North Carolina is a state located in the Southeastern United States along its Atlantic Seaboard. It is bordered by South Carolina on the south; Georgia on the southwest; Tennessee on the west; Virginia on the north; and the Atlantic Ocean on the east. North Carolina consists of three main geographic sections: the coastal plain, which occupies the eastern 45% of the state; the Piedmont region, which contains the middle 35%; and the Appalachian Mountains and foothills, which take up the remaining 20% of the state in the west.
The coastal plain begins in the east as a chain of narrow, sandy barrier islands known as the "Outer Banks". The Outer Banks encompass two sounds — Albemarle Sound in the north and Pamlico Sound in the south; they are the two largest landlocked sounds in the United States. Inland the coastal plain is relatively flat.
The Piedmont region meets the coastal plain along the "fall line," a line which marks the elevation at which waterfalls first appear on streams and rivers. It consists of gently rolling countryside frequently broken by hills or low isolated mountain ridges. The western section of the state is part of the Appalachian Mountain range. Among the subranges of the Appalachians located in the state are the Great Smoky Mountains, Blue Ridge Mountains, Balsams, Pisgahs, and the Black Mountains.
Due to its wide range of elevation, from sea level on the coast to over 6,000 feet in the mountains, North Carolina has the most variation in climate of all the Southeastern states. As such, the climate of the state ranges from a warm, humid subtropical climate near the coast to one which is humid climate in the mountains. Winters in western North Carolina typically feature significant snowfall and subfreezing temperatures more akin to a northern state than a southern one.