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The state of North Carolina is the 9th most populated and the 29th state in size at 52, 672 square miles in the United States. It borders Tennessee to the west, South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Virginia to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Charlotte is the most populated city, and Raleigh is the capital. The Piedmont Region is the state's most populous, with six of the largest cities in the state, including Charlotte and Raleigh.

North Carolina has three major geographic areas: the Atlantic Coastal Plain in the east, the Central Piedmont Region and the Mountain Region in the west, part of the Appalachian Mountains. The Piedmont Region consists of rolling countryside broken by hills and low mountain ridges. The Coastal Plain includes the Outer Banks, a string of narrow barrier islands separated by sounds or inlets and the Inner Coastal Plain. There are several subranges of the Appalachian Mountains in the west; the Great Smoky Mountains, the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Black Mountains, the highest in the eastern U.S., which includes Mount Mitchell, the highest point east of the Mississippi River at 6, 684 feet. There are also 17 river basins in the state. Temperatures are overall cooler year-round in the mountain area, but especially the Coastal Plain area benefits from the influences of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf Stream, which allows for warmer winter temperatures, though temperatures occasionally drop below freezing at night in the winter. The Piedmont Region, being further from the coast, has hotter summers and colder winters.

North Carolina's economy has shifted to knowledge-based enterprises such as biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and life sciences. Some of the major agricultural products are tobacco, corn, cotton, hay, peanuts and vegetables. North Carolina is the largest producer of sweet potatoes in the U.S. and the second largest producer of Christmas trees. The state also leads in production of mica and lithium in the country. Tourism is also a great contributor to the economy, with visitors spending more than $1 billion annually. There is an abundance of outdoor activities such as golfing, skiing at mountain resorts, salt and fresh-water fishing, hunting, camping, hiking, boating and rafting. There are a large number of other attractions for visitors throughout the state.



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