According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,920 km² (741 mi²). 1,888 km² (729 mi²) of it is land and 33 km² (13 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 1.70% water.
As of the census2 of 2000, there are 23,587 people, 8,959 households, and 6,378 families residing in the county. The population density is 12/km² (32/mi²). There are 10,166 housing units at an average density of 5/km² (14/mi²). The racial makeup of the county is 63.28% White, 30.36% Black or African American, 0.42% Native American, 0.17% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 4.17% from other races, and 1.59% from two or more races. 8.25% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 8,959 households out of which 33.40% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.40% are married couples living together, 15.30% have a female householder with no husband present, and 28.80% are non-families. 25.50% of all households are made up of individuals and 11.70% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.60 and the average family size is 3.09.
In the county the population is spread out with 27.30% under the age of 18, 9.60% from 18 to 24, 27.20% from 25 to 44, 21.70% from 45 to 64, and 14.10% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 35 years. For every 100 females there are 93.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 89.70 males.
The median income for a household in the county is $28,622, and the median income for a family is $34,082. Males have a median income of $25,830 versus $17,383 for females. The per capita income for the county is $14,103. 20.30% of the population and 16.00% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 29.20% are under the age of 18 and 16.70% are 65 or older.