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Alabama
State of Alabama
Flag of Alabama Official seal of Alabama
Nickname(s): 
The Yellowhammer State, the Heart of Dixie, the Cotton State
Motto(s): 
Latin: [Audemus jura nostra defendere] Error: {{Lang}}: text has italic markup (help)
(We dare defend our rights)
Anthem: "Alabama"
Map of the United States with Alabama highlighted
Map of the United States with Alabama highlighted
Country United States
Before statehood Alabama Territory
Admitted to the Union December 14, 1819 (22nd)
Capital Montgomery
Largest city Huntsville
Largest metro Greater Birmingham
Legislature Alabama Legislature
 • Upper house Senate
 • Lower house House of Representatives
Area
 • Total 52,419 sq mi (135,765 km2)
 • Land 50,744 sq mi (131,426 km2)
 • Water 1,675 sq mi (4,338 km2)  3.2%
Area rank 30th
Dimensions
 • Length 330 mi (531 km)
 • Width 190 mi (305 km)
Elevation
500 ft (150 m)
Highest elevation 2,413 ft (735.5 m)
Lowest elevation 0 ft (0 m)
Population
 (2021)
 • Total 5,039,877
 • Rank 24th
 • Density 99.1/sq mi (38.4/km2)
 • Density rank 27th
 • Median household income
$52,000
 • Income rank
46th
Demonym(s) Alabamian, Alabaman
Language
 • Official language English
 • Spoken language As of 2010
  • English 95.1%
  • Spanish 3.1%
Time zones
entire state (legally) UTC−06:00 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−05:00 (CDT)
Phenix City area (unofficially) UTC−05:00 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−04:00 (EDT)
USPS abbreviation
AL
ISO 3166 code US-AL
Trad. abbreviation Ala.
Latitude 30°11' N to 35° N
Longitude 84°53' W to 88°28' W
Alabama state symbols
Flag of Alabama.svg
Seal of Alabama.svg
Coat of arms of the State of Alabama.svg
Living insignia
Amphibian Red Hills salamander
Bird Yellowhammer, wild turkey
Butterfly Eastern tiger swallowtail
Fish Largemouth bass, fighting tarpon
Flower Camellia, oak-leaf hydrangea
Horse breed Racking horse
Insect Monarch butterfly
Mammal American black bear
Reptile Alabama red-bellied turtle
Tree Longleaf pine
Inanimate insignia
Beverage Conecuh Ridge Whiskey
Colors Red, white
Dance Square dance
Food Pecan, blackberry, peach
Fossil Basilosaurus
Gemstone Star blue quartz
Mineral Hematite
Rock Marble
Shell Johnstone's junonia
Slogan Share The Wonder,
Alabama the beautiful,
Where America finds its voice,
Sweet Home Alabama
Soil Bama
State route marker
Alabama state route marker
State quarter
Alabama quarter dollar coin
Released in 2003
Lists of United States state symbols

Alabama is a state in the Southeastern region of the United States, 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.

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, and its largest city by population and area is Huntsville. Its oldest city is Mobile, founded by French colonists in 1702 as the capital of French Louisiana. Greater Birmingham is Alabama's largest metropolitan area and its economic center.

Originally home to many native tribes, present-day Alabama was a Spanish territory beginning in the sixteenth century until the French acquired it in the early eighteenth century. The British won the territory in 1763 until losing it in the American Revolutionary War. Spain held Mobile as part of Spanish West Florida until 1813. In December 1819, Alabama was recognized as a state. During the antebellum period, Alabama was a major producer of cotton, and widely used African American slave labor. In 1861, the state seceded from the United States to become part of the Confederate States of America, with Montgomery acting as its first capital, and rejoined the Union in 1868. Following the American Civil War, Alabama would suffer decades of economic hardship, in part due to agriculture and a few cash crops being the main driver of the states economy. Similar to other former slave states, Alabamian legislators employed Jim Crow laws to disenfranchise and discriminate against African Americans from the late 19th century up until the 1960s.

In the early 20th century, despite the growth of major industries and urban centers, white rural interests dominated the state legislature through the mid-20th century. During this time, urban interests and African Americans were markedly under-represented. High-profile events such as the Selma to Montgomery march made the state a major focal point of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s. During and after World War II, Alabama grew as the state's economy diversified with new industries. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville would help Alabama's economic growth in the mid-to-late 20th century, by developing an aerospace industry. Alabama's economy in the 21st century is based on automotive, finance, tourism, manufacturing, aerospace, mineral extraction, healthcare, education, retail, and technology.

The state's geography is diverse, with the north dominated by the mountainous Tennessee Valley and the south by Mobile Bay, a historically significant port. Politically, as part of the Deep South, Alabama is predominantly a conservative state, and culturally is known for its Southern culture. Within Alabama, American football, particularly at the college level at schools such as the University of Alabama, Auburn University, Alabama A&M University, Alabama State University, Troy University, the University of South Alabama, and Jacksonville State University, play a major part of the state's culture.

Etymology

Russell Cave Entrance RUCA9323
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. 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).

The word Alabama is believed to have come from the Alabama language.

History

Pre-European settlement

Moundville Archaeological Site Alabama
The Moundville Archaeological Site in Hale County. It was occupied by Native Americans of the Mississippian culture from 1000 to 1450 AD.

Indigenous peoples of varying cultures lived in the area for thousands of years before the advent of European colonization. Trade with the northeastern tribes by the Ohio River began during the Burial Mound Period (1000 BC–AD 700) and continued until European contact.

Among the historical tribes of Native American people living in present-day Alabama at the time of European contact were the Cherokee, an Iroquoian language people; and the Muskogean-speaking Alabama (Alibamu), Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Koasati. While part of the same large language family, the Muskogee tribes developed distinct cultures and languages.

European settlement

With exploration in the 16th century, the Spanish were the first Europeans to reach Alabama. The expedition of Hernando de Soto passed through Mabila and other parts of the state in 1540. More than 160 years later, the French founded the region's first European settlement at Old Mobile in 1702. The city was moved to the current site of Mobile in 1711. This area was claimed by the French from 1702 to 1763 as part of La Louisiane.

After the French lost to the British in the Seven Years' War, it became part of British West Florida from 1763 to 1783. After the United States victory in the American Revolutionary War, the territory was divided between the United States and Spain. The latter retained control of this western territory from 1783 until the surrender of the Spanish garrison at Mobile to U.S. forces on April 13, 1813.

Mississippiterritory
Map showing the formation of the Mississippi and Alabama territories

With the exception of the area around Mobile and the Yazoo lands, what is now the lower one-third Alabama was made part of the Mississippi Territory when it was organized in 1798. The Yazoo lands were added to the territory in 1804, following the Yazoo land scandal. Spain kept a claim on its former Spanish West Florida territory in what would become the coastal counties until the Adams–Onís Treaty officially ceded it to the United States in 1819.

19th century

Before the admission of Mississippi as a state on December 10, 1817, the more sparsely settled eastern half of the territory was separated and named the Alabama Territory. The Alabama Territory was created by the United States Congress on March 3, 1817. St. Stephens, now abandoned, served as the territorial capital from 1817 to 1819.

Thornhill 01
The main house, built in 1833, at Thornhill in Greene County. It is a former Black Belt plantation.

Cahaba, now a ghost town, was the first permanent state capital from 1820 to 1825.

Southeastern planters and traders from the Upper South brought slaves with them as the cotton plantations in Alabama expanded.

Oldalabamastatecapruinsintuscaloosa
Ruins of the former capitol building in Tuscaloosa. Designed by William Nichols, it was built from 1827 to 1829 and was destroyed by fire in 1923.

From 1826 to 1846, Tuscaloosa served as Alabama's capital.

On January 11, 1861, Alabama declared its secession from the Union. After remaining an independent republic for a few days, it joined the Confederate States of America. The Confederacy's capital was initially at Montgomery. Alabama was heavily involved in the American Civil War.

Huntsville Courthouse Square 1864
Union Army troops occupying Courthouse Square in Huntsville, following its capture and occupation by federal forces in 1864.

Alabama's slaves were freed by the 13th Amendment in 1865. Alabama was under military rule from the end of the war in May 1865 until its official restoration to the Union in 1868.

Following the war, the state remained chiefly agricultural, with an economy tied to cotton.

20th century

Birmingham Alabama skyline 1915
The developing skyline of Birmingham in 1915
Mount Sinai School Autauga County July 2011 1
The former Mount Sinai School in rural Autauga County, completed in 1919. It was one of the 387 Rosenwald Schools built in the state.

Beginning in 1913, the first 80 Rosenwald Schools were built in Alabama for African-American children. A total of 387 schools, seven teachers' houses, and several vocational buildings were completed by 1937 in the state. Several of the surviving school buildings in the state are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Continued racial discrimination, agricultural depression, and the failure of the cotton crops due to boll weevil infestation led tens of thousands of African Americans from rural Alabama and other states to seek opportunities in northern and midwestern cities during the early decades of the 20th century as part of the Great Migration out of the South.

At the same time, many rural people, both white and African American, migrated to the city of Birmingham to work in new industrial jobs.

Industrial development related to the demands of World War II brought a level of prosperity to the state not seen since before the civil war.

In 1954, the US Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that public schools had to be desegregated, but Alabama was slow to comply.

Legal segregation ended in the states in 1964, but Jim Crow customs often continued until specifically challenged in court.

Geography

Map of Alabama terrain NA
A general map of Alabama

Alabama is the thirtieth-largest state in the United States with 52,419 square miles (135,760 km2) of total area: 3.2% of the area is water, making Alabama 23rd in the amount of surface water, also giving it the second-largest inland waterway system in the U.S. About three-fifths of the land area is a gentle plain with a general descent towards the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. The North Alabama region is mostly mountainous, with the Tennessee River cutting a large valley and creating numerous creeks, streams, rivers, mountains, and lakes.

Alabama is bordered by the states of 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. The state ranges in elevation from sea level at Mobile Bay to over 1,800 feet (550 m) in the Appalachian Mountains in the northeast.

The highest point is Mount Cheaha, at a height of 2,413 ft (735 m). Alabama's land consists of 22 million acres (89,000 km2) of forest or 67% of total land area. Suburban Baldwin County, along the Gulf Coast, is the largest county in the state in both land area and water area.

Alabama has four National Forests: Conecuh, Talladega, Tuskegee, and William B. Bankhead. Alabama also contains the Natchez Trace Parkway, the Selma To Montgomery National Historic Trail, and the Trail Of Tears National Historic Trail. A notable natural wonder in Alabama is "Natural Bridge" rock, the longest natural bridge east of the Rockies, located just south of Haleyville.

A 5-mile (8 km)-wide meteorite impact crater is located in Elmore County, just north of Montgomery. This is the Wetumpka crater, the site of "Alabama's greatest natural disaster." A 1,000-foot (300 m)-wide meteorite hit the area about 80 million years ago. The hills just east of downtown Wetumpka showcase the eroded remains of the impact crater that was blasted into the bedrock, with the area labeled the Wetumpka crater or astrobleme ("star-wound") because of the concentric rings of fractures and zones of shattered rock that can be found beneath the surface.

Climate

Autumn tree in Birmingham Nov 2011
Autumn tree in Birmingham

The state is classified as humid subtropical (Cfa) under the Koppen Climate Classification. Generally, Alabama has very hot summers and mild winters with copious precipitation throughout the year. Alabama receives an average of 56 inches (1,400 mm) of rainfall annually and enjoys a lengthy growing season of up to 300 days in the southern part of the state.

Summers in Alabama are among the hottest in the U.S., with high temperatures averaging over 90 °F (32 °C) throughout the summer in some parts of the state. Alabama is also prone to tropical storms and even hurricanes.

South Alabama reports many thunderstorms.

Phil Campbell tornado damage
Tornado damage in Phil Campbell following the statewide April 27, 2011 tornado outbreak.

Alabama, along with Oklahoma, has the most reported EF5 tornadoes of any state, according to statistics from the National Climatic Data Center for the period January 1, 1950, to June 2013. Several long-tracked F5/EF5 tornadoes have contributed to Alabama reporting more tornado fatalities than any other state. The state was affected by the 1974 Super Outbreak and was devastated tremendously by the 2011 Super Outbreak. The 2011 Super Outbreak produced a record amount of tornadoes in the state. The tally reached 62.

Birmingham city hall alabama 2010
Snowfall outside Birmingham City Hall in February 2010

The peak season for tornadoes varies from the northern to southern parts of the state. Alabama is one of the few places in the world that has a secondary tornado season in November and December, along with the spring severe weather season.

Winters are generally mild in Alabama.

Alabama's highest temperature of 112 °F (44 °C) was recorded on September 5, 1925 in the unincorporated community of Centerville. The record low of −27 °F (−33 °C) occurred on January 30, 1966 in New Market.

Flora and fauna

CahabaRiverNWR1
A stand of Cahaba lilies (Hymenocallis coronaria) in the Cahaba River, within the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge.

Alabama is home to a diverse array of flora and fauna, due largely to a variety of habitats that range from the Tennessee Valley, Appalachian Plateau, and Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians of the north to the Piedmont, Canebrake and Black Belt of the central region to the Gulf Coastal Plain and beaches along the Gulf of Mexico in the south. The state is usually ranked among the top in nation for its range of overall biodiversity.

Alabama is in the subtropical coniferous forest biome and once boasted huge expanses of pine forest, which still form the largest proportion of forests in the state. It currently ranks fifth in the nation for the diversity of its flora. It is home to nearly 4,000 pteridophyte and spermatophyte plant species.

Indigenous animal species in the state include 62 mammal species, 93 reptile species, 73 amphibian species, roughly 307 native freshwater fish species, and 420 bird species that spend at least part of their year within the state. Invertebrates include 83 crayfish species and 383 mollusk species. 113 of these mollusk species have never been collected outside the state.

Demographics

Alabama population map
Alabama's population density, 2010
Historical population
Census Pop.
1800 1,250
1810 9,046 623.7%
1820 144,317 1,495.4%
1830 309,527 114.5%
1840 590,756 90.9%
1850 771,623 30.6%
1860 964,201 25.0%
1870 996,992 3.4%
1880 1,262,505 26.6%
1890 1,513,401 19.9%
1900 1,828,697 20.8%
1910 2,138,093 16.9%
1920 2,348,174 9.8%
1930 2,646,248 12.7%
1940 2,832,961 7.1%
1950 3,061,743 8.1%
1960 3,266,740 6.7%
1970 3,444,165 5.4%
1980 3,893,888 13.1%
1990 4,040,587 3.8%
2000 4,447,100 10.1%
2010 4,779,736 7.5%
2020 5,024,279 5.1%
2021 (est.) 5,039,877 5.4%
Sources: 1910–2020

According to the 2020 United States census the population of Alabama was 5,024,279 on April 1, 2020, which represents an increase of 244,543 or 5.12%, since the 2010 census. This includes a natural increase since the last census of 121,054 (502,457 births minus 381,403 deaths) and an increase due to net migration of 104,991 into the state.

Immigration from outside the U.S. resulted in a net increase of 31,180 people, and migration within the country produced a net gain of 73,811 people. The state had 108,000 foreign-born (2.4% of the state population), of which an estimated 22.2% were undocumented (24,000).

The center of population of Alabama is located in Chilton County, outside the town of Jemison.

Ancestry

Racial and ethnic composition as of the 2020 census
Race and ethnicity Alone Total
White (non-Hispanic) 63.1% 63.1
 
66.5% 66.5
 
African American (non-Hispanic) 25.6% 25.6
 
26.9% 26.9
 
Hispanic or Latino 5.3% 5.3
 
Asian 1.5% 1.5
 
2.0% 2
 
Native American 0.5% 0.5
 
2.2% 2.2
 
Pacific Islander 0.1% 0.1
 
0.1% 0.1
 
Other 0.3% 0.3
 
0.8% 0.8
 
Historical racial demographics 1990-2010
Racial and ethnic composition 1990 2000 2010
White 73.6% 71.1% 68.5%
Black 25.3% 26% 26.2%
Asian 0.5% 0.7% 1.1%
Native 0.4% 0.5% 0.6%
Native Hawaiian and
other Pacific Islander
0.1%
Other race 0.1% 0.6% 2%
Two or more races 1% 1.5%

Those citing "American" ancestry in Alabama are of overwhelmingly English extraction, however most English Americans identify simply as having American ancestry because their roots have been in North America for so long, in many cases since the early sixteen hundreds. Demographers estimate that a minimum of 20–23% of people in Alabama are of predominantly English ancestry and state that the figure is probably much higher. In the 1980 census 1,139,976 people in Alabama cited that they were of English ancestry out of a total state population of 2,824,719 making them 41% of the state at the time and the largest ethnic group.

In 2011, 46.6% of Alabama's population younger than age 1 were minorities. The largest reported ancestry groups in Alabama are American (13.4%), Irish (10.5%), English (10.2%), German (7.9%), and Scots-Irish (2.5%) based on 2006-2008 Census data.

The Scots-Irish were the largest non-English immigrant group from the British Isles before the American Revolution, and many settled in the South, later moving into the Deep South as it was developed.

In 1984, under the Davis–Strong Act, the state legislature established the Alabama Indian Affairs Commission. Native American groups within the state had increasingly been demanding recognition as ethnic groups and seeking an end to discrimination. Given the long history of slavery and associated racial segregation, the Native American peoples, who have sometimes been of mixed race, have insisted on having their cultural identification respected. In the past, their self-identification was often overlooked as the state tried to impose a binary breakdown of society into white and black. The state has officially recognized nine American Indian tribes in the state, descended mostly from the Five Civilized Tribes of the American Southeast. These are the following.

The state government has promoted recognition of Native American contributions to the state, including the designation in 2000 for Columbus Day to be jointly celebrated as American Indian Heritage Day.

Language

Most Alabama residents (95.1% of those five and older) spoke only English at home in 2010, a minor decrease from 96.1% in 2000. Alabama English is predominantly Southern, and is related to South Midland speech which was taken across the border from Tennessee. In the major Southern speech region, there is the decreasing loss of the final r, for example the "boyd" pronunciation of "bird". In the northern third of the state, there is a South Midland "arm" and "barb" rhyming with "form" and "orb", respectively. Unique words in Alabama English include: redworm (earthworm), peckerwood (woodpecker), snake doctor and snake feeder (dragonfly), tow sack (burlap bag), plum peach (clingstone), French harp (harmonica), and dog irons (andirons).

Top non-English languages spoken in Alabama
Language Percentage of population
(as of 2010)
Spanish 2.2%
German 0.4%
French (incl. Patois, Cajun) 0.3%
Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Arabic, African languages, Japanese, and Italian (tied) 0.1%

Religion

Highlands UMC Birmingham Dec 2012 2
Highlands United Methodist Church in Birmingham, part of the Five Points South Historic District
Temple B'Nai Shalom Dec2009 01
Temple B'Nai Sholom in Huntsville, established in 1876. It is the oldest synagogue building in continuous use in the state.
Islamic Center of Tuscaloosa
The Islamic Center of Tuscaloosa

In the 2008 American Religious Identification Survey, 86% of Alabama respondents reported their religion as Christian, including 6% Catholic, with 11% as having no religion. The composition of other traditions is 0.5% Mormon, 0.5% Jewish, 0.5% Muslim, 0.5% Buddhist, and 0.5% Hindu.

Religious affiliation in Alabama (2014)
Affiliation % of population
Christian 86 86
 
Protestant 78 78
 
Evangelical Protestant 49 49
 
Mainline Protestant 13 13
 
Black church 16 16
 
Catholic 7 7
 
Mormon 1 1
 
Jehovah's Witnesses 0.1 0.1
 
Eastern Orthodox 0.1 0.1
 
Other Christian 0.1 0.1
 
Unaffiliated 12 12
 
Nothing in particular 9 9
 
Agnostic 1 1
 
Atheist 1 1
 
Non-Christian faiths 1 1
 
Jewish 0.2 0.2
 
Muslim 0.2 0.2
 
Buddhist 0.2 0.2
 
Hindu 0.2 0.2
 
Other Non-Christian faiths 0.2 0.2
 
Don't know/refused answer 1 1
 
Total 100 100
 

Alabama is located in the middle of the Bible Belt, a region of numerous Protestant Christians. Alabama has been identified as one of the most religious states in the United States, with about 58% of the population attending church regularly. A majority of people in the state identify as Evangelical Protestant. As of 2010, the three largest denominational groups in Alabama are the Southern Baptist Convention, The United Methodist Church, and non-denominational Evangelical Protestant.

In Alabama, the Southern Baptist Convention has the highest number of adherents with 1,380,121; this is followed by the United Methodist Church with 327,734 adherents, non-denominational Evangelical Protestant with 220,938 adherents, and the Catholic Church with 150,647 adherents. Many Baptist and Methodist congregations became established in the Great Awakening of the early 19th century, when preachers proselytized across the South. The Assemblies of God had almost 60,000 members, the Churches of Christ had nearly 120,000 members. The Presbyterian churches, strongly associated with Scots-Irish immigrants of the 18th century and their descendants, had a combined membership around 75,000 (PCA—28,009 members in 108 congregations, PC(USA)—26,247 members in 147 congregations, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church—6,000 members in 59 congregations, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America—5,000 members and fifty congregations plus the EPC and Associate Reformed Presbyterians with 230 members and nine congregations).

In a 2007 survey, nearly 70% of respondents could name all four of the Christian Gospels. Of those who indicated a religious preference, 59% said they possessed a "full understanding" of their faith and needed no further learning. In a 2007 poll, 92% of Alabamians reported having at least some confidence in churches in the state.

Although in much smaller numbers, many other religious faiths are represented in the state as well, including Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, the Baháʼí Faith, and Unitarian Universalism.

Jews have been present in what is now Alabama since 1763, during the colonial era of Mobile, when Sephardic Jews immigrated from London. The oldest Jewish congregation in the state is Congregation Sha'arai Shomayim in Mobile. It was formally recognized by the state legislature on January 25, 1844. Later immigrants in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries tended to be Ashkenazi Jews from eastern Europe. Jewish denominations in the state include two Orthodox, four Conservative, ten Reform, and one Humanistic synagogue.

Muslims have been increasing in Alabama, with 31 mosques built by 2011, many by African-American converts.

Several Hindu temples and cultural centers in the state have been founded by Indian immigrants and their descendants, the best-known being the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Birmingham, the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center of Birmingham in Pelham, the Hindu Cultural Center of North Alabama in Capshaw, and the Hindu Mandir and Cultural Center in Tuscaloosa.

There are six Dharma centers and organizations for Theravada Buddhists. Most monastic Buddhist temples are concentrated in southern Mobile County, near Bayou La Batre. This area has attracted an influx of refugees from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam during the 1970s and thereafter. The four temples within a ten-mile radius of Bayou La Batre, include Chua Chanh Giac, Wat Buddharaksa, and Wat Lao Phoutthavihan.

The first community of adherents of the Baháʼí Faith in Alabama was founded in 1896 by Paul K. Dealy, who moved from Chicago to Fairhope. Baháʼí centers in Alabama exist in Birmingham, Huntsville, and Florence.

Economy

The state has invested in aerospace, education, health care, banking, and various heavy industries, including automobile manufacturing, mineral extraction, steel production and fabrication. By 2006, crop and animal production in Alabama was valued at $1.5 billion. In contrast to the primarily agricultural economy of the previous century, this was only about one percent of the state's gross domestic product. The number of private farms has declined at a steady rate since the 1960s, as land has been sold to developers, timber companies, and large farming conglomerates.

RTJattheshoals
The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail has a large economic impact on the state.

Non-agricultural employment in 2008 was 121,800 in management occupations; 71,750 in business and financial operations; 36,790 in computer-related and mathematical occupation; 44,200 in architecture and engineering; 12,410 in life, physical, and social sciences; 32,260 in community and social services; 12,770 in legal occupations; 116,250 in education, training, and library services; 27,840 in art, design and media occupations; 121,110 in healthcare; 44,750 in fire fighting, law enforcement, and security; 154,040 in food preparation and serving; 76,650 in building and grounds cleaning and maintenance; 53,230 in personal care and services; 244,510 in sales; 338,760 in office and administration support; 20,510 in farming, fishing, and forestry; 120,155 in construction and mining, gas, and oil extraction; 106,280 in installation, maintenance, and repair; 224,110 in production; and 167,160 in transportation and material moving.

Center Court of the Riverchase Galleria
The Riverchase Galleria in Hoover, one of the largest shopping centers in the southeast

According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the 2008 total gross state product was $170 billion, or $29,411 per capita. Alabama's 2012 GDP increased 1.2% from the previous year. The single largest increase came in the area of information. In 2010, per capita income for the state was $22,984.

The state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 5.8% in April 2015. This compared to a nationwide seasonally adjusted rate of 5.4%.

Alabama has no minimum wage and in February 2016 passed legislation preventing municipalities from setting one. (A Birmingham city ordinance would have raised theirs to $10.10.)

As of 2018, Alabama has the sixth highest poverty rate among states in the U.S. In 2017, United Nations Special Rapporteur Philip Alston toured parts of rural Alabama and observed environmental conditions he said were poorer than anywhere he had seen in the developed world.

Largest employers

Enterprise lifted
The Space Shuttle Enterprise being tested at Marshall Space Flight Center in 1978
Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama Highsmith 01
Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama in Montgomery in 2010
Shelbyhallcomputing
Shelby Hall, School of Computing, at the University of South Alabama in Mobile

The five employers that employed the most employees in Alabama in April 2011 were:

Employer Employees
Redstone Arsenal 25,373
University of Alabama at Birmingham (includes UAB Hospital) 18,750
Maxwell Air Force Base 12,280
State of Alabama 9,500
Mobile County Public School System 8,100

The next twenty largest employers, as of 2011, included:

Employer Location
Anniston Army Depot Anniston
AT&T Multiple
Auburn University Auburn
Baptist Medical Center South Montgomery
Birmingham City Schools Birmingham
City of Birmingham Birmingham
DCH Health System Tuscaloosa
Huntsville City Schools Huntsville
Huntsville Hospital System Huntsville
Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama Montgomery
Infirmary Health System Mobile
Jefferson County Board of Education Birmingham
Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville
Mercedes-Benz U.S. International Vance
Montgomery Public Schools Montgomery
Regions Financial Corporation Multiple
Boeing Multiple
University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
University of South Alabama Mobile
Walmart Multiple

Agriculture

Alabama's agricultural outputs include poultry and eggs, cattle, fish, 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 eighth and tenth in national cotton production, according to various reports, with Texas, Georgia and Mississippi comprising the top three.

Aquaculture

Aquaculture is a large part of the economy of Alabama. Alabamians began to practice aquaculture in the early 1960s. U.S. farm-raised catfish is the 8th most popular seafood product in America. By 2008, approximately 4,000 people in Alabama were employed by the catfish industry and Alabama produced 132 million pounds of catfish. In 2020, Alabama produced ⅓ of the United States' farm-raised catfish. The total 2020 sales of catfish raised in Alabama equaled $307 million but by 2020 the total employment of Alabamians fell to 2,442.

From the early 2000s to 2020, the Alabamian catfish industry has declined from 250 farms and 4 processors to 66 farms and 2 processors. Reasons for this decline include increased feed prices, catfish alternatives, COVID-19’s impact on restaurant sales, disease, and fish size.

Industry

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. In addition, Alabama produces aerospace and electronic products, mostly in the Huntsville area, the location of NASA's George C. Marshall Space Flight Center and the U.S. Army Materiel Command, headquartered at Redstone Arsenal.

Mercedes Benz US International 01
Mercedes-Benz U.S. International in Tuscaloosa County was the first automotive facility to locate within the state.

A great deal of Alabama's economic growth since the 1990s has been due to the state's expanding automotive manufacturing industry. Located in the state are Honda Manufacturing of Alabama, Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama, Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, and Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama, as well as their various suppliers. Since 1993, the automobile industry has generated more than 67,800 new jobs in the state. Alabama currently ranks 4th in the nation for vehicle exports.

Automakers accounted for approximately a third of the industrial expansion in the state in 2012. The eight models produced at the state's auto factories totaled combined sales of 74,335 vehicles for 2012. The strongest model sales during this period were the Hyundai Elantra compact car, the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class sport utility vehicle and the Honda Ridgeline sport utility truck.

Airbus Mobile Engineering Center
Airbus Mobile Engineering Center at the Brookley Aeroplex in Mobile

Steel producers Outokumpu, Nucor, SSAB, ThyssenKrupp, and U.S. Steel have facilities in Alabama and employ more than 10,000 people. In May 2007, German steelmaker ThyssenKrupp selected Calvert in Mobile County for a 4.65 billion combined stainless and carbon steel processing facility. ThyssenKrupp's stainless steel division, Inoxum, including the stainless portion of the Calvert plant, was sold to Finnish stainless steel company Outokumpu in 2012. The remaining portion of the ThyssenKrupp plant had final bids submitted by ArcelorMittal and Nippon Steel for $1.6 billion in March 2013. Companhia Siderúrgica Nacional submitted a combined bid for the mill at Calvert, plus a majority stake in the ThyssenKrupp mill in Brazil, for $3.8 billion. In July 2013, the plant was sold to ArcelorMittal and Nippon Steel.

The Hunt Refining Company, a subsidiary of Hunt Consolidated, Inc., is based in Tuscaloosa and operates a refinery there. The company also operates terminals in Mobile, Melvin, and Moundville. JVC America, Inc. operates an optical disc replication and packaging plant in Tuscaloosa.

The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company operates a large plant in Gadsden which employs about 1,400 people. It has been in operation since 1929.

Construction of an Airbus A320 family aircraft assembly plant in Mobile was formally announced by Airbus CEO Fabrice Brégier from the Mobile Convention Center on July 2, 2012. The plans include a $600 million factory at the Brookley Aeroplex for the assembly of the A319, A320 and A321 aircraft. Construction began in 2013, with plans for it to become operable by 2015 and produce up to 50 aircraft per year by 2017. The assembly plant is the company's first factory to be built within the United States. It was announced on February 1, 2013, that Airbus had hired Alabama-based Hoar Construction to oversee construction of the facility.

Tourism and entertainment

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Alabama's beaches are one of the state's major tourist destinations.

According to Business Insider, Alabama ranked 14th in most popular states to visit in 2014. An estimated 26 million tourists visited the state in 2017 and spent $14.3 billion, providing directly or indirectly 186,900 jobs in the state, which includes 362,000 International tourists spending $589 million.

The state is home to various attractions, natural features, parks and events that attract visitors from around the globe, notably the annual Hangout Music Festival, held on the public beaches of Gulf Shores; the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, one of the ten largest Shakespeare festivals in the world; the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, a collection of championship caliber golf courses distributed across the state; casinos such as Victoryland; amusement parks such as Alabama Splash Adventure; the Riverchase Galleria, one of the largest shopping centers in the southeast; Guntersville Lake, voted the best lake in Alabama by Southern Living Magazine readers; and the Alabama Museum of Natural History, the oldest museum in the state.

Mardi Gras Mobile Order of Inca
Mobile is the birthplace of Mardi Gras in the U.S.

Mobile is known for having the oldest organized Mardi Gras celebration in the United States, beginning in 1703. It was also host to the first formally organized Mardi Gras parade in the United States in 1830, a tradition that continues to this day. Mardi Gras is an official state holiday in Mobile and Baldwin counties.

In 2018, Mobile's Mardi Gras parade was the state's top event, producing the most tourists with an attendance of 892,811. The top attraction was the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville with an attendance of 849,981, followed by the Birmingham Zoo with 543,090. Of the parks and natural destinations, Alabama's Gulf Coast topped the list with 6,700,000 visitors.

Alabama has historically been a popular region for film shoots due to its diverse landscapes and contrast of environments. Movies filmed in Alabama include: Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Get Out, 42, Selma, Big Fish, The Final Destination, Due Date, Need For Speed and many more.

Healthcare

UAB Hospital, USA Health University Hospital, Huntsville Hospital, and Children's Hospital of Alabama are the only Level I trauma centers in Alabama. UAB is the largest state government employer in Alabama, with a workforce of about 18,000. A 2017 study found that Alabama had the least competitive health insurance market in the country, with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama having a market share of 84% followed by UnitedHealth Group at 7%.

Banking

Birmingham skyscrapers Nov 2011
Regions-Harbert Plaza, Regions Center, and Wells Fargo Tower in Birmingham's financial district

Regions Financial Corporation is the largest bank headquartered in or operating in Alabama. PNC Financial Services and Wells Fargo also have a major presence in Alabama.

Wells Fargo has a regional headquarters, an operations center campus, and a $400 million data center in Birmingham. Many smaller banks are also headquartered in the Birmingham area, including ServisFirst and New South Federal Savings Bank. Birmingham also serves as the headquarters for several large investment management companies, including Harbert Management Corporation.

Electronics and communications

Telecommunications provider AT&T, formerly BellSouth, has a major presence in Alabama with several large offices in Birmingham.

Many technology companies are headquartered in Huntsville, such as ADTRAN, a network access company; Intergraph, a computer graphics company; and Avocent, an IT infrastructure company.

Construction

Brasfield & Gorrie, BE&K, Hoar Construction, and B.L. Harbert International, based in Alabama and subsidiaries of URS Corporation, are all routinely are included in the Engineering News-Record lists of top design, international construction, and engineering firms.

Law and government

State government

Alabama Capitol Building
The State Capitol Building in Montgomery, completed in 1851

The foundational document for Alabama's government is the Alabama Constitution, which was ratified in 1901. At almost 800 amendments and 310,000 words, it is by some accounts the world's longest constitution and is roughly forty times the length of the United States Constitution.

Alabama's government is divided into three coequal 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 Republican Party currently holds a majority in both houses of the Legislature. The Legislature has the power to override a gubernatorial veto by a simple majority (most state Legislatures require a two-thirds majority to override a veto).

County and local governments

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Alabama counties (clickable map)

Alabama has 67 counties. Each county has its own elected legislative branch, usually called the county commission. It also has limited executive authority in the county. Because of the constraints of the Alabama Constitution, which centralizes power in the state legislature, only seven counties (Jefferson, Lee, Mobile, Madison, Montgomery, Shelby, and Tuscaloosa) in the state have limited home rule. Instead, most counties in the state must lobby the Local Legislation Committee of the state legislature to get simple local policies approved, ranging from waste disposal to land use zoning. The cumbersome process results in local jurisdictions being unable to manage their problems, and the state legislators being buried in local county issues.

Education

Primary and secondary education

Vestavia Hills High School
Vestavia Hills High School in the suburbs of Birmingham

Public primary and secondary education in Alabama is under the purview of the Alabama State Board of Education as well as local oversight by 67 county school boards and 60 city boards of education. Together, 1,496 individual schools provide education for 744,637 elementary and secondary students.

Public school funding is appropriated through the Alabama Legislature through the Education Trust Fund. In FY 2006–2007, Alabama appropriated $3,775,163,578 for primary and secondary education. That represented an increase of $444,736,387 over the previous fiscal year. In 2007, more than 82 percent of schools made adequate yearly progress (AYP) toward student proficiency under the National No Child Left Behind law, using measures determined by the state of Alabama.

While Alabama's public education system has improved in recent decades, it lags behind in achievement compared to other states. According to U.S. Census data (2000), Alabama's high school graduation rate (75%) is the fourth lowest in the U.S. (after Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi). The largest educational gains were among people with some college education but without degrees.

Generally prohibited in the West at large, school corporal punishment is not unusual in Alabama, with 27,260 public school students paddled at least one time, according to government data for the 2011–2012 school year. The rate of school corporal punishment in Alabama is surpassed by only Mississippi and Arkansas.

Colleges and universities

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Harrison Plaza at the University of North Alabama in Florence. The school was chartered as LaGrange College by the Alabama Legislature in 1830.

Alabama's programs of higher education include 14 four-year public universities, two-year community colleges, and 17 private, undergraduate and graduate universities. In the state are four medical schools (as of fall 2015) (University of Alabama School of Medicine, University of South Alabama and Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine and The Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine—Auburn Campus), two veterinary colleges (Auburn University and Tuskegee University), a dental school (University of Alabama School of Dentistry), an optometry college (University of Alabama at Birmingham), two pharmacy schools (Auburn University and Samford University), and five law schools (University of Alabama School of Law, Birmingham School of Law, Cumberland School of Law, Miles Law School, and the Thomas Goode Jones School of Law). Public, post-secondary education in Alabama is overseen by the Alabama Commission on Higher Education and the Alabama Department of Postsecondary Education. Colleges and universities in Alabama offer degree programs from two-year associate degrees to a multitude of doctoral level programs.

William J. Samford Hall
William J. Samford Hall at Auburn University

The largest single campus is the University of Alabama, located in Tuscaloosa, with 37,665 enrolled for fall 2016. Troy University was the largest institution in the state in 2010, with an enrollment of 29,689 students across four Alabama campuses (Troy, Dothan, Montgomery, and Phenix City), as well as sixty learning sites in seventeen other states and eleven other countries. The oldest institutions are the public University of North Alabama in Florence and the Catholic Church-affiliated Spring Hill College in Mobile, both founded in 1830.

Accreditation of academic programs is through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) as well as other subject-focused national and international accreditation agencies such as the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE), the Council on Occupational Education (COE), and the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).

According to the 2011 U.S. News & World Report, Alabama had three universities ranked in the top 100 Public Schools in America (University of Alabama at 31, Auburn University at 36, and University of Alabama at Birmingham at 73).

According to the 2012 U.S. News & World Report, Alabama had four tier one universities (University of Alabama, Auburn University, University of Alabama at Birmingham and University of Alabama in Huntsville).

Sports

College

College football is popular in Alabama, particularly the University of Alabama Crimson Tide and Auburn University Tigers, rivals in the Southeastern Conference. In the 2013 season, Alabama averaged over 100,000 fans per game and Auburn averaged over 80,000 fans, both numbers among the top 20 in the nation in average attendance. Bryant-Denny Stadium is the home of the Alabama football team, and has a seating capacity of 101,821, and is the fifth largest stadium in America. Jordan-Hare Stadium is the home field of the Auburn football team and seats up to 87,451.

Professional

Regions Field, Birmingham Alabama
Regions Field in Birmingham

Alabama has several professional and semi-professional sports teams, including three minor league baseball teams.

The Talladega Superspeedway motorsports complex hosts a series of NASCAR events. It has a seating capacity of 143,000 and is the thirteenth largest stadium in the world and sixth largest stadium in America. Also, the Barber Motorsports Park has hosted IndyCar Series and Rolex Sports Car Series races.

The ATP Birmingham was a World Championship Tennis tournament held from 1973 to 1980.

Alabama has hosted several professional golf tournaments, such as the 1984 and 1990 PGA Championship at Shoal Creek, the Barbasol Championship (PGA Tour), the Mobile LPGA Tournament of Champions, Airbus LPGA Classic and Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic (LPGA Tour), and The Tradition (Champions Tour).

Transportation

Montgomery Regional Airport New Terminal
Terminal at the Montgomery Regional Airport in Montgomery
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Interstate 59 (co-signed with Interstate 20) approaching Interstate 65 in downtown Birmingham
Mobile Alabama harbor aerial view
Aerial view of the port of Mobile

Aviation

Major airports with sustained operations in Alabama include Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport (BHM), Huntsville International Airport (HSV), Dothan Regional Airport (DHN), Mobile Regional Airport (MOB), Montgomery Regional Airport (MGM), Northwest Alabama Regional Airport (MSL) and Northeast Alabama Regional Airport (GAD).

Rail

For rail transport, Amtrak schedules the Crescent, a daily passenger train, running from New York to New Orleans with station stops at Anniston, Birmingham, and Tuscaloosa.

Roads

Alabama has six major interstate routes: Interstate 65 (I-65) travels north–south roughly through the middle of the state; I-20/I-59 travel from the central west Mississippi state line to Birmingham, where I-59 continues to the north-east corner of the state and I-20 continues east towards Atlanta; I-85 originates in Montgomery and travels east-northeast to the Georgia state line, providing a main thoroughfare to Atlanta; and I-10 traverses the southernmost portion of the state, traveling from west to east through Mobile. I-22 enters the state from Mississippi and connects Birmingham with Memphis, Tennessee. In addition, there are currently five auxiliary interstate routes in the state: I-165 in Mobile, I-359 in Tuscaloosa, I-459 around Birmingham, I-565 in Decatur and Huntsville, and I-759 in Gadsden. A sixth route, I-685, will be formed when I-85 is rerouted along a new southern bypass of Montgomery. A proposed northern bypass of Birmingham will be designated as I-422. Since a direct connection from I-22 to I-422 will not be possible, I-222 has been proposed, as well.

Several U.S. Highways also pass through the state, such as U.S. Route 11 (US-11), US-29, US-31, US-43, US-45, US-72, US-78, US-80, US-82, US-84, US-90, US-98, US-231, US-278, US-280, US-331, US-411, and US-431.

There are four toll roads in the state: Montgomery Expressway in Montgomery; Northport/Tuscaloosa Western Bypass in Tuscaloosa and Northport; Emerald Mountain Expressway in Wetumpka; and Beach Express in Orange Beach.

Ports

The Port of Mobile, Alabama's only saltwater port, is a large seaport on the Gulf of Mexico with inland waterway access to the Midwest by way of the Tennessee–Tombigbee Waterway. The Port of Mobile was ranked 12th by tons of traffic in the United States during 2009. The newly expanded container terminal at the Port of Mobile was ranked as the 25th busiest for container traffic in the nation during 2011. The state's other ports are on rivers with access to the Gulf of Mexico.

Water ports of Alabama, listed from north to south:

Port name Location Connected to
Port of Florence Florence/Muscle Shoals, on Pickwick Lake Tennessee River
Port of Decatur Decatur, on Wheeler Lake Tennessee River
Port of Demopolis Demopolis, on Tombigbee River Tennessee–Tombigbee Waterway
Port of Guntersville Guntersville, on Lake Guntersville Tennessee River
Port of Birmingham Birmingham, on Black Warrior River Tennessee–Tombigbee Waterway
Port of Tuscaloosa Tuscaloosa, on Black Warrior River Tennessee–Tombigbee Waterway
Port of Montgomery Montgomery, on Woodruff Lake Alabama River
Port of Mobile Mobile, on Mobile Bay Gulf of Mexico

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Alabama para niños

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