Alabama

State of Alabama
Flag of AlabamaState seal of Alabama
FlagSeal
Nickname(s):
The Yellowhammer State, The Heart of Dixie, and The Cotton State
Motto(s): Latin: Audemus jura nostra defendere We dare defend our rights
State song(s): Alabama
Map of the United States with Alabama highlighted
Official languageEnglish
Spoken languagesAs of 2010[1]
  • English 95.1%
  • Spanish 3.1%
DemonymAlabamian[2]
CapitalMontgomery
Largest cityBirmingham
Largest metroGreater Birmingham
AreaRanked 30th
 • Total52,419 sq mi
(135,765 km2)
 • Width190 miles (305 km)
 • Length330 miles (531 km)
 • % water3.20
 • Latitude30° 11' N to 35° N
 • Longitude84° 53' W to 88° 28' W
PopulationRanked 24th
 • Total4,887,871 (2018)
 • Density94.7 (2011 est.)/sq mi  (36.5 (2011 est.)/km2)
Ranked 27th
 • Median household income$48,123[3] (46th)
Elevation
 • Highest pointMount Cheaha[4][5][6]
2,413 ft (735.5 m)
 • Mean500 ft  (150 m)
 • Lowest pointGulf of Mexico[5]
Sea level
Before statehoodAlabama Territory
Admitted to the UnionDecember 14, 1819 (22nd)
GovernorKay Ivey (R)
Lieutenant GovernorWill Ainsworth (R)
LegislatureAlabama Legislature
 • Upper houseSenate
 • Lower houseHouse of Representatives
U.S. SenatorsRichard Shelby (R)
Doug Jones (D)
U.S. House delegation6 Republicans
1 Democrat (list)
Time zones 
 • most of stateCentral: UTC −6/−5
 • Phenix City areaEastern: UTC −5/−4
ISO 3166US-AL
AbbreviationsAL, alabama.gov
Alabama state symbols
Flag of Alabama.svg
Seal of Alabama.svg
Living insignia
AmphibianRed Hills salamander
BirdYellowhammer, wild turkey
ButterflyEastern tiger swallowtail
FishLargemouth bass, fighting tarpon
FlowerCamellia, oak-leaf hydrangea
Horse breedRacking horse
InsectMonarch butterfly
MammalAmerican black bear
ReptileAlabama red-bellied turtle
TreeLongleaf pine
Inanimate insignia
BeverageConecuh Ridge Whiskey
ColorsRed, white
DanceSquare dance
FoodPecan, blackberry, peach
FossilBasilosaurus
GemstoneStar blue quartz
MineralHematite
RockMarble
ShellJohnstone's junonia
SloganShare The Wonder,
Alabama the beautiful,
Where America finds its voice,
Sweet Home Alabama
SoilBama
State route marker
Alabama state route marker
State quarter
Alabama quarter dollar coin
Released in 2003
Lists of United States state symbols
Interactive map of Alabama

Alabama (ə/) is a state in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama is the 30th largest by area and the 24th-most populous of the U.S. states. With a total of 1,500 miles (2,400 km) of inland waterways, Alabama has among the most of any state.[7]

Alabama is nicknamed the Yellowhammer State, after the state bird. Alabama is also known as the "Heart of Dixie" and the "Cotton State". The state tree is the longleaf pine, and the state flower is the camellia. Alabama's capital is Montgomery. The largest city by population is Birmingham,[8] which has long been the most industrialized city; the largest city by land area is Huntsville. The oldest city is Mobile, founded by French colonists in 1702 as the capital of French Louisiana.[9]

From the American Civil War until World War II, Alabama, like many states in the southern U.S., suffered economic hardship, in part because of its continued dependence on agriculture. Similar to other former slave states, Alabamian legislators employed Jim Crow laws to disenfranchise and otherwise discriminate against African Americans from the end of the Reconstruction Era up until at least the 1970s. Despite the growth of major industries and urban centers, white rural interests dominated the state legislature from 1901 to the 1960s. During this time, urban interests and African Americans were markedly under-represented. Following World War II, Alabama grew as the state's economy changed from one primarily based on agriculture to one with diversified interests. The state's economy in the 21st century is based on management, automotive, finance, manufacturing, aerospace, mineral extraction, healthcare, education, retail, and technology.[10]

Etymology

One of the entrances to Russell Cave in Jackson County. Charcoal from indigenous camp fires in the cave has been dated as early as 6550 to 6145 BC.

The European-American naming of the Alabama River and state was derived from the Alabama people, a Muskogean-speaking tribe whose members lived just below the confluence of the Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers on the upper reaches of the river.[11] In the Alabama language, the word for a person of Alabama lineage is Albaamo (or variously Albaama or Albàamo in different dialects; the plural form is Albaamaha).[12] The suggestion that "Alabama" was borrowed from the Choctaw language is unlikely.[13][14] The word's spelling varies significantly among historical sources.[14] The first usage appears in three accounts of the Hernando de Soto expedition of 1540: Garcilaso de la Vega used Alibamo, while the Knight of Elvas and Rodrigo Ranjel wrote Alibamu and Limamu, respectively, in transliterations of the term.[14] As early as 1702, the French called the tribe the Alibamon, with French maps identifying the river as Rivière des Alibamons.[11] Other spellings of the name have included Alibamu, Alabamo, Albama, Alebamon, Alibama, Alibamou, Alabamu, Allibamou.[14][15][16][17]

Sources disagree on the word's meaning. Some scholars suggest the word comes from the Choctaw alba (meaning "plants" or "weeds") and amo (meaning "to cut", "to trim", or "to gather").[14][18][19] The meaning may have been "clearers of the thicket"[18] or "herb gatherers",[19][20] referring to clearing land for cultivation[15] or collecting medicinal plants.[20] The state has numerous place names of Native American origin.[21][22] However, there are no correspondingly similar words in the Alabama language.

An 1842 article in the Jacksonville Republican proposed it meant "Here We Rest."[14] This notion was popularized in the 1850s through the writings of Alexander Beaufort Meek.[14] Experts in the Muskogean languages have not found any evidence to support such a translation.[11][14]