Culture of North Carolina

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North Carolina Population Density Map

The Culture of North Carolina is a subculture in the United States. As a coastal state, North Carolina culture has been greatly influenced by the southeastern United States and early settlers from England. More recently, North Carolina has a seen an influx of immigrants from New England as well as Hispanic immigrants. Many of these recent transplants aggregate in one of several urban centers on North Carolina, such as the Research Triangle Park area. Rural North Carolina has a rich culture with roots in colonial and Confederate times. Agriculture is a major component of the economy in rural North Carolina, and thus many local traditions are centered on the lifestyles associated with farming. Some of these traditions are reflected in pop culture in North Carolina, for instance North Carolinians may refer to the state as "the Tar Heel state". This is a point of pride for some local North Carolinians.

Urban Culture

Due to the presence of several dense urban centers in North Carolina, several cities have very distinctive cultures and most have a melting pot of cultures. The Research Triangle Park, also known as RTP, area is chiefly composed of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill with several other smaller cities contributing as well. Those cities include Carrboro, Morrisvile, Cary and Apex. RTP serves as an anchor for many large businesses in the area, which has the effect of attracting many secondary and supporting businesses. This has created a high concentration of educated and affluent homes in and around RTP. This has created demand for independent, unique, and high quality restaurants and night life in the area as well as a high demand for craft beer.

Despite having several urban centers, these cities are smaller than many more well-known metropolitan areas across the United States. So while these urban centers have many similar amenities to larger cities, the options and variability can be limited. Due to this, there is a very high unmet demand for modern urban amenities and entertainment. This unmet demand has led to nearly constant construction and development in areas such as RTP and Charlotte for several decades. These construction projects include planned subdivisions, restaurants, strip malls, highway expansions, new schools, and business parks.

Rural Culture

While there are several dense urban centers across North Carolina, much of North Carolina remains rural. Dense forests cover much of North Carolina as well as reclaimed land used for agricultural purposes. Rural North Carolina tends to lean towards traditional Southern culture. Some common recreational activities in rural North Carolina include horseback riding, swimming in rivers and lakes, target shooting and hunting, riding trails on ATVs and modified trucks (also called off-roading), extensive gardening (many families operate small scale farms). Many rural North Carolinians jokingly refer to themselves as rednecks.


A nationally-famous cuisine from North Carolina is pork barbecue and bacon. In Eastern North Carolina pork barbecue uses a vinegar-based sauce and the "whole hog" is cooked, thus using both white and dark meat. The "capital" of eastern Carolina barbecue is usually considered to be the town of Wilson, near Raleigh. Western North Carolina pork barbecue uses a ketchup and vinegar based sauce and only the pork shoulder (dark meat) is used. The "capital" of western Carolina barbecue is usually considered to be the Piedmont Triad town of Lexington, home of the Lexington Barbecue Festival which brings in over 100,000 visitors each October.


The University of North Carolina system encompasses 16 public universities including North Carolina A&T State University, North Carolina State University, North Carolina Central University, UNC-Pembroke, UNC-Chapel Hill, Elizabeth City State University, East Carolina University, Western Carolina University, Winston-Salem State University, UNC Charlotte, UNC Greensboro, Fayetteville State University and Appalachian State University. Along with its public universities, North Carolina has 58 public community colleges in its community college system. There are also a number of private colleges, for example Duke University in Durham and Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem


North Carolina is home to musicians of various styles, including country, bluegrass, folk, punk, hip-hop and garage rock and, it's own indigenous style of R&B Pop, Carolina Beach Music.


North Carolina is home to professional-level sports teams, including basketball, football, and hockey:

NASCAR racing is also a popular sport in North Carolina. Sprint Cup Series races are frequently held at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, part of the Charlotte Metropolitan Area.

See also