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Dare County, North Carolina facts for kids

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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.
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 98.8/sq mi (38.1/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district 3rd

Dare County is the easternmost county in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of the 2020 Census, the population was 36,915. Its county seat is Manteo. Dare County is named after Virginia Dare, the first child born in the Americas to English parents, who was born within the county's current borders. 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. 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.


Welcome to Dare County marlin - Stierch
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. It is the largest county in North Carolina by area.

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

Adjacent counties

National protected areas


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 36,915 8.8%
2021 (est.) 37,826 11.5%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790–1960 1900–1990
1990–2000 2010–2013

2020 census

Dare County racial composition
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 31,921 86.47%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 678 1.84%
Native American 99 0.27%
Asian 260 0.7%
Pacific Islander 10 0.03%
Other/Mixed 1,393 3.77%
Hispanic or Latino 2,554 6.92%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 36,915 people, 15,529 households, and 10,281 families residing in the county.

2010 census

As of the census 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:

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%


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

  • US 64
  • US 158
  • US 264
  • NC 12


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


Map of Dare County North Carolina With Municipal and Township Labels
Map of Dare County, North Carolina With Municipal and Township Labels



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

Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities


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

  • Cape Hatteras Secondary School
  • First Flight High School
  • Manteo High School

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

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

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Condado de Dare para niños

National Hispanic Heritage Month on Kiddle
Hispanic astronauts
Ellen Ochoa
Michael López-Alegría
Franklin Chang-Díaz
Serena Auñón-Chancellor
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