North Carolina Facts

Michael Bryan

Michael Bryan

Modified: 12 May 2022

North Carolina facts, map

North Carolina is a state that has a lot to offer not only to its residents but also to its tourists. May it be a day at the beach or a trek in the wild, it is undeniably a place that would keep you up all day for an adventure. Wine and craft beer drinkers will also agree that it is a place to be as it is one of the leading producers of wine and craft beer, not to mention it also has the largest concentration of wineries and vineyards. However, North Carolina goes beyond these things because it comprises more wonderful and interesting aspects that a week is not enough to know them all. We could say that it is noteworthy for a person to visit it even once in a lifetime, so in the meantime, just learn more about this state with our 80 North Carolina facts.

  1. Raleigh is the capital of North Carolina.
  2. People call North Carolina Tar Heel State.
  3. Pepsi-Cola was born in this place.
  4. The state ranks 9th in terms of population.
  5. North Carolina has 100 counties.
  1. A lot of astronauts have trained in North Carolina.
  2. Mount Michell stood as the highest point in North Carolina.
  3. The state possesses a lot of unique lakes.
  4. North Carolina is one of the original colonies.
  5. It is home to the tallest dam in the Eastern United States.
  6. A fall line divides the whole state.
  7. The state houses the oldest public university in the United States.
  8. Many dinosaur bones have been excavated by the state.
  9. The Wright Brothers took their first flight in Kitty Hawk.
  10. North Carolina produces more potatoes than other states.
  1. Krispy Kreme originated from North Carolina.
  2. Dellview, North Carolina has more or less than 13 residents.
  3. You can find venus flytraps anywhere in the state.
  4. People in North Carolina are crazy about their barbecue.
  5. The state got its flag in 1861.
Table of Contents

The state flower is the Flowering Dogwood.

The General Assembly has designated the flowering dogwood as the state’s flower on March 15, 1941. You can see four different species of Flowering Dogwood in the state, namely the flowering dogwood, grey dogwood, rough leaf dogwood, and alternate-leaf dogwood. The flower is a state symbol in both North Carolina and Missouri.

Flowering dogwood
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The Longleaf Pine is not the official state tree symbol.

A lot of people have been getting the wrong idea about the state’s official tree symbol. It might be because there are still websites that list it as one of the symbols of the state. Though North Carolina has indeed favored the pine tree as its state symbol, they never specified its exact species. Moreover, the state has an abundance of eight species of pine, namely the Eastern White, Loblolly, Longleaf, Pitch, Pond, Shortleaf, Table Mountain, and Virginia. In connection, the state has decided not to favor one for the expense of the other seven.

The Northern Cardinal is one of the state’s symbols.

The Northern Cardinal is not a stranger in this kind of spotlight. It has been a state symbol for seven states, namely; Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia. Not surprising since this bird has been America’s favorite backyard bird. The cardinal sings nearly year-round with its sweet and distinctive songs.

Muscadine Grape grows as a native plant in North Carolina.

People from Roanoke Island have been cultivating this grapevine for a very long time. The Muscadine juice is rich in antioxidants and also used as an ingredient for health formulas. Moreover, Muscadine Grapes are very popular for making wine, jellies, and juices. North Carolina has about 1,000 to 1,200 acres of Muscadines. You can find wineries and vineyards throughout the state.

Western North Carolina holds a large number of waterfalls.

You can find a large number of waterfalls in Western North Carolina. It is near Ashville and in the high County. The waterfalls in Western North Carolina are so big that most of them are 80-feet high. You will find approximately 250 waterfalls within the 381-mile of Transylvania County. You can also find the Whitewater Falls in Jackson County falling more than 800 feet.

Image source: Pxfuel

100,000 Native Americans still live in North Carolina.

North Carolina is home to eight state-recognized tribes, namely the Haliwa-Saponi, the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, the Meherrin, the Sappony, the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation, and the Waccamaw Siouan. You won’t find any other state east of the Mississippi River with an even larger Native American population, making it the 8th largest in the whole of United States.

Raleigh is not the first Capital of North Carolina.

Well, no one could argue that today’s permanent capital of North Carolina is Raleigh. However, did you know that Bath served as the first nominal capital and New Bern became the first permanent capital in 1743? Raleigh finally became a permanent capital once and for all during its establishment in 1792.

Another North Carolina first is the Carolina Gold Rush.

A 12-year old boy found a large gold nugget in North Carolina in 1799. He showed the 17 lbs gold nugget to his father but many were not aware of the value of gold back then, so it was used as a door stopper for many years in their household. The boy’s father, John Reed later showed it to a jeweler who at first glance, recognized it as gold and offered to buy it in 1802. This started the Carolina Gold Rush that made all landowners mine their properties for gold.

Hiram Rhodes Revels was from Fayetteville.

Hiram Rhodes Revels became the first African-American who represented Mississippi in the United States Congress. He was born in Fayetteville in 1822. Revels took the vacant seat in the United States Senate in 1870. His admission in the Senate has marked the declaration that all men are created equal. During his younger years, it was still illegal for colored children to get an education but he took the opportunity to learn from a free black woman and worked as a barber for a few years.

North Carolina’s darkest events took place on November 10, 1898.

The event that happened was generally one of the darkest times in North Carolina. An armed mob of White supremacists initiated a riot and insurrection in Wilmington that killed 60 to 300 plus people. The riot also destroyed a lot of black-owned property throughout the city, which resulted in many Black Americans moving out from the violent reach of the Whites.

The Wright Brothers successfully flew their aircraft near Kitty Hawk.

The Wright Brothers, namely Orville and Wilbur, have successfully flew the first self-propelled aircraft near Kitty Hawk on December 17, 1903. They made the first brief flights, making them the first people who invented the successful airplane. To honor their life-changing contribution to human civilization, the Wright Brothers National Memorial celebrates its First Flight every December.

The Wright Brothers, first flight
Image source: Flickr

Salem joined the adjacent town of Winston and now known as Winston-Salem.

The town of Salem and the city of Winston merged on May 13, 1913. The merging of the two different backgrounds, Salem and Winston created Winston-Salem as it is now. People also call it the Twin City for its dual-sided custom, and the City of Arts and Innovation, for its undying loyalty to artistic expression and technological advancement research.

Chimney Rock is older than Blowing Rock in terms of the tourist attraction business.

Chimney Rock is older than Blowing Rock in terms of the oldest tourist attraction business. The 535-year old monolith is considered one of the most iconic sites in North Carolina. Blowing Rock offers a scenic and beautiful view of the mountains in the state. These two beautiful tourist attractions have been welcoming tourists from all around the world.

An artist couple placed Seagrove Pottery on the map.

Jacques and Juliana Busbee only came to Seagrove to find the person who created their orange pie dish, but they also discovered an entire community of talented potters who they would then bring out to the world. They opened Jugtown Pottery nearby, while Julianna opened up a shop in New York, as well, featuring the pottery native in Seagrove.

The Reynolds Building in Winston-Salem was the Empire State Building’s prototype.

The Reynolds Building in Winston-Salem was constructed in 1929, but did you know that it had been the prototype of the Empire State Building? Actually, there are two ancestral art deco buildings, namely Reynolds Building in North Carolina and the Carew Tower in Cincinnati. The Empire State Building’s General Manager sent a card that read, “Happy Anniversary, Dad” to the Reynolds Building on its 50th anniversary in 1979.

Fontana Dam has submerged towns.

The construction of the Fontana Dam in Grahan and Swain was completed in 1944. It became the tallest dam in the Eastern US at 480 ft. The dam and associated infrastructure were included on the National Register of Historic Places in 2017. The project caused the submersion of towns, which forced people to abandon their homes for safety.

Research Triangle Park is the largest research park in the US.

The Research Triangle Park (RTP) has more than three hundred leading companies in tech, health, research, and many other sectors. Currently, RTP is the largest research park in the country. The park was established near the capital city of North Carolina which is Raleigh. It is also near Durham and Chapel Hill. The entire Triangle region has 7,000 acres and was founded in 1959.

Research Triangle Park
Image source: Flickr

The North Carolina Zoo opened in 1974.

The North Carolina Zoo is located in Asheboro, within a wooded 2,600 acres of land, 75 miles west of Raleigh, North Carolina. The zoo is part of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources and has 1,800 animals from more than 250 species from Africa and North America. The North Carolina Zoo is globally known to be the largest natural habitat zoo.

Beech Mountain became the highest elevated mountain town in the US.

Both locals and tourists have been coming to Beech Mountain for many years to relax and enjoy skiing. It became the highest elevated mountain town in the country at 5,506 feet above sea level. Some people would visit the Land of Oz for years before its incorporation in 1981. The amusement park opens for special events every year.

North Carolina earned two professional sports teams.

The Panthers and the Hurricanes are the only two professional major teams competing for the same state, but in different metropolitan areas. The National Football League’s expansion, Carolina Panthers, started playing in Charlotte in 1995, while NHL’s Hartford Whalers moved to Raleigh and changed their name to Carolina Hurricanes in 1997.

The state leads the nation in a variety of industries.

North Carolina is leading in a lot of different industries. For agriculture, its farmers produce the largest quantity of sweet potatoes in the country. They also ranked third as strawberry producers. Moreover, the state’s aerospace and defense industries are also stronger here due to their history of being the first in flight. You could also say that their Automotive and Machinery, Biotech and Pharmacy, Business and Financial Services, Food Processing and Manufacturing, Information Technology, Plastics and Chemicals, Textiles, and Tourism are leading industries in the state.

North Carolina also champions the furniture-making industry.

The state is also second to one in terms of furniture making. People are recognizing North Carolina as the Furniture Capital of the world. It is also home to High Point Market, the largest furnishing trade show in the world. There are over 860 establishments with more than 36,000 furniture manufacturing workers in North Carolina.

North Carolina also has the highest concentration of breweries per capita in the South.

North Carolina houses more than 300 craft breweries and brewpubs. The state boasts the largest number of craft breweries and brewpubs in the South. If you’re an enthusiast of craft beer, then visiting the state in April is fitting since it’s Beer Month. In a study done by SmartAsset, Asheville ranks third out of 50, while Wilmington sits in at 14 in cities with the most breweries.

Ashe County is the largest producing county when it comes to Christmas trees.

Christmas trees are must-haves during the holidays. At this time, people are starting to look for suitable trees to bring home and decorate with family members. Ashe County has always been the largest producer of Christmas trees. The people here grow them on farms nearby Boone and throughout the state.

The White House Christmas trees are Fur Fraser Firs common in the state.

Fur Fraser Firs are undoubtedly the best trees to make Christmas trees from. The White House Christmas trees usually featured by media are usually made from said firs. People followed the trend, thus, making fir one of the most popular species. North Carolina has an abundance of Fur Fraser Firs. It’s no wonder why the state has so many wonderful Christmas light displays.

Fur Fraser Firs, Christmas tree production
Image source: Flickr

RAD now houses more than 150 artists in 19 buildings.

A lot of industries struggle to survive in North Carolina. As one industry goes away, another one usually comes along. Ashvilles’ River Arts District (RAD) had the same case. It was formerly a collection of industrial buildings, but a flood led to its abandonment. Now, RAD is a home for more than 150 artists in 19 buildings.

North Carolina gave birth to a lot of musicians.

North Carolina takes pride in producing musicians who take their talent to both national and international stages. These include Earl Scruggs, John Coltrane, Nina Simone, Doc Watson, Thelonius Monk, James Taylor; as well as George Clinton, Tori Amos, Scott and Seth Avett, and Jay Cole. The Moogseum and Moog Factory in Asheville signifies the legacy of Moog, as he spent some of his years in the same town.

The state is home to a lot of actors and actresses.

Famous people attract attention from fans and paparazzi. If you are looking for a chance to spot them in public, then North Carolina is the place to go. There are an eclectic bunch of actors and actresses from North Carolina, including Pam Grier, Andy Griffith, Soupy Sales, Ava Gardner, Julianne Moore, Zach Galifianakis, and Evan Rachel Wood.

It produced some famous authors, too.

Some famous authors from North Carolina are Thomas Wolfe, Sarah Desson, and William Sydney Porter (O. Henry). Nicholas Sparks, Maya Angelou, and David Sedaris have spent large portions of their lives in the state, as well. It would not be a surprise for book readers to get an accurate description of North Carolina when reading some of the literature pieces from these authors.

North Carolina produced a lot of basketball stars.

The state has Charlotte Smith, James Worthy, Chris Paul, and Bob McAdoo. Imagine having them playing in your neighborhood, that could save you a lot of money from buying expensive tickets just to see them blazing the court. In addition, Stephen Curry was brought up and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina.

North Carolina is home to some big names in sports.

The state is not only creating a lot of basketball stars. It has also produced and is currently producing other big names in sports, including the Negro leagues’ Buck Leonard and MLB’s Catfish Hunter, the NFL’s Dwight Clark and Sonny Jergonsen, Charles Sifford (instrumental in desegregating the PGA), the USMNT’s Eddie Pope, and the iconic voice of Howard Cosell.

People are into outdoor activities.

There are many ways to enjoy North Carolina. You can rappel down a rushing waterfall with Green River adventures, catch fat trouts along the Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail, and be pumped with adrenaline rush while climbing sheer cliffs at Hanging Rock State Park.

Giant sharks reside here during prehistoric times.

Megalodons were the first inhabitants of North Carolina, since half of the state was underwater. They were colossal sea predators that lived 23 to 3.6 million years ago. The prehistoric Megalodon teeth are very famous but rare sightings. However, Wrightsville in North Carolina is said to be a hotspot for these ancient teeth. The place has been featured by the media many times since the discovery of a lot of almost fist-sized teeth from the giant aquatic predator.

Megalodon teeth, ancient shark teeth
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Global warming is already affecting North Carolina.

Global warming is now showing its harrowing effects on the environment of North Carolina. The state’s coast was noted to have risen 11 inches in 1950. This process is pacing up and the sea is now rising by more than one inch every two years. If people will keep on ignoring these warnings, then it would be possible for a part of the state to be submerged in water soon.

Piedmont Region of North Carolina cultivates tobacco.

If you are a hardcore tobacco lover, then visiting the Piedmont Region of North Carolina is a must as it has tobacco as its main crop. The region was supposed to consist of mountain ranges, however, they eroded. In addition, the state ranks first in tobacco production in the United States of America.

Visitors are frequently coming in for the Outer Banks.

North Carolina has a collection of sand bars from Northern Beaches, Roanoke Island and Dare Mainland, and Hatteras, that connect through a series of bridges, creating three different exciting vacation spots. Tourists enjoy them since they offer different geographical features, history, and cultures.

Charlotte City ranks first in population.

Charlotte City contains most of the population in North Carolina. The city was hailed as the fastest-growing metro area, having 880,000 new residents between 2004-2014. The residents are referred to as Charlotteans. It is located in the Piedmont Region. Surprisingly, the six most populated cities in the state are all situated in this region.

The sweet potato is the official state vegetable of North Carolina.

The Native Americans in the Tar Heel State have been cultivating sweet potatoes long before the Europeans’ arrival. The cultivation of sweet potatoes has led the state to become its number one producer throughout the country. People usually consume sweet potatoes as it is, or as an ingredient for a lot of dishes.

The most iconic food in North Carolina is the Krispy Kreme doughnut.

Krispy Kreme doughnut originated in the state. Vernon Rudolph from North Carolina opened his first store in Old Salem in 1937, and the craze for doughnuts started. Rudolph bought the recipe from a New Orleans chef who rented a place in Salem and started selling a variety of goods. But did you know that Krispy Kreme is rapidly expanding outside America? Yes, most of their stores are located outside the US.

Krispy Kreme store, North Carolina facts
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Cheerwine originated in North Carolina.

L.D. Peeler created the Cheerwine in Salisbury in 1917 amid the sugar shortage North Carolina experienced. He met a salesman from St. Louis who offered him a wild cherry that goes well with other flavors. When the taste was secured, he named the drink Cheerwine as it has a burgundy-red color and it will give you a cheery disposition.

The official fruit of North Carolina is the scuppernong.

The scuppernong is the oldest variety of muscadine grape. It was selected from the wild, along the Scuppernong River in North Carolina. This variety stands out from others because it’s a bronze or green fruit, compared to the normal black color. The scuppernong also has larger berries than most of the native muscadine grapes.

The state is the 10th largest wine producer in the US.

Did you know that the country is the leading producer and exporter of wine in the world? Yes, it is! The top 10 states that have the largest number of wineries in the country are California (4,501 wineries), Oregon (793), Washington (792), New York (403), Texas (352); as well as Virginia (291), Pennsylvania (285), Ohio (254), Michigan (191), and North Carolina (171).

The North Carolina battleship lies permanently on the Cape Fear River at Wilmington.

The U.S.S. North Carolina is sleeping permanently in Wilmington of the Cape Fear River to serve as a memorial and historic site. The public took the effort to save the ship from the scrap head in the 1960s. The said ship weighs 36,000 tons and is 728 feet in length. The retired battleship stood as a commemoration of the heroism of U.S. sailors and soldiers from North Carolina in World War II.

Many American Idol finalists are from North Carolina.

A few ordinary folks from North Carolina have dramatically changed their lives after they made an appearance on the hit reality TV show, American Idol. Musicians like Clay Aiken, Fantasia Barrino, and Chris Daughtry were finalists of the show who are from the Tarheel state. American idol has produced phenomenal singers throughout the country, and North Carolina has more American finalists than any other state.

Asheville is also home to America’s largest mansion.

George Washington Vanderbilt II built the Biltmore Estate in the late 19th century. This estate is so entrancing, people from across the world would come to learn about winemaking and enjoy the gardens around the French chateau-inspired mansion. George Washington Vanderbilt II comes from a prominent family that has businesses related to steamboats, railroads, and other enterprises.

Biltmore Estate, Asheville, North Carolina facts
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Don Clayton created Putt-Putt golf.

Don Clayton who is responsible for the creation of Putt-Putt golf is a North Carolina resident. He built Putt-Putt Golf into an outstanding multimillion-dollar industry, putting 265 courses around the United States and in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Indonesia, Canada, and South Africa. His venture did not stop there. He took the opportunity to build centers with video arcades, bumper boats, batting cages, and go-cart raceways.

North Carolina is home to three U.S. Presidents.

The state is home to three U.S. Presidents, namely Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, and Andrew Johnson. President Andrew Jackson served as the seventh President of the United States and was born at the border of North Carolina-South Carolina. President James K. Polk was elected as the 11th president who served from 1845-1849. He was born in present-day Pineville in Mecklenburg County. Meanwhile, Raleigh-born President Andrew Johnson was elected as the 17th president of the US.

Delview is the state’s smallest municipality.

One of America’s smallest incorporated towns is Delview in North Carolina. There were only 13 residents as of 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Imagine living in a town where you only have, more or less, 13 people. Having 13 people in a town might sound awful, but to some people, it seems to be a wonderful paradise to live in.

North Carolina’s Outer Banks are deadly for sailors.

It’s no wonder why this region was nicknamed the Graveyard of the Atlantic. Sailors lost their lives due to shipwrecks dated 1526 and so on. According to records, there were more than 1,000 sunk vessels in the region during the early 1520s.

outer banks, North Carolina facts
Image source: Publicdomainpictures

Blackbeard haunts Carolina’s coast.

The coast of North Carolina is also a favorite haunting of the infamous pirate, Blackbeard. Pirates were plundering ships and keeping hostages for ransom in the early 1960s. Blackbeard once called Bath, North Carolina his home, despite spending his time here as a fearsome pirate who ransacked and pillaged unsuspecting ships. He was killed by naval forces in a battle off Ocracoke Island in 1718.

Historians have been captivated by the lost English colony of Roanoke Island.

Historians have been curious and captivated by the lost English colony of Roanoke Island for centuries. It was said that Sir Walter Raleigh established the colony in 1587 with a group of 117 men, women, and children. The colony’s governor, John White, made a trip back to England to get supplies, but his return was delayed due to the lack of ships when the country was at war with Spain. Strangely, everyone had mysteriously disappeared when he came back to Roanoke Island three years later.

On average, North Carolina is hit by hurricanes every 3.25 years.

The North Carolina Department of Natural Resources has been tracking tropical storms since 1851, and according to their data, the state has been receiving a total of 84 tropical cyclones, and 52 of them are hurricanes. With that, the state has an average of one hurricane, making its landfall every 3.25 years. However, even the worst of hurricanes haven’t been able to mar the spirit of this fantastic state.

North Carolina has three prominent universities.

The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Duke University, and North Carolina State University are prominent universities of the state. These institutions make up the Research Triangle in the state’s Piedmont region. It is also home to Research Triangle Park built to encourage top students to find local jobs. This research park is one of the largest in the world, boasting companies and institutions, like Cisco, the NIH’s, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and the country’s Environmental Protection Agency.

Tourists love the states’ mountains.

If you’re looking for a new thrilling experience in North Carolina, then you should know that the beach is not the only option for you. You can go ahead and explore the multiple sub-ranges of the Appalachian Mountains, which include the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Great Smoky Mountains stretching across the state’s western region.

north Carolina facts, blue ridge mountains
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Andrew Jackson’s origin is still not clear.

There are a lot of speculations and debates about President Andrew Jackson’s origin. He was reported to have been born somewhere between the North Carolina and South Carolina border in Western, NC. And people are still unsure of the specific location. Well, no matter what his origins were, his service as the seventh president of the United States would always be more important.

The state has an astronaut who has landed on the moon.

One of the many things that the state has to brag about is Charlie Duke. Born native in Charlotte, North Carolina, he is one of the only twelve people who have walked on the moon. He spent 11 days of his life in outer space, and almost 12 hours on the moon. At 85 today, he can still remember his momentous space journey.

Bald Head Island does not allow cars.

If you plan to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, you can go to Bald Head Island. It offers 14 miles of scenic beaches and a complete absence of cars. Tourists can use golf cars, bikes, or walk to explore the wonderful views that the island has to offer, such as the abundant marine life. The island also has the state’s oldest lighthouse named Old Baldy.

North Carolina is home to rare wildlife species.

A lot of people will not believe it if you tell them that white squirrels exist. Bring them to Brevard City, North Carolina, so they can have the most astonishing discovery of their lifetime. Aside from white squirrels, the state is also home to the rare blue ghost fireflies. In comparison to the common firefly, the blue ghost firefly emits a blue hue in the darkness.  The appearance of fireflies signifies how healthy and clean the environment is.

blue ghost fireflies
Image from The Guide WNC

Medoc Vineyard was established in 1835.

The Medoc Vineyard was established in 1835 and was the first commercial winery in North Carolina. The winery is nestled in the foothill of the Blue Ridge Mountains and is visited by thousands of tourists each year. The state currently has over 400 vineyards and 200 commercial wineries. If you are a wine enthusiast then visiting this place would be a dream come true.

Greensboro is the birthplace of the famous Vicks Vapor Rub.

Vicks Vapor Rub has been a common go-to medicine in households because of its effectiveness against clogged nose, cough, congestion, and more. Despite being a household name, a lot of people using it are not aware of its humble origin. Lunsford Richardson concocted the rub as a treatment for his son’s croup in Greensboro, but he later started selling it to the people.