North Carolina, United States

About North Carolina

North Carolina is a state located on the Atlantic Seaboard in the Southern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte. North Carolina has a wide range of elevations, from sea level on the coast to 6,684 feet (2,037 m) in the mountains. The coastal plains are strongly influenced by the Atlantic Ocean. Most of the state falls in the humid subtropical zone. More than 300 miles (500 km) from the coast, the western, mountainous part of the state has a subtropical highland climate. North Carolina is bordered by South Carolina on the south, Georgia on the southwest, Tennessee on the west, Virginia on the north, and the Atlantic Ocean on the east. The United States Census Bureau classifies North Carolina as a southern state in the subcategory of being one of the South Atlantic States.

North Carolina Tourism and Recreation

Tourists are attracted by North Carolina's coastal beaches, by golf and tennis opportunities (including the world-famous golf courses at Pinehurst), and parks and scenery in the North Carolina mountains. Sites of special interest are the Revolutionary War battlegrounds at Guilford Courthouse and Moore's Creek Bridge; Bennett Place, near Hillsborough, where the last major Confederate army surrendered; Ft. Raleigh, the site of the Lost Colony's misadventures; and the Wright Brothers National Memorial at Kitty Hawk. With more than 500 golf courses across the state, North Carolina is often nicknamed the Golf Capital of the World.

Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout national seashores, which protect the beauty of the Outer Banks, together cover 58,563 acres. The Blue Ridge Parkway, a scenic motor route operated by the National Park Service that winds over the crest of the Blue Ridge in Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia, attracts millions of visitors to North Carolina yearly. Another popular attraction, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, straddles the North Carolina-Tennessee border. There are more than 1.2 million acres of national forest land located in North Carolina, 1,500 lakes of ten acres or more, and 37,000 miles of freshwater streams.

North Carolina Climate

North Carolina's climate varies from the Atlantic coast in the east to the Appalachian Mountain range in the west. The mountains often act as a shield, blocking cold temperatures and storms from the Midwest from entering the Piedmont of North Carolina. Most of the state has a humid subtropical climate except in the higher elevations of the Appalachians which have a subtropical highland climate. For most areas in the state, the temperatures in July during the daytime are around 90 °F (32 °C). In January the average temperatures range near 50 °F (10 °C).

The temperature ranges of North Carolina vary with the state's geography. It is usually 20 °F (12 °C) warmer at eastern lower elevations than at the higher elevations in the west. In the winter, the temperature is fairly moderate in the central and eastern parts of North Carolina, due to the presence of the Appalachian mountains that divert cold weather currents originating in Canada. Summers are warm and humid, with threats of hurricanes and tropical storms throughout the summer and early fall.

There is an average of forty-five inches of rain a year (fifty in the mountains). July storms account for much of this precipitation. As much as 15% of the rainfall during the warm season in the Carolinas can be attributed to tropical cyclones.Moist winds from the southwest drop an average of 80 inches (2,000 mm) of precipitation on the western side of the mountains, while the northeast-facing slopes average less than half that amount.

North Carolina Transportaion

The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) operates a historical trolley line and 76 bus and shuttle routes serving Charlotte and its satellite cities. In 2007 it opened the LYNX light rail line connecting Charlotte with suburban Pineville. There are future plans to expand LYNX Light Rail as well as implementation of Commuter Rail and Streetcar.