North Carolina is a state located in the Southeastern United States along its Atlantic Seaboard. It was one of the original Thirteen Colonies, originally known as Carolina, and the home of the first English colony in the Americas. On 20 May 1861, it became the last of the Confederate states to secede from the Union, and was readmitted on 4 July 1868. It was also the location of the first successful powered heavier-than-air flight by the Wright brothers at Kill Devil Hills near Kitty Hawk in 1903. Today, it is a fast-growing state with an increasingly diverse economy and population. As of 1 July 2006, the population estimate is 8,856,505 - a 10% increase since 1 April 2000.
Due to its wide range of elevation, from sea level on the coast to over 6,500 feet (2,000 meters) in the mountains, North Carolina has the most variation in climate of all the southeastern states. The climate in the coastal and Piedmont regions of eastern and central North Carolina is similar to other southern states such as Georgia and South Carolina, while the climate in the western mountains is closer to that found in New England or the upper Midwest. While the coastal plains, especially the tidewater areas, are strongly influenced by the Atlantic Ocean, the western, mountainous part of the state is more than 300 miles from the coast, resulting in considerably less maritime influence. As such, the climate of the state ranges from a warm, humid subtropical climate near the coast to a humid continental climate in the mountains. Most of the state falls in the humid subtropical zone.