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Coordinates: 35°53′N 78°47′W / 35.88°N 78.79°W / 35.88; -78.79

A map of Research Triangle, North Carolina, featuring the locations of North Carolina State University, Duke University, and The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Location of the Raleigh–Durham–Cary–Chapel Hill CSA and its components:      Durham–Chapel Hill Metropolitan Statistical Area      Raleigh–Cary Metropolitan Statistical Area      Dunn Micropolitan Statistical Area      Henderson Micropolitan Statistical Area      Oxford Micropolitan Statistical Area      Sanford Micropolitan Statistical Area

The Research Triangle, commonly referred to as simply The Triangle, is a region in the Piedmont of North Carolina in the United States, anchored by North Carolina State University, Duke University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the cities of Raleigh and Durham and the town of Chapel Hill. The eight-county region, officially named the Raleigh–Durham–Chapel Hill combined statistical area (CSA), comprises the Raleigh and Durham–Chapel Hill metropolitan areas and the Dunn, Henderson, Oxford, and Sanford Micropolitan Statistical Areas. A 2013 Census estimate put the population at 2,037,430, making it the second largest metropolitan area in the state of North Carolina behind Charlotte. The Raleigh–Durham television market includes a broader 24-county area which includes Fayetteville, and has a population of 2,726,000 persons.

The "Triangle" name was cemented in the public consciousness in the 1950s with the creation of Research Triangle Park, home to numerous high-tech companies and enterprises. Although the name is now used to refer to the geographic region, "the Triangle" originally referred to the universities, whose research facilities, and the educated workforce they provide, have historically served as a major attraction for businesses located in the region. The region should not be confused with The Triad, which is a North Carolina region adjacent to and directly west of the Triangle comprising Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and High Point, among other cities.

Most of the Triangle is part of North Carolina's second, fourth, and thirteenth congressional districts.


Research-Triangle 2014
Counties contained in the Research Triangle.     Three core counties: Wake, Durham, Orange      Additional counties included in Raleigh–Durham–Cary-Chapel Hill Combined Statistical Area, per the U.S. Census Bureau      Other counties sometimes included in the Research Triangle descriptions

Depending on which definition of the Research Triangle region is used, as few as three or as many as 16 counties are included as part of the region. All of these counties when included hold a population over 2,167,000 people.

* – Most restrictive definition, comprising the three core counties of Wake, Durham and Orange
‡ – U.S. Census Bureau definition, taken from the counties included in the Raleigh–Durham–Cary–Chapel Hill Combined Statistical Area
¶ – Most liberal definition of the Research Triangle region, as defined by the Research Triangle Regional Partnership

Raleigh–Durham–Cary-Chapel Hill Combined Statistical Area Population (Census Estimates 2015) 2,211,022

County 2015 Estimate 2010 Census Change
Chatham County 70,928 63,505 &10000000000000011688843+11.69%
Durham County 300,952 267,587 &10000000000000012468841+12.47%
Franklin County 63,710 60,619 &10000000000000005099061+5.10%
Granville County 58,674 59,916 Template:Number table sorting/negative−2.07%
Harnett County 128,140 114,678 &10000000000000011738956+11.74%
Johnston County 185,660 168,878 &10000000000000009937351+9.94%
Lee County 59,660 57,866 &10000000000000003100266+3.10%
Nash County 93,919 95,840 Template:Number table sorting/negative−2.00%
Orange County 141,354 133,801 &10000000000000005644950+5.64%
Person County 39,259 39,464 Template:Number table sorting/negative−0.52%
Vance County 44,568 45,422 Template:Number table sorting/negative−1.88%
Wake County 1,024,198 900,993 &10000000000000013674357+13.67%
Total 2,211,022 2,008,569 &10000000000000010079464+10.08%

Historical populations

Historical population
Census Pop.
1970 446,074
1980 560,774 25.7%
1990 735,480 31.2%
2000 1,187,941 61.5%
2010 1,912,729 61.0%
Est. 2015 2,211,022 15.6%


Raleigh, the growing capital of North Carolina.
Downtown Durham
Downtown Durham, North Carolina.

The Triangle region, as defined for statistical purposes as the Raleigh–Durham–Chapel Hill CSA, comprises eight counties, although the U.S. Census Bureau divided the region into two metropolitan statistical areas and one micropolitan area in 2003. The Raleigh metropolitan area comprises Wake, Nash, Franklin, and Johnston Counties; the Durham-Chapel Hill metropolitan area comprises Durham, Orange, Chatham, and Person Counties; and the Dunn micropolitan area comprises Harnett County. Some area television stations define the region as Raleigh–Durham–Fayetteville. Fayetteville, North Carolina, is over 50 miles (80 km) from Raleigh, but is part of the Triangle television market.

Primary municipalities

Suburbs with more than 10,000 inhabitants

Suburbs with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants

Nearby cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants

Nearby cities with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants


Freeways and primary designated routes

2008-07-25 I-85 from Davis Dr in RTP
2008-07-23 Morning Durham from Fayetteville St over NC 147
The Durham Freeway

The Triangle proper is served by two major interstate highways: I-40 and I-85, their spurs: I-440 and I-540, and seven U.S. Routes: 1, 15, 64, 70, 264, 401, and 501. US Highways 15 and 501 are multiplexed through much of the region as US 15-501. I-95 passes 30 miles east of Raleigh through Johnston County, with a spur route, I-495, connecting I-95 at Rocky Mount, NC to Raleigh via the US 64-264 Bypass.

The two interstates diverge from one another in Orange County, with I-85 heading northeast through northern Durham County toward Virginia, while I-40 travels southeast through southern Durham, through the center of the region, and serves as the primary freeway through Raleigh. The related loop freeways I-440 and I-540 are primarily located in Wake County around Raleigh. I-440 begins at the interchange of US 1 and I-40 southwest of downtown Raleigh and arcs as a multiplex with US 1 northward around downtown with the formal designation as the Cliff Benson/Raleigh Beltline (cosigned with US 1 on three-fourths of its northern route) and ends at its junction with I-40 in southeast Raleigh. I-540, sometimes known as the Raleigh Outer Loop, extends from the US 64-264 Bypass to I-40 just inside Durham County, where it continues across the interstate as a state route (NC 540), prior to its becoming a toll road from the NC 54 interchange to the current terminus at NC Highway 55 near Holly Springs. I-95 serves the extreme eastern edge of the region, crossing north-south through suburban Johnston County.

U.S. Routes 1, 15, and 64 primarily serve the region as limited-access freeways or multilane highways with access roads. US 1 enters the region from the southwest as the Claude E. Pope Memorial Highway and travels through suburban Apex where it merges with US 64 and continues northeast through Cary. The two highways are codesignated for about 2 miles (3.2 km) until US 1 joins I-440 and US 64 with I-40 along the Raleigh–Cary border. Capital Boulevard, which is designated US 1 for half of its route and US 401 the other is not a limited-access freeway, although it is a major thoroughfare through northeast Raleigh and into the northern downtown area.

North Carolina Highway 147 is a limited-access freeway that connects I-85 with Toll Route NC 540 in northwestern Wake County. The older, toll-free portion of the four-lane route—known as the Durham Freeway or the I.L. "Buck" Dean Expressway—traverses downtown Durham and extends through Research Triangle Park to I-40. The Durham Freeway is often used as a detour or alternate route for I-40 through southwestern Durham the Chapel Hill area in cases of traffic accident, congestion or road construction delays. The tolled portion of NC 147, called the Triangle Expressway—North Carolina's first modern toll road when it opened to traffic in late 2011—continues past I-40 to Toll NC 540. Both Toll NC 147 and Toll NC 540 are modern facilities which collect tolls using transponders and license plate photo-capture technology.

Public transit

2008-07-05 TTA bus 713 at DATA terminal
Triangle Transit bus
2008-07-11 Chapel Hill bus passing South Building
Chapel Hill Transit bus

A partnering system of multiple public transportation agencies currently serves the Triangle region under the joint GoTransit branding. Raleigh is served by the Capital Area Transit (CAT) municipal transit system, while Durham has the Durham Area Transit Authority (DATA) system. Chapel Hill is served by Chapel Hill Transit, and Cary is served by C-Tran public transit systems. However, Triangle Transit, formerly called the Triangle Transit Authority (TTA), works in cooperation with all area transit systems by offering transfers between its own routes and those of the other systems. Triangle Transit also coordinates an extensive vanpool and rideshare program that serves the region's larger employers and commute destinations.

Plans have been made to merge all of the area's municipal systems into Triangle Transit, and Triangle Transit also has proposed a regional rail system to connect downtown Durham, downtown Cary and downtown Raleigh with multiple suburban stops, as well as stops in the Research Triangle Park area. The agency's initial proposal was effectively cancelled in 2006, however, when the agency could not procure adequate federal funding. A committee of local business, transportation and government leaders currently are working with Triangle Transit to develop a new transit blueprint for the region, with various modes of rail transit, as well as bus rapid transit, open as options for consideration.


Raleigh–Durham International Airport (RDU)


2008-07-30 RDU welcome sign
RDU welcome sign
American Airlines Boeing 777 touches down at RDU
2008-07-30 Southwest Boeing 737 RDU 23R Final
Southwest Airlines jet landing at RDU

The General Assembly of North Carolina chartered the Raleigh–Durham Aeronautical Authority in 1939, which was changed in 1945 to the Raleigh–Durham Airport Authority. The first new terminal opened in 1955. Terminal A (now Terminal 1) opened in 1981. American Airlines began service to RDU in 1985.

RDU opened the 10,000-foot (3,000 m) runway, 5L-23R, in 1986. American Airlines opened its north-south hub operation at RDU in the new Terminal C in June 1987, greatly increasing the size of RDU's operations with a new terminal including a new apron and runway. American brought RDU its first international flights to Bermuda, Cancun, Paris and London.

In 1996, American Airlines ceased its hub operations at RDU due to Pan Am and Eastern Airlines. Pan Am and Eastern were Miami's main tenants until 1991, when both carriers went bankrupt. Their hubs at MIA were taken over by United Airlines and American Airlines. This created a difficulty in competing with US Airways' hub in Charlotte and Delta Air Lines' hub in Atlanta, Georgia for passengers traveling between smaller cities in the North and South. Midway Airlines entered the market, starting service in 1995 with the then somewhat novel concept of 50-seat Canadair Regional Jets providing service from its RDU hub primarily along the East Coast. Midway, originally incorporated in Chicago, had some success after moving its operations to the midpoint of the eastern United States at RDU and its headquarters to Morrisville, NC. The carrier ultimately could not overcome three weighty challenges: the arrival of Southwest Airlines, the refusal of American Airlines to renew the frequent flyer affiliation it had with Midway (thus dispatching numerous higher fare-paying businesspeople to airlines with better reward destinations), and the significant blow of September 11, 2001. Midway Airlines filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy on August 13, 2001, and ceased operations entirely on October 30, 2003.

In February 2000, RDU was ranked as the nation's second fastest-growing major airport in the United States, by Airports Council International, based on 1999 statistics. Passenger growth hit 24% over the previous year, ranking RDU second only to Washington Dulles International Airport. RDU opened Terminal A south concourse for use by Northwest and Continental Airlines in 2001. The addition added 46,000 square feet (4,300 m2) and five aircraft gates to the terminal. Terminal A became designated as Terminal 1 on October 26, 2008. In 2003, RDU also dedicated a new general aviation terminal. RDU continues to keep pace with its growth by redeveloping Terminal C into a new state-of-the-art terminal, now known as Terminal 2, which opened in October 2008.

Carriers at RDU International Airport:

Public general-aviation airports

In addition to RDU, several smaller publicly owned general-aviation airports also operate in the metropolitan region:

20080618 Horace Williams Airport IGX
Horace Williams Airport in Chapel Hill

Private airfields

Several licensed private general-aviation and agricultural airfields are located in the region's suburban areas and nearby rural communities:

2008-08-24 Lake Ridge Aero Park Airport Rwy 14
Lake Ridge Airport (8NC8) in Durham
  • Bagwell Airport (FAA LID: NC99), Garner
  • Ball Airport (FAA LID: 79NC), Louisburg
  • Barclaysville Field Airport (FAA LID: NC44), Angier
  • Brooks Field Airport (FAA LID: 8NC6), Siler City
  • CAG Farms Airport (FAA LID: 87NC), Angier
  • Charles Field Airport (FAA LID: NC22), Dunn
  • Cox Airport (FAA LID: NC81), Apex
  • Crooked Creek Airport (FAA LID: 7NC5), Bunn
  • Dead Dog Airport (FAA LID: 8NC4), Pittsboro
  • Deck Airpark Airport (FAA LID: NC11), Apex
  • Dutchy Airport (FAA LID: 5NC5), Chapel Hill
  • Eagle's Landing Airport (FAA LID: 9NC8), Pittsboro
  • Field of Dreams Airport (FAA LID: 51NC), Zebulon
  • Fuquay/Angier Field Airport (FAA LID: 78NC), Fuquay-Varina
  • Hinton Field Airport (FAA LID: NC72), Princeton
  • Kenly Airport (FAA LID: 7NC3), Kenly
  • Lake Ridge Aero Park Airport (FAA LID: 8NC8), Durham
  • Miles Airport (FAA LID: NC34), Chapel Hill
  • North Raleigh Airport (FAA LID: 00NC), Louisburg
  • Peacock Stolport Airport (FAA LID: 4NC7), Garner
  • Raleigh East Airport (FAA LID: 9NC0), Knightdale
  • Riley Field Airport (FAA LID: 1NC5), Bunn
  • Ron's Field Ultralight Airport (FAA LID: 1NC1), Pittsboro
  • Triple W Airport (ICAO: K5W5FAA LID: 5W5), Raleigh
  • Womble Field Airport (FAA LID: 3NC9), Chapel Hill


These licensed heliports serve the Research Triangle region:

2004-02-02 Duke Life Flight helicopter N109DU
NC92 helipad at Duke University Medical Center
  • Betsy Johnson Memorial Hospital Heliport (FAA LID: NC96), Dunn—publicly owned; medical service
  • Duke University North Heliport (ICAO: NC92FAA LID: NC92), Durham—privately owned; public medical service
  • Garner Road Heliport (FAA LID: 3NC2), Raleigh—publicly owned; state government service
  • Holly Green Heliport (FAA LID: 83NC), Durham—private
  • Sky-5 Heliport (FAA LID: 2NC3), Raleigh—private, owned by Sky-5 Inc. (WRAL-TV)
  • Sprint MidAtlantic Telecom Heliport (FAA LID: 11NC), Youngsville—private; corporate service
  • Wake Medical Center Heliport (FAA LID: 0NC4), Raleigh—publicly owned; medical service
  • Western Wake Medical Center Heliport (FAA LID: 04NC), Cary—publicly owned; medical service

A number of helipads (i.e. marked landing sites not classified under the FAA LID system) also serve a variety of additional medical facilities (such as UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill), as well as private, corporate and governmental interests, throughout the region.


Amtrak serves the region with the Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Palmetto, Carolinian, and Piedmont routes.

Station\Route Silver Meteor Silver Star Palmetto Carolinian Piedmont
Rocky Mount (RMT) X X X X
Wilson (WLN) X X
Selma (SSM) X X
Fayetteville (FAY) X X
Southern Pines (SOP) X
Raleigh (RGH) X X X
Cary (CYN) X X X
Durham (DNC) X X

Although still in the planning and evaluation phases as of the end of 2014, the SEHSR (Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor) project is expected to serve the area.


Greater Raleigh metropolitan area, North Carolina museums
Museum name Image City Type Notes
Ackland Art Museum Ackland Art Museum.jpg Chapel Hill Art
Artspace Raleigh Art
Ayr Mount Ayr Mount, Saint Mary's Road, Hillsborough (Orange County, North Carolina).jpg Hillsborough History
Bennett Place State Historic Site Durham History
Carolina Basketball Museum Chapel Hill Sports
Carolina Tiger Rescue Pittsboro Science
Contemporary Art Museum of Raleigh
Contemporary Art Museum, Raleigh
Raleigh Art
Duke Homestead Durham History
Joel Lane Museum House Raleigh History
Kidzu Children's Museum Kidzulogo.png Chapel Hill Children
Legends of Harley Drag Racing Museum Raleigh Sports
Marbles Kids Museum Marbles-Kids-Museum-20080321.jpeg Raleigh Children formerly Exploris
Meredith College Galleries Raleigh Art
Mordecai Mansion Historic Mordecai House-Raleigh-NC-13 Sept 2010.jpeg Raleigh History
Morehead Planetarium and Science Center Morehead-Planetarium-at-UNC.jpg Chapel Hill Science home to astronaut training for years
Museum of Life and Science NCMLS logo.gif Durham Science includes small outdoor zoo
North Carolina Museum of Art West Building Entrance Canopy.jpg Raleigh Art expanded in 2010
North Carolina Museum of History North-Carolina-Museum-of-History-20080321.jpeg Raleigh History also home to North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame
North Carolina Museum of Natural Science North-Carolina-Museum-of-Natural-Sciences-20070321.jpeg Raleigh Science annual BugFest and Astronomy Days
Raleigh City Museum Raleigh History
North Carolina State Capitol North Carolina State Capitol, Raleigh.jpg Raleigh History
North Carolina State University Insect Museum Raleigh Science
Nasher Museum of Art NasherMuseum.jpg Durham Art
NCCU Art Museum Raleigh Art
Page-Walker Arts & History Center Cary History
The Imperial Centre for the Arts & Sciences Museum Rocky Mount Art & Science

Map of the Triangle


Primary cities and towns

A – Raleigh
B – Durham
C – Chapel Hill
D – Cary
E – Morrisville
F – Apex
G – Holly Springs
H – Fuquay-Varina
I – Garner
J – Knightdale
K – Wendell
L – Zebulon
M – Rolesville
N – Wake Forest
O – Hillsborough
P – Carrboro
Q – Pittsboro
R – Clayton
S – Youngsville
T – Franklinton
U – Creedmoor
V – Stem
W – Butner


1 – Wake County
2 – Durham County
3 – Orange County
4 – Chatham County
5 – Harnett County
6 – Johnston County
7 – Franklin County
8 – Granville County

Parks and bodies of water

a – Research Triangle Park
bUmstead State Park
cJordan Lake
dHaw River
e – Harris Lake
f – Lake Wheeler
g – Lake Benson
hFalls Lake

Interstate highways

1 – I-40/I-85
2 – I-85
3 – I-40
4 – I-440
5 – I-540
13 – I-495

Other major highways

1 – US 15
2 – US 1
3 – US 401
4 – US 64
5 – US 70
6 – US 401
7 – US 1
8 – US 15-501
9 – US 64
10 – US 70
11 – US 501
12 – NC 147
13 – US 64-264
14 – US 64 Business



  • 1 Top City for Small Business (Raleigh, NC) -- Bizjournals, February 2009
  • 1 America’s Smartest Cities (Raleigh–Durham, NC) -- The Daily Beast, October 2009
  • 1 Fastest-Growing Metropolitan Area in the Country (Raleigh–Cary, NC) -- U.S. Census Bureau, March 2009
  • 1 Best Place for Business and Careers (Raleigh, NC) --, March 2009
  • 3 Best Places to Launch a Small Business (Raleigh, NC) --, October 2009
  • 3 Hot Cities for Entrepreneurs (Raleigh–Durham) – Entrepreneur Magazine, September, 2005
  • 1 High Tech Region (Raleigh–Durham) -- "Daring To Compete: A Region-to-Region Reality Check," Silicon Valley Leadership Group, September 16, 2005
  • 2 Top Business Opportunity Metros (Durham MSA, Raleigh–Cary MSA) -- 2005 Mayor's Challenge "Top Business Opportunity Metros", Expansion Management, July 11, 2005
  • 5 U.S. Life Sciences Clusters (Greater Raleigh–Durham) -- "The Greater Philadelphia Life Sciences Cluster", Milken Institute, June 2005; May 2009
    • 1 City (Greater Raleigh–Durham) for Biotechnology—Milken Institute, June 2005
    • 2 City (Greater Raleigh–Durham) for Life Sciences Human Capital—Milken Institute, June 2005
    • 4 City (Greater Raleigh–Durham) for Life Sciences Workforce—Milken Institute, June 2005
  • 1 City Where Americans Are Relocating (Raleigh, NC) --, April 2009
  • 3 Best Places to Live in America—Forbes, 2003
  • 8 Best Big Cities for Jobs (Raleigh–Cary, NC) --, May 2009
  • One of Top 10 University Markets that Has Its Act Together (Raleigh–Durham–Chapel Hill) -- Southern Business & Development, Summer 2005
  • 5 Best Knowledge Worker Metro (Raleigh–Cary MSA) -- "Knowledge Worker Quotient", Expansion Management, May 2005
  • 1 Most Unwired City (Raleigh–Durham–Chapel Hill) -- 2009
  • 1 Best Place to Work (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, RTP), # 4 (NIEHS) and # 1 Academic Institution (UNC-Chapel Hill) for Postdocs -- "Best Places to Work for Postdocs: 2005", The Scientist, February 14, 2005
  • 1 of America's Most Entrepreneurial Campuses (UNC Chapel Hill) -- Forbes, October 22, 2004

North Carolina

  • 4 Top Pro-business State -- "Pollina Corporate Top 10 Pro-business States for 2005: Keeping Jobs in America", Pollina Corporate Real Estate, Inc., 2005
  • 4 Best State in Health Care and Availability -- "Health Care Cost Quotient", Expansion Management, February, 2005
  • 9 Top State in Nanotechnology—Small Times, March 2005
  • 10 Top Venture Capital State—Moran Stahl & Boyer LLC, Site Selection, July 2005

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