until the twentieth century. The Tidewater in eastern North Carolina was settled chiefly by immigrants from England and Highland Scotland. The upcountry of western North Carolina was settled chiefly by Scots-Irish and German Protestants, the so-called "cohee". Arriving during the mid-to-late 18th century, the Scots-Irish were the largest immigrant group from the British Isles before the Revolution. During the 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 Scots-Irish and German settlers of western North Carolina tended to favor American independence from Britain.
Most of the English colonists 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 relationships or marriages between free white women and enslaved or free African or African-American men. Many had migrated or were descendants of migrants from colonial Virginia. As the flow of indentured laborers to the colony decreased with improving economic conditions in Great Britain, more slaves were imported and the state's restrictions on slavery hardened. The economy's growth and prosperity was based on slave labor, devoted first 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. The dates of both of these independence-related events are memorialized on the state flag and state seal. Throughout the Revolutionary War, fierce guerilla 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 Pinnacle 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) overwhelmed a force of some 1000 British troops led by Major Patrick Ferguson. Most of the British soldiers in this battle were Carolinians who had remained loyal to the British Crown (they were called "Tories"). The American victory at Kings Mountain gave the advantage to colonists who favored American independence. It prevented the British Army from recruiting new soldiers from the Tories.
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 Cornwallis's base of supply in Charleston, North Carolina. This campaign is known as "The Race to the Dan" or "The Race for the River."
Generals Greene and Cornwallis finally met at the 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 American Army were crippling. Following this "Pyhrric 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's eventual defeat at Yorktown, Virginia later in 1781. The Patriots' victory there guaranteed American independence.
On November 21, 1789, North Carolina became the twelfth state to ratify the Constitution. In 1840, it completed the state capitol building in Raleigh, still standing today. Unlike many other Southern states, North Carolina never developed a dominant slaveholding aristocracy, and middle-class yeomen tended to control the state government. Most of North Carolina's slaveowners and large plantations were located in the eastern Tidewater. Western North Carolinians tended to be non-slaveowning subsistence farmers. In mid-century, the state's rural and commercial areas were connected by the construction of a 129–mile (208 km) wooden plank road, known as a "farmer' railroad," from Fayetteville in the east to Bethania (northwest of Winston-Salem).
On October 25, 1836 construction began on the Wilmington and Raleigh Railroad  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 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. They lived and worked chiefly on plantations in the eastern Tidewater. In addition, 30,463 free people of color lived in the state. They were also concentrated in the eastern coastal plain, especially at port cities such as Wilmington and New Bern where they had access to a variety of jobs. Free African Americans were allowed to vote until 1835, when the state rescinded their suffrage.
In 1860, North Carolina was a slave state, in which about one-third of the population of 992,622 were enslaved African Americans. This was a smaller proportion than many Southern states. In addition, the state had a substantial number of free people of color, just over 30,000. The state did not vote to join the Confederacy until President Abraham Lincoln called on it to invade its sister-state, South Carolina. North Carolina was the site of few battles, but it provided at least 125,000 troops to the Confederacy— far more than any other state. Approximately 40,000 of those troops never returned home, dying of disease, battlefield wounds, and starvation. Elected in 1862, Governor Zebulon Baird Vance tried to maintain state autonomy against Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Richmond.
Even after secession, some North Carolinians refused to support the Confederacy. This was particularly true of non-slave-owning farmers in the state's mountains and western Piedmont region. Some of these farmers remained neutral during the war, while some covertly supported the Union cause during the conflict. Even so, 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. Four regiments from North Carolina served in the western theater in the Army of Tennessee. 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. In April 1865 after losing the Battle of Morrisville, Johnston surrendered to Sherman at Bennett Place, in what is today Durham, North Carolina. This was the last major Confederate Army to surrender. North Carolina's port city of Wilmington was the last Confederate port to fall to the Union. It fell in the spring of 1865 after the nearby Second Battle of Fort Fisher.
The first Confederate soldier to be killed in the Civil War was Private Henry Wyatt, a North Carolinian. He was killed 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."
- The Metrolina: Charlotte-Gastonia-Salisbury, NC-SC - population 2,191,604
- The Triangle: Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, NC- population of 1,565,223
- The Piedmont Triad: Greensboro--Winston-Salem--High Point, NC - population of 1,513,576
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2006, North Carolina has an estimated population of 8,856,505, which is an increase of 184,046, or 2.1%, from the prior year and an increase of 810,014, or 10.0%, since the year 2000. This exceeds the rate of growth for the United States as a whole. The growth comprises a natural increase since the last census of 293,761 people (that is 749,959 births minus 456,198 deaths) and an increase due to net migration of 527,991 people into the state. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 180,986 people. Migration within the country produced a net increase of 347,005 people. Between 2005 and 2006, North Carolina passed New Jersey to become the 10th most populous state. The state's population reported as under 5 years old was 6.7%, 24.4% were under 18, and 12.0% were 65 or older. Females made up approximately 51% of the population.
Racial Makeup and Population Trends
Template:US Demographics In 2007, the U.S. Census estimated that the racial makeup of North Carolina was as follows: 70% White American, 22.3% African-American, 1.2% American Indian, and the remaining 6.5% are Hispanic or Latino (of any race). North Carolina has historically been a rural state, with most of the population living on farms or in small towns. However, over the last 30 years the state has undergone rapid urbanization, and today most of North Carolina's residents live in urban and suburban areas, as is the case in most of the United States. In particular, the cities of Charlotte and Raleigh have become major urban centers, with large, diverse, mainly affluent and rapidly growing populations. Most of this growth in diversity has been fueled by immigrants from Latin America, India, and Southeast Asia. In addition, large numbers of people from the Northeastern United States and Florida have moved to the state in recent years, further swelling the population.
|African||(21.6%) Of Total)||See African American|
|American||(13.9%)||See British American|
|English||(9.5%)||See English American|
|German||(9.5%)||See German American|
|Irish||(7.4%)||See Irish American|
|Scots-Irish||(3.2%)||See Scots-Irish American|
|Italian||(2.3%)||See Italian American|
|Scottish||(2.2%)||See Scottish American|
African Americans make up nearly a quarter of North Carolina's population. The number of middle-class blacks has increased since the 1970s. African Americans are concentrated in the state's eastern Coastal Plain and in parts of the Piedmont Plateau, where they had historically worked and where the most new job opportunities are. African-American communities number by the hundreds in rural counties in the south-central and northeast, and in predominantly black neighborhoods in the cities: Charlotte, Raleigh, Durham, Greensboro, Fayetteville, Wilmington and Winston-Salem.
Free African Americans migrated to frontier areas of North Carolina from Virginia. Detailed family histories of 80% of those counted as "all other free persons" in the 1790-1810 federal census show they were descendants of African Americans free in Virginia during the colonial period. As boundaries were then more permeable, most free African families descended from unions between white women, free or servant, and African men, free, servant or slave. Indians who adopted English customs became part of free African American communities and married into the families. Some of the lighter-skinned descendants formed their own distinct communities, often identifying themselves as Indian or Portugese to escape effects of the color line.
Until the mid-1860s, North Carolina had more small farms and fewer plantations than adjacent South Carolina and Virginia. These "yeoman" farmers were non-slave-holding (or owning few slaves), private land owners of tracts of approximately 500 acres (2 km²) or less. Relatively few blacks live in the state's mountains and rural areas of the western Piedmont. In some mountain counties, the black population has historically numbered in the few dozens at most.
Settled first, the coastal region attracted primarily English immigrants of the early migrations, including indentured servants transported to the colonies and descendants of English who migrated from Virginia. In addition, there were waves of Protestant European immigration, including the peoples of the British isles, French Huguenots,  and Swiss-Germans who settled New Bern. A concentration of Welsh (usually included with others from the British Isles) settled east of present Fayetteville in the 18th century. For a long time the wealthier, educated planters of the coastal region dominated state government.
North Carolinians of Scots-Irish, Scottish and English ancestry are spread across the state. Historically Scots-Irish and Northern English settled mostly in the Piedmont and backcountry. They were the last and most numerous of the immigrant groups from the British Isles before the Revolution, and settled throughout the Appalachian South, where they could continue their own culture. The Scots-Irish were fiercely independent and mostly yeoman farmers.
In the Winston-Salem area, there is a substantial population of ethnic German ancestry descended from the immigration of members of the Protestant Moravian Church from Czechoslovakia area during the mid-18th century.
- The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians were federally recognized in 1868 and received state recognition in 1889. The Eastern Cherokee live in eastern Swain County, as well as Graham and Jackson counties, and have roughly 13,400 enrolled members, most of whom live on a reservation properly called the Qualla Boundary. The Reservation is slightly more than 56,000 acres (230 km²), and is held in trust by the federal government specifically for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
- The Haliwa-Saponi Tribe of Native Americans received state recognition in 1965. The tribe comprises a little more than 3,800 enrolled members who reside in northeastern North Carolina's Halifax and Warren counties.
- The almost 2,000 members of the Waccamaw Siouan Indian Tribe are located in the mid-Atlantic North Carolina counties of Bladen, and Columbus and received state recognition in 1971.
- The Coharie Tribe of Native Americans are located in Sampson and Harnett counties, and have a population of 1,781 enrolled members. The Coharie received state recognition in 1911. North Carolina rescinded recognition in 1913 but reinstated it in 1971.
- The Sappony received state recognition in 1911 and have 850 enrolled members.
- The Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation have a population of 800 members who reside in Orange and Alamance counties and received state recognition in 2002.
- The Meherrin are a tribe of Iroquoian-descent located primarily in rural northeastern Hertford, Bertie, and Gates counties, with a population of 557 enrolled members.
Only five states (California, Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas) have a larger Native American population than North Carolina. The total Native American and Alaska Native population in the United States is 2,824,751, or 0.95% of the total.
- While recognized by the state, the Lumbee tribe has not been fully recognized as an official tribe by the Federal government. There are numerous people in the state who identify themselves as Lumbee, mainly concentrated in the Southeastern portions of the state in Robeson, Scotland, Cumberland and nearby counties. However, researchers have classified Lumbees as a tri-racial isolate group whose ancestors migrated from Virginia as free African Americans. For instance, most of the families from the 1790 census counted as "all other free persons" have been documented as descendants of African Americans who were free in Virginia in the colonial period. 
Since 1990 the state has seen a boom in the number of Hispanics/Latinos. Once chiefly employed as migrant labor, the increase in Hispanics since 1990 can be attributed in part to the ease of access to low-skilled jobs that are the first step on the economic ladder. As a result, growing numbers of Hispanic immigrants are settling in the state, mainly from Mexico, Central America, and the Dominican Republic. Hispanic neighborhoods are found in the cities, and there are sizable populations of Cuban Americans and Puerto Ricans in North Carolina. In 2005, the Pew Hispanic Center estimated that 300,000 — roughly 65 percent of North Carolina’s Latino population — are illegal immigrants, based on the Census Bureau’s population estimates. The population has grown from 77,726 in 1990 to 517,617 in 2005, an average increase of 13.5% per year.
The state has one of the most rapidly growing Asian American, specifically Indian and Vietnamese, populations in the country; the populations nearly quintupled and tripled, respectively, between 1990 and 2002. Recent estimates suggest that the state's Asian American population has increased significantly since 2000. The Hmong population in North Carolina has grown by 12,000 since the 1980s.
The earliest record of Asian immigration in North Carolina goes back to the mid 1800s when the first Chinese Americans were hired as agricultural workers. The famous Chinese-Malay American Siamese twins - Eng and Chang Bunker - settled in Wilkesboro, North Carolina in 1839. Japanese Americans, Filipino Americans, and Koreans arrived in the early and mid 20th century.
North Carolina, like other Southern states, has traditionally been overwhelmingly Protestant. By the late 19th century, the largest Protestant denomination was the Southern Baptists. However, the rapid influx of northerners and immigrants from Latin America is steadily increasing the number of Roman Catholics and Jews in the state, and the numerical dominance of the Baptist Church is beginning to decline.
This change is most evident in the urban areas of the state, where the population is more culturally diverse and the bulk of the recent growth has occurred. However, in many rural counties the Southern Baptists remain the dominant Christian church. The second-largest Protestant church in North Carolina are the Methodists, who are strong in the northern Piedmont, and especially in populous Guilford County. There are also substantial numbers of Quakers in Guilford County, and northeastern North Carolina.
The Presbyterians, historically Scots-Irish, have had a strong presence in Charlotte, the state's largest city, and in Scotland County. The current religious affiliations of the people of North Carolina are shown below:
- Christian – 88%
- Non-Religious – 11% (unaffiliated, atheists, agnostics, and others)
- Other Religions – 1% (Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism)
According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the state's 2006 total gross state product was $375 billion. Its 2005 per capita personal income was $31,029, 36th in the nation. North Carolina's agricultural outputs include poultry and eggs, tobacco, hogs, milk, nursery stock, cattle, sweet potatoes, and soybeans. However, North Carolina has recently been affected by offshoring and industrial growth in countries like China; one in five manufacturing jobs in the state has been lost to overseas competition. There has been a distinct difference in the economic growth of North Carolina's urban and rural areas. While large cities such as Charlotte, Raleigh, Cary, and others have experienced rapid population and economic growth over the last thirty years, many of the state's small towns have suffered from loss of jobs and population. Most of North Carolina's small towns historically developed around textile and furniture factories. As these factories closed and moved to low-wage markets in Asia and Latin America, the small towns that depended upon them have suffered.
Agriculture and Manufacturing
Over the past century, North Carolina has grown to become a national leader in agriculture, financial services, and manufacturing. The state's industrial output—mainly textiles, chemicals, electrical equipment, paper and pulp/paper products—ranked eighth in the nation in the early 1990s. The textile industry, which was once a mainstay of the state's economy, has been steadily losing jobs to producers in Latin America and Asia for the past 25 years, though the state remains the largest textile employer in the United States. Over the past few years, another important Carolina industry, furniture production, has also been hard hit by jobs moving to Asia (especially China). Tobacco, one of North Carolina's earliest sources of revenue, remains vital to the local economy, although concerns about whether the federal government will continue to support subsidies for tobacco farmers has led some growers to switch to other crops like wine or leave farming altogether. North Carolina is the leading producer of tobacco in the country. Agriculture in the western counties of North Carolina (particularly Buncombe and surrounding counties) is presently experiencing a revitalization coupled with a shift to niche marketing, fueled by the growing demand for organic and local products.
Finance, Technology and Research
Charlotte, North Carolina's largest city, continues to experience rapid growth, in large part due to the banking & finance industry. Charlotte is now the second largest banking center in the United States (after New York), and is home to Bank of America and Wachovia. The Charlotte metro area is also home to 5 other Fortune 500 companies.
BB&T (Branch Banking & Trust), one of America's largest banks, was founded in Wilson, NC in 1872. Today, BB&T is headquartered out of Winston-Salem, NC and still does some operations in Wilson.
The information and biotechnology industries have been steadily on the rise since the creation of the Research Triangle Park (RTP) in the 1950s. Located between Raleigh and Durham (mostly in Durham County), its proximity to local research universities has no doubt helped to fuel growth.
The North Carolina Research Campus underway in Kannapolis (approx. 30 miles (48 km) northeast of Charlotte) promises to enrich and bolster the Charlotte area in the same way that RTP changed the Raleigh-Durham region. Encompassing 5,800,000 square feet (540,000 m2), the complex is a collaborative project involving Duke University, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and N.C. State University, along with private and corporate investors and developers. The facility incorporates corporate, academic, commercial and residential space, oriented toward research and development (R&D) and biotechnology. Similarly, in downtown Winston-Salem, the Piedmont Triad Research Park is undergoing an expansion. Approximately thirty miles to the east of Winston Salem's research park, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and North Carolina A&T State University have joined forces to create the Gateway University Research Park, a technology-based research entity which will focus its efforts on areas such as nanotechnology, biotechnology & biochemistry, environmental sciences, and genetics among other science-based disciplines.
Film and the Arts
Film studios are located in Shelby, Raleigh, Durham, Charlotte, Asheville, Wilmington, and Winston-Salem. Some of the best-known films and television shows filmed in the state include: All the Real Girls, Being There, Blue Velvet, Bull Durham, The Color Purple, Cabin Fever, Cape Fear, The Crow, Dawson's Creek, Dirty Dancing, Evil Dead 2, The Fugitive, The Green Mile, Hannibal, The Last of the Mohicans, Nell, One Tree Hill, Patch Adams (film), Shallow Hal, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, and 28 Days. The television show most associated with North Carolina is The Andy Griffith Show, which aired on CBS-TV from 1960 to 1968. The series is set in the fictional small town of Mayberry, North Carolina, and was based on the real-life town of Mount Airy, North Carolina, although it was filmed in California. Mount Airy is the hometown of actor Andy Griffith. The show is still popular in reruns and is frequently shown in syndication around the nation. North Carolina is also home to some of the Southeast's biggest film festivals, including the National Black Theatre Festival and the RiverRun International Film Festival in Winston-Salem, and the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham, North Carolina.
The School of Filmmaking at the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem is a unique arts conservatory that combines rigorous professional training with unparalleled facilities, equipment and resources. All Second, Third and Fourth Year productions are entered into film and video festivals worldwide, and several have won major awards, including the Student Academy Award, the Angelus Award and the Cine Eagle Award. The best Fourth Year productions are also screened on film in front of large industry audiences at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles in June each year. School of the Arts alumni have performed in or behind the scenes of Broadway shows, film, television and regional theatre, and are members of the world’s finest symphony orchestras and opera and dance companies. They have won or been nominated for all of the major awards in the entertainment industry, including Tony, Oscar, Emmy, Grammy and others. Some well-known alumni of the NCSA School of Drama are Jada Pinkett Smith, Mary-Louise Parker, Catherine Dent, and Tom Hulce.
North Carolina personal income tax is slightly progressive, with four incremental brackets ranging from 6.0% to 8.25%. The base state sales tax is 4.25%. Most taxable sales or purchases are subject to the state tax as well as the 2.5% local tax rate levied by all counties, for a combined 6.75%. Mecklenburg County has an additional 0.5% local tax for public transportation, bringing sales taxes there to a total 7.25%. The total local rate of tax in Dare County is 3.5%, producing a combined state and local rate there of 7.75%. In addition, there is a 29.9¢ tax per gallon of gas, a 30¢ tax per pack of cigarettes, a 79¢ tax on wine, and a 48¢ tax on beer. There are also additional taxes levied against food and prepared foods, normally totaling 2% and 8% respectively. The property tax in North Carolina is locally assessed and collected by the counties. The three main elements of the property tax system in North Carolina are real property, motor vehicles and personal property (inventories and household personal property are exempt). Estimated at 10.5% of income, North Carolina’s state/local tax burden percentage ranks 23rd highest nationally (taxpayers pay an average of $3,526 per-capita), just below the national average of 10.6%. North Carolina ranks 40th in the Tax Foundation's State Business Tax Climate Index with neighboring states ranked as follows: Tennessee (18th), Georgia (19th), South Carolina (26th) and Virginia (13th).
International/Major regional airports
- Charlotte/Douglas International Airport (Charlotte)
- Asheville Regional Airport (Asheville)
- Fayetteville Regional Airport (Fayetteville)
- Piedmont Triad International Airport (Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point)
- Pitt-Greenville Airport (Greenville)
- Moore County Airport (Pinehurst/Southern Pines)
- Raleigh-Durham International Airport (Raleigh/Durham)
- Craven County Regional Airport (New Bern)
- Wilmington International Airport (Wilmington)
Several cities are served by mass transit systems. The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) operates historical trolleys, express shuttles and bus service serving Charlotte and its immediate suburbs. In 2007 it opened the LYNX light rail line connecting Charlotte with suburban Pineville.
The Fayetteville Area System of Transit (FAST) serves the city with ten bus routes and two shuttle routes.
Within Raleigh, the Capital Area Transit system operates 27 bus routes. The Triangle Transit Authority operates buses that serve the region and connect to municipal bus systems in Durham and Chapel Hill; efforts for the city of Raleigh to build a light rail from the downtown areas of Raleigh to the downtown area of Durham failed as TTA's projected ridership did not meet federal standards. The Durham Area Transit Authority (DATA) bus system runs within Durham. The Triangle Transit Authority operates buses that serve the region and connect to municipal bus systems in Raleigh and Chapel Hill, which has its own entirely fare-free bus service, Chapel Hill Transit.
Greensboro is serviced by the Greensboro Transit Authority (GTA), which operates 14 bus routes. Additionally, the Higher Education Area Transit (HEAT) system provides service to students who attend the following institutions: Bennett College, Elon University School of Law, Greensboro College, Guilford College, Guilford Technical Community College, North Carolina A&T State University, and The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. The HEAT service provides transportation between campuses and various other destinations, including downtown Greensboro.
Winston-Salem Transit Authority (WSTA) operates 30 bus routes around the city of Winston-Salem; additionally, WSTA recently completed construction of a central downtown mult-modal transportation center with 16 covered bus bays adjacent to a large enclosed lobby/waiting area. There are future plans being discussed for a $52 million streetcar system connecting Piedmont Triad Research Park/Downtown with Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.
Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation (PART) is the Triad's 10-county regional organization with the goal of enhancing all forms of transportation through regional cooperation. PART Express Bus provides express shuttle service to each major Triad city from Piedmont Triad International Airport, while Connections Express connects the Triad to Duke and UNC Medical Centers. PART is also administering and developing several rail service studies that include both commuter and intercity rail.
Wilmington's Wave Transit operates six bus lines within the city as well as five shuttles to nearby areas and a downtown trolley.
The North Carolina Highway System consists of a vast network of Interstate highways, U.S. routes, and state routes. North Carolina has the largest state maintained highway network in the United States . Major highways include:
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