According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 2,483 km² (959 mi²). 2,144 km² (828 mi²) of it is land and 339 km² (131 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 13.64% water.
As of the census2 of 2000, there are 44,958 people, 18,319 households, and 12,951 families residing in the county. The population density is 21/km² (54/mi²). There are 22,139 housing units at an average density of 10/km² (27/mi²). The racial makeup of the county is 68.44% White, 29.03% Black or African American, 0.16% Native American, 0.22% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 1.42% from other races, and 0.71% from two or more races. 3.24% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 18,319 households out of which 28.80% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.60% are married couples living together, 13.30% have a female householder with no husband present, and 29.30% are non-families. 25.70% of all households are made up of individuals and 11.50% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.42 and the average family size is 2.89.
In the county the population is spread out with 23.40% under the age of 18, 7.70% from 18 to 24, 26.10% from 25 to 44, 26.90% from 45 to 64, and 15.90% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 40 years. For every 100 females there are 91.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 87.50 males.
The median income for a household in the county is $31,066, and the median income for a family is $37,893. Males have a median income of $30,483 versus $21,339 for females. The per capita income for the county is $16,722. 19.50% of the population and 15.20% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 27.60% are under the age of 18 and 19.30% are 65 or older.