The Gulf Coast, sometimes known as "the third coast" in the United States, is a region that includes five states: Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. This area is a major center of economic activity — as of 2004 it contained seven out of the 10 busiest ports in the nation. One of Florida's most important industries, tourism, is heavily concentrated in this region of the state — the coast is home to hundreds of beaches frequented by tourists and locals throughout the year. (South Florida is particularly popular in the colder months as its weather is considered tropical and stays warm all year.) Some of the most popular destinations on the Gulf include Pensacola, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Panama City, Destin, Clearwater, Naples and Sarasota.
This region is vulnerable to extreme natural disasters — hurricanes, severe thunderstorms and flooding.