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The Southeastern United States, colloquially referred to as the South, is the eastern portion of the Southern United States, and the southern portion of the Eastern United States. It is one of the most populous regions of the United States of America.
There is no official Census Bureau definition of the southeastern United States. However, the Association of American Geographers defines the southeastern United States as Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.
With over 18 million people, Florida is the most populous of the states. It is followed by Georgia, with over 9.8 million residents, and followed closely behind by North Carolina with over 9.6 million people.
Jacksonville, Charlotte, and Memphis are the largest cities in the region by city-proper population; however, Miami, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, and Tampa are the most populous metropolitan areas in the region.
In the last two generations, the South has changed dramatically. In recent decades it has seen 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; 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 major banking corporations Bank of America in Charlotte, North Carolina; Regions Financial Corporation, AmSouth Bancorporation, and BBVA Compass in Birmingham; SunTrust Banks and the district headquarters of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta; and BB&T in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The region is home many Fortune 500 companies including 20 in Virginia, 16 in Florida, 15 in North Carolina, and 14 in Georgia. This economic expansion has enabled parts of the South to boast of some of the lowest unemployment rates in the United States. The many automotive manufacturing plants in Alabama, primarily those owned by automakers Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, and Honda, in coordination with countless automotive supplier corporations, have made the state of Alabama the number one center for automotive manufacturing and production, having surpassed Detroit in recent years. Alabama is also home to a large-scale manufacturing project owned by the German steel megacorporation Thyssen-Krupp, which operates a massive, state-of-the-art facility in the Alabama port city of Mobile.
The Southeastern United States is home to a number of prominent universities, with several large research universities of longstanding significance (such as University of Mississippi, University of Georgia, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Wake Forest University, University of Maryland, Clemson University, Florida State University, University of Miami, University of Kentucky, University of Tennessee, University of Memphis, Auburn University, University of Alabama, University of Florida (significance due to Gatorade; and Shands Hospital, a leading teaching and research hospital) and Mississippi State University) which exert some influence beyond the region.
Research Triangle Park, in the Raleigh-Durham urban area of North Carolina, has emerged (over a nearly 50-year existence) 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. It is one of the biggest areas of aerospace engineering and missile defense technology. Huntsville is also home to Redstone Arsenal, United States Army Missile Command, the U.S. Space and 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.
Duke University, Emory University, the University of Florida, Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Tulane, Vanderbilt University, the University of Maryland at College Park, and the University of Virginia are the only educational institutions in the Southeastern United States that are members of the Association of American Universities (AAU). The AAU is an organization of leading research universities devoted to maintaining a strong system of academic research and education.
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- ^ a: Jacksonville, Louisville and Nashville are consolidated city-counties; the population given is for the entire city excluding other incorporated places lying within the county limits.
Largest metropolitan areas
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:
- "Piedmont" extending from North Carolina to Alabama
- "Peninsula" covering South Florida and Central Florida
Two others tie some areas on the margins of the Southeast to urban centers in other regions:
- "Gulf Coast" extending as far east as the western tip of Florida
- "Northeast" including much of eastern Virginia
- Southeastern mixed forests — Southeastern habitat
- Hammock (ecology) — Southeastern habitat
- East Coast of the United States — the southern Eastern Seaboard portion.
- Association of American Geographers
- "State jobless rate below US average". The Decatur Daily. August 19, 2005. Retrieved 2007-02-12.
- "Table 1: Annual Estimates of the Population for Incorporated Places Over 100,000, Ranked by July 1, 2009 Population: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2009" (CSV). 2009 Population Estimates. United States Census Bureau, Population Division. 2010-11-02. Retrieved 2010-11-02.
- "Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas: Vintage 2012". United States Census Bureau. 2012-07-01. Retrieved 2013-05-11.
- "http://www.census.gov/popest/data/metro/totals/2012/tables/CBSA-EST2012-01.csv" (CSV). 2012 Population Estimates. United States Census Bureau. 2012-07-01. Retrieved 2013-05-11.
- Flora Atlas of the Southeastern United States — by the North Carolina Botanical Garden & University of North Carolina Herbarium (NCU).
- Sea Level Changes in the Southeastern United States. Past, Present, and Future — University of South Florida (August 2011)
- Britannica Southeast U.S. - video on YouTube