North Carolina was the twelfth admission to the United States of America, ratifying the Constitution on November 21, 1789 - the penultimate of the thirteen British colonies to do so. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte. One of the two "Carolinas" of the U.S., situated above South Carolina, it is a quintessential Southern state in both location and culture. North Carolina spans nearly nine full degrees of longitude from its Atlantic Ocean coastline and accompanying coastal plain, to the Piedmont spanning the state's midsection, and the Appalachia of the far-west. States bordered by North Carolina are, clockwise, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia. Its major population centers include Wilmington in the far-southeast, Greenville and Fayetteville also in the east but further inland, the Research Triangle (Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill), Piedmont Triad (Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point), Metrolina (Charlotte and vicinity), and Asheville in the west.
Landmarks include Mount Mitchell, the highest point east of the Mississippi River in the U.S. at 6,684 feet; the Biltmore in Asheville; the multiple higher education institutions of the namesake Research Triangle; the golf courses of the Sandhills; the Battleship North Carolina in Wilmington; and the beaches in the state's east, especially along the Outer Banks, also the location of the Wright Brothers' hometown Kitty Hawk. Sports in the state include the National Football League's Carolina Panthers, the National Basketball Association's Charlotte Hornets, and the National Hockey League's Carolina Hurricanes. The state has never hosted a Major League Baseball team, but the Durham Bulls have been a celebrated minor league team for decades, gaining national prominence aside from their state exposure. North Carolina is also a NASCAR hotbed, with most of its teams being based in the Charlotte area, and tracks in Concord, North Wilkesboro and formerly Rockingham. Military institutions in the state include Fort Bragg in Fayetteville and Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville.
North Carolina's original primary Interstate highway corridors are: Interstate 40, running east-west from the Tennessee line to its end at Wilmington via the Triad and Triangle; Interstate 77, running due north-south from South Carolina through Charlotte and into Virginia; Interstate 85, a Charlotte-Triad-Triangle connector; and Interstate 95, which runs through more rural areas roughly dividing the Piedmont and coastal plain. Interstate 26 also runs through the western part of the state, including past Asheville. Older three-digit Interstates include 240 around Asheville, 440 and 540 in Raleigh-Durham, and 277 and 485 in and around Charlotte. In the 21st century, NCDOT has spent money on an ever-increasing number of additional Interstates: 73 and 74, both also serving the Triad and eventually planned to reach Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Interstate 87, running from Raleigh to Norfolk, Virginia and different from the original Interstate 87 in New York; Interstate 140 north of Wilmington; Interstate 295 bypassing Fayetteville; Interstates 587 and 795, respectively linking I-95 to Greenville and Goldsboro; and Interstates 785 and 840 in and around Greensboro.
U.S. routes include U.S. Route 1, which runs through the Sandhills and Raleigh before exiting into Virginia parallel to I-85; U.S. Route 13, which has its south end just northeast of Fayetteville; U.S. Route 15, another Piedmont corridor; U.S. Route 17 in the far-east mainland serving Wilmington, Jacksonville, New Bern and smaller cities in the northeast portion of the state en route to Virginia's Hampton Roads; U.S. Routes 19 and 23 in the mountains; U.S. Route 21, a feeder for I-77; U.S. Route 64 from Murphy to Nags Head; and U.S. Route 70, running east-west largely followed by I-40 and terminating east of Morehead City along the coast. Auxiliary U.S. routes include U.S. Route 117 between Wilmington and Wilson; U.S. Route 301, paralleling I-95 throughout its entire tenure in the state; and four other childern of US 1: 401, 501, 601 and 701; along with U.S. Route 220, beginning in Rockingham and serving as yet another corridor for the Triad, and U.S. Route 421, running southeast-to-northwest between Fort Fisher and just north of Boone.