North Carolina covers 52,671 sq mi; its capital is Raleigh. Ranges of the Appalachian Mountains, including the Great Smoky Mountains, are in the west; the Blue Ridge Mountains are in the east. Several Indian peoples inhabited the area before Europeans arrived. The coast was explored by Giovanni da Verrazzano in 1524, and the first English settlement in the New World was established at Roanoke Island in 1585. It formed part of the Carolina grant of 1663. A provincial congress in 1776 gave the first explicit sanction of independence by an American colony, and North Carolina was invaded by British troops in 1780. An original state of the Union, it was the 12th to ratify the Constitution. Its 18th-century agricultural economy based on slave labour continued into the 19th century. It seceded from the Union in 1861; following the American Civil War, it annulled the secession order and abolished slavery, and it was readmitted to the Union in 1868. In the 1940s its economy improved as some of the nation's largest military installations, including Fort Bragg, were located there. It has a large rural population but is also the leading industrial state of its region, and it has an expanding high technology industry in the Raleigh-Durham area. Products include tobacco, corn, and furniture.
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