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The Inland South, Economy

Megalopolis, gentle slopes, descendants of slaves, rural economy, soybeans

Agriculture has long been a major part of the regionís economy. Cotton cultivation was a catalyst for settlement in the 19th century, when large cotton plantations developed. These plantations had a long-lasting effect on the make-up of society in the Inland South. About 70 percent of the population is white and 28 percent is African American, mainly descendants of slaves originally brought from Africa to work the plantations.

During the 20th century, the rural economy diversified enormously with substantial acreage devoted to soybeans, corn, beef cattle, poultry, rice, and peanuts. Cotton is still important, particularly in the Mississippi lowland. Tobacco dominates the gentle slopes on the coastal plain of Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

Oil and natural gas have historically played a strong role in the regionís economy, particularly in the states of Texas and Louisiana. Manufacturing has also increased in importance. During the last half of the century, many manufacturing facilities formerly located in the Heartland and Megalopolis have relocated to the South. Many of these companies moved to the Inland South to take advantage of the lower wages and the lack of strong labor unions in the region. Since 1947, the Southís share of the nationís manufacturing workers has increased significantly.

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