North Carolina Geography and Famous Natives

Geography of North Carolina

North Carolina is divided into four distinct regions; The Outer Banks, the Atlantic Lowlands, the Piedmont Plateau, and the Appalachian ranges in the far-western reaches of the state.

The Outer Banks are a long series of narrow and sandy (some wood-covered) barrier islands that meander into the Atlantic Ocean. Cape Hatteras, the state’s easternmost point, is a frequent target for hurricanes that hit the eastern United States.

From there the wide and flat Atlantic lowlands extend inland a close 65 miles. Marshy along the coast, and especially in the far northeast, it is crossed by dozens of rivers and covers about 35% of the state.

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The land then rises gently into some forested sandhills, and then into the higher rolling hills of the Piedmont Plateau, where average elevations are close to 1,150 feet above sea level. The Appalachians, approximately 1,500 miles in length, stretch from Georgia to the Carolinas, across New England and on into the Canadian areas of New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Quebec. The densely forested Blue Ridge Mountains, famed for their bluish color when seen from afar, stretch across the state’s western reaches into Virginia. Smoky Mountains

extend along the state’s southwestern border with Tennessee. In the Black Mountains northeast of Asheville, North Carolina’s highest point, Mt. Mitchell, reaches 6,684 feet. It is the highest peak in the Appalachians and the highest peak in eastern North America.

North Carolina is drained by many rivers. Major ones include Cape Fear, Neuse, Roanoke and Yadkin. In addition, the state contains many several small artificial lakes and reservoirs. The largest of these is Lake Norman at 32,510 acres.

North Carolina Famous Natives

People listed are almost always native to the state. We do (on occasion) include those who have either lived within the state for most of their adult lives or have made significant contributions to the state in their personal endeavors.


  • Ryan Adams singer, songwriter
  • Clay Aiken singer
  • Tori Amos singer, songwriter
  • Light singer Anderson
  • Evangelist Ernest England


  • Ernest “Ernie” Barnes, Jr. painter, football player, author
  • Fantasy singer Barrino, songwriter, actress
  • Romare Bearden artist, writer
  • Thomas Hart Benton“Old Bullion” statesman
  • Statesman William Blunt, Governor of the Southwest Territory
  • Erskine Bowles politician
  • Caleb Bradham’s inventor of Pepsi Cola
  • Braxton Bragg General Federal Army
  • David Brinkley television journalist
  • Curtis “Kurt” Brown astronaut
  • Rebecca Brian Daniel Boone ‘s wife
  • Humanitarian Eliza Bryant
  • Written by Betsy Byars
  • Robert Byrd politician


  • Singer Shirley Caesar
  • Fred Chappell author, poet
  • Joey Cheek Olympic medalist
  • Richard Childress car racer, team owner
  • Kenneth Eric church singer, songwriter
  • Dwight Clark footballer
  • Thomas Klingman politician, General Federal Army
  • George Clinton musician
  • Levi Coffin educator, abolitionist, “President’s” underground railroad
  • Germain “J” Lamar Cole singer, record producer
  • John Coltrane saxophonist, composer
  • Howard Cosell television sports journalist
  • Bucky Covington singer


  • Charlie Daniels musician
  • Josephus Daniels politician, publisher
  • Virginia Dare the first English child born in the Americas
  • Brad Dougherty basketball player
  • Chris Daughtry singer, songwriter, guitarist
  • Walter Davis basketball player
  • Annie Elizabeth “Bessie” Delaney civil rights activist, author, dentist
  • Sarah Louise “Sadie” Delaney civil rights activist, author, educator
  • Indian rights advocate Adolf Diel, politician
  • Thomas Dixon Jr. playwright, author
  • Elizabeth Hanford Dole politician
  • Astronaut Charles Duke
  • James Buchanan Duke industrialist
  • Pamela Duncan author
  • Jermaine Dupri (JD) record producer, rap artist


  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. car racer
  • Dale Earnhardt Sr. car racer
  • Written by Clyde Edgerton
  • Actress Jennifer Ahl
  • John Ehl author
  • Sam Erwin politician
  • Artist Minnie Evans


  • Donna Fargo singer, songwriter
  • Roberta Flack singer
  • Richard Morgan “Ric Flair” Fliehr wrestler (born in TN)
  • Ben Folds singer, songwriter
  • John Hope Franklin historian, author
  • Charles Fraser author
  • Lawyer Henry Fry
  • “Blind the Boy”Fuller singer, guitarist


  • Roman Gavriil football player
  • Zach Galifianakis comedian, actor, writer
  • Comedian Leo Gallagher
  • Actress Ava Gardner
  • Inventor of Richard Jordan Gatling gatling machine gun
  • Alfreda Gerald opera singer
  • Written by Kay Gibbons
  • Billy Graham Evangelist
  • Actress Katherine Grayson, singer
  • Paul Green playwright
  • Actress Pam Greer
  • Actor Andy Griffith


  • Michael K. Hall actor
  • Anthony Hamilton singer, songwriter, record producer
  • Jeff Hardy wrestler
  • Matt Hardy wrestler
  • Actress Jackie Harry
  • Film critic Molly Haskell, author
  • Politician Jesse Helms
  • Byron Hill songwriter

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