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North Carolina Geography

by Vishul Malik

North Carolina has a congenial climate, making it one of the favorite vacation spots. There are a number of beautiful beaches, rivers, lakes and mountains in the state.

General Features

North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. It is bordered by Virginia to the north, Tennessee to the west, Atlantic Ocean to the east, South Carolina to the south, and Georgia to the southwest. The geographic center of the state is located in Chatham County. The state is home to a number of national forests. The landscape of North Carolina is made up of three geographical divisions: the Coastal Plain, the Piedmont, and the Mountains.

Coastal Plain: It is a low, flat land along the Atlantic Ocean, divided into two parts: the outer Coastal Plain and the Inner Coastal Plain. The region occupies the eastern forty-five percent of the state and is rich in soils ideal for the growth of crops like melons, tobacco, soya beans and cotton. The Neuse, Pamlico, Tar, and Cape Fear are the major rivers flowing in the region.

Piedmont: Located between the Coastal Plain and the Mountain regions, the Piedmont is the middle region of the state. It extends from Virginia to Alabama. Because it is mostly flat and high, it is called a plateau. The area is distinguished by hilly, rolling land.

Mountains: Smaller than the Piedmont and the Coastal Plains, it occupies the western part of the state. The Bald, Balsom, Great Smoky, Brushy, Pisgah, Iron, Stone and Unaka are the major mountain ranges found in the region. The Appalachian Mountain Range stretch from Canada to northern Alabama and are the largest range in the eastern United States.

Geographical Facts About North Carolina

Area 53,819 square miles
Land area 48,708 square miles
Water area 5,103 square miles
Highest point Mount Mitchell (2,038 meters)
Lowest point Atlantic Ocean
Geographic Center Chatham County
Mean elevation 700 feet above sea level

Climate of North Carolina

North Carolina generally has a mild climate, with abundant and well distributed rainfall. The beautiful mountains, beaches and a pleasant climate attract a number of tourists each year to the state. The average monthly temperatures of North Carolina range from 88.3 degrees to 27.3 degrees. The highest temperature recorded in North Carolina is 110° F, on August 21, 1983 at Fayetteville. The lowest temperature in North Carolina recorded in the state was -34° on January 21, 1985 on Mount Mitchell.

The state experiences severe weather conditions; tornadoes, hurricanes, other tropical storms hit it often. Hurricane Fran, Hurricane Hazel, Hurricane Isabel and Hurricane Floyd are some of the most destructive hurricanes that have stormed the shores of North Carolina.


The landscape of North Carolina is made up of small, eroded mountain peaks. There are at least forty mountain ranges that are 6,000 feet high. Mount Mitchell in the Black Mountain Range is 6,684 feet high. Some of the major mountains of the state are:

  • Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Great Balsam Mountains
  • Black Mountains
  • Pilot Mountain
  • Sauratown Mountains
  • Crowder’s Mountain
  • The Appalachian Mountain
  • Great Smoky Mountains
  • King’s Pinnacle


There are seventeen major river basins in North Carolina. The chief rivers of the state are:

  • Neuse River
  • Roanoke River
  • Yadkin River
  • Rocky River
  • White Oak River
  • Black River
  • Lynches River
  • Yadkin River
  • Shallotte River
  • Lockwood Folly River
  • Reddies River


  • Lake Mattamuskeet
  • Lake Phelps
  • Chatuge Lake
  • Lake Waccamaw
  • Harris Lake
  • Singletary Lake

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