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4 Cities and towns
The county was formed in 1859 from the eastern part of Ashe County, North Carolina. It was named for the Allegheny River. Numerous boundary adjustments have been made since it was established, but none have resulted in new counties.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 610 km² (236 mi²). 608 km² (235 mi²) of it is land and 2 km² (1 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 0.37% water.
As of the census2 of 2000, there are 10,677 people, 4,593 households, and 3,169 families residing in the county. The population density is 18/km² (46/mi²). There are 6,412 housing units at an average density of 11/km² (27/mi²). The racial makeup of the county is 95.69% White, 1.23% Black or African American, 0.26% Native American, 0.20% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 1.75% from other races, and 0.86% from two or more races. 4.96% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 4,593 households out of which 24.80% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.30% are married couples living together, 7.50% have a female householder with no husband present, and 31.00% are non-families. 27.80% of all households are made up of individuals and 14.00% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.28 and the average family size is 2.75.
In the county the population is spread out with 19.40% under the age of 18, 7.40% from 18 to 24, 26.30% from 25 to 44, 27.70% from 45 to 64, and 19.20% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 43 years. For every 100 females there are 97.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 95.50 males.
The median income for a household in the county is $29,244, and the median income for a family is $38,473. Males have a median income of $25,462 versus $18,851 for females. The per capita income for the county is $17,691. 17.20% of the population and 11.30% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 20.80% are under the age of 18 and 25.00% are 65 or older.