North Carolina is the 28th largest and 9th most populous of the United States. It is situated along the eastern coast, having borders with South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia. Nicknamed the 'Old North State' and 'Tar Heel State', North Carolina has a large variety of landscapes, including coastal plains to the east and mountainous area to the west. The state covers an area of 53,819 square miles and is made up of 100 counties.

The economy of North Carolina is particularly diverse, with the state leading the way in sectors like banking, tobacco, textiles, and furniture production. The capital city of North Carolina is Raleigh, while its largest city is Charlotte. Here are some additional details and overviews of the biggest cities in North Carolina.


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Located in Mecklenburg County in the south-central part of North Carolina, Charlotte is the state's most populous city. It's also the 17th most populous city in the entire United States. Charlotte has an estimated population of around 859,000 people, with 2.4 million living in the surrounding metropolitan area.

The Greater Charlotte metropolitan area is the 22nd largest in the United States. As the largest city in North Carolina, Charlotte covers an area of 305.4 square miles. It is nicknamed 'Queen City' or 'QC' due to the fact that it was named after a German Princess named Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, who later become Queen Consort of Great Britain. The city is well-known for being home to successful sporting teams and being one of the biggest banking centers in the nation.

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Raleigh is the capital city of North Carolina and is situated in Wake County, in the central part of the state. Raleigh has an estimated population of around 464,000 people, with over 1.3 million living in the surrounding metropolitan area. This large North Carolina city covers an area of 144.8 square miles.

Raleigh has earned the nickname 'City of Oaks' due to the fact that hundreds of oak trees can be found all around the city, and it was named after Sir Walter Raleigh, the English writer and explorer. The city is home to the famous Research Triangle Park, which is the biggest research park on the planet, along with North Carolina State University. Statistically, Raleigh is one of the fastest growing cities in all of the United States.

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Situated in Guilford County in the Piedmont region, which is in the central part of North Carolina, Greensboro is the third largest city in the state. Greensboro has an estimated population of around 287,000 people, with over 720,000 living in the surrounding metropolitan area. This city was established back in 1808 and has grown over the years to cover an area of 131.8 square miles.

Greensboro is nicknamed 'Tournament Town' due to the fact that it hosts a large amount of sporting tournaments each year, particularly at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex. It is also known as 'Gate City' due to its status as a key transportation hub. The city's name was originally spelled Greensborough and was named after Major General Nathanael Greene, an officer in the American Revolutionary War.

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Located in Durham County in the northern central part of North Carolina, Durham is the fourth largest city in the state. This city has an estimated population of around 263,000 people, with over 540,000 living in the surrounding metropolitan area. Durham covers an area of 108.3 square miles and was named after Bartlett S. Durham, an American doctor and entrepreneur who donated the land on which the city was built.

Durham is part of the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill Combined Statistical Area and has close links with the North Carolina capital. The city is home to two key educational institutions in the form of Duke University and North Carolina Central University, and Durham is also part of the Research Triangle zone.

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Situated in Forsyth County in the northern central part of the state, Winston-Salem is the fifth biggest city in North Carolina. This city has an estimated population of 242,000 people, with over 667,000 in the surrounding metropolitan area.

As the name suggests, Winston-Salem was formed by the conjunction of two towns. Salem was founded first, in 1753, and a northern section of the town's land was eventually sold off in the mid-1800s and made into a new town called Winston. Since the two towns were so closely connected, people began referring to the area as Winston-Salem. The city is classed as a great place to retire and ranks high for quality of life.

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Largest Cities in North Carolina

  • Charlotte, Photo: Kevin Ruck/
  • Raleigh, Photo: Mark/
  • Greensboro, Photo: SeanPavonePhoto/
  • Durham, Photo: SeanPavonePhoto/
  • Winston-Salem, Photo: jonbilous/
  • Cover Photo: Courtesy of Kevin -