|County of Scotland|
|• Total||320 sq mi (800 km2)|
|• Land||319 sq mi (830 km2)|
|• Water||1.5 sq mi (4 km2) 0.5%%|
|• Density||110/sq mi (41/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (Eastern)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (EDT)|
Scotland County is a county located in the southern part of the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of the 2020 census, the population was 34,174. Its county seat is Laurinburg.
Scotland County comprises the Laurinburg, NC Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the Fayetteville-Lumberton-Laurinburg, NC Combined Statistical Area.
The county was founded in 1899 from the southeastern part of Richmond County. The county name documents the strong historic and cultural influence from the early settlers from Scotland.
The earliest residents of the land which became Scotland County were Cheraw Native Americans. Scottish Highlanders and some English Quakers began colonizing the area as early as the 1720s when it was within the British Province of North Carolina. The land encompassing Scotland County was originally under the jurisdiction of Bladen County. As North Carolina grew, its original counties were subdivided and the future Scotland portion was placed in the new Anson County. The relevant portion was then moved into the new Richmond County in 1779. Richmond County was bisected by the Sandhills, leaving the eastern portion of future Scotland geographically separated from the rest of the county.
More immigrants came after the American Revolutionary War, especially one large group of Highland Scots which came from the Cape Fear River. The group split and settled two areas in the county, Johns and Laurel Hill, the latter in the vicinity of the Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church, established in 1797. Laurel Hill became the first major community in the region, prospering as a post-revolution trading center. More immigrants settled the area at this time, including Germans, Welsh, English, and Ulster Scots. Enslaved Africans were also brought into the area. The Laurel Hill community largely moved south in 1861 after the Wilmington, Charlotte and Rutherford Railroad laid a line through the area. Laurinburg was incorporated in 1877.
By the late 1800s Richmond County had a majority black population and tended to support the Republican Party in elections, while the state of North Carolina was dominated by the Democratic Party. As a result of this, white Democrats built up a political base in Laurinburg and on February 20, 1899, the town and the surrounding area was split off from Richmond into the new Scotland County, named in homage to the Scottish settlers. Laurinburg was declared the seat of Scotland County in 1900 and the first courthouse was erected the following year. A county road law was passed by the state in 1903, leading the county to construct its first improved roads of sand and clay. Another road law passed six years later led the county to greatly increase its road building program and erect its first concrete bridges. A new courthouse was built in 1964.
Located within the southeastern portion of the state of North Carolina, Scotland County rests at the border between the Coastal Plain and Piedmont regions. It is bordered by Hoke, Robeson, Richmond, and Moore counties, and the state of South Carolina. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 320 square miles (830 km2), of which 319 square miles (830 km2) is land and 1.5 square miles (3.9 km2) (0.5%) is water. It is the smallest North Carolina county by area.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
|Black or African American (non-Hispanic)||13,094||38.32%|
|Hispanic or Latino||1,106||3.24%|
As of the 2020 United States census, there were 34,174 people, 12,922 households, and 8,593 families residing in the county.
As of the census of 2000, there were 35,998 people, 13,399 households, and 9,674 families residing in the county. The population density was 113 people per square mile (44/km2). There were 14,693 housing units at an average density of 46 per square mile (18/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 51.49% White, 37.32% Black or African American, 8.88% Native American, 0.51% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.46% from other races, and 1.33% from two or more races. 1.18% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
In 2005 49.4% of Scotland County's population was non-Hispanic whites.
In 2000 there were 13,399 households, out of which 34.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.10% were married couples living together, 20.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.80% were non-families. 24.40% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.61 and the average family size was 3.10.
In the county, the population was spread out, with 28.10% under the age of 18, 9.50% from 18 to 24, 27.60% from 25 to 44, 23.40% from 45 to 64, and 11.30% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 88.40 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.00 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $31,010, and the median income for a family was $39,178. Males had a median income of $31,212 versus $23,172 for females. The per capita income for the county was $15,693. About 17.40% of families and 20.60% of the population were below the poverty line, including 29.80% of those under age 18 and 17.20% of those age 65 or over.
Scotland County is governed by a county commission. The commission is funded by a 2% share of local sales tax revenue and the local property tax. The county charges the highest property tax rate in the state, 0.99 percent. A third of the county's land is owned by the United States Forestry Service and the United States Armed Forces, from whom no tax revenue is collected.
Scotland County is a member of the Lumber River Council of Governments, a regional planning board representing five counties.
Scotland County is located entirely in North Carolina's 9th congressional district. It is represented in the 116th United States Congress by Dan Bishop (R). The county has only voted for 3 Republican presidential candidates since 1900: Richard Nixon in 1972, Ronald Reagan in 1984, and Donald Trump in 2020. It was the only county in North Carolina to flip from Democratic to Republican between 2016 and 2020. As of 2022, it is home to about 20,600 registered voters, of whom 10,000 are registered Democrats, 4,200 are registered Republicans and 6,300 are unaffiliated.
Scotland County's economy is largely based in agriculture. Area farmers mostly grow corn, cotton, tobacco, and soybeans, and raise hogs. Forestry products including lumber and paper are also sourced in the county. Manufacturing firms increased in the county after 1950. The local manufacturing industry produces textiles, cabinet accessories, mobile homes, hospital equipment, and automotive parts. Following a national trend, manufacturing—especially in textiles—has declined since 2000, damaging the economy of the county. In the early 2020s retail grew along the U.S. Route 74 corridor. The North Carolina Department of Commerce classifies Scotland as one of the state's most economically distressed counties.
Primary tourism draws include:
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