North Carolina is composed of 100 counties. North Carolina's two largest metropolitan areas are among the top ten fastest-growing in the country: its capital, Raleigh, and its largest city, Charlotte. In the past five decades, North Carolina's economy has undergone a transition from reliance upon tobacco, textiles, and furniture-making to a more diversified economy with engineering, energy, biotechnology, and finance sectors.
North Carolina has a wide range of elevations, from sea level on the coast to 6,699 feet (2,042 m) at Mount Mitchell, the highest point in the Eastern US. The climate of the coastal plains is strongly influenced by the Atlantic Ocean. Most of the state falls in the humid subtropical climate zone. More than 300 miles (500 km) from the coast, the western, mountainous part of the state has a subtropical highland climate.