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4 Cities and towns
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The county was formed in 1791 from parts of Burke County and Rutherford County. It was named for Edward Buncombe, a colonel in the American Revolutionary War, who was captured at the Battle of Germantown.
In 1808 the western part of Buncombe County became Haywood County. In 1833 parts of Burke County and Buncombe County were combined to form Yancey County, and in 1838 the southern part of what was left of Buncombe County became Henderson County. Finally, in 1851 parts of Buncombe County and Yancey County were combined to form Madison County.
Buncombe County has contributed a word to the English language. In the Sixteenth Congress, after lengthy debate on the Missouri Compromise, members of the House called for an immediate vote on that important question. Instead, Felix Walker, whose district included Buncombe County, rose to address his colleagues, insisting that his constituents expected him to make a speech "for Buncombe." It was later remarked that Walker's untimely and irrelevant oration was not just for Buncombe--it "was Buncombe." Thus, "buncombe," afterwards spelled "bunkum" and then shortened to "bunk," became a term for empty, nonsensical talk.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,709 km² (660 mi²). 1,699 km² (656 mi²) of it is land and 10 km² (4 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 0.58% water.
The county is divided into fifteen townships: Asheville, Avery Creek, Black Mountain, Broad River, Fairview, Flat Creek, French Broad, Ivy, Leicester, Limestone, Lower Hominy, Reems Creek, Sandy Mush, Swannanoa, and Upper Hominy.
As of the census2 of 2000, there are 206,330 people, 85,776 households, and 55,668 families residing in the county. The population density is 121/km² (314/mi²). There are 93,973 housing units at an average density of 55/km² (143/mi²). The racial makeup of the county is 89.06% White, 7.48% Black or African American, 0.39% Native American, 0.66% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 1.15% from other races, and 1.23% from two or more races. 2.78% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 85,776 households out of which 27.50% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.50% are married couples living together, 10.80% have a female householder with no husband present, and 35.10% are non-families. 28.90% of all households are made up of individuals and 10.60% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.33 and the average family size is 2.86.
In the county the population is spread out with 21.90% under the age of 18, 8.60% from 18 to 24, 29.30% from 25 to 44, 24.80% from 45 to 64, and 15.40% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 39 years. For every 100 females there are 92.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 88.90 males.
The median income for a household in the county is $36,666, and the median income for a family is $45,011. Males have a median income of $30,705 versus $23,870 for females. The per capita income for the county is $20,384. 11.40% of the population and 7.80% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 15.30% are under the age of 18 and 9.80% are 65 or older.