Wilmington is a city located in Brunswick County and New Hanover County North Carolina. With a 2020 population of 126,000, it is the 8th largest city in North Carolina and the 221st largest city in the United States . Wilmington is currently growing at a rate of 0.90% annually and its population has increased by 18.34% since the most recent census, which recorded a population of 106,476 in 2010. Wilmington reached it's highest population of 126,000 in 2021. Spanning over 53 miles, Wilmington has a population density of 2,451 people per square mile.
The average household income in Wilmington is $70,904 with a poverty rate of 22.19%. The median rental costs in recent years comes to $998 per month, and the median house value is $246,400. The median age in Wilmington is 36 years, 35.3 years for males, and 36.9 years for females.
Wilmington serves as the county seat for New Hanover County. Wilmington is a significant port city and has been designated as a “Coast Guard City.”
Wilmington Population Statistics
Just over 47% of the population has a religious affiliation. Most of the people that do practice a religion observe Christianity. Baptists and Methodists make up the largest portion of the religious population.
Wilmington Population Growth
The population of Wilmington, for the most part, has grown every ten years when the census is taken. There have been brief periods where the population declined, but the number shows that Wilmington has always bounced back. The city has seen significant growth since the 1990s. A population of over 55,000 in 1990 had increased by 36.6% in 2000. It grew again in 2010 by over 40% to exceed 100,000. Recent estimates show that the population has grown by over 10% since the last census. It’s likely that this city will continue to see continued growth based on these trends in recent years.
Giovanni da Verrazano was the first European to spot the current location of Wilmington during the early 16th century. The city before European settlement was inhabited by multiple indigenous tribes for thousands of years. However, the area wasn’t settled by the Europeans until the 1720s. An area along the Cape Fear River was originally named New Carthage. The name was later changed to New Liverpool, before becoming known as New Town or Newton. It was in 1739 or 1740 when the city took on the name of Wilmington.
People from other regions in North Carolina, as well as Virginia and South Carolina settled in Wilmington. The majority of the settlers came from the British Isles, the West Indies, and British colonies. Indentured servants made up quite a bit of the early population. As the demand for labor increased in the region, slaves were brought from Africa, making up about 62% of the region’s total population in 1767.
In its earliest years, the economy was fueled by naval stores and the lumber industry. It was also an essential major port. With the arrival of the 1800s came the need for railroad transportation. Plans were created to build a railroad from Raleigh to Wilmington, but plans fell through when there wasn’t enough money raised for the project. The terminus was then changed to Weldon. Later in the century, the Wilmington Gas Light Company was established, and gas-powered street lights were installed. Soon after that, a new City Hall was built. The city over the next few years also opened its first public school and an opera house.
Wilmington’s port served as a base for the Confederates during the Civil War. The city was captured by the Union in 1865, although battles took place some distance away so that homes and buildings were preserved within Wilmington. At the end of the decade, free and emancipated blacks created a community within Wilmington. This eventually led to the Wilmington Insurrection of 1898.
Today, the city still holds its position as one of the most important port cities in the United States. The city has many historic buildings still intact, bringing in tourists. There are also nearby beaches, the downtown Riverwalk that has been named one of the best in the country, museums and other attractions that appeal to visitors and residents.