Charlotte metropolitan area
Charlotte–Concord–Gastonia, NC-SC MSA
Uptown Charlotte Skyline
Counties most commonly associated with Metrolina are in dark red, counties often included are light red, and counties sometimes included are in orange. The NC/SC state line is shown in yellow.
Counties most commonly associated with Metrolina are in dark red, counties often included are light red, and counties sometimes included are in orange. The NC/SC state line is shown in yellow.
Flag of the United States.svg
United States
Flag of North Carolina.svg
North Carolina
Flag of South Carolina.svg
South Carolina
Core city
Flag of Charlotte, North Carolina.svg
Principal cities - Concord
 - Gastonia
 - Rock Hill
 • Metropolitan area3,198 sq mi (8,280 km2)
 • Land3,149 sq mi (8,160 km2)
 • Water49 sq mi (130 km2)
305–2,560 ft (93–780 m)
 • Metro
2,595,027 (22nd)
 • Metro density824.1/sq mi (318.2/km2)
 • CSA
2,754,842 (21st)
Time zoneEST
 • Summer (DST)EDT
Zip Codes
Area code(s)704, 803,828,980

The Charlotte metropolitan area, sometimes referred to as Metrolina, is a metropolitan area of the U.S. states of North and South Carolina, within and surrounding the city of Charlotte. The metropolitan area also includes the cities of Gastonia, Concord, Huntersville, and Rock Hill as well as the large suburban area in the counties surrounding Mecklenburg County, which is at the center of the metro area. Located in the Piedmont, it is the largest metropolitan area in the Carolinas, and the fourth largest in the Southeastern United States. The Charlotte metropolitan area is one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the United States.[1]

There are two official metropolitan boundaries for the Charlotte metropolitan area: the Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)[2] and the Charlotte-Concord Combined Statistical Area (CSA).[3] The two regions are identical except for the addition of two micropolitan areas, Shelby and Albemarle to the Charlotte-Concord CSA that are not included in the Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia MSA. The population of the MSA was 2,595,027[4] and the population of the CSA was 2,754,842 as of 2020 Census.[5] The metropolitan area is slightly larger than 3,000 square miles (7,800 km2).

The Charlotte metro area is a major financial center, transportation hub, and entertainment destination. Charlotte is the second largest financial hub in the United States behind New York City, being the headquarters for Bank of America and Truist Financial as well as housing the East Coast headquarters and largest employment hub of Wells Fargo. Other Fortune 500 companies headquartered in the metro area include Brighthouse Financial, Duke Energy, Honeywell, Lowe's, and Nucor. The Charlotte metro area is the largest manufacturing region in the Carolinas. The estimated gross metropolitan product (GMP) of the metro area is over $170 billion.[6] Located in Mecklenburg County, Charlotte Douglas International Airport is the sixth-largest airport in the world by aircraft movements and the city's location at the junction of I-85 and I-77 makes it a highway logistics center. The Charlotte metro is also one of the centers of American auto racing and is home to the Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Hornets, and Charlotte FC.

The Charlotte metro is home to a number of prominent higher education institutions, including the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Queens University of Charlotte, Davidson College, Belmont Abbey College, and many more. The primary community college for the area is Central Piedmont Community College, which has several campuses throughout Charlotte and the surrounding region.

Nicknames and regional identity

The regional area around the city was at one time called Metrolina, a portmanteau of Metropolis and Carolina. The term has fallen out of widespread general use, though it still maintains a presence and is used by the North Carolina Department of Transportation. The term does retain a marketing value, and is thus also used by many businesses in the area. Metrolina refers to the region that includes the cities of Charlotte, Concord, Gastonia and Rock Hill. The name Metrolina came into fashion when North Carolina's other two large metropolitan areas took on nicknames—the Triangle for Raleigh/Durham/Cary/Chapel Hill and the Triad for Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point. (The Triad now goes by the name Piedmont Triad to distinguish it from other tri-cities.)

Charlotte's most common nickname is the Queen City, often abbreviated as Q.C., a name derived[citation needed] from the city's namesake, Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

The term "Charlotte USA" referred to the 16-county region, which includes 12 counties in North Carolina and 4 counties in South Carolina. The term was championed during a marketing campaign by the Charlotte Regional Partnership, a non-profit organization made up of both private- and public-sector members from throughout the Charlotte region. This organization represents one of seven officially designated economic development regions in North Carolina.[7]

Region J of the North Carolina Councils of Government, of which a majority of the Charlotte area municipalities and counties belong, uses the term Centralina in its body's name, Centralina Council of Governments. This term, however, is used only sparingly among locals.


Historical populations
U.S. Decennial Census[8]
1790–1960[9] 1900–1990[10]
1990–2000[11] 2020[12]


The official Charlotte metropolitan area includes the Charlotte–Concord–Gastonia MSA (Anson, Cabarrus, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Rowan, and Union counties in North Carolina; Chester, Lancaster and York counties in South Carolina). The Charlotte CSA includes all the MSA counties along with the following micropolitan areas in North Carolina: Albemarle (Stanly County) and Shelby (Cleveland County). (Census Bureau definition for CSA)[13]

The Charlotte Regional Partnership also identifies three additional counties to the what they refer to as the "Charlotte Region"—Alexander and Catawba counties in North Carolina, and Chesterfield County, South Carolina. Catawba and Alexander counties are currently part of the Hickory–Lenoir–Morganton Metropolitan Statistical Area or "the Unifour". Factoring in the Unifour, as well as Chesterfield County, if one considers these regions to be part of the Charlotte area, as many in the area regard them as such, the population according to 2018 Census estimates, increases to 3,190,390. If this population was officially used, the Charlotte Area would become the 20th largest CSA, overtaking the St. Louis, Missouri area, and placing it behind Portland, Oregon.

County 2021 Estimate 2020 Census Change Area Density
Mecklenburg County 1,122,276 1,115,482 +0.61% 523.84 sq mi (1,356.7 km2) 2,142/sq mi (827/km2)
York County 288,595 282,090 +2.31% 680.60 sq mi (1,762.7 km2) 424/sq mi (164/km2)
Union County 243,648 238,267 +2.26% 631.52 sq mi (1,635.6 km2) 386/sq mi (149/km2)
Cabarrus County 231,278 225,804 +2.42% 361.75 sq mi (936.9 km2) 639/sq mi (247/km2)
Gaston County 230,856 227,943 +1.28% 356.03 sq mi (922.1 km2) 648/sq mi (250/km2)
Iredell County 191,968 186,693 +2.83% 573.83 sq mi (1,486.2 km2) 335/sq mi (129/km2)
Rowan County 148,150 146,875 +0.87% 511.37 sq mi (1,324.4 km2) 290/sq mi (112/km2)
Lancaster County 100,336 96,016 +4.50% 549.16 sq mi (1,422.3 km2) 183/sq mi (71/km2)
Lincoln County 89,670 86,810 +3.29% 297.94 sq mi (771.7 km2) 301/sq mi (116/km2)
Chester County 32,209 32,294 −0.26% 580.66 sq mi (1,503.9 km2) 55/sq mi (21/km2)
Anson County 22,060 22,055 +0.02% 531.45 sq mi (1,376.4 km2) 42/sq mi (16/km2)
Total 2,701,046 2,660,329 +1.53% 5,598.15 sq mi (14,499.1 km2) 482/sq mi (186/km2)
Additional Counties Included in Combined Statistical Area

County 2021 Estimate 2020 Census Change
Cleveland County 100,359 99,519 +0.84% 464.25 sq mi (1,202.4 km2) 216/sq mi (83/km2)
Stanly County 63,425 62,504 +1.47% 395.09 sq mi (1,023.3 km2) 161/sq mi (62/km2)
Total for Cleveland and Stanly counties 163,784 162,023 +1.09% 859.34 sq mi (2,225.7 km2) 191/sq mi (74/km2)
Total for entire Charlotte CSA 2,864,830 2,822,352 +1.51% 6,457.49 sq mi (16,724.8 km2) 444/sq mi (171/km2)

Largest cities and towns

Rank City / town County 2021 Estimate 2020 Census Change
1 Charlotte Mecklenburg County 879,709 874,579 +0.59%
2 Concord Cabarrus County 107,697 105,240 +2.33%
3 Gastonia Gaston County 81,161 80,411 +0.93%
4 Rock Hill York County 74,102 74,372 −0.36%
5 Huntersville Mecklenburg County 61,839 61,376 +0.75%
6 Kannapolis Cabarrus County / Rowan County 54,446 53,114 +2.51%
7 Mooresville Iredell County 51,594 50,193 +2.79%
8 Indian Trail Union County 40,953 39,997 +2.39%
9 Salisbury Rowan County 35,760 35,540 +0.62%
10 Monroe Union County 34,888 34,562 +0.94%
11 Cornelius Mecklenburg County 31,650 31,412 +0.76%
12 Matthews Mecklenburg County / Union County 29,623 29,435 +0.64%
13 Statesville Iredell County 28,844 28,419 +1.50%
14 Fort Mill York County 27,991 24,521 +14.15%
15 Mint Hill Mecklenburg County / Union County 26,633 26,450 +0.69%
16 Waxhaw Union County 21,673 20,534 +5.55%
17 Harrisburg Cabarrus County 19,463 18,967 +2.62%
18 Mount Holly Gaston County 17,966 17,703 +1.49%
19 Stallings Union County/ Mecklenburg County 16,481 16,112 +2.29%
20 Belmont Gaston County 15,136 15,010 +0.84%
21 Davidson Mecklenburg County / Iredell County 15,132 15,106 +0.17%
22 Weddington Mecklenburg County / Union County 13,488 13,181 +2.33%
23 Tega Cay York County 13,278 12,832 +3.48%
24 Kings Mountain Cleveland County / Gaston County 11,409 11,142 +2.40%
25 Lincolnton Lincoln County 11,352 11,091 +2.35%
26 Pineville Mecklenburg County 10,678 10,602 +0.72%

Cities and Towns: 5,000 to 10,000 in Population

Rank City / Town County 2021 Estimate 2020 Census Change
1 Wesley Chapel Union County 8,883 8,681 +2.33%
2 York York County 8,615 8,503 +1.32%
3 Lancaster Lancaster County 8,575 8,460 +1.36%
4 Clover York County 6,949 6,671 +4.17%
5 Unionville Union County 6,788 6,643 +2.18%
6 Marvin Union County 6,510 6,358 +2.39%
7 Cherryville Gaston County 6,132 6,078 +0.89%
8 Dallas Gaston County 6,016 5,927 +1.50%
9 Bessemer City Gaston County 5,507 5,428 +1.46%
10 Cramerton Gaston County 5,381 5,296 +1.60%
11 Chester Chester County 5,245 5,269 −0.46%
12 Wadesboro Anson County 5,038 5,008 +0.60%

Suburban towns and cities under 5,000 in population

Unincorporated communities

Changes in house prices for the area are publicly tracked on a regular basis using the Case–Shiller index; the statistic is published by Standard & Poor's and is also a component of the S&P 20-city composite index of the value of the U.S. residential real estate market.


Mass transit

The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) is the mass transit agency that operates local, express, bus rapid services that serves Charlotte and its immediate suburban communities in both North and South Carolina. CATS also operates light rail and streetcar lines. CATS is also building a commuter, light rail, streetcar network as a supplement to its established bus transit throughout the region. The LYNX Blue Line runs from Interstate 485, through SouthEnd, Uptown Charlotte, to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Plans are for it to stretch initially to Mooresville, Pineville, and Matthews. Charlotte-Douglas International Airport will be connected to the system by light rail.

Gastonia Transit, Concord Kannapolis Area Transit, My Ride Transit in Rock Hill, Western Piedmont Regional Transit Authority in Hickory, Salisbury Transit, and Iredell Area Transit System in Iredell County also provide fixed route bus services within the Greater Charlotte metropolitan region as well.


The Charlotte region is also served by 2 major interstate highways (I-85 and I-77), and their 2 spurs (I-277, and I-485). I-40 also passes through the center of Iredell County, which is the northern region of the Charlotte metro. Other major freeways include Independence Boulevard (east Charlotte to I-277), a portion of US 321 between Hickory and Gastonia, and Monroe Connector / Bypass, each projected to cost over $1 billion per project.

Other important US highways in the region include: US 74 (east to Wilmington, west to Asheville and Chattanooga), US 52 (through the far eastern part of the region), US 321 (through Chester, York, Gastonia, Dallas, Lincolnton and Hickory), US 601 (passing east of Charlotte) and US 70 (through Salisbury, Statesville and Hickory).

Primary state routes include NC/SC 49, NC 16 (which extends north to West Virginia), NC 73, NC 150, NC 18, NC 24, NC 27, SC 9 and SC 5.


Charlotte Douglas International Airport is the main airport in the Charlotte area and the 6th busiest in the country. In April 2007, Charlotte was the fastest growing airport in the US.[14] The airport went on to surpass its sister US Airways hub in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as one of the 30 busiest airports in the world in terms of passenger traffic.[citation needed] A new terminal to the northwest of the center of the airport will be built in the near future, possibly as a Caribbean/Latin America international terminal. CLT is also supplemented by regional airports in Concord, Gastonia, Hickory, Monroe, Statesville, in North Carolina, as well as Rock Hill in South Carolina.

Higher education

Four-year institutions

North Carolina
South Carolina

Two-year institutions

North Carolina
South Carolina

Defunct institutions



Nature and geography

The foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains begin along the western edge of the region; the descent (the Fall Line) to the coastal plain begins along the eastern edge. Amid this varied topography, the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden and several state parks (Morrow Mountain, Crowders Mountain, South Mountains, Duke Power, Landsford Canal, Andrew Jackson) offer recreational possibilities, along with the Uwharrie National Forest just east and northeast of Albemarle, and the Sumter National Forest at the southwest corner of the area. Kings Mountain National Military Park is partially located in York County and in Cherokee County near Blacksburg, South Carolina.

Cultural attractions

Fury 325 at Carowinds
Fury 325 at Carowinds

Attractions in Charlotte include the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Cultural, Carowinds theme park, Discovery Place, Spirit Square, NASCAR Hall of Fame, the North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, Children's Theatre of Charlotte, Actor's Theatre of Charlotte, Carolina Actors Studio Theatre, Theatre Charlotte, the Charlotte Museum of History, Levine Museum of the New South, the McGill Rose Garden, and the Wing Haven Gardens. The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and the Mint Museum in Uptown Charlotte are expanding the art venues in Charlotte.

Other places of interest in the surrounding area include the Schiele Museum (in Gastonia), Charlotte Motor Speedway (in Concord), the Carolina Raptor Center (in Huntersville), Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden (in Belmont), Latta Plantation (in Huntersville), Brattonsville Historic District (in McConnells), the North Carolina Transportation Museum (in Spencer), Fort Dobbs historical site (in Statesville), Catawba County Firefighters Museum (in Conover), the Arts & Science Center of Catawba Valley/Millholland Planetarium (in Hickory) the Museum of York County (in Rock Hill), James K. Polk historical site (in Pineville), the Catawba Cultural Center (in York County), the Museum of the Waxhaws (in Waxhaw), Glencairn Gardens (in Rock Hill), and the Reed Gold Mine (in Locust).


The PNC Music Pavilion is located in the University City area of Charlotte. The performing arts amphitheatre has hosted many popular music concerts. The U.S. National Whitewater Center (USNWC) is the world's premier outdoor recreation and environmental education center. Alongside mountain-biking and running trails, a climbing center, and challenge course, the park's unique feature is a multiple-channel, customized whitewater river for rafting and canoe/kayak enthusiasts of all abilities.

The USNWC is only 10 minutes from downtown Charlotte and provides roughly 400 acres (1.6 km2) of woodlands along the scenic Catawba River. Olympic-caliber athletes, weekend warriors and casual observers share this world-class sports and training center.

Inspired by the successful Penrith Whitewater Stadium built for the 2000 Olympics and the stadium built for the 2004 Athens Games, the USNWC is the world's largest multi-channel recirculating whitewater river. The USOC has designated the USNWC an official Olympic Training Site.


SouthPark Mall is one of the Southern United States' most upscale malls, including stores such as Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., Burberry, Hermès, Neiman Marcus, and American Girl. SouthPark mall is also the largest mall in the Carolinas and one of the most-profitable malls in the United States.

Other large regional-scale Shopping malls include Northlake Mall, Carolina Place Mall, Concord Mills, Charlotte Premium Outlets, Phillips Place (across from SouthPark), RiverGate, Westfield Eastridge, Rock Hill Galleria, Plaza Fiesta, Carolina Mall, Monroe Crossing Mall, Signal Hill Mall, and Valley Hills Mall.

Concord Mills is unique in that it does not feature the typical anchor stores found at other malls; it focuses more on attracting outlet store tenants. The mall is visited by over 15 million annually.

Alongside enclosed malls and strip centers are several other shopping districts. Several downtowns can claim an abundance of shopping options, along with restaurants and other entertainment, and a few other specific districts have emerged: Central Avenue, especially in the Plaza-Midwood area; the NoDa area of North Charlotte; and the Arboretum in southeast Charlotte (geographically, south), to offer a handful of examples. Several of these areas are at the center of the area's growing immigrant business communities.


Bank of America Stadium, home of the Carolina Panthers and Charlotte FC
Bank of America Stadium, home of the Carolina Panthers and Charlotte FC

In addition to Charlotte Motor Speedway, there are plenty of other sports venues, including Truist Field (home of the Charlotte Knights, the Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox), Bank of America Stadium (home of the NFL's Carolina Panthers and MLS's Charlotte FC), Spectrum Center (home of the NBA's Charlotte Hornets) and Bojangles' Coliseum (home of American Hockey League's Charlotte Checkers). The Charlotte Eagles of the United Soccer Leagues call the area home, and the Kannapolis Intimidators and Hickory Crawdads are Single-A Minor-League Baseball teams located in this region.


Bank of America Corporate Center, the world headquarters for Bank of America
Bank of America Corporate Center, the world headquarters for Bank of America

See also: List of companies in Charlotte

20 largest employers in the Charlotte metropolitan area (Q2 2019)
Name Industry Based in Number of employees
1. Atrium Health Health Care and Social Assistance Charlotte 35,700
2. Wells Fargo Finance and Insurance San Francisco 26,000
3. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Educational Services Mecklenburg County 18,495
4. Walmart Retail Trade Bentonville, Arkansas 16,100
5. Bank of America Finance and Insurance Charlotte 15,000
6. Novant Health Health Care and Social Assistance Winston-Salem, NC 12,172
7. American Airlines Transportation and Warehousing Dallas, Texas 11,000
8. Lowe's Retail Trade Mooresville, North Carolina 9,233
9. Food Lion Retail Trade Salisbury, North Carolina 8,465
10. Harris Teeter Retail Trade Matthews, North Carolina 8,239
11. Duke Energy Utilities Charlotte 7,700
12. Government of North Carolina Public Administration Raleigh, North Carolina 7,600
13. Compass Group Manufacturing Chertsey, England, UK 7,500
14. City of Charlotte Public Administration Charlotte 6,800
15. Mecklenburg County Government Public Administration Mecklenburg County 5,512
16. Union County Public Schools Educational Services Union County 5,427
17. U.S. Federal Government Public Administration Washington, D.C. 5,300
18. YMCA of Greater Charlotte Arts, Entertainment and Recreation Charlotte 4,436
19. CaroMont Health Healthcare Gastonia, North Carolina 4,223
20. AT&T Inc. Utilities Dallas, Texas 4,100

[15] [16]

Companies with headquarters in the region include Bank of America, Belk, BellSouth Telecommunications, Bojangles', The Compass Group, Carolina Beverage Corporation Inc. (makers of Sun Drop and Cheerwine), Duke Energy, Family Dollar, Food Lion, Harris Teeter, Lance, Inc, LendingTree, Lowe's, Meineke Car Care Centers, Muzak, Nucor, Chiquita Brands International Transbotics, Royal & SunAlliance (USA), SPX Corporation, Time Warner Cable (a business unit of Fortune 500 company Time Warner), and Wells Fargo.

Charlotte has gained fame as the second largest banking and finance center in the U.S., and the area's orientation towards emerging industries is seen in the success of the University Research Park (the 7th largest research park in the country) and the redevelopment of part of the Pillowtex site in Kannapolis as a biotech research facility featuring the participation of University of North Carolina at Charlotte, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University and North Carolina State University.

Reflections Studios in Charlotte played an important role in the emergent late-20th-century American musical underground – R.E.M., Pylon, Let's Active, Don Dixon and Charlotte's Fetchin Bones (among many others) all recorded influential and acclaimed albums there. Charlotte-based Ripete and Surfside Records maintain important catalogs of regional soul and beach music, and the area has also played a role in the history of gospel, bluegrass and country music. The Milestone, one of the first punk clubs in the South, is located in west Charlotte, and in the past hosted legendary appearances from the likes of R.E.M., Black Flag, Nirvana, The Minutemen, D.O.A., Bad Brains, Charlotte's Antiseen, and many others.

Notable residents

Notable people from the Charlotte metro area include:


A majority of the municipalities and counties in the North Carolina parts of the Charlotte metropolitan area belong to the Centralina Council of Governments. Cleveland County belongs to the Isothermal Planning and Development Commission and Alexander and Catawba counties belong to the Western Piedmont Council of Governments.

See also


  1. ^ "Top ten fastest growing metropolitan areas in the United States from 2010-2019". Statista. Retrieved 9 October 2020.
  2. ^ "OMB Bulletin No. 03-04 Attachment" (PDF). Office of Management and Budget – via National Archives.
  3. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau CSAs".
  4. ^ "Census profile: Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC Metro Area". Census Reporter. Retrieved 2022-06-22.
  5. ^ "Census profile: Charlotte-Concord, NC-SC CSA". Census Reporter. Retrieved 2022-06-22.
  6. ^ "Total Gross Domestic Product for Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC (MSA)". Federal Reserve Economic Research. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. January 2001. Retrieved 9 October 2020.
  7. ^ Charlotte USA – Charlotte Regional Partnership Archived January 3, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  9. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  10. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  11. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  12. ^ "Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC Metro Area". Retrieved June 22, 2022.
  13. ^ "Census Bureau CSA List".
  14. ^ "Fastest Growing". USA Today. 2007-04-19. Retrieved 2010-04-28.
  15. ^ "Major Employers in Charlotte Region - Charlotte Area Major Employers (Q2 2018)" (PDF). Charlotte Regional Business Alliance. Retrieved 25 August 2019.
  16. ^ Shapiro, Amy. "Charlotte's largest employers". Charlotte Business Journal. American City Business Journals. Retrieved 25 June 2020.

Coordinates: 35°14′N 80°50′W / 35.23°N 80.84°W / 35.23; -80.84