North Carolina 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 one of the last Confederate states to secede from the
Union, and was readmitted on 4 July 1868. It was also the location of the first successful manned 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 2007, the population estimate is
9,061,032 (a 12% increase since 1 April 2000).
North Carolina has a wide range of elevations, from sea level on the coast to almost 6,700 feet (2,042 m) in the
mountains. 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 (500 km) 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.