Orientation and brief history
The Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina has changed dramatically since the English, Irish and Scottish first settled there in the mid- to late 1700s to work the fertile land. Early economic development came from three main products: furniture, tobacco and textiles. Then, just after the Civil War, it was decided that future prosperity would come, not from industry, but from education. Colleges and universities were established including the first state university in the U.S., The University of North Carolina.
The recent exceptional growth is due to the success of the Research Triangle Park, or RTP, a joint government, business and academia project established in 1959 to draw leading edge research and development companies to the area. Today approximately 140 companies - governmental, private, and nonprofit - have offices within its boundaries and many residents believe that the area has an exciting future ahead of it.
The State capital, Raleigh, named after Sir Walter Raleigh the English navigator and historian is one of only two planned capital cities. It is home to North Carolina State University, five other colleges and universities, many state museums and, a professional hockey team.
Named as one of the most desirable places in the United States to live by several major publications this area frequently referred to as "The Triangle" continues to grow rapidly. The well paid, high tech jobs principally in the areas of the environment, health care, software development and telecommunications continue to attract newcomers from diverse cultural and ethnical backgrounds. Corporations such as Glaxo-Welcome, GTE, Bristol Meyers, IBM, Nortel and Northern Communications have operations here.
The towns and cities throughout the region all have their distinct character and history. Many are becoming increasingly cosmopolitan yet they still manage to retain much of their southern culture.