What time is it in North Carolina? (and 20 other internet questions about the Tar Heel State)

People on the internet have lots of questions about North Carolina.

Some are serious. Some are silly.

But we were always taught there is "no such thing as a stupid question." Any question asked deserves some kind of answer.

And who better to answer than us?

We know lots of things about North Carolina. It seemed irresponsible to just stand by while thousands of people continued to live their lives in the dark.

So we decided to do something about it.

We picked some of the most searched questions about North Carolina (as determined by search engine analyzer ahrefs.com) and answered them to the best of our ability. 

Hopefully this will help close those frustrating gaps in your North Carolina knowledge and, in some small way, enlighten and brighten the day of inquisitive internet browsers all over the world.


1. What time is it in North Carolina?

That’s a tricky question. It's not exactly difficult because there are clocks everywhere. I hardly have to move my eyes to answer this question right now.

But my “right now” is not the same as your “right now.” It all depends on where you are and WHEN you are.

Sound complicated? It is. But we can't get into explaining "the continued sequence of existence and events that occurs in an apparently irreversible succession from the past, through the present, into the future."

Just understand that time is always moving. You can’t stop it, slow it or send it in reverse.

Albert Einstein once said that “Time is an illusion.”

Bob Dylan sang “The Times They are a Changin’.”

And Pericles, a celebrated general from Ancient Greece called time “the wisest counselor of all.”

But none of that really answers your question, so here is a widget that should clear things up...


NCQs-Time Zone-1

2. What time zone is North Carolina?

North Carolina is in the Eastern Time Zone.

Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) is the easternmost time zone in the United States. It covers all or parts of 23 states in the US and is also used in the Caribbean.

EDT is 4 hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). UTC is the primary time standard by which the world regulates clocks and time. Time zones around the world are expressed using positive or negative offsets from UTC.

We call it Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November during Daylight Saving Time (DST). The rest of the year, it’s called Eastern Standard Time (EST).


3. How many people live in North Carolina?

The North Carolina population according to the April 2020 Census is 10,439,388.

That number is up 9.5% from the 2010 Census.

If you ranked all fifty states by population, North Carolina would sit at number 9 (just above Michigan and just below Georgia).

If you want to compare North Carolina with the rest of the world? We have twice the population of Ireland and New Zealand.

The state is home to over a million more people than Switzerland and Austria.

And North Carolinians outnumber Hungarians, the Portuguese and the Swedes. 


4. What is the capital of North Carolina?

Bath was the first capital of the province of North Carolina from 1705 until 1722.

Edenton took over from 1722 to 1743, and then it was New Bern’s turn.

But the British laid siege to New Bern in 1781. Fayetteville filled in for a few years before North Carolina leaders finally decided on a replacement.

Raleigh was chosen as the new capital in 1788 and officially incorporated in 1792.

That was probably more information than you wanted or needed.

Here’s the short answer to your question: the capital of North Carolina is Raleigh.

5. What is North Carolina known for?

The easy answer would be beaches, barbecue and basketball.

The more difficult answer would require an extensive survey of the state to compile a complete list of North Carolina’s most significant historical, cultural, academic, agricultural, athletic, commercial, industrial and technological contributions.

But that seems like an awful lot of work.

So we’ll just stick with our first answer.

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6. Who founded North Carolina?

That’s another tricky question.

Technically, the Native Americans were here first. According to Wikipedia, “Historically documented tribes in the North Carolina region include the Carolina Algonquian-speaking tribes of the coastal areas, such as the Chowanoke, Roanoke, Pamlico, Machapunga, Coree, and Cape Fear Indians, who were the first encountered by the English; the Iroquoian-speaking Meherrin, Cherokee, and Tuscarora of the interior; and Southeastern Siouan tribes, such as the Cheraw, Waxhaw, Saponi, Waccamaw, and Catawba of the Piedmont.”

But the earliest European expedition was most likely by Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano in 1524. He made landfall at Cape Fear and ventured north up the Outer Banks. Verrazzano mistook the Pamlico and Albemarle sounds for the Pacific Ocean.

He thought he’d found a shortcut to China, but he was only off by 3000 miles.

Spanish explorers Hernando de Soto and Captain Juan Pardo arrived in the late 16th century. They made attempts to claim the area for Spain but failed.

Eventually Queen Elizabeth I granted a charter to Sir Walter Raleigh to set up two colonies on the North Carolina coast in the late 1580s. Those didn’t end well.

You could say that the Carolina Province, which included North and South Carolina, was officially founded in 1663 when King Charles II gave the Province to eight Lord Proprietors: John Berkeley, Sir William Berkeley, George Carteret, John Colleton, Anthony Ashley Cooper, William Craven, Edward Hyde and George Monck.

NCQs-Taco Bell

7. What is the minimum wage in North Carolina?

The minimum wage in North Carolina is currently $7.25 an hour.

According to the North Carolina Department of Labor (NCDOL): “Employers doing business in North Carolina are required to pay at least $7.25 per hour to all employees (agricultural and domestic employees are subject to the federal minimum wage).”

The NCDOL also states that “The $7.25 per hour state minimum wage also applies to the state of North Carolina, to county and local governments and to instrumentalities of government.”


8. How far away is North Carolina?

Well, that all depends where you are right now.

If you’re at the oceanfront in Virginia Beach, Virginia, the state line is about a 45-minute drive.

From downtown Los Angeles, California, you’re looking at 2,200 miles. That will set you back about 32 hours in a car with no stops and zero traffic.

Instead of computing all of the possibilities for every location on the planet, it would be much easier to point you to Google Maps.

Click on the map or enter your starting point and then enter ‘North Carolina’ as your destination. The computer will do all the math.

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9. What is the state dog of North Carolina?

North Carolina is one of only thirteen states to recognize an official state dog breed.

The Plott Hound became the official state dog of North Carolina on August 12, 1989.

The American Kennel Club describes the dog as “a hound with a curious name and a unique history… a rugged, relentless hunting dog who is a mellow gentleman at home but fearless, implacable, and bold at work.”

NCQs-NC basketball

10. What was the score of the North Carolina game?

Again, this is one of those questions that just depends on which game you’re talking about.

If you are looking for the results of a historic game, they don’t come any bigger than the 1982 NCAA Championship.

The University of North Carolina Tar Heels topped the Georgetown Hoyas 63-62. It was a classic matchup featuring rookie Patrick Ewing playing for Georgetown against fellow future-superstars Michael Jordan and James Worthy.

But if you’re Googling, you probably want the LATEST score.

First, you need to be clear about which sport you’re talking about. It would be easy to assume you mean the University of North Carolina men’s basketball team, but you could be talking about any of the UNC teams.

You might be referring to the Carolina Panthers, the NFL football franchise that kicked off in 1995.

There’s also the Carolina Hurricanes of the National Hockey League and professional soccer club, North Carolina FC.

For all we know, you might be asking about the Burlington Sock Puppets baseball team.

So the best way to get the right answer to your question is to be more specific.

11. How many square miles in North Carolina?

The area of North Carolina is 53,819 square miles.

That makes it the 28th largest state in the union.

About 9.5% of North Carolina’s area is water.

And the state boasts roughly 322 miles of ocean shoreline.

12. How many Walmarts are in North Carolina?

According to the Walmart website, there are 192 stores in North Carolina. 

That works out to around one Walmart for every 54,372 people.

If the average Walmart store is 180,000 square feet, that works out to roughly 34.5 million square feet of Walmart in North Carolina.  


13. What is the state bird of North Carolina?

North Carolina’s state bird is the Cardinal.

The NC General Assembly made it official in 1943.

According to the NCPedia: “The North Carolina Bird Club initiated the campaign to choose a bird as a state symbol, publicizing the campaign through newspapers, local birding and wildlife clubs, and schools. More than 23,000 votes were cast, and twenty-six different avian candidates were suggested, including, among others, the red-winged blackbird, the wild turkey, the scarlet tanager, and the catbird. The cardinal received a plurality of 5000 votes, with the dove coming in second with 3395.”

But the Tar Heel State doesn’t have dibs on the brilliant red bird.

Virginia adopted the cardinal as its state bird in 1950.

We also share it with Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia.

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14. What is the state fish of North Carolina?

In 1971, the NC General Assembly named Red Drum the state fish of North Carolina.

Also known as redfish, spottail, red bass, and channel bass, the Red Drum is a saltwater fish found in the southern Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico.

Red Drum get their name from their color and the distinctive, drum-like sound made by spawning males.

The lifespan of a red drum can exceed 40 years and they spend most of that time in nearshore waters and estuaries.

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15. Where to live in North Carolina?

It depends. Do you want mountain views, city life or beach living? Are you looking for high-tech jobs, college towns or retirement communities?

The good news is that North Carolina has a little bit of everything. The bad news is that, eventually, you’ll have to make a choice.

If you’re looking for incredible quality of life in one of the most beautiful places on the planet, I recommend this place.

Otherwise, for a more balanced and unbiased opinion, here are some lists from national media outlets and websites...


16. What is the state mammal of North Carolina?

The State Mammal of NC is the Eastern Gray Squirrel.

The NC General Assembly bestowed the honor on the rodent in 1969.

How did they choose the bushy-tailed rascal? Rep. Basil Barr of Ashe County conducted a survey of schoolchildren to make the decision. In later interviews, he referred to the squirrel as “courageous and thrifty.”

Gray squirrels are scatter-hoarders who hoard huge quantities of food and can make several thousand caches per season. They can be found in all 100 counties in North Carolina.

The eastern gray squirrel is one of very few mammalian species that can descend a tree head-first. It does this by turning its feet so the claws of its hind paws are backward-pointing and can grip the tree bark.

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17. What is the North Carolina sales tax?

The North Carolina state sales tax is 4.75%.

But keep in mind that depending on local municipalities, the total tax rate can be as high as 7.5%.

County and local taxes in most areas bring the sales tax rate to 6.75%–7%, but some can be as high as 7.5%.

The current sales tax rate in Currituck County is 6.75%.

The two counties with the highest sales tax rate (7.5%) are Durham County and Orange County.

NC Counties Image

18. How many counties are in North Carolina?

There are 100 counties in North Carolina.

Because we love to make the Top 10, North Carolina ranks as the state with the 8th most counties in the United States.

We have a long way to go to catch up to the 254 counties in Texas. But if we put our mind to it, we could probably move up a few notches past Illinois (102) and Kansas (105).

Check out this guide for information on every one of the NC counties.

19. Why is North Carolina called the tarheel state?

We thought you’d never ask.

Note: The popular search uses the term “tarheel” as one word, but the correct spelling is “Tar Heel.” Two words. Two capital letters.

The best answer comes straight from the source. We go back once again to the University of North Carolina, which adopted the nickname for its sports teams starting way back in the 1880s.

According to the UNC Alumni site: “The origins of the Tar Heel nickname trace back to North Carolina's prominence in the mid 18th and 19th centuries as a producer of turpentine, tar, pitch, and other materials from the state's plentiful pine trees.”

“‘Tar Heel’ (and a related version, ‘Rosin Heel’) was often applied to the poor white laborers who worked to produce tar, pitch, and turpentine. The nickname was embraced by North Carolina soldiers during the Civil War and grew in popularity as a nickname for the state and its citizens following the war.”


20. How is the weather in North Carolina?

It depends where you are in North Carolina.

It can get cold out west in the mountains. Here on the coast, we deal with seasonal changes brought on by the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf Stream. Sometimes that means hurricanes and tropical storms.

Officially, most of the state has a humid subtropical climate, except in the higher elevations of the Appalachians which have a subtropical highland climate.

Most winters, you’ll find snow in the mountains. The NC average is about 5 inches every year. Spring and summer can bring thunderstorms.

But nothing beats a sunny summer day on the coast.

If you want to know what kind of weather you’re missing in Currituck County and the Outer Banks, click here.

Otherwise, here is some information about the entire state.


21. What to do in North Carolina?

Again, asking incredibly broad questions makes it hard to give a specific answer.

There are countless things to do in North Carolina.

You could charter a boat and go fishing off the Outer Banks.

You could go for a ride in a monster truck with Gravedigger legend Dennis Anderson.

You could visit a giant chest of drawers in High Point.

You could tour an incredible mansion in Asheville.

Or you could sit around on the beach and do nothing, which has its own unique benefits.

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