Pamlico County


Pamlico County was formed during Reconstruction in 1872, from parts of Craven and Beaufort counties. The county’s creation was political, as white supremacists believed creating a predominantly white county would give them an advantage in elections for the 1st Congressional District.

Currently ranked 91st in the state for population, the county did not reach a population 10,000 until 1970 and population growth has crawled ever since. A contributing factor to Pamlico’s slow growth is the fact that water makes up 41% of the county’s total area. The county has multiple tributaries and is bookended by the Neuse River and the Pamlico Sound — the largest lagoon along the North American East Coast, sprawling approximately 80 miles.

The county gets its name from one of the original inhabitants of the land, the Pamticoe (or Pamlico) tribe. The Pamlico referred to the land as “TaTaku” or where the land and sea meet the sky. This natural beauty has made this county rich in tourism and a sought-after retirement destination. The abundance of water has led to the county being referred to as the “Sailing Capital of North Carolina” and it is said that there are parts of the county with more sailboats than residents. The Oriental Regatta is a major annual sailing competition. Oriental is also said to be a favorite hideout of Blackbeard.

Since the mid-twentieth century, the YMCA has hosted countless summer and weekend camps at Camp Sea Gull and Camp Seafarer in Arapahoe and enriched countless chiropractors across North Carolina in the process by requiring dads to sleep on bunks harder than bricks. The YMCA remains the county’s largest employer.

Pamlico is also credited with starting the state’s school bus system in the early 1900s.

Politically, the county has experienced a sharp decline in registered Democratic voters, down 20% over the past decade, and is reliably Republican. In the last two elections, Pamlico has turned out above the statewide average.


County Seat: Bayboro
Biggest Cities:
  • Bayboro
  • Alliance
  • Grantsboro
  • Arapahoe
  • Oriental
  • Vandemere
Media Market: Greenville/New Bern

Elected Officials

County Data