Gulf Coast of the United States

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 States that border the Gulf of Mexico are shown in red.
States that border the Gulf of Mexico are shown in red.

The Gulf Coast region of the United States comprises the coasts of states which border the Gulf of Mexico. The states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida are Gulf Coast states. The Gulf Coast is sometimes referred to as the "third coast."

The Gulf Coast is a major center of economic activity. The marshlands along the Louisiana and Texas coasts provide breeding grounds and nurseries for ocean life that drive the fishing and shrimping industries. The Port of South Louisiana (New Orleans) and the Port of Houston are two of the ten busiest ports in the world by cargo volume. The discovery of oil and gas deposits along the coast and offshore, combined with easy access to shipping, have made the Gulf Coast the heart of the US petrochemical industry.

The Gulf Coast is intersected by numerous rivers, the largest of which is the Mississippi. Land along the Gulf Coast tends to be low and flat, and much of it is (or was) marshland. The western portions of the Gulf Coast include many barrier islands and peninsulas, including the 130 mile (210 km) Padre Island and Galveston Island. These landforms protect numerous bays and inlets. The central part of the Gulf Coast, from eastern Texas through Louisiana, consists primarily of marshland.

Because of its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, the Gulf Coast area is vulnerable to hurricanes. Floods and severe thunderstorms also affect the region; tornadoes are infrequent but do occur. Earthquakes, however, are virtually unheard of.

Cities on the US Gulf Coast

See also:

Geographic regions of the United States
Central | Coastal States | Deep South | East | East Coast | Gulf Coast | Mid-Atlantic | Midwest
Mountain States | New England | North | Northeast | Northwest | Pacific | South | South Atlantic
South Central | Southeast | Southwest | Upper Midwest | West | West Coast
Multinational regions: Border States | Great Lakes | Great Plains | Pacific Northwest
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