State of Alabama - AL

Alabama is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States.

Geography of Alabama
List of Alabama counties
Alabama is the 30th largest state in the United States with 52,423 square miles (135,775 km²) of total area. 3.19% of that is water, making Alabama 23rd in the amount of surface water, also giving it the second largest inland waterway system in the United States[1]. About three-fifths of the land area is a gentle plain with a general decline towards the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. The North Alabama region is mostly mountainous, with the Tennessee River cutting a large valley creating numerous creeks, streams, rivers, mountains, and lakes.[2] The lowest point east of the Mississippi River lies in Dekalb County along a creek cutting tower ridges, and creating Buck's Pocket State Park. [citation needed] Another natural wonder is "Land Bridge", the longest natural bridge span east of the Mississippi River. Alabama generally ranges in elevation from sea level at Mobile Bay, to a little more than 1,800 feet (550 m) in the Appalachian Mountains in the northeast. The highest point is Mount Cheaha.[2]

States bordering Alabama include Tennessee to the north; Georgia to the east; Florida to the south; and Mississippi to the west. Alabama has coastline at the Gulf of Mexico in the extreme southern edge of the state.[2]

National Parks in Alabama include Horseshoe Bend National Military Park in Daviston; Little River Canyon National Preserve in Fort Payne; Russell Cave National Monument in Bridgeport; Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site in Tuskegee; and Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site near Tuskegee[3].

Alabama also contains the Natchez Trace Parkway, the Selma To Montgomery National Historic Trail, and the Trail Of Tears National Historic Trail.

Urban areas
List of Metropolitan areas of Alabama
List of cities in Alabama
Alabama Population Density mapRank Metropolitan Area Population
1 Birmingham-Hoover-Cullman CSA 1,170,012
2 Mobile-Daphne-Fairhope CSA 567,625
3 Huntsville-Decatur CSA 510,088
4 Montgomery MSA 397,961
5 Huntsville MSA 368,661
6 Tuscaloosa MSA 196,885
7 Decatur MSA 149,629
8 Florence-Muscle Shoals MSA) 142,950
9 Dothan MSA 136,594
10 Auburn-Opelika MSA 123,254
11 Anniston-Oxford MSA 112,240
12 Gadsden MSA 104,000

The climate of Alabama is best described as being a humid subtropical climate. This is especially true in the southern part of the state with its close proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, while the Northern parts of the state, especially in the Appalachian Mountains in the Northeast tend to to be much closer to a Continental climate. Generally, Alabama has very hot summers and mild winters with copious precipitation throughout the year, although typically March is the wettest month and October is the driest month.

Summers in Alabama are among the hottest in the United States on average with temperatures in the entire state averaging over 90 °F for the high temperature throughout the entire summer. Alabama is also very prone to strikes by tropical cyclones. Even areas of the state far away from the gulf are not immune to the effects of hurricanes or tropical storms as often storms which strike the coast will often dump tremendous amounts of rain inland as they weaken. Southern Alabama, in common with much of the southeast coast has frequent thunderstorms, averaging around 70 days of thunderstorms a year. Tornadoes are common in Alabama throughout the state, although the "peak" season for tornadoes varies from the northern to southern parts of the state.

Winters are generally mild in Alabama as they are throughout most of the southeastern United States with average January low temperatures around 40 °F in Mobile and around 32° F in Birmingham. Snow is not a rare event in much of Alabama and most of the state north of Montgomery expects a dusting of snow a few times every winter with an occasional moderately heavy snowfall every few years. In the southern Gulf coast, snowfall is less frequent sometimes going several years without any snowfall.

History of Alabama
Among Native American people once living in present Alabama were Alabama (Alibamu), Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, Koasati, and Mobile[4]. Trade with the Northeast via the Ohio River began during the Burial Mound Period (1000 BC-A.D. 700) and continued until European contact[5]. Meso-American influence is evident in the agrarian Mississippian culture that followed.

The French founded the first European settlement in the state with the establishment of Mobile in 1702[6]. Southern Alabama was French from 1702 to 1763, part of British West Florida from 1763 to 1780, and part of Spanish West Florida from 1780 to 1814. Northern and central Alabama was part of British Georgia from 1763 to 1783 and part of the American Mississippi territory thereafter. Its statehood was delayed by the lack of a coastline; rectified when Andrew Jackson captured Spanish Mobile in 1814[7]. Alabama was the twenty-second state admitted to the Union, in 1819.

Map of Alabama - PDFThe economy of the central "Black Belt (region of Alabama)" featured large rich slave plantations that grew cotton[8]. Elsewhere poor whites were subsistence farmers. Alabama seceded and joined the Confederate States of America, 1861–65. While not many battles were fought in the state, Alabama contributed about 120,000 soldiers to the Civil War. All the slaves were freed by 1865[9]. After a period of Reconstruction it emerged as a poor rural state, still tied to cotton, with high racial tensions between the ruling whites and the recently emancipated African Americans, who had second-class legal, social and economic status[8]. The African American lost the right to vote in 1901, and, after 1917, many migrated to northern cities. Politically, the state was one-party Democratic, and produced a number of national leaders. World War II brought prosperity[8]. Cotton faded in importance as the state developed a manufacturing and service base. In the 1960s, under Governor George Wallace, the state opposed federal integration efforts. After the passage of the Civil Rights Laws of 1964 and 1965, African Americans regained the right to vote and de jure segregation and Jim Crow disappeared[10]. After 1972, the state became a Republican stronghold in presidential elections, and leaned Republican in state elections[11] .

Demographics of Alabama
Historical populations
year Population

1800 1,250
1810 9,046
1820 127,901
1830 309,527
1840 590,756
1850 771,623
1860 964,201
1870 996,992
1880 1,262,505
1890 1,513,401
1900 1,828,697
1910 2,138,093
1920 2,348,174
1930 2,646,248
1940 2,832,961
1950 3,061,743
1960 3,266,740
1970 3,444,165
1980 3,893,888
1990 4,040,587
2000 4,447,100
As of 2005, Alabama has an estimated population of 4,557,808[12], which is an increase of 32,433, or 0.7%, from the prior year and an increase of 110,457, or 2.5%, since the year 2000. This includes a natural increase since the last census of 77,418 people (that is 319,544 births minus 242,126 deaths) and an increase due to net migration of 36,457 people into the state. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 25,936 people, and migration within the country produced a net increase of 10,521 people.

The state had 108,000 foreign-born (2.4% of the state population), of which an estimated 22.2% were illegal aliens (24,000).

Race and ancestry
The racial makeup of the state and comparison to the prior census:

Demographics of Alabama (csv)
By race White Black AIAN Asian NHPI
AIAN is American Indian or Alaskan Native - NHPI is Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
2000 (total population) 72.56% 26.33% 1.00% 0.89% 0.07%
2000 (hispanic only) 1.48% 0.18% 0.04% 0.02% 0.01%
2005 (total population) 72.14% 26.70% 0.98% 1.02% 0.07%
2005 (hispanic only) 2.08% 0.17% 0.05% 0.03% 0.01%
Growth 2000-2005 (total population) 1.90% 3.95% -0.06% 17.43% 4.90%
Growth 2000-2005 (non-hispanic only) 1.02% 3.97% -0.55% 17.47% 6.67%
Growth 2000-2005 (hispanic only) 43.85% 1.05% 11.46% 16.20% -2.17%

The largest reported ancestry groups in Alabama: American (17.0%), English (7.8%), Irish (7.7%), German (5.7%), and Scots-Irish (2.0%). 'American' includes those reported as Native American or African American.

92% of Alabamians identify themselves as Christians. Of those, 80% are Protestant, with the largest Roman Catholic communities along the Gulf Coast. Almost half of Protestants in Alabama are of the Baptist faith. The next-largest denomination is Methodism, which represents about 1/10th of protestants in Alabama. 7% of residents identify themselves as non-religious.

Alabama's quarter depicting famous resident Helen Keller along with the longleaf pine branch and Camellia blossoms from the 50 State Quarters program. Released March 19, 2003.According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the 2003 total gross state product was $132 billion. The per capita income for the state was $26,505 in 2003. Alabama's agricultural outputs include poultry and eggs, cattle, plant nursery items, peanuts, cotton, grains such as corn and sorghum, vegetables, milk, soybeans, and peaches. Although known as "The Cotton State", Alabama ranks between eight and ten in national cotton production, according to various reports[13][14], with Texas, Georgia and Mississippi comprising the top three. Alabama's industrial outputs include iron and steel products (including cast-iron and steel pipe); paper, lumber, and wood products; mining (mostly coal); plastic products; cars and trucks; and apparel. Also, Alabama produces aerospace and electronic products, mostly in the Huntsville area, which is home of the NASA George C. Marshall Space Flight Center and the US Army Missile Command, headquartered at Redstone Arsenal.

Also, the city of Mobile is a busy seaport on the Gulf of Mexico, and with inland waterway access to the Midwest via the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway.

Alabama levies a 2, 4 or 5% personal income tax, depending upon the amount earned and filing status. The state's sales general tax rate is 4%. The collection rate could be substantially higher, depending upon additional city and county sales taxes. The corporate income tax rate is currently 6.5%.

Alabama has five major interstate roads that cross it: I-65 runs north-south roughly through the middle of the state; I-59/I-20 travels from the central west border to Birmingham, where I-59 continues to the north-east corner of the state and I-20 continues east; I-85 goes from the border of Georgia and ends in Montgomery, providing a main thoroughfare to Atlanta; and I-10 traverses the southernmost portion of the state, running from west to east through Mobile. Another interstate road, I-22, is currently under construction. When completed (est. 2012), it will connect Birmingham with Memphis, Tennessee.

Major airports in Alabama include Birmingham International Airport (BHM), Dothan Regional Airport (DHN), Huntsville International Airport (HSV), Mobile Regional Airport (MOB), Muscle Shoals - Northwest Alabama Regional Airport (MSL), and Tuscaloosa Regional Airport (TCL).

Water Ports
Listed from north to south

Port Name Location Connected To
Port of Guntersville Guntersville, on Lake Guntersville Tennessee River
Port of Decatur Decatur, on Wheeler Lake Tennessee River
Port of Muscle Shoals Florence/Muscle Shoals, on Wilson Lake Tennessee River
Port of Tuscaloosa Tuscaloosa, on Black Warrior River Tenn-Tom Waterway
Port of Mobile Mobile, on Mobile Bay Gulf of Mexico

Law and government
Government of Alabama

State government
Alabama's government is supervised by the Alabama Constitution, which was ratified in 1901. At more than 770 amendments and 310,000 words, it is the world's longest constitution and is roughly forty times the length of the U.S. Constitution. [15] [16]

Alabama is divided into three co-equal branches:

The legislative branch is the Alabama Legislature, a bicameral assembly composed of the Alabama House of Representatives, with 105 members, and the Alabama Senate, with 35 members. The Legislature is responsible for writing, debating, passing, or defeating state legislation.

The executive branch is responsible for the execution and oversight of laws. It is headed by the Governor of Alabama. Other members of executive branch include the cabinet, the Attorney General of Alabama, the Alabama Secretary of State, the Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries, the Alabama State Treasurer, and the Alabama State Auditor.

The judicial branch is responsible for interpreting the Constitution and applying the law in state criminal and civil cases. The highest court is the Supreme Court of Alabama.

Local and county government
Alabama has 67 counties. Each county has its own elected legislative branch, usually called the Board of Commissioners, which usually also has executive authority in the county. Due to the restraints placed in the Alabama Constitution, all but 7 counties (Jefferson, Lee, Mobile, Madison, Montgomery, Shelby, and Tuscaloosa) in the state have little to no home rule. Instead, most counties in the state must lobby the Local Legislation Committee of the state legislature to get simple local policies such as waste disposal to land use zoning.

List of Alabama county seats
Alabama is an alcoholic beverage control state; the government holds a monopoly on the sale of alcohol.

State politics
The current governor of the state is Bob Riley. The lieutenant governor is Lucy Baxley. The Democratic Party currently holds a large majority in both houses of the Legislature. Due to the Legislature's power to override a gubernatorial veto by a mere simple majority (most state Legislatures require a 2/3 majority to override a veto), the relationship between the executive and legislative branches can be easily strained when different parties control both branches.

During Reconstruction following the American Civil War, Alabama was occupied by federal troops of the Third Military District under General John Pope. In 1874, the Redeemers took control of the state government from the Republicans. After 1890, a coalition of whites passed laws to segregate and disenfranchise black residents. The state became part of the "Solid South," a one-party system in which the Democratic Party became essentially the only political party in every Southern state. For nearly 100 years, local and state elections in Alabama were decided in the Democratic Party primary, with generally no Republican challenger running in the General Election. It was not until the 1980s that Republicans began to successfully challenge and win elections in local and state offices.

Alabama state politics gained nationwide and international attention in the 1950s and 1960s during the American Civil Rights Movement, when it bureaucratically, and at times, violently resisted protests for electoral and social reform. This ended up hurting Alabama's image and making it out to be a hotbed for racism. The state's governor during the period, George Wallace, remains a notorious and controversial figure.

Federal politics
Presidential elections results Year Republican Democrat
2004 62.46% 1,176,394 36.84% 693,933
2000 56.47% 944,409 41.59% 695,602
1996 50.12% 769,044 43.16% 662,165
1992 47.65% 804,283 40.88% 690,080
1988 59.17% 815,576 39.86% 549,506
1984 60.54% 872,849 38.28% 551,899
1980 48.75% 654,192 47.45% 636,730
1976 42.61% 504,070 55.73% 659,170
1972 72.43% 728,701 25.54% 256,923
1968* 13.99% 146,923 18.72% 196,579
1964 69.45% 479,085 30.55% 210,732
1960 42.16% 237,981 56.39% 318,303
*State won by George Wallace
of the American Independent Party,
at 65.86%, or 691,425 votes
From 1876 through 1956, Alabama supported only Democratic presidential candidates, by large margins. 1960 was a curious election; the Democrats won with John F. Kennedy on the ballot, but the Democratic electors gave most of their electoral votes as a protest to someone else. In 1964, Republican Barry Goldwater carried the state. In the 1968 presidential election, Alabama supported native son and American Independent Party candidate George Wallace over both Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey. In 1976, Democratic candidate Jimmy Carter carried the state, the region, and the nation, but Democratic control of the region slipped thereafter. Since 1980, the Republican party has become increasingly dominant in Alabama's federal elections. In local politics, by contrast, Democrats still control many offices, such as their large and long standing majority in the Alabama Legislature.

In 2004, George W. Bush won Alabama's nine electoral votes by a margin of 25 percentage points with 62.5% of the vote. The only 11 counties voting Democratic were Black Belt counties, where African Americans are in the majority. Alabama is one of the most conservative states in the country; Shelby County, in suburban Birmingham, and the city of San Francisco, California are the closest pair of greatly populated areas to being political polar opposites. In 2004, Bush won Shelby County, and John Kerry won San Francisco, each with approximately 80% of the vote. Although it must be said, the above mentioned black belt counties voted the most Democratic in the country, giving 97% of the vote to Kerry.[citation needed]

The state's two current U.S. senators are Jefferson B. Sessions III and Richard C. Shelby, both from the Republican Party.

In the U.S. House of Representatives, the state is represented by seven members, five of whom are Republicans, and two Democrats. The Representatives are Jo Bonner, Terry Everett, Mike D. Rogers, Robert Aderholt, Bud Cramer, Spencer Bachus, and Artur Davis.

Further information: U.S. presidential election, 2004, in Alabama


Colleges and Universities
Main article: List of colleges and universities in Alabama
There are fourteen 4-year public universities in Alabama:

Alabama A&M University (Normal)
Alabama State University (Montgomery)
Athens State University (Athens)
Auburn University (Auburn)
Auburn University Montgomery (Montgomery)
Jacksonville State University (Jacksonville)
Troy University (Troy)
University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa)
University of Alabama at Birmingham (Birmingham)
University of Alabama in Huntsville (Huntsville)
University of Montevallo (Montevallo)
University of North Alabama (Florence)
University of South Alabama (Mobile)
University of West Alabama (Livingston)
In addition, the Alabama Association of Independent Colleges and Universities recognizes 17 member institutions as "private senior colleges":

Birmingham-Southern College (Birmingham)
Concordia College (Selma)
Faulkner University (Montgomery)
Huntingdon College (Montgomery)
Judson College (Marion)
Miles College (Fairfield)
Oakwood College (Huntsville)
Samford University (Homewood)
Selma University (Selma)
Southeastern Bible College (Birmingham)
Spring Hill College (Mobile)
Stillman College (Tuscaloosa)
Regions University (Montgomery)
Talladega College (Talladega)
Tuskegee University (Tuskegee)
United States Sports Academy (Daphne)
University of Mobile (Mobile)

Miscellaneous topics
The phrase The Heart of Dixie is required by state law to be included on standard state vehicle license plates, but has recently been reduced to a very small size and eclipsed by the phrase Stars Fell on Alabama.
The new standard tag has an American Flag and says "God Bless America" across the bottom.
The song Sweet Home Alabama was originally performed by the rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd and was an answer to Neil Young's song Southern Man which criticized Alabama, and much of the south's actions during segregation. While this is often considered "Skynyrd's" signature song, the band is actually from Jacksonville, Florida.

Famous Alabamians
Music of Alabama
Scouting in Alabama
National Parks of Alabama
The U. S. Space and Rocket Center Huntsville
List of symphonies of Alabama
The Alabama Theatre

Cultural sites
Birmingham Astronomical Society
Birmingham Paleontological Society
USS Alabama
U.S. Space & Rocket Center/U.S. Space Camp Huntsville
Old State Bank
McEntire House
Vulcan Park
Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
Alabama Symphony Orchestra
The Betsy Ann Riverboat Montgomery

Alabama Shakespeare Festival
Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic
Spirit of America Festival
Mobile Bay Jubilee
Mardi Gras
Alabama Sports Festival
City Stages Music Festival
WC Handy Music Festival
Regions Charity Classic (formerly the Bruno's Memorial Classic)
Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival
Big Spring Jam
Panoply of the Arts

Sports Teams
Huntsville Stars(a Southern League baseball team)
Birmingham Barons (a Southern League baseball team)
Montgomery Biscuits (a Southern League baseball team)
Mobile BayBears (a Southern League baseball team)
Tennessee Valley Vipers (an AF2 team)
Birmingham Steeldogs (an AF2 team)
Huntsville Havoc (Southern Professional Hockey League team)
Birmingham Magicians (an ABA basketball team)
Alabama Renegades (National Women's Football Association (NWFA))
List of Venues:

Bryant-Denny Stadium
Joe W. Davis Stadium
Hoover Metropolitan Stadium
Jordan-Hare Stadium
Montgomery Riverwalk Stadium
Hank Aaron Stadium
Von Braun Center
Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex
Fair Park Arena
Legion Field
Mobile Civic Center
Rickwood Field
Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail
Point Mallard Aquatic Center
Talladega Superspeedway and the The International Motorsports Hall of Fame & Museum

^ GCT-PH1-R. Population, Housing Units, Area, and Density (geographies ranked by total population): 2000. Geographic Comparison Table. US Census Bureau (Census Year 2000). Retrieved on 2006-09-23.
^ a b c The Geography of Alabama. Geography of the States. (2006-08-11). Retrieved on 2006-09-23.
^ National Park Guide. Geographic Search. National Park Service - U.S. Department of the Interior. Retrieved on 2006-09-23.
^ Alabama Indian Tribes. Indian Tribal Records. (Updated 2006). Retrieved on 2006-09-23.
^ Alabama. The New York Times Almanac 2004. The New York Times (2006-08-11). Retrieved on 2006-09-23.
^ Alabama State History. Retrieved on 2006-09-23.
^ AL-Alabama. Landscapes and History by state. Retrieved on 2006-09-23.
^ a b c
^ 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Abolition of Slavery (1865). Historical Documents. (2005). Retrieved on 2006-09-23.
^ Voting Rights. Civil Rights: Law and History. US Department of Justice (2002-01-09). Retrieved on 2006-09-23.
^ The New South Rises, Again. Civil Rights: Law and History. (Spring 1999). Retrieved on 2006-09-23.
^ Alabama QuickFacts from the US CEnsus Bureau. US Census Bureau. US Census Bureau (2006-06-08). Retrieved on 2006-09-26.
^ Alabama and CBER: 75 Years of Change. Alabama Business. Center for Business and Economic Research, Culverhouse College of Commerce, The University of Alabama (Q4 2005). Retrieved on 2006-09-23.
^ State Highlights for 2004-2005. Alabama Cooperative Extension System. USDA, NASS, Alabama Statistical Office (2005). Retrieved on 2006-09-23.
^ Roig-Franzia, Manuel. "Alabama Vote Opens Old Racial Wounds", The Washington Post, 2004-11-28. Retrieved on 2006-09-22.
^ Constitution of Alabama - 1901. The Alabama Legislative Information System. Retrieved on 2006-09-22.

Atkins, Leah Rawls, Wayne Flynt, William Warren Rogers, and David Ward. Alabama: The History of a Deep South State (1994)
Flynt, Wayne. Alabama in the Twentieth Century (2004)
Owen Thomas M. History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography 4 vols. 1921.
Jackson, Harvey H. Inside Alabama: A Personal History of My State (2004)
Mohl, Raymond A. "Latinization in the Heart of Dixie: Hispanics in Late-twentieth-century Alabama" Alabama Review 2002 55(4): 243-274. Issn: 0002-4341
Peirce, Neal R. The Deep South States of America: People, Politics, and Power in the Seven Deep South States (1974). Information on politics and economics 1960-72.
Williams, Benjamin Buford. A Literary History of Alabama: The Nineteenth Century 1979.
WPA. Guide to Alabama (1939)
for a detailed bibliography see History of Alabama


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