The Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina are named after the natural smoke-like blue haze that often covers the range. The haze is caused by the evaporation of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released by the abundant vegetation in the area, which reacts with sunlight and atmospheric oxygen to form tiny droplets of organic compounds and water vapor. These droplets scatter light in a way that gives the mountains a blue-gray appearance, making them look like they are shrouded in smoke. The Cherokee Indians, who lived in the region before European settlers arrived, referred to the Smoky Mountains as "Shaconage," which means "place of blue smoke." Over time, this name was shortened to the Smoky Mountains, and the name stuck.