Most rural counties in North Carolina: See where your ENC county ranks

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Asurprising number of U.S. counties have 100% rural land-702, in fact. Stacker compiled a list of the most rural counties in North Carolina using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Counties are ranked by the percent of land area that is rural, as of the 2010 Census, with ties broken by residents per square mile, according to 2019 5-year population estimates.

According to the Census Bureau, rural land encompasses any land that isn’t an urban area. To be considered an urban area, a place has to have a densely settled core of census tracts or blocks and count at least 2,500 people, at least 1,500 of whom must be residents of non-institutional buildings. Areas with 50,000 people or more are considered urbanized areas, while areas with between 2,500 and 50,000 people are considered urban clusters.

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#50. Haywood County

– Rural area: 95.6% (529 square miles)
– Urban area: 4.4% (24 square miles)
– Total land area: 554 square miles
— #29 largest county in state, #1,879 nationwide

– Population density: 110.3 people / square mile (61,053 residents)
— #50 lowest density county in state, #2,324 nationwide

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#49. Watauga County

– Rural area: 95.7% (299 square miles)
– Urban area: 4.3% (13 square miles)
– Total land area: 313 square miles
— #81 largest county in state, #2,779 nationwide

– Population density: 175.7 people / square mile (54,925 residents)
— #71 lowest density county in state, #2,555 nationwide

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#48. Edgecombe County

– Rural area: 95.9% (484 square miles)
– Urban area: 4.1% (21 square miles)
– Total land area: 505 square miles
— #43 largest county in state, #2,053 nationwide

– Population density: 104.2 people / square mile (52,648 residents)
— #47 lowest density county in state, #2,289 nationwide

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#47. Wilkes County

– Rural area: 96.4% (727 square miles)
– Urban area: 3.6% (27 square miles)
– Total land area: 754 square miles
— #13 largest county in state, #1,166 nationwide

– Population density: 90.8 people / square mile (68,469 residents)
— #40 lowest density county in state, #2,185 nationwide

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#46. McDowell County

– Rural area: 96.4% (425 square miles)
– Urban area: 3.6% (16 square miles)
– Total land area: 441 square miles
— #55 largest county in state, #2,303 nationwide

– Population density: 102.6 people / square mile (45,227 residents)
— #46 lowest density county in state, #2,274 nationwide

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#45. Transylvania County

– Rural area: 96.7% (366 square miles)
– Urban area: 3.3% (12 square miles)
– Total land area: 379 square miles
— #69 largest county in state, #2,607 nationwide

– Population density: 89.2 people / square mile (33,775 residents)
— #39 lowest density county in state, #2,172 nationwide

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#44. Stokes County

– Rural area: 97.1% (436 square miles)
– Urban area: 2.9% (13 square miles)
– Total land area: 449 square miles
— #54 largest county in state, #2,275 nationwide

– Population density: 102.0 people / square mile (45,781 residents)
— #45 lowest density county in state, #2,271 nationwide

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#43. Chatham County

– Rural area: 97.5% (665 square miles)
– Urban area: 2.5% (17 square miles)
– Total land area: 682 square miles
— #18 largest county in state, #1,373 nationwide

– Population density: 104.6 people / square mile (71,338 residents)
— #48 lowest density county in state, #2,294 nationwide

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#42. Pender County

– Rural area: 97.6% (849 square miles)
– Urban area: 2.4% (21 square miles)
– Total land area: 870 square miles
— #5 largest county in state, #938 nationwide

– Population density: 69.4 people / square mile (60,399 residents)
— #31 lowest density county in state, #1,975 nationwide

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#41. Mitchell County

– Rural area: 97.7% (216 square miles)
– Urban area: 2.3% (5 square miles)
– Total land area: 221 square miles
— #97 largest county in state, #2,966 nationwide

– Population density: 67.8 people / square mile (15,004 residents)
— #29 lowest density county in state, #1,946 nationwide

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#40. Halifax County

– Rural area: 97.8% (708 square miles)
– Urban area: 2.2% (16 square miles)
– Total land area: 724 square miles
— #14 largest county in state, #1,228 nationwide

– Population density: 70.7 people / square mile (51,190 residents)
— #32 lowest density county in state, #1,989 nationwide

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#39. Franklin County

– Rural area: 98.0% (482 square miles)
– Urban area: 2.0% (10 square miles)
– Total land area: 492 square miles
— #45 largest county in state, #2,113 nationwide

– Population density: 135.0 people / square mile (66,362 residents)
— #54 lowest density county in state, #2,419 nationwide

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#38. Beaufort County

– Rural area: 98.1% (812 square miles)
– Urban area: 1.9% (16 square miles)
– Total land area: 827 square miles
— #8 largest county in state, #1,018 nationwide

– Population density: 57.0 people / square mile (47,168 residents)
— #23 lowest density county in state, #1,804 nationwide

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#37. Person County

– Rural area: 98.2% (385 square miles)
– Urban area: 1.9% (7 square miles)
– Total land area: 392 square miles
— #65 largest county in state, #2,563 nationwide

– Population density: 100.3 people / square mile (39,345 residents)
— #43 lowest density county in state, #2,255 nationwide

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#36. Chowan County

– Rural area: 98.2% (169 square miles)
– Urban area: 1.8% (3 square miles)
– Total land area: 172 square miles
— #100 largest county in state, #3,037 nationwide

– Population density: 81.7 people / square mile (14,097 residents)
— #36 lowest density county in state, #2,111 nationwide

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#35. Macon County

– Rural area: 98.2% (506 square miles)
– Urban area: 1.8% (9 square miles)
– Total land area: 516 square miles
— #39 largest county in state, #2,021 nationwide

– Population density: 67.5 people / square mile (34,813 residents)
— #28 lowest density county in state, #1,944 nationwide

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#34. Yadkin County

– Rural area: 98.3% (329 square miles)
– Urban area: 1.7% (6 square miles)
– Total land area: 335 square miles
— #78 largest county in state, #2,725 nationwide

– Population density: 112.3 people / square mile (37,602 residents)
— #52 lowest density county in state, #2,340 nationwide

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#33. Jackson County

– Rural area: 98.4% (483 square miles)
– Urban area: 1.6% (8 square miles)
– Total land area: 491 square miles
— #46 largest county in state, #2,121 nationwide

– Population density: 87.5 people / square mile (42,938 residents)
— #38 lowest density county in state, #2,156 nationwide

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#32. Columbus County

– Rural area: 98.6% (924 square miles)
– Urban area: 1.4% (13 square miles)
– Total land area: 937 square miles
— #3 largest county in state, #758 nationwide

– Population density: 59.8 people / square mile (56,068 residents)
— #24 lowest density county in state, #1,844 nationwide

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#31. Ashe County

– Rural area: 98.7% (421 square miles)
– Urban area: 1.3% (6 square miles)
– Total land area: 426 square miles
— #57 largest county in state, #2,382 nationwide

– Population density: 63.0 people / square mile (26,863 residents)
— #26 lowest density county in state, #1,887 nationwide

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#30. Montgomery County

– Rural area: 98.7% (485 square miles)
– Urban area: 1.3% (6 square miles)
– Total land area: 492 square miles
— #44 largest county in state, #2,112 nationwide

– Population density: 55.4 people / square mile (27,252 residents)
— #21 lowest density county in state, #1,780 nationwide

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#29. Hertford County

– Rural area: 98.8% (349 square miles)
– Urban area: 1.2% (4 square miles)
– Total land area: 353 square miles
— #74 largest county in state, #2,675 nationwide

– Population density: 68.0 people / square mile (24,012 residents)
— #30 lowest density county in state, #1,949 nationwide

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#28. Washington County

– Rural area: 99.0% (345 square miles)
– Urban area: 1.0% (4 square miles)
– Total land area: 348 square miles
— #75 largest county in state, #2,683 nationwide

– Population density: 34.2 people / square mile (11,922 residents)
— #8 lowest density county in state, #1,320 nationwide

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#27. Anson County

– Rural area: 99.0% (526 square miles)
– Urban area: 1.0% (5 square miles)
– Total land area: 531 square miles
— #36 largest county in state, #1,969 nationwide

– Population density: 46.9 people / square mile (24,902 residents)
— #15 lowest density county in state, #1,628 nationwide

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#26. Avery County

– Rural area: 99.1% (245 square miles)
– Urban area: 0.9% (2 square miles)
– Total land area: 247 square miles
— #92 largest county in state, #2,919 nationwide

– Population density: 70.8 people / square mile (17,506 residents)
— #33 lowest density county in state, #1,991 nationwide

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#25. Sampson County

– Rural area: 99.2% (937 square miles)
– Urban area: 0.9% (8 square miles)
– Total land area: 945 square miles
— #2 largest county in state, #748 nationwide

– Population density: 67.1 people / square mile (63,385 residents)
— #27 lowest density county in state, #1,938 nationwide

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#24. Polk County

– Rural area: 99.3% (236 square miles)
– Urban area: 0.7% (2 square miles)
– Total land area: 238 square miles
— #94 largest county in state, #2,932 nationwide

– Population density: 86.5 people / square mile (20,557 residents)
— #37 lowest density county in state, #2,148 nationwide

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#23. Duplin County

– Rural area: 99.3% (810 square miles)
– Urban area: 0.7% (6 square miles)
– Total land area: 816 square miles
— #9 largest county in state, #1,035 nationwide

– Population density: 72.2 people / square mile (58,967 residents)
— #34 lowest density county in state, #2,002 nationwide

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#22. Martin County

– Rural area: 99.3% (458 square miles)
– Urban area: 0.7% (3 square miles)
– Total land area: 461 square miles
— #51 largest county in state, #2,225 nationwide

– Population density: 49.5 people / square mile (22,849 residents)
— #17 lowest density county in state, #1,683 nationwide

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#21. Northampton County

– Rural area: 99.6% (535 square miles)
– Urban area: 0.4% (2 square miles)
– Total land area: 537 square miles
— #33 largest county in state, #1,945 nationwide

– Population density: 37.2 people / square mile (19,946 residents)
— #9 lowest density county in state, #1,401 nationwide

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#20. Madison County

– Rural area: 99.6% (448 square miles)
– Urban area: 0.4% (2 square miles)
– Total land area: 450 square miles
— #53 largest county in state, #2,271 nationwide

– Population density: 47.8 people / square mile (21,499 residents)
— #16 lowest density county in state, #1,650 nationwide

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#19. Bertie County

– Rural area: 99.7% (697 square miles)
– Urban area: 0.3% (2 square miles)
– Total land area: 699 square miles
— #16 largest county in state, #1,324 nationwide

– Population density: 27.7 people / square mile (19,380 residents)
— #5 lowest density county in state, #1,142 nationwide

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#18. Currituck County

– Rural area: 99.7% (261 square miles)
– Urban area: 0.3% (1 square miles)
– Total land area: 262 square miles
— #87 largest county in state, #2,880 nationwide

– Population density: 100.7 people / square mile (26,363 residents)
— #44 lowest density county in state, #2,260 nationwide

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#17. Bladen County

– Rural area: 99.7% (872 square miles)
– Urban area: 0.3% (3 square miles)
– Total land area: 874 square miles
— #4 largest county in state, #928 nationwide

– Population density: 38.2 people / square mile (33,407 residents)
— #11 lowest density county in state, #1,430 nationwide

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#16. Caswell County

– Rural area: 100.0% (425 square miles)
– Urban area: 0.1% (0 square miles)
– Total land area: 425 square miles
— #58 largest county in state, #2,384 nationwide

– Population density: 53.4 people / square mile (22,684 residents)
— #19 lowest density county in state, #1,746 nationwide

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#15. Camden County

– Rural area: 100.0% (241 square miles)
– Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
– Total land area: 241 square miles
— #93 largest county in state, #2,928 nationwide

– Population density: 43.9 people / square mile (10,551 residents)
— #12 lowest density county in state, #1,553 nationwide

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#14. Greene County

– Rural area: 100.0% (266 square miles)
– Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
– Total land area: 266 square miles
— #85 largest county in state, #2,870 nationwide

– Population density: 79.1 people / square mile (21,033 residents)
— #35 lowest density county in state, #2,085 nationwide

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#13. Cherokee County

– Rural area: 100.0% (455 square miles)
– Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
– Total land area: 455 square miles
— #52 largest county in state, #2,250 nationwide

– Population density: 61.4 people / square mile (27,969 residents)
— #25 lowest density county in state, #1,865 nationwide

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#12. Yancey County

– Rural area: 100.0% (313 square miles)
– Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
– Total land area: 313 square miles
— #80 largest county in state, #2,778 nationwide

– Population density: 56.8 people / square mile (17,760 residents)
— #22 lowest density county in state, #1,801 nationwide

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#11. Perquimans County

– Rural area: 100.0% (247 square miles)
– Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
– Total land area: 247 square miles
— #91 largest county in state, #2,918 nationwide

– Population density: 54.4 people / square mile (13,430 residents)
— #20 lowest density county in state, #1,765 nationwide

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#10. Clay County

– Rural area: 100.0% (215 square miles)
– Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
– Total land area: 215 square miles
— #98 largest county in state, #2,974 nationwide

– Population density: 51.0 people / square mile (10,946 residents)
— #18 lowest density county in state, #1,709 nationwide

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#9. Alleghany County

– Rural area: 100.0% (235 square miles)
– Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
– Total land area: 235 square miles
— #95 largest county in state, #2,937 nationwide

– Population density: 46.8 people / square mile (11,008 residents)
— #14 lowest density county in state, #1,627 nationwide

43 / 50Doug Kerr from Albany, NY, United States // Wikimedia Commons

#8. Warren County

– Rural area: 100.0% (428 square miles)
– Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
– Total land area: 428 square miles
— #56 largest county in state, #2,370 nationwide

– Population density: 46.4 people / square mile (19,898 residents)
— #13 lowest density county in state, #1,615 nationwide

44 / 50Bud Davis, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers // Wikimedia Commons

#7. Pamlico County

– Rural area: 100.0% (337 square miles)
– Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
– Total land area: 337 square miles
— #77 largest county in state, #2,719 nationwide

– Population density: 37.7 people / square mile (12,701 residents)
— #10 lowest density county in state, #1,413 nationwide

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#6. Gates County

– Rural area: 100.0% (340 square miles)
– Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
– Total land area: 340 square miles
— #76 largest county in state, #2,708 nationwide

– Population density: 33.9 people / square mile (11,548 residents)
— #7 lowest density county in state, #1,315 nationwide

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#5. Graham County

– Rural area: 100.0% (292 square miles)
– Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
– Total land area: 292 square miles
— #83 largest county in state, #2,819 nationwide

– Population density: 29.1 people / square mile (8,509 residents)
— #6 lowest density county in state, #1,184 nationwide

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#4. Swain County

– Rural area: 100.0% (528 square miles)
– Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
– Total land area: 528 square miles
— #37 largest county in state, #1,981 nationwide

– Population density: 27.0 people / square mile (14,260 residents)
— #4 lowest density county in state, #1,122 nationwide

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#3. Jones County

– Rural area: 100.0% (471 square miles)
– Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
– Total land area: 471 square miles
— #49 largest county in state, #2,190 nationwide

– Population density: 20.4 people / square mile (9,594 residents)
— #3 lowest density county in state, #906 nationwide

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#2. Tyrrell County

– Rural area: 100.0% (389 square miles)
– Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
– Total land area: 389 square miles
— #67 largest county in state, #2,574 nationwide

– Population density: 10.5 people / square mile (4,095 residents)
— #2 lowest density county in state, #592 nationwide

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#1. Hyde County

– Rural area: 100.0% (613 square miles)
– Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
– Total land area: 613 square miles
— #24 largest county in state, #1,579 nationwide

– Population density: 8.5 people / square mile (5,213 residents)
— #1 lowest density county in state, #514 nationwide

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