In 1585 and 1587, the first groups of English settlers established colonies on Roanoke Island, located North Carolina's coast. The first group returned to England and the second group, known as the "Lost Colony," mysteriously disappeared. Virginia Dare, the first baby born to English parents in America, was one of the people who vanished.
North Carolina was the 12th of the 13 original colonies to join the Union, but one of the last Southern states to secede from it during the Civil War. The first state university was established in North Carolina in 1795.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore was the first national seashore in the United States. So many shipwrecks occurred at Cape Hatteras that the cape is called the "Graveyard of the Atlantic." The state's shores are some of the most dangerous in the world because of islands, reefs, and sandbars. The first successful flight occurred at Kitty Hawk. Wilbur and Orville Wright built and flew the first successful airplane, Flyer 1 for 12 seconds in 1903.
North Carolina was named after King Charles I and King Charles II of England. The name "Carolina" comes from the Latin word "Carolinus," meaning "of Charles." The state is nicknamed the "Tar Heel State." No one is sure of the origin of the nickname. Many historians think the term comes from the state's production of tar and from the tar riverfront where it was loaded on rafts during colonial times.
Some people believe that Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, was going to put tar on the heels of troops who retreated during battle in order to make them stick better. Others trace the name back to the English troops crossing of the Tar River in 1781. Supposedly, the soldiers' feet were blackened with tar that had been dumped into the water. Greensboro and Winston-Salem are two of the state's important cities. The abbreviation for North Carolina is NC.
North Carolina is a South Atlantic state bordered by Virginia to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, South Carolina and Georgia to the south, and Tennessee to the west. The state's landscape includes swamps, rich farmland, and hills. Over half of the state is forested. The far western region of the state is covered mostly by mountains. Climb 6,684 feet to the top of Mount Mitchell, located in the northwestern part of the state; it's the highest peak east of the Mississippi River.
North Carolina has a very diverse economy because of its great availability of hydroelectric power, its pleasant climate, and its wide variety of soils. The state ranks third among the South Atlantic states in population, but leads the region in industry and agriculture. North Carolina leads the nation in the production of tobacco, textiles, and furniture. Charlotte, the state's largest city, is a major textile and trade center.
North Carolina has large grazing areas for beef and dairy cattle. Truck farms can be found in North Carolina. A truck farm is a small farm where fruits and vegetables are grown to be sold at local markets. The state's shipping, commercial fishing, and lumber industries are important to its economy. Service industries, including education, health care, private research, and retail trade, are also important. Research Triangle Park, a large industrial complex located in the Raleigh-Durham area, is one of the major centers in the country for electronics and medical research.
Tourism is an expanding industry in North Carolina. It holds, among other sites, the Fort Raleigh National Site, the site of the English's first attempt at settlement in America, many important battlefields from both the American Revolution and the Civil War, as well as the house where President Andrew Johnson was born in Raleigh, the state's capital.