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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.




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

Video Credit:

"The Outer Banks of North Carolina," video courtesy of OuterbanksNC, uploaded on July 21, 2011, (access March 27, 2012).

Origin - location: 



Hi Stephen,

You might want to consider different aspects of history and geography that might make you want to live in the coastal plain -- such as the economy, travel and tourism, historical sites, weather, etc.  

Here are a few resources from NCpedia to get you started:

You may also want to consider looking at the information in NCpedia on the coastal counties.  You can do this by going to the NC County Map on NCpedia, finding the coastal counties on the map and then clicking the blue text link for that county below the map.  Each county entry will give you information about the history and economy of the county as well as links to other articles on NCpedia.

Good luck with your project!

Kelly Agan, Government & Heritage Library



how does coast plain relate to geology ?


Hi Mia,

Try these sources in NCpedia on the geologic history of North Carolina:

Other sources on North Carolina geologic history:

Thanks for visiting NCpedia!

Kelly Agan, Government & Heritage Library


This webpage is really good for projects and school work about our loving coastal region! Got a lot of information and am soooo happy because the information is in such detail! TOTALLY QUOTING AND GIVING YOU GUYS LOTS OF CREDIT!!!! <4


Hi Jasmine,

Thanks for letting us know!  We're glad you could find useful information.

Good luck with your projects!

Kelly Agan, Government & Heritage Library


This doesn't say what the current population is of the outer coastal plain, in North Carolina


That is true. Population information is generally reported for each county, and not for each region or for a portion of a region. Here are two excellent resources that provide population information for counties: 

I am emailing you and including Reference Services at the NC Government & Heritage Library on the email as they may be able to provide additional guidance or assistance. Their contact information may be found at 
Good luck in your research!
Michelle Underhill
Digital Information Management Program, NC Government & Heritage Library


nc pedia does not tell you anything GO TO GOOGLE EVERY ONE


for real the only info I got was hights and measurement like what-



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