North Carolina, USA: The Tarheel and Soul Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

North Carolina, USA: The Tarheel and Soul

1 Conversation

A photograph of the Cape Hatteras lighthouse, North Carolina, USA.

North Carolina is a state located in southeastern United States, bordering Virginia, South Carolina and Tennessee. Its citizens are quite multi-talented, the average hitchhiker touring can see science in action in Research Triangle Park, mining in the Appalachians and, in the Outer Banks, quaint drinking villages with a fishing problem. NC also happens to be the furniture and golf capital of the US. So, take a seat on your NC hardwood rocking chair, and join your fellow researchers as they take you on a virtual tour of the Old North State!

NC at a Glance

The population is 9,656,401 as of July 2011. The demographics are 65.5% white people, 21.5% African American people, 8.6% people of Hispanic or Latino origin, 2.3% Asians, 1.5% Native Americans, 0.1% Pacific Islander and 0.5% identifying as multi-racial. The population density is 179 per square mile.

  • State motto: Esse quam videri1
  • Capital: Raleigh
  • Largest City: Charlotte
  • Nicknames: Tar Heel State, Old North State
  • Area: 53,819 sq miles
  • State Bird: Cardinal
  • State Tree: Pine
  • State Flower: Dogwood
  • Song: The Old North State
  • Colors: Red and Blue


A canopy of tree overtakes the state, a lush green through land and aerial view. You get the best of both worlds in North Carolina, ocean to the east and mountains to the west. Its area is split into three regions: the Mountains, Piedmont and the Coastal Plain.

  • Mountains

    The mountains of North Carolina lie to the west, bordering Tennessee. The Appalachian mountains run through the region, and the Great Smoky Mountain is in the southwestern area. The scenic Blue Ridge Parkway runs throughout the mountains. Mount Mitchell is the highest peak in the state and the country at 6,684 ft. Two-thirds of the land are covered with hardwood trees, and there are 82 mountain peaks in total. The moniker used is 'The Land of Sky' which is also utilized for the regional council of Asheville (the largest city).

  • Piedmont

    The moderately-fertile clay soil of the Piedmont makes it a good area for farmers, potters and the like. Filled with low, rolling hills and plentiful trees, it is the perfect middle ground of this illustrious state. Tobacco is the main crop here, with all orchards and general farming up north. The hubcenter of finance and research, Research Triangle Park, is located here. It encompasses Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. One researcher called it: The silicon valley of North Carolina.

  • Coastal Plain

    As the eastern seaboard, it contains the barrier reef of islands called the Outer Banks. There are many dunes and beach grasses, especially a lot of cute red flowers called Gaillardia. The largest city in the region is Fayetteville, followed by Wilmington and Greenville.

Historical Insight

North Carolina was earlier inhabited by indigenous people, including the Mississippi Indians. The first historical documentation was on the Carolina Algonquians, who, incidentally, many coastal cities were named after. In the 16th Century, many Spanish explorers met Mississippi Indians at their regional chiefdom at Joara (located in present-day Morganton, a city in the Mountain region). The expedition was led by Juan Pardo and it was the first European settlement. The Cherokee lived in western North Carolina, and had contact with the English settlers.

In 1584, Sir Walter Raleigh (namesake of the capital) was given a charter by Queen Elizabeth I to set up a colony in present day North Carolina (right in Roanoke). He tried and failed twice. Finally, on his third attempt, he managed to establish a colony. Raleigh went back to England to get supplies, but when he returned the colonists were gone, leaving only the symbol 'Croatoan'. This is history's mystery.

Subsequently, King Charles I founded a colony off the Albemarle, and named it Carolina after himself. It was later split into North and South in 1691, because of their differences in communication and transport. The split was finalized in 1712. A rebellion caused South Carolina to change its governor, but North Carolina's remained unchanged. North Carolina ratified the constitution on 21 November, 1789.

During the American Civil War, North Carolina had a myriad of contradictions. The majority voted for John Breckingridge, who was pro-expansionist slavery. The Coastal Plain had many plantations and slaves, while western North Carolina remained untouched with no plantations and minimal slaves. There was subtle rebellion from the Confederacy, like draft-dodging and tax evasion, but when Fort Sumter and Upper Virginia were attacked, NC voted in favor of undoing what brought them into the US, instead of simply seceding. North Carolina sent the most troops out of all Confederate states. It also sent eight regiments into the Union, four white and four African American. There were over 40,000 casualties.

The airplane was invented by the Wright Brothers (Orville and Wilbur) and first flown on 17 December, 1903. They were inspired by a toy helicopter their father had brought for them from his travels. The flights were done in Kitty Hawk2 on the beach and in Jockey's Ridge (an extremely windy sand dune. How appropriate). The education system began to improve under the governance of Charles Aycock, they were building a school every day. A major road-building initiative was also carried out in the 1920s, when the automobile was popularized. North Carolina's third state constitution was ratified in 1971. They granted the government veto power over most legislation. As the economy and population has grown, the main industries are finance and research, especially in the metropolitan areas of the Piedmont, in Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham and Greensboro.

Carolinian Culture

North Carolina has a thriving jazz community, notable artists include John Coltrane, Nina Simone, Billy Taylor and Lou Donaldson. Old-time music is popular, especially in the mountains, usually accompanied by a fiddle and a folk song. The Carolina Shag is the state dance of Carolina, it was inspired by the Big Band era and is often performed at the beach. In Durham, there is an Indie band called the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Clogging is highly popular, stemming from the Irish immigrants. North Carolina is the home state for more American Idol finalists than any other state.

Local Attractions

Don't pass by these fascinating and memorable destinations when visiting North Carolina!

Duke University: North Carolina's Ivy League University, located in Durham, the City of Medicine. This University has a charm like no other: Going to the Sarah P Duke gardens, marveling at the Duke Chapel architecture and catching lunch at the Bryan Center, all in a day's work. Revolutionary research is being accomplished, along with its world-renowned healthcare.

Museum of Life and Science: As you walk in, a rocket proudly stands, a symbol of humankind's space exploration. When you walk inside, you can try spinning a gigantic globe (and get really dizzy). Aliens will find the smoking pillars extremely amusing (you had to be there). Read about the machines through the ages or speak to a curator about the gigantic snake she has around her neck. You can even try encasing yourself in a bubble (don't float away)! It's a wondrous center of knowledge and exploration in Durham!

North Carolina Nature Center: Newly opened in Raleigh, this combines state-of-the-art research facilities with hands-on science! You can watch a heart surgery in action, and step inside a submarine to explore the treasures of the sea. Upstairs is an area where you can use interactive computers to identify and discover new information about wildlife. You can observe snakes and other invertebrates in cages and in person! Stop at the Daily Planet Café for a bite to eat (their four-cheese grilled cheese3 is out of this galaxy)!

SouthPoint Mall: Whether you're window shopping, trying to score a great buy, or simply relaxing on a bench, SouthPoint Mall has a little something for everyone. Its variety of stores will be a treat to the savvy shopper, or if you prefer, you can spend personal time with your favorite restaurants and shops. The streets produce a village-like ambiance, in the midst of hot deals, you always have space to breathe.

Cape Hatteras: This lighthouse is the tallest in the state, nation and second in the world, at 200 feet. First built in 1803, it was destroyed during the Civil War, rebuilt, then moved to its current location in Buxton. The lighthouse proudly stands, guiding ships away from the shallow Diamond Shoals, often called the Graveyard of the Atlantic, due to its propensity for shipwrecks.

Morehead Planetarium: Filled with mind-boggling visuals, this showcases the wonders of the galaxy for less than 20$ a day. You can see spacey shows from Tuesday to Saturday, and be amazed at the wonders of the universe. Located in the idyllic atmosphere of Chapel Hill, this is guaranteed to provide an out-of-this-world experience. Don't forget your towel!

Biltmore Estate: Deep in the mountains of Asheville, there's a magnificent mansion called Biltmore. Built in 1889, the stupendous architecture from the Gilded Age, along with the priceless heirlooms from the Vanderbilt family, are sure to wow any historically-inclined hitchhikers.

Notable North Carolinians

  • James K Polk: 11th President of the USA
  • Andy Griffith: actor and director
  • Clay Aiken: pop singer
  • Edward R Murrow: legendary journalist of CBS
  • O Henry: author who wrote prolific short stories such as The Gift of the Magi
  • Michael Jordan: retired NBA basketball player
  • Caleb Bradham: inventor of Pepsi Cola

North Carolina is a rustic beauty, a vibrant metropolis, and a southern haven. The author of this article is proud to call this state her birthplace and home.

1First in Flight.2Located in the Coastal Plain, near Outer Banks.3A sandwich.

Bookmark on your Personal Space

Edited Entry


Infinite Improbability Drive

Infinite Improbability Drive

Read a random Edited Entry

Categorised In:

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more