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Durham Overview & Facts

Durham is a creative, innovative community that is always doing something new.

It occupies a prime location in the heart of North Carolina and is a nexus for learning, creativity, research, and industry. Whether you're a resident, visitor, group planner, newcomer, journalist, or consultant, these official stats, facts, and images provide helpful information about the Bull City.

Research & Statistics

Demographics, charts, white papers, local government performance indicators, RTP, and RDU statistics.

Online Image Library

Searchable inventory of hundreds of high-resolution images of Durham for promotional use.

Quick Facts

Durham is home to Research Triangle Park, Duke and North Carolina Central Universities, and many City of Medicine health centers.

  • Year Durham County created: 1881
  • Year Durham became a place: 1823
  • Year Durham got its name: 1853
  • Year Durham re-established: 1869
  • Durham Population:
    • (City & County) 288,133
    • (City Only) 245,475
  • Airport: Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU), located 12.5 miles from downtown Durham
  • Downtown Durham
    • Number of lodging properties: over 60
    • Number of guest rooms: almost 8,000

Size & Landscape

286-square-mile single-city county.
25 miles long, 16 miles wide, and 28 miles from corner to corner. One of the most compact counties in North Carolina at one-half to one-third the land area of neighboring counties.
Downtown Durham is .751 square miles and 14 x 12 blocks.
More than 96,000 acres of hardwood and evergreen forests, including the only remaining old-growth Piedmont bottomland forests.
7,800 acres of cropland with hills and dales, meandering rivers and streams, and several lakes.
26 rare plant species and several rare species of birds and animals.
City of Medicine, USA

Durham is known as the City of Medicine, USA. Healthcare is a major industry, including more than 300 medical and health-related companies and medical practices with a combined payroll that exceeds $1.2 billion annually.

Major Corporate and Research Parks

Research Triangle Park: A 7,000-acre Southeast Durham-based special county research and production district encompassed on three sides by the city of Durham and served by a Durham postal substation. Houses more than 170 major research companies employing 39,000 full-time employees and 10,000 contract workers.

Treyburn: A 5,300-acre corporate park, country club, and residential area in northeastern Durham. Companies like bioMérieux and Becton Dickinson and more than 10 families call Treyburn home.

Economic Impact of Durham Visitors

  • 9 million visitors spend $765.8 million each year
  • More than 3,500 conventions and meetings each year
  • Roughly 4,000 visitor-sector businesses and organizations
  • More than 13,000 visitor-related jobs

Meetings & Events

Durham has over 300,000 square feet of meeting space in major hotel convention centers, several conference facilities and unique meeting venues, including the Durham Convention Center with 35,000 usable square feet.


In addition to Duke and NCCU, Durham is home to North Carolina School of Science & Math, Durham Technical Community College, many private schools, and Durham Public Schools, the eighth largest school district in the state.


See Durham County's website for up-to-date tax information.



The term "Triangle" was first coined to refer to an area anchored by three major universities: Duke University in Durham (and later North Carolina Central University), the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University in Raleigh. The three joined in the 1950s to help create Research Triangle Park, centered in Southeast Durham.

Today, the term is used to refer to the region comprised of the two metropolitan statistical areas surrounding Durham, Raleigh, and Chapel Hill.


"Raleigh-Durham" is the name of the airport that serves two distinct metropolitan statistical areas — one centered around Durham, NC, and another called Raleigh-Cary. The airport is co-owned by the cities of Durham and Raleigh, along with Durham and Wake Counties. RDU is located at the western edge of Wake County, midway between the cities of Durham and Raleigh.

Raleigh-Durham is also a misused shorthand term for the two-metro Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill combined statistical area or the 22-county Raleigh-Durham-Fayetteville television and radio coverage area.

The Piedmont

Twenty-three miles from the Virginia border, Durham is in the northeast corner of North Carolina's central piedmont, a geographic foothills region lying between mountains and coastal plains. Durham is 140 miles from the Appalachian highlands and 130 miles from the coast.

North Carolina

  • Nicknamed the "Old North State" — a reference that originated with the division of the Carolinas in 1710.
  • First of the original 13 colonies to vote for independence.
  • 52,660 square miles.
  • 9,535,483 residents.
  • North Carolinians are sometimes called Tar Heels, a nickname that dates back to pre-Revolutionary days, when tar, pitch, and turpentine were extracted from north Carolina pine forests for British naval stores.


  • Taxi cab: Average cost of a cab from RDU International Airport to Downtown Durham is $30-$45. (The price is variable depending on destination location and number of passengers - get an estimate here .)
  • Go Durham: Cost of riding a city bus is $1 for a one-way fare, and is free for students 19-21 year old, youth under 12 years old, and seniors 65 or older (transfers are free).
  • Go Triangle: Go Triangle fares on regular transit routes are $2.25, fares on express routes is $3.


Right turns on red are legal unless otherwise posted. North Carolina requires drivers and all passengers who are at least 16 years old to wear seat belts. The Child Passenger Safety Law requires children less than 16 years old to be properly restrained in an appropriate restraint (which could include a seatbelt for those who are 8 years old or over 80 pounds).

Drivers in Durham should be aware that road names and numbers sometimes change on what appears to be the same road. Even more confusing is that roads may be referred to by a number, a name, and by a memorial name, which is often used to pay tribute to an individual.

Another important point for drivers in Durham to know is that some postal addresses tend to be arbitrary. Due to postal policy, many parts of Durham receive mail with a variety of postal designations, including Morrisville, Rougemont, Bahama, Timberlake, Chapel Hill, and Research Triangle Park. In fact, many organizations use particular post office boxes even though they are not located in that district. Research Triangle Park is a prime example.

Fishing and Hunting

Licenses are required for fishing and hunting and are available at all sporting goods and outdoor activities stores. Children 16 and under are not required to have a license but must be accompanied by a licensed adult.


Lodging properties have the option to set aside rooms for guests with pets. You can search for pet-friendly hotels in the hotels and inns section. Call the Durham Visitor Info Center at 800-446-8604 for information about local kennels.

Alcoholic Beverages

The North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission (NC ABC Commission) operates ten Durham outlets for liquor and spirits sales to those 21 years and older. ABC Stores are open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday and are closed Sundays. Call 919-383-5529 for store locations. Wine and beer are sold at most grocery and convenience stores.

Discover Durham Visitor Services

The Visitor Info Center and the Discover Durham offices are located at:

212 W. Main St. #101Durham NC 27701
(downtown Durham, I-85 Exit 177)

Summer Hours (April — October):

Open 7 days a week except major holidays:
Monday: 9 a.m.— 5 p.m.
uesday — Friday: 9 a.m. — 6 p.m.
Saturday: 11 a.m. — 7 p.m.
Sunday: 12 p.m. — 4 p.m.

Winter Hours (November-March):

Open 6 days a week except major holidays:
Monday – Friday: 9 a.m. — 6 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. — 6 p. m.