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New Hanover County, North Carolina facts for kids

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New Hanover County
New Hanover County Courthouse in Wilmington
Official seal of New Hanover County
Map of North Carolina highlighting New Hanover 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.
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Country  United States
State  North Carolina
Founded 1739
Named for House of Hanover
Seat Wilmington
Largest city Wilmington
 • Total 328 sq mi (850 km2)
 • Land 192 sq mi (500 km2)
 • Water 137 sq mi (350 km2)  42%%
 • Estimate 
 • Density 1,058/sq mi (408/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district 7th
W. Allen Cobb Judicial Annex, Wilmington, NC IMG 4367
Next to the county courthouse in Wilmington is the W. Allen Cobb Judicial Annex.
Carolina Beach in New Hanover County, NC IMG 4435
The surf at Carolina Beach in New Hanover County

New Hanover County is one of 100 counties located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of the 2010 census, the population was 202,667. Though the second-smallest county in land area, it is one of the most populous, as its county seat, Wilmington, is one of the state's largest cities. The county was created in 1729 as New Hanover Precinct and gained county status in 1739. New Hanover County is included in the Wilmington, NC Metropolitan Statistical Area, which also includes neighboring Pender County.


The county was formed in 1729 as New Hanover Precinct of Bath County, from Craven Precinct. It was named for the House of Hanover, a German noble family which was then ruling Great Britain.

In 1734 parts of New Hanover Precinct became Bladen Precinct and Onslow Precinct. With the abolition of Bath County in 1739, all of its constituent precincts became counties.

In 1750 the northern part of New Hanover County became Duplin County. In 1764 another part of New Hanover County was combined with part of Bladen County to form Brunswick County. Finally, in 1875 the separation of northern New Hanover County to form Pender County reduced it to its present dimensions.

Alfred Eichberg designed the New Hanover County Courthouse.

Some of the closing battles of the American Civil War happened in the county with the Second Battle of Fort Fisher (the last major coastal stronghold of the Confederacy) and the Battle of Wilmington. The Wilmington Insurrection of 1898 and its establishment of Jim Crow laws closed out the 19th-Century with civil rights injustices which would last until the Civil Rights Movement through the second half of the 20th century, three generations later. The insurrection was planned by a group of nine conspirators which included Hugh MacRae. He later donated land to New Hanover County for a park which was named for him. In the park still stands a plaque in his honor that does not mention his role in the 1898 insurrection.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 328 square miles (850 km2), of which 192 square miles (500 km2) is land and 137 square miles (350 km2) (42%) is water. It is the second-smallest county in North Carolina by land area (behind only Chowan County).


Adjacent counties

Major highways

  • I-40
  • I-140
  • US 17

  • US 17 Bus.
  • US 74
  • US 76
  • US 117
  • US 421

  • US 421 Truck
  • NC 132
  • NC 133


Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 6,837
1800 7,060 3.3%
1810 11,465 62.4%
1820 10,866 −5.2%
1830 10,959 0.9%
1840 13,312 21.5%
1850 17,668 32.7%
1860 21,715 22.9%
1870 27,978 28.8%
1880 21,376 −23.6%
1890 24,026 12.4%
1900 25,785 7.3%
1910 32,037 24.2%
1920 40,620 26.8%
1930 43,010 5.9%
1940 47,935 11.5%
1950 63,272 32.0%
1960 71,742 13.4%
1970 82,996 15.7%
1980 103,471 24.7%
1990 120,284 16.2%
2000 160,307 33.3%
2010 202,667 26.4%
2019 (est.) 234,473 15.7%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2013

As of the census of 2000, there were 160,307 people, 68,183 households, and 41,591 families residing in the county. The population density was 806 people per square mile (311/km2). There were 79,616 housing units at an average density of 400 per square mile (155/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 79.91% White, 16.97% Black or African American, 0.39% Native American, 0.83% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.79% from other races, and 1.05% from two or more races. 2.04% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 14.3% were of English, 13.0% United States or American, 10.6% German and 10.2% Irish ancestry according to Census 2000.

There were 68,183 households, out of which 26.10% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.50% were married couples living together, 11.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.00% were non-families. 28.90% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size were 2.29 and the average family size was 2.83.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 21.00% under the age of 18, 12.00% from 18 to 24, 30.50% from 25 to 44, 23.70% from 45 to 64, and 12.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 93.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.70 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $40,172, and the median income for a family was $50,861. Males had a median income of $35,801 versus $25,305 for females. The per capita income for the county was $23,123. About 8.30% of families and 13.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.70% of those under age 18 and 9.00% of those age 65 or over.


Map of New Hanover County North Carolina With Municipal and Township Labels
Map of New Hanover County, North Carolina With Municipal and Township Labels




  • Cape Fear
  • Federal Point
  • Harnett
  • Masonboro
  • Wilmington

Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities


The county is served by New Hanover County Schools.

Notable residents

  • New Hanover is the home county of:
  • Famous basketball star Michael Jordan,
  • Reuben the Bulldogsimple:Wilmington, North Carolina
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