The southern United States is known for its distinctive cultural and historical identify within the country--this distinctiveness includes music, cuisine, literature, and social customs. The US Census Bureau defines "The South" to include the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. This astronaut photograph from the International Space Station highlights the southeastern part of the South at night, including the eastern Gulf of Mexico and lower Atlantic Seaboard states.
Following the American Civil War (1861-1865), the southern USA continued to be mostly agrarian until the latter half of the 20th century, when increased migration from other areas of the country (and immigration from outside the USA) led to increased urbanization. The brightly lit metropolitan areas of Atlanta, GA (image center) and Jacksonville, FL (image lower right) appear largest in the image with numerous other urban areas forming an interconnected network of light across the region. A large dark region to the northwest of Jacksonville, FL is the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge; likewise the ridges of the Appalachian mountains form dark swaths to the north of Atlanta, GA and west of Charlotte, NC (image center). The faint gold and green line of airglow--caused by ultraviolet radiation exciting the gas molecules in the upper atmosphere--parallels the horizon (or Earth limb).