According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 2,286 km² (883 mi²). 2,241 km² (865 mi²) of it is land and 44 km² (17 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 1.95% water.
As of the census2 of 2000, there are 23,546 people, 8,912 households, and 5,819 families residing in the county. The population density is 10/km² (27/mi²). There are 10,166 housing units at an average density of 5/km² (12/mi²). The racial makeup of the county is 74.28% White, 22.02% Black or African American, 0.46% Native American, 0.62% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 1.37% from other races, and 1.20% from two or more races. 2.40% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 8,912 households out of which 29.80% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.80% are married couples living together, 12.20% have a female householder with no husband present, and 34.70% are non-families. 27.60% of all households are made up of individuals and 12.40% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.38 and the average family size is 2.91.
In the county the population is spread out with 21.70% under the age of 18, 20.00% from 18 to 24, 23.80% from 25 to 44, 19.90% from 45 to 64, and 14.60% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 32 years. For every 100 females there are 92.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 88.90 males.
The median income for a household in the county is $28,845, and the median income for a family is $37,092. Males have a median income of $28,692 versus $19,886 for females. The per capita income for the county is $14,533. 19.10% of the population and 13.50% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 20.90% are under the age of 18 and 18.40% are 65 or older.