Carter county is in the Eastern Coal Field region of Kentucky. The elevation in the county ranges from 542 to 1300 feet above sea level.
It was formed in 1838 from Greenup and Lawrence counties. Carter county was a source of Boyd (1860), Elliott (1869), and Beckham (1904) counties. The county seat is Grayson.
In 2020 the county population was 26,627 in a land area of 409.50 square miles, an average of 65.0 people per square mile.
The equine population was 2,000 in the 2012 Kentucky Equine Survey.
Carter county is in the Huntington-Ashland metro statistical area and the Fivco Area Development District. It is in the Appalachian region according to the Appalachian Regional Commission.
Carter county was named to honor state Senator William Grayson Carter.
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