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4 Cities and towns
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,170 km² (452 mi²). 1,164 km² (449 mi²) of it is land and 6 km² (2 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 0.48% water.
The county is divided into eleven townships, which are both numbered and named: 1 (North Marshall and South Marshall), 2 (Laurel), 3 (Mars Hill), 4 (Beech Glenn), 5 (Walnut), 6 (Hot Springs), 7 (Ebbs Chapel), 8 (Spring Creek), 9 (Sandy Mush), 10 (Grapevine), and 11 (Revere Rice Cove). Formerly there were sixteen: 1 (Marshall), 2 (Shelton Laurel), 3 (Bull Creek), 4 (Middle Fork of Ivy), 5 (West Fork of Ivy), 6 (Sandy Mush), 7 (Little Pine Creek), 8 (Spring Creek), 9 (Hot Springs), 10 (Big Laurel), 11 (Upper Laurel), 12 (Big Pine Creek), 13 (Meadow Fork of Spring Creek), 14 (Grapevine), 15 (Mars Hill), and 16 (Foster Creek).
As of the census2 of 2000, there are 19,635 people, 8,000 households, and 5,592 families residing in the county. The population density is 17/km² (44/mi²). There are 9,722 housing units at an average density of 8/km² (22/mi²). The racial makeup of the county is 97.63% White, 0.83% Black or African American, 0.27% Native American, 0.23% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.45% from other races, and 0.59% from two or more races. 1.35% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 8,000 households out of which 28.40% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.50% are married couples living together, 8.90% have a female householder with no husband present, and 30.10% are non-families. 26.30% of all households are made up of individuals and 11.80% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.34 and the average family size is 2.81.
In the county the population is spread out with 21.20% under the age of 18, 10.30% from 18 to 24, 26.50% from 25 to 44, 26.00% from 45 to 64, and 15.90% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 39 years. For every 100 females there are 97.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 93.30 males.
The median income for a household in the county is $30,985, and the median income for a family is $37,383. Males have a median income of $27,950 versus $22,678 for females. The per capita income for the county is $16,076. 15.40% of the population and 10.90% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 17.60% are under the age of 18 and 19.20% are 65 or older.