Dare County, North Carolina

Dare County
Dare County Administration Building in Manteo
Dare County Administration Building in Manteo
Official seal of Dare County
Map of North Carolina highlighting Dare County
Location within the U.S. state of North Carolina
Map of the United States highlighting North Carolina
North Carolina's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 35°41′N 75°44′W / 35.69°N 75.73°W / 35.69; -75.73
Country  United States
State  North Carolina
Founded 1870
Named for Virginia Dare
Seat Manteo
Largest town Kill Devil Hills
 • Total 1,563 sq mi (4,050 km2)
 • Land 383 sq mi (990 km2)
 • Water 1,179 sq mi (3,050 km2)  75%
 • Estimate 
 • Density 88/sq mi (34/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district 3rd
Website www.darenc.com

Dare County is the easternmost county in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of the 2010 Census, the population was 33,920.[1] Its county seat is Manteo.[2] The county is named after Virginia Dare, the first child born in the Americas to English parents, who was born in what is now Dare County.[3] Founded in 1870 from parts of Tyrrell, Currituck and Hyde counties, it consists of a large segment of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, along with a peninsula of land attached to the mainland. Most of the county consists of a string of resort communities along the Outer Banks. While lightly populated by year-round residents, the population swells during the summer with vacationers.

Dare County is included in the Kill Devil Hills, NC Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the Virginia Beach-Norfolk, VA-NC Combined Statistical Area.

At one time, the now-abandoned town of Buffalo City was the largest community in the county.[4] Because it includes much of Pamlico Sound, Dare County is the largest county in North Carolina by total area, although if one were to consider land area only, it drops down to 68th in size among the state's 100 counties. This is because, according to the Census Bureau's 2010 statistics, only 24.54% of its area is land, the lowest percentage of all counties in the state. Robeson County is the largest county in North Carolina by land area only.


Dare County welcome center

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,563 square miles (4,050 km2), of which 383 square miles (990 km2) is land and 1,179 square miles (3,050 km2) (75%) is water.[5] It is the largest county in North Carolina by area.

Dare County includes the middle part of the Outer Banks and contains Roanoke Island.

National protected areas

Adjacent counties


Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 2,778
1880 3,243 16.7%
1890 3,768 16.2%
1900 4,757 26.2%
1910 4,841 1.8%
1920 5,115 5.7%
1930 5,202 1.7%
1940 6,401 23.0%
1950 5,405 −15.6%
1960 5,935 9.8%
1970 6,995 17.9%
1980 13,377 91.2%
1990 22,746 70.0%
2000 29,959 31.7%
2010 33,920 13.2%
2020 (est.) 37,009 [6] 9.1%
U.S. Decennial Census[7]
1790–1960[8] 1900–1990[9]
1990–2000[10] 2010–2013[1]

As of the census[11] of 2010, there were 33,920 people, 12,690 households, and 8,450 families residing in the county. The population density was 78 people per square mile (30/km2). There were 26,671 housing units at an average density of 70 per square mile (27/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 92.3% White, 2.5% Black or African American, 0.4% Native American, 0.6% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 2.4% from other races, and 1.8% from two or more races. 6.5% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 12,690 households, out of which 27.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.0% were married couples living together, 8.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.4% were non-families. 25.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.34 and the average family size was 2.79.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 21.4% under the age of 18, 6.3% from 18 to 24, 30.8% from 25 to 44, 27.7% from 45 to 64, and 13.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 101.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 100.2 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $42,411, and the median income for a family was $49,302. Males had a median income of $31,240 versus $24,318 for females. The per capita income for the county was $23,614. About 5.5% of families and 8.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.9% of those under age 18 and 5.3% of those age 65 or over.


As of 2010, the largest self-reported ancestry groups in Dare County were:[12]

Largest ancestries (2010) Percent
English 22.0%
German 18.4%
Irish 15.3%
"American" 8.7%
Italian 6.2%
Scottish 4.8%
Scots-Irish 4.0%
Polish 3.0%
Dutch 1.8%
Welsh 1.2%


DuckKill Devil HillsKitty HawkManteoNags HeadSouthern ShoresCape Hatteras LighthouseAlligator River National Wildlife RefugeCape Hatteras National SeashorePea Island National Wildlife Refuge
Clickable map of the county. interactive map



  • Atlantic Township
  • Croatan Township
  • East Lake Township
  • Hatteras Township
  • Kinnekeet Township
  • Nags Head Township

Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities


Dare County at present is a strongly Republican county. No Democratic presidential nominee has carried Dare County since Jimmy Carter did so in 1976. Before the 1970s it was a typical “Solid South” Democratic county that did not vote Republican between 1900 and 1952.

Law and government

Dare County is governed by the Dare County Board of Commissioners. Dare County is a part of the Albemarle Commission regional council of governments.


Dare County is home to two popular lighthouses: The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and the Bodie Island Lighthouse. There is also a beacon atop the Wright Brothers Memorial. A third lighthouse was built by the Town of Manteo and dedicated on September 25, 2004. The Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse is an exterior recreation of the 1877 screwpile lighthouse of the same name and is located on the Manteo waterfront. It serves as exhibit space for the N.C. Maritime Museum on Roanoke Island.


Major highways


Dare County Regional Airport, a general aviation airport, is located in Dare County.


Public education is run by Dare County Schools. There are three public high schools/secondary schools with high school components:

College of The Albemarle is the local community college, with a Dare campus in Manteo.[14]

Dare County Library has branches in Manteo, Kill Devil Hills, and Hatteras.[15]

See also

Coordinates: 35°41′N 75°44′W / 35.69°N 75.73°W / 35.69; -75.73


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on June 6, 2011. Retrieved October 19, 2013.
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on 2011-05-31. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  3. ^ "About Dare County". Dare County. Archived from the original on 3 April 2012. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  4. ^ Degregory, Lane (1994-10-02). "Buffalo City". The Virginian-Pilot. Archived from the original on 2008-05-17. Retrieved 2008-05-06.
  5. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Archived from the original on January 12, 2015. Retrieved January 14, 2015.
  6. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved February 11, 2021.
  7. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 14, 2015.
  8. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved January 14, 2015.
  9. ^ Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 14, 2015.
  10. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved January 14, 2015.
  11. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  12. ^ Bureau, U.S. Census. "American FactFinder - Results". factfinder.census.gov. Archived from the original on 2020-02-13. Retrieved 2018-03-15.
  13. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved 2018-03-15.
  14. ^ "Home". College of The Albemarle. Retrieved 2021-04-12. COA – Dare 132 Russell Twiford Rd Manteo, NC 27954
  15. ^ "Home". Dare County Library. Retrieved 2021-04-13.