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Our State Geography in a Snap: The Coastal Plain Region

Reprinted with permission from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction website.

See also:
Extended entry on the Coastal Plain (from NC Atlas Revisited)
Extended entry on the Coastal Plain (from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina)

Related Entries: Coastal Life; Settlement of the Coastal Plain; Roanoke Island: The Lost Colony; Mountains; Piedmont, Regional Vegetation

North Carolina's Coastal Plain is low, flat land along the Atlantic Ocean. It is often divided into two parts - the Outer Coastal Plain and the Inner Coastal Plain.

The Outer Coastal Plain is made up of the Outer Banks and the Tidewater region. The Outer Banks are a string of barrier islands separated from the mainland by sounds or inlets. The largest islands in the Outer Banks are Bodie, Hatteras, Ocracoke, Portsmouth, and the Core Banks. Three capes are part of the Outer Banks: Cape Hatteras, Cape Lookout, and Cape Fear. Near these capes are dangerous shoals, or underwater sandbars which are hazards to ships. Cape Hatteras is known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic because shifting sand has caused many ships to run aground. The Outer Banks stretch more than 175 miles along the coast.

North Carolina Coastal Plain Counties

The Tidewater is the area along the coast close to sea level. The mouths of the major streams and rivers empty into sounds or the ocean. There are seven sounds in the Tidewater region: Pamlico, Albemarle, Currituck, Croatan, Roanoke, Core, and Bogue Sounds. This region has many low-lying areas called wetlands, where water covers the land. The Great Dismal Swamp, a series of swamps scattered from Virginia, to North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, is North Carolina's largest wetland area. It covers about 750 square miles, making it one of the largest swamps in the United Swamps. The Tidewater is the only place in the world where the Venus Flytrap plant grows naturally.

The Inner Coastal Plain, a higher, drier area, begins west of the Tidewater. The rich, sandy soil here is some of the state's best farmland. In the southwestern corner of the Inner Coastal Plain are the Sandhills, a subregion of rolling, sandy hills. This area has the highest elevation on the Coastal Plain, ranging from about 900 to 1,000 feet above sea level. Longleaf pines are native to this area.

 

 

Sources:

"Social Studies:: Elementary Resouces:: Student Sampler:: Geography," North Carolina Department of Public Instruction Website. https://www.dpi.nc.gov/ (accessed March 27, 2012).

Video Credit:

"The Outer Banks of North Carolina," video courtesy of OuterbanksNC, uploaded on July 21, 2011, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cr0Z6RR4KLI (access March 27, 2012).

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Comments

Comment: 

Is possible that in NC we have more swamps than in Louisiana?

Comment: 

Hi Freddy!

Thank you for your comment and for visiting NCpedia! You have asked an excellent question!

I believe you are correct in that North Carolina has more acres of wetlands than Louisiana. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Louisiana has about three million acres of wetlands: https://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/la-wetlands/. The same organization also reports that North Carolina has 5.7 million acres of wetlands: https://water.usgs.gov/nwsum/WSP2425/state_highlights_summary.html.

A very interesting find! You might want to do some further research to find exact numbers of acres as these might change over a period of time. I hope this helps!

Taylor Thompson, Government & Heritage Library

Comment: 

Hello, what features of the coastal plain region of North Carolina help these businesses succeed?

Comment: 

Hi, I´m doing a school project and I thought ¨Hey let´s look at this website to learn about North Carolina´s coastal plains,¨ and I found some good information.

Comment: 

Hi! im doing a school project too, and im glad to know that this website has good information that I can use.

Comment: 

This is going to help people to learn about North Carolina's coastal region.

Comment: 

I liked what i reaed I leared a lot

Comment: 

I learned a lot. I'm sure you did too.

Comment: 

how long did it take to build the outer banks

Comment: 

Hello, 

The Outer Banks are not man-made, but a natural feature of the North Carolina coast. They are barrier reef islands along the coast. There are several bridges connecting the islands to the mainland of North Carolina. Here is an article on NCpedia about the Outer Banks. https://www.ncpedia.org/outer-banks 

Hope that helps.

Erin Bradford, Government and Heritage Library

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