It is a former coal-mining town situated in northeastern Pennsylvania along the Susquehanna River. The town suffered severe damage from a flood as a result of Tropical Storm Agnes in 1972.
Wilkes-Barre is located at 41°14'40" North, 75°52'41" West (41.244581, -75.877918)1.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 18.6 km² (7.2 mi²). 17.7 km² (6.8 mi²) of it is land and 0.9 km² (0.3 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 4.60% water.
As of the census of 2000, there are 43,123 people, 17,961 households, and 9,878 families residing in the city. The population density is 2,430.6/km² (6,296.3/mi²). There are 20,294 housing units at an average density of 1,143.9/km² (2,963.1/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 92.30% White, 5.09% African American, 0.11% Native American, 0.79% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.53% from other races, and 1.15% from two or more races. 1.58% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 17,961 households out of which 23.0% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.5% are married couples living together, 14.0% have a female householder with no husband present, and 45.0% are non-families. 39.0% of all households are made up of individuals and 18.6% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.20 and the average family size is 2.96.
In the city the population is spread out with 19.9% under the age of 18, 12.6% from 18 to 24, 26.1% from 25 to 44, 20.8% from 45 to 64, and 20.6% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 39 years. For every 100 females there are 93.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 90.7 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $26,711, and the median income for a family is $36,630. Males have a median income of $28,737 versus $22,471 for females. The per capita income for the city is $15,050. 17.8% of the population and 12.1% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 24.1% are under the age of 18 and 13.5% are 65 or older.