As of 2010, Carteret County's population was 66,469. Its county seat is Beaufort. Most of the county is part of the Crystal Coast.
The county was named for Sir George Carteret, one of the 17th century English Lords Proprietor, or for his descendant and heir John Carteret, 2nd Earl Granville. Lord Carteret's family was the only one of the original eight who retained title to its "Granville District" (of North Carolina) right up to the time of the American Revolutionary War.