Mississippi ranks 32nd among the states in size, with a total area of 125,433 sq km (48,430 sq mi), including 2,033 sq km (785 sq mi) of inland water and 1,528 sq km (590 sq mi) of coastal waters over which it has jurisdiction. It has a maximum length, from north to south, of about 530 km (about 330 mi) and a maximum width of about 290 km (about 180 mi). Its mean elevation is about 90 m (about 300 ft).
Mississippi lies wholly within the Gulf Coastal Plain, which is one of the principal natural regions, or physiographic provinces, of the southern United States (see Coastal Plain). The state can be divided into two sections, which, in order to distinguish clearly between them, are treated as separate natural regions in this article. Covering the western part of the state along the Mississippi River are the broad flat lowlands of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain. Covering the remainder of the state are the low hills of the East Gulf Coastal Plain. Both natural regions extend beyond the border of Mississippi into neighboring states and are but a small part of the Gulf Coastal Plain. The portion of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain located in Mississippi is known as the Yazoo Basin.
Locally referred to as the Delta, this region covers the western margins of Mississippi. The plain varies in width from about 105 km (about 65 mi) near Greenville to less than 1.5 km (less than 1 mi) south of Natchez. It includes the flat low-lying bottomlands along the Mississippi, Tallahatchie, Yazoo, and Big Sunflower rivers. Elevations are below 60 m (200 ft), the highest lands occurring on the natural levees along the major rivers. Away from the levees the land is often swampy, and floods were frequent until recent years, when reservoirs and channel improvements reduced the problem. The plain has productive soils that are good for cotton, soybeans, and rice.
The East Gulf Coastal Plain rises from sea level along the marshy Gulf Coast to a high point of 246 m (806 ft) at Woodall Mountain, in the Tennessee River Hills. Forming the western edge of the plain are the Bluff Hills, a belt of low hills from 8 to 24 km (5 to 15 mi) wide that extends the entire length of the state. Composed of fertile yellow soils known as loess, the Bluff Hills, or Loess Hills, are generally too eroded for profitable farming.
East of the Bluff Hills and curving in a broad arc from Meridian to the area around Oxford is a broad belt of low hills commonly designated as the North-Central Hills. Just east of the North-Central Hills lies the Flatwoods, the Pontotoc Ridge, and the Black Prairie regions. The Black Prairie is an extension of Alabama’s Black Belt, which is a narrow rolling strip of prairie land. Beyond the Black Belt, in the extreme northeast, are the steep hills and deep narrow ravines of the Tennessee River Hills. South of the North-Central Hills lies another narrow strip of prairie, the Jackson Prairie, and the Pine Hills and Coastal Meadows regions. "Minnesota" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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