There is no official Census Bureau definition of the southeastern United States. However, the American Association of Geographers defines the southeastern United States as Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. The OSBO uses the same states, but includes Arkansas and Louisiana.
The most populous state in the region is Florida (20,612,439), followed by Georgia (10,310,371) and North Carolina (10,146,788).
|State||2017 Estimate||2010 Census||Change||Area||Density|
|Alabama||4,874,747||4,779,736||+1.99%||50,645.29 sq mi (131,170.7 km2)||96/sq mi (37/km2)|
|Arkansas||3,004,279||2,915,918||+3.03%||52,035.44 sq mi (134,771.2 km2)||58/sq mi (22/km2)|
|Florida||20,984,400||18,801,310||+11.61%||53,624.72 sq mi (138,887.4 km2)||391/sq mi (151/km2)|
|Georgia||10,429,379||9,687,653||+7.66%||57,513.44 sq mi (148,959.1 km2)||181/sq mi (70/km2)|
|Kentucky||4,454,189||4,339,367||+2.65%||39,486.31 sq mi (102,269.1 km2)||113/sq mi (44/km2)|
|Louisiana||4,684,333||4,533,372||+3.33%||43,203.87 sq mi (111,897.5 km2)||108/sq mi (42/km2)|
|Mississippi||2,984,100||2,967,297||+0.57%||46,923.24 sq mi (121,530.6 km2)||64/sq mi (25/km2)|
|North Carolina||10,273,419||9,535,483||+7.74%||48,617.87 sq mi (125,919.7 km2)||211/sq mi (82/km2)|
|South Carolina||5,024,369||4,625,364||+8.63%||30,060.67 sq mi (77,856.8 km2)||167/sq mi (65/km2)|
|Tennessee||6,715,984||6,346,105||+5.83%||41,234.86 sq mi (106,797.8 km2)||163/sq mi (63/km2)|
|Virginia||8,470,020||8,001,024||+5.86%||39,490.06 sq mi (102,278.8 km2)||214/sq mi (83/km2)|
|West Virginia||1,815,857||1,852,994||−2.00%||24,038.19 sq mi (62,258.6 km2)||76/sq mi (29/km2)|
|Total||83,715,076||78,385,623||+6.80%||526,873.96 sq mi (1,364,597.3 km2)||159/sq mi (61/km2)|
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The predominant culture of the Southeast has its origins with the settlement of the region by British colonists and African slaves in the 17th century, as well as large groups of English, Scots and Ulster-Scots, Germans, French, and Acadians in succeeding centuries. Since the late 20th century the New South has emerged as the fastest growing area of the United States economically. Multiculturalism has become mainstream in the Southeastern states. African Americans remain a dominant demographic at around a 30% of the total population of the Southeast. The New South is built upon the metropolitan areas along the interstate 85 corridor. Cities include Birmingham, Atlanta, Greenville, Spartanburg, Charlotte, Greensboro, Winston-Salem and Raleigh-Durham. The economic power of this megalopolis will rival that of the Northeastern megalopolis in the coming decades.
Most of the southeastern part of the United States is dominated by the humid subtropical climate. As one nears the southern portions of Florida, the climate gradually becomes tropical as winters are freeze free and all months have a mean temperature above 18 C (the defined coldest monthly mean temperature of tropical climates).
Seasonally, summers are generally hot and humid throughout the entire region. The Bermuda High pumps hot and moist air mass from the tropical Atlantic Ocean and eastern Gulf of Mexico westward toward the southeast United States, creating the typical sultry tropical summers. Daytime highs are often in the upper 80's to lower 90's F. Rainfall is increasingly summer concentrated as one moves southward, reaching a sharp summer monsoon like pattern over Florida. Sunshine is abundant across the southeastern United States in summer, as the rainfall comes in quick, but intense tropical downpours.
Winters are cool in the northern areas like Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, and western North Carolina, with average highs in the 45 °F (7 °C) range in January. Farther south, winters become more mild across interior eastern North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, with average January highs in the 53 °F (12 °C) range. As one nears the Gulf of Mexico coastal plain and coastal areas of Georgia and South Carolina, winters become warm, with daytime highs near or over 60 °F (16 °C), until far enough south in central Florida where daytime highs are above 70 °F (21 °C). Winters tend to be very dry and sunny across Florida in winter, with a gradual increase in winter rainfall with increasing latitude.
The Southeast has changed dramatically in the last two generations. Since 1980, there has been a boom in its service economy, manufacturing base, high technology industries, and the financial sector. Examples of this include the surge in tourism in Florida and along the Gulf Coast; numerous new automobile production plants such as Mercedes-Benz in Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Hyundai in Montgomery, Alabama; Toyota Motors in Blue Springs, Mississippi; Kia in West Point, Georgia; the BMW production plant in Greer, South Carolina; Volkswagen in Chattanooga, Tennessee; the GM manufacturing plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee; the Volkswagen manufacturing plant in Pulaski, Virginia;and the Nissan North American headquarters in Franklin, Tennessee; the two largest research parks in the country: Research Triangle Park in the Triangle area of North Carolina (the world's largest) and the Cummings Research Park in Huntsville, Alabama (the world's fourth largest); and the corporate headquarters of Verso Paper in Memphis, as well as FedEx, which is one of the world's largest shipping companies.
Fortune 500 companies having headquarters in the region include 20 in Virginia, 16 in Florida, 15 in North Carolina, and 14 in Georgia. This economic expansion has enabled parts of the South to have of some of the lowest unemployment rates in the United States. In Alabama, there is a large-scale manufacturing project owned by the German steel megacorporation ThyssenKrupp, which operates a massive, state-of-the-art facility in Mobile.
Research Triangle Park, in the Raleigh-Durham urban area of North Carolina, has emerged as a major hub of technology, governmental, and biotechnological research and development, as has the Virginia BioTechnology Research Park in Richmond. The Cummings Research Park in the Huntsville, Alabama area is the second largest research complex in the nation. Located in Huntsville is the Redstone Arsenal, United States Army Missile Command, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and many other key government, military, and aerospace agencies.
The National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Tallahassee, Florida, is the largest laboratory in the world devoted to the study of magnetism. The University of South Carolina is currently constructing a research campus in downtown Columbia, and the university is the nation's only National Science Foundation-funded Industry/University Cooperative Research Center for Fuel Cells.
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There are a number of notable universities, with several large research universities which exert influence beyond the region. These include the oldest public universities in the country, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, College of William & Mary and University of Georgia, along with the University of Alabama, Florida State University, Clemson University, Auburn University, the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), Virginia Tech, and the University of Virginia.
There are a number of well-known private institutions, including Wake Forest University and Duke University in North Carolina, Tulane University in New Orleans, Morehouse College, Spelman College, and Emory University in Atlanta, the University of Miami in Florida, Tuskegee University in Alabama, and Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.
The region is home to the greatest number of historically black colleges and universities in the nation. The three largest in the region are North Carolina A&T University, Florida A&M University, and Jackson State University.
|3||Washington||District of Columbia||672,228|
|Rank||Metropolitan area||Anchor city||Population (2016)||State(s)|
|1||Washington-Arlington-Alexandria||Washington||6,131,977||District of Columbia / Virginia / Maryland / West Virginia|
|2||Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach||Miami||6,066,387||Florida|
|6||Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia||Charlotte||2,474,314||North Carolina / South Carolina|
|9||Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News||Virginia Beach||1,726,907||Virginia / North Carolina|
|11||Memphis||Memphis||1,342,842||Tennessee / Mississippi / Arkansas|
|13||Louisville-Jefferson County||Louisville||1,283,430||Kentucky / Indiana|
|15||New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner||New Orleans||1,268,883||Louisiana|
Beyond Megalopolis by Virginia Tech's Metropolitan Institute, an attempt to update Jean Gottmann's work with current trends, defines two "megapolitan areas" contained within the Southeast, out of a total of ten such areas in the United States:
Two others tie some areas on the margins of the Southeast to urban centers in other regions:
These are the combined statistical areas of the Southeastern region which exceed 1 million in population according to the United States Census Bureau's 2016 estimates. Note that the metropolitan areas of Tampa and Richmond are not included in any CSAs, so they are included in the table without constituent areas.
|Rank||Combined Statistical Area||Population (2016)||Constituent Core Based Statistical Areas|
|1||Washington-Baltimore-Arlington, DC-MD-VA-WV-PA Combined Statistical Area||9,882,634||Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan Statistical Area
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD Metropolitan Statistical Area
Hagerstown-Martinsburg, MD-WV Metropolitan Statistical Area
Chambersburg-Waynesboro, PA Metropolitan Statistical Area
Winchester, VA-WV Metropolitan Statistical Area
California-Lexington Park, MD Metropolitan Statistical Area
Easton, MD Micropolitan Statistical Area
Cambridge, MD Micropolitan Statistical Area
|2||Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Port St. Lucie, FL Combined Statistical Area||6,723,472||Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area
Port St. Lucie, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area
Sebastian-Vero Beach, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area
Okeechobee, FL Micropolitan Statistical Area
|3||Atlanta–Athens-Clarke County–Sandy Springs, GA Combined Statistical Area||6,451,262||Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA Metropolitan Statistical Area
Athens-Clarke County, GA Metropolitan Statistical Area
Gainesville, GA Metropolitan Statistical Area
LaGrange, GA Micropolitan Statistical Area
Jefferson, GA Micropolitan Statistical Area
Calhoun, GA Micropolitan Statistical Area
Cedartown, GA Micropolitan Statistical Area
Thomaston, GA Micropolitan Statistical Area
|4||Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater||4,310,524||MSA only|
|5||Orlando-Deltona-Daytona Beach, FL Combined Statistical Area||3,202,927||Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area
Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area
The Villages, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area
|6||Charlotte-Concord, NC-SC Combined Statistical Area||2,632,249||Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC Metropolitan Statistical Area
Shelby, NC Micropolitan Statistical Area
Albemarle, NC Micropolitan Statistical Area
|7||Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, NC Combined Statistical Area||2,156,253||Raleigh, NC Metropolitan Statistical Area
Durham-Chapel Hill, NC Metropolitan Statistical Area
Dunn, NC Micropolitan Statistical Area
Oxford, NC Micropolitan Statistical Area
Sanford, NC Micropolitan Statistical Area
Henderson, NC Micropolitan Statistical Area
|8||Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro, TN Combined Statistical Area||1,987,778||Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN Metropolitan Statistical Area
Shelbyville, TN Micropolitan Statistical Area
Lawrenceburg, TN Micropolitan Statistical Area
Lewisburg, TN Micropolitan Statistical Area
|9||Virginia Beach-Norfolk, VA-NC Combined Statistical Area||1,830,629||Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC Metropolitan Statistical Area
Elizabeth City, NC Micropolitan Statistical Area
Kill Devil Hills, NC Micropolitan Statistical Area
|10||Greensboro–Winston-Salem–High Point, NC Combined Statistical Area||1,650,019||Greensboro-High Point, NC Metropolitan Statistical Area
Winston-Salem, NC Metropolitan Statistical Area
Burlington, NC Metropolitan Statistical Area
Mount Airy, NC Micropolitan Statistical Area
|11||Jacksonville-St. Marys-Palatka, FL-GA Combined Statistical Area||1,603,497||Jacksonville, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area
Palatka, FL Micropolitan Statistical Area
St. Marys, GA Micropolitan Statistical Area
|12||Louisville/Jefferson County–Elizabethtown–Madison, KY-IN Combined Statistical Area||1,510,945||Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN Metropolitan Statistical Area
Elizabethtown-Fort Knox, KY Metropolitan Statistical Area
Bardstown, KY Micropolitan Statistical Area
Madison, IN Micropolitan Statistical Area
|13||New Orleans-Metairie-Hammond, LA-MS Combined Statistical Area||1,501,213||New Orleans-Metairie, LA Metropolitan Statistical Area
Hammond, LA Metropolitan Statistical Area
Picayune, MS Micropolitan Statistical Area
Bogalusa, LA Micropolitan Statistical Area
|14||Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson, SC Combined Statistical Area||1,442,117||Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, SC Metropolitan Statistical Area
Spartanburg, SC Metropolitan Statistical Area
Greenwood, SC Micropolitan Statistical Area
Seneca, SC Micropolitan Statistical Area
Gaffney, SC Micropolitan Statistical Area
|15||Memphis-Forrest City, TN-MS-AR Combined Statistical Area||1,369,038||Memphis, TN-MS-AR Metropolitan Statistical Area
Forrest City, AR Micropolitan Statistical Area
|16||Birmingham-Hoover-Talladega, AL Combined Statistical Area||1,361,299||Birmingham-Hoover, AL Metropolitan Statistical Area
Talladega-Sylacauga, AL Micropolitan Statistical Area
Cullman, AL Micropolitan Statistical Area
|18||Knoxville-Morristown-Sevierville, TN Combined Statistical Area||1,117,758||Knoxville, TN Metropolitan Statistical Area
Morristown, TN Metropolitan Statistical Area
Sevierville, TN Micropolitan Statistical Area
Newport, TN Micropolitan Statistical Area
|19||Cape Coral-Fort Myers-Naples, FL Combined Statistical Area||1,087,472||Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area
Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area
|20||North Port-Sarasota, FL Combined Statistical Area||1,002,722||North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area
Punta Gorda, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area
Arcadia, FL Micropolitan Statistical Area
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In professional sports, the Southeast has seven NFL teams: Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Carolina Panthers,and the Tennessee Titans. The Falcons, Saints, Buccaneers and Panthers play in the NFC South, the Jaguars and the Titans play in the AFC South, and the Dolphins play in the AFC East.
Seven National Basketball Association teams play in the Southeast: Washington Wizards, Charlotte Hornets, Atlanta Hawks, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic and New Orleans Pelicans. The Wizards, Heat, Hornets, Magic and Hawks are in the Eastern Conference and the Grizzlies and Pelicans are in the Western Conference.
The Southeastern Conference is an NCAA Division 1 conference of Southeastern college teams, including the Alabama Crimson Tide, Auburn Tigers, Kentucky Wildcats, Ole Miss Rebels, Florida Gators, South Carolina Gamecocks, Tennessee Volunteers and Georgia Bulldogs, Mississippi State Bulldogs, and Vanderbilt Commodores. The Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl, Peach Bowl, and Citrus Bowl are notable college football bowls held in Southeastern cities. The Atlantic Coast Conference also features Southeastern teams, such as the Florida State Seminoles, Louisville Cardinals, Miami Hurricanes, Clemson Tigers and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
The majority of NASCAR teams are headquartered in the Charlotte area along with the sports operations headquarters and media outlets. Tracks in the region include Daytona International Speedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Darlington Raceway, Kentucky Speedway, Martinsville Speedway, and Richmond International Speedway.
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