north carolina HAS an area of 53,819 sq. mi. (139,390 sq. km.), with inland water making up 3,960 sq. mi. (10,256 sq. km.), and territorial water 1,148 sq. mi. (2,973 sq. km.). North Carolina's average elevation is 700 ft. (213 m.) above sea level, with a range in elevation from sea level on the Atlantic Ocean, to 6,684 ft. (2,037 km.)at Mount Mitchell. North Carolina's topography separates the state into three regions: the Atlantic Coastal Plain (making up almost half of the state, where it is flat and slopes to sea level), the Piedmont (making up the other half of the state, inland from the coastal plain, rolling to hilly), extending to the mountain region (a very tiny area on the western border, part of the Appalachian Mountains). The shoreline has numerous bays and estuaries. The sandbars of Cape Hatteras, Cape Lookout, and Cape Fear extend far out into the Atlantic Ocean. Offshore are the barrier islands. The outermost barrier islands are called the Outer Banks, enclosing Pamlico Sound. Rivers and streams east of the Blue Ridge Mountains drain east toward the Atlantic. Those west of the Blue Ridge Mountains drain toward the Mississippi River. North Carolina has many natural lakes and swamps.
North Carolina has a humid subtropical climate with few temperature extremes and precipitation in all seasons. January temperatures average in the 40s to 50s degrees F (4-10 degrees C), cooler (mid- to high-30 degrees F, or 2-3 degrees C) in the mountains. Summers are hot (with daytime temperatures at lower elevations rising into the low 100s degrees F (about 40 degrees C), and the mountain areas staying cooler. The highest temperature recorded in the state was 110 degrees F (43 degrees C) on August 21, 1983 and the lowest temperature recorded in the state was minus 34 degrees F (1.1 degrees C) on January 21, 1965. The annual precipitation is fairly distributed over the state, with an average of 40-50 in. (102-127 cm.), though the mountains receive much more up to 80 in. (203 cm.) from air currents from the Gulf of Mexico. Rainfall is highest during the summer; autumn can be rainy along the coast. Winter snowfall is more prevalent in the mountains, though some can fall on the Atlantic Coastal Plain and the Piedmont.
North Carolina farmers produce a wide range of products (tobacco, soybeans, cotton, corn, poultry, hogs, and wheat). North Carolina takes advantage of its coastline for commercial fishing. Forests cover over half of North Carolina's land, lumber is produced in all areas of the state, and tree growth is rapid in the mild, moist climate. The state is known for furniture manufacturing, tobacco products, textiles, chemicals, industrial machinery, and electrical equipment. Fossil-fuel (mostly coal) burning steam plants, nuclear power plants, and hydroelectric power plants produce electricity.
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