Georgia (U.S. state) facts

State of Georgia
Flag of Georgia State seal of Georgia
Flag of Georgia Seal of Georgia
Nickname(s): Peach State, Empire State of the South
Motto(s): Wisdom, Justice, and Moderation
Map of the United States with Georgia highlighted
Official language English
Capital Atlanta
Largest city Atlanta
Area Ranked 24th
 - Total 59,411 sq mi
(154,077 km2)
 - Width 230 miles (370 km)
 - Length 298 miles (480 km)
 - % water 2.6
 - Latitude 30°31'N to 35°N
 - Longitude 81°W to 85°53'W
Number of people Ranked 9th
 - Total 10,214,860
 - Density 168.4/sq mi  (62.8/km2)
Ranked 20th
 - Average income $49,342 (28th)
Height above sea level
 - Highest point Brasstown Bald
4,784 ft (1,458 m)
 - Average 591 ft  (180 m)
 - Lowest point Atlantic Ocean
sea level
Became part of the U.S. January 2, 1788 (4th)
Governor Nathan Deal (R)
U.S. Senators David Perdue (R)
Johnny Isakson (R)
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4
Abbreviations GA, US-GA
Website www.georgia.gov
This article is about the American state called Georgia. See Georgia (country) for the article about the country.

Georgia is a state in the southeastern part of the United States. It is bordered by Florida to the south, Alabama to the west, Tennessee and North Carolina to the north, and South Carolina to the east. All of Georgia's coastline is on the Atlantic Ocean. The ocean borders Georgia to the southeast.

Georgia was established in 1732 and became a state in 1788. It was the last of the original 13 colonies and eventually joined in the growing rebellion against Britain. Georgia was named after George II of Great Britain.

The 5 Regions of Georgia

There are 5 regional habitats of Georgia. They are the Georgia mountains, Okeefenokee marsh/swamp area, the Georgia coastal region, the Georgia Piedmont, and Atlantic Coastal region .

History

Before settlement by Europeans, Georgia was inhabited by the mound building cultures. The British colony of Georgia was founded by James Oglethorpe on February 12, 1733. The colony was administered by the Trustees for the Establishment of the Colony of Georgia in America under a charter issued by (and named for) King George II. The Trustees implemented an elaborate plan for the colony's settlement, known as the Oglethorpe Plan, which envisioned an agrarian society of yeoman farmers and prohibited slavery. The colony was invaded by the Spanish in 1742, during the War of Jenkins' Ear. In 1752, after the government failed to renew subsidies that had helped support the colony, the Trustees turned over control to the crown. Georgia became a crown colony, with a governor appointed by the king.

Battle of Kenesaw Mountian
The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, on June 27, 1864

The Province of Georgia was one of the Thirteen Colonies that revolted against British rule in the American Revolution by signing the 1776 Declaration of Independence. The State of Georgia's first constitution was ratified in February 1777. Georgia was the 10th state to ratify the Articles of Confederation on July 24, 1778, and was the 4th state to ratify the current Constitution on January 2, 1788.

In 1829, gold was discovered in the North Georgia mountains, which led to the Georgia Gold Rush and an established federal mint in Dahlonega, which continued its operation until 1861. The subsequent influx of white settlers put pressure on the government to take land from the Cherokee Nation. In 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act into law, sending many eastern Native American nations to reservations in present-day Oklahoma, including all of Georgia's tribes. Despite the Supreme Court's ruling in Worcester v. Georgia (1832) that ruled U.S. states were not permitted to redraw the Indian boundaries, President Jackson and the state of Georgia ignored the ruling. In 1838, his successor, Martin Van Buren, dispatched federal troops to gather the Cherokee and deport them west of the Mississippi. This forced relocation, known as the Trail of Tears, led to the death of over 4,000 Cherokees.

In early 1861, Georgia joined the Confederacy and became a major theater of the Civil War. Major battles took place at Chickamauga, Kennesaw Mountain, and Atlanta. In December 1864, a large swath of the state from Atlanta to Savannah was destroyed during General William Tecumseh Sherman's March to the Sea. 18,253 Georgian soldiers died in service, roughly one of every five who served. In 1870, following the Reconstruction Era, Georgia became the last Confederate state to be restored to the Union.

A little spinner in a Georgia Cotton Mill
A girl spinner in a Georgia cotton mill, 1909.

With white Democrats having regained power in the state legislature, they passed a poll tax in 1877, which disenfranchised many poor blacks and whites, preventing them from registering. In 1908, the state established a white primary; with the only competitive contests within the Democratic Party, it was another way to exclude blacks from politics. They constituted 46.7% of the state's population in 1900, but the proportion of Georgia's population that was African American dropped thereafter to 28% primarily due to leaving the state during the Great Migration. This disfranchisement persisted through the mid-1960s, until federal legislation with the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Geography

Road to Brasstown Summit
Taxodium ascendens Okefenokee 5

Boundaries

Beginning from the Atlantic Ocean, the state's eastern border with South Carolina runs up the Savannah River, northwest to its origin at the confluence of the Tugaloo and Seneca Rivers. It then continues up the Tugaloo (originally Tugalo) and into the Chattooga River, its most significant tributary. These bounds were decided in the 1797 Treaty of Beaufort, and tested in the U.S. Supreme Court in the two Georgia v. South Carolina cases in 1923 and 1989.

The border then takes a sharp turn around the tip of Rabun County, at latitude 35°N, though from this point it diverges slightly south (due to inaccuracies in the original survey). This northern border was originally the Georgia and North Carolina border all the way to the Mississippi River, until Tennessee was divided from North Carolina, and the Yazoo companies induced the legislature of Georgia to pass an act, approved by the governor in 1795, to sell the greater part of Georgia's territory presently comprising Alabama and Mississippi.

The state's western border runs in a straight line south-southeastward from a point southwest of Chattanooga, to meet the Chattahoochee River near West Point. It continues downriver to the point where it joins the Flint River (the confluence of the two forming Florida's Apalachicola River); the southern border goes almost due east and very slightly south, in a straight line to the St. Mary's River, which then forms the remainder of the boundary back to the ocean.

The water boundaries are still set to be the original thalweg of the rivers. Since then, several have been inundated by lakes created by dams, including the Apalachicola/Chattahoochee/Flint point now under Lake Seminole.

Georgia state legislators have claimed that in an 1818 survey, the state's border with Tennessee was erroneously placed one mile (1.6 km) farther south than intended, and they proposed a correction in 2010. The state was then in the midst of a significant drought, and the new border would allow Georgia access to water from the Tennessee River.

Geology and terrain

Map of Georgia elevations
Map of elevations in Georgia

Each region has its own distinctive characteristics. For instance, the Ridge and Valley, which lies in the northwest corner of the state, includes limestone, sandstone, shale and other sedimentary rocks, which have yielded construction-grade limestone, barite, ocher, and small amounts of coal.

Ecology

Flora

The state of Georgia has approximately 250 tree species and 58 protected plants. Georgia's native trees include red cedar, a variety of pines, oaks, hollies, cypress, sweetgum, scaly-bark and white hickories and sabal palmetto. East Georgia is in the subtropical coniferous forest biome and conifer species as other broadleaf evergreen flora make up the majority of the southern and coastal regions. Yellow jasmine, and mountain laurel make up just a few of the flowering shrubs in the state.

Fauna

Wtdfishwild
Male White-tailed deer

White-tailed (Virginia) deer are in nearly all counties. The northern mockingbird and brown thrasher are among the 160 bird species that live in the state.

Reptiles and amphibians include the eastern diamondback, copperhead, and cottonmouth, salamanders, frogs, alligators and toads. There are about 79 species of reptile and 63 amphibians known to live in Georgia.

The most popular freshwater game fish are trout, bream, bass, and catfish, all but the last of which are produced in state hatcheries for restocking. Popular saltwater game fish include red drum, spotted seatrout, flounder, and tarpon. Porpoises, whales, shrimp, oysters, and blue crabs are found inshore and offshore of the Georgia coast.

Climate

Storm of the century satellite
Image of March 1993 Storm of the Century covering the length of the east coast. The outline of Georgia is discernible in the center of the image.

The majority of the state is primarily a humid subtropical climate. Hot and humid summers are typical, except at the highest elevations. The entire state, including the North Georgia mountains, receives moderate to heavy precipitation, which varies from 45 inches (1143 mm) in central Georgia to approximately 75 inches (1905 mm) around the northeast part of the state. The degree to which the weather of a certain region of Georgia is subtropical depends on the latitude, its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico, and the elevation. The latter factor is felt chiefly in the mountainous areas of the northern part of the state, which are farther away from the ocean and can be 4500 feet (1350 m) above sea level. The USDA Plant hardiness zones for Georgia range from zone 6b (no colder than −5 °F (−21 °C) ) in the Blue Ridge Mountains to zone 8b (no colder than 15 °F (−9 °C) ) along the Atlantic coast and Florida border.

The highest temperature ever recorded is 112 °F (44.4 °C) in Louisville on July 24, 1952, while the lowest is −17 °F (−27.2 °C) in northern Floyd County on January 27, 1940. Georgia is one of the leading states in frequency of tornadoes, though they are rarely stronger than F1. Although tornadoes striking the city are very rare, a F2 nonviolent tornado hit downtown Atlanta on March 14, 2008, causing moderate to severe damage to various buildings. With a coastline on the Atlantic Ocean, Georgia is also vulnerable to hurricanes, although direct hurricane strikes were rare during the 20th century. Georgia often is affected by hurricanes that strike the Florida panhandle, weaken over land, and bring strong tropical storm winds and heavy rain to the interior, as well as hurricanes that come close to the Georgia coastline, brushing the coast on their way north.

Economy

Map of Georgia Median Income by County
A heat map of Georgia's counties depicting the median income as of 2014.

There are 17 Fortune 500 companies and 26 Fortune 1000 companies with headquarters in Georgia, including such names as Home Depot, UPS, Coca-Cola, TSYS, Delta Air Lines, Aflac, Southern Company, Anthem Inc. (one of the largest health benefits companies), Honeywell, and SunTrust Banks. Further, more than 450 Fortune 500 companies call Georgia home, and Georgia has over 1,700 internationally headquartered facilities representing 43 countries, employing more than 112,000 Georgians with an estimated capital investment of $23 billion.

Agriculture

Savannah river street
Savannah's River Street is a popular tourist destination.

Widespread farms produce peanuts, corn, and soybeans across middle and south Georgia. The state is the number one producer of pecans in the world, with the region around Albany in southwest Georgia being the center of Georgia's pecan production. Gainesville in northeast Georgia touts itself as the Poultry Capital of the World. Georgia is in the top five blueberry producers in the United States.

Georgia's agricultural outputs include poultry and eggs, pecans, peaches, cotton, peanuts, rye, cattle, hogs, dairy products, turfgrass, timber, particularly pine trees, tobacco and vegetables.

Mining

1999 GA Proof
A Georgia U.S. quarter

Major products in the mineral industry include a variety of clays, stones, sands and the clay palygorskite, known as attapulgite.

Industry

Industry in Georgia is diverse.

While many textile jobs moved overseas, there is still a textile industry located around the cities of Rome, Columbus, Augusta, Macon and along the I-75 corridor between Atlanta and Chattanooga, Tennessee. Historically it started along the fall line in the Piedmont, where factories were powered by waterfalls and rivers. It includes the towns of Cartersville, Calhoun, Ringgold and Dalton

In November 2009, Kia started production in Georgia at the first U.S. Kia Motors plant, Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia in West Point.

Industrial products include textiles and apparel, transportation equipment, food processing, paper products, chemicals and products, and electric equipment.

Tourism

In the Atlanta area, World of Coke, Georgia Aquarium, Zoo Atlanta and Stone Mountain are important tourist attractions. Stone Mountain is Georgia's "most popular attraction"; receiving over four million tourists per year. The Georgia Aquarium, in Atlanta, was the largest aquarium in the world in 2010 according to Guinness World Records.

Callaway Gardens, in western Georgia, is a family resort. The area is also popular with golfers.

The Savannah Historic District attracts over eleven million tourists each year.

The Golden Isles are a string of barrier islands off the Atlantic coast of Georgia near Brunswick that include beaches, golf courses and the Cumberland Island National Seashore.

Several sites honor the lives and careers of noted American leaders: the Little White House in Warm Springs, which served as the summer residence of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt while he was being treated for polio; President Jimmy Carter's hometown of Plains and the Carter Presidential Center in Atlanta; the Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historic Site in Atlanta, which is the final resting place of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King; and Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Dr. King preached.

Cultural

Fox Theater - Atlanta, Georgia
The Fox Theatre is a performing arts venue located in Midtown Atlanta, and is the centerpiece of the Fox Theatre Historic District.

Fine and performing arts

Georgia's major fine art museums include the High Museum of Art and the Michael C. Carlos Museum, both in Atlanta; the Georgia Museum of Art on the campus of the University of Georgia in Athens; Telfair Museum of Art and the SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah; and the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta.

The state theatre of Georgia is the Springer Opera House located in Columbus.

The Atlanta Opera brings opera to Georgia stages. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra is the most widely recognized orchestra and largest arts organization in the southeastern United States.

There are a number of performing arts venues in the state, among the largest are the Fox Theatre, and the Alliance Theatre at the Woodruff Arts Center, both on Peachtree Street in Midtown Atlanta as well as the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, located in Northwest Atlanta.

Literature

Authors have grappled with Georgia's complex history. Popular novels related to this include Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind, Olive Ann Burns' Cold Sassy Tree, and Alice Walker's The Color Purple.

A number of noted authors, poets and playwrights have lived in Georgia, such as James Dickey, Flannery O'Connor, Sidney Lanier, Frank Yerby and Lewis Grizzard.

State symbols

Brown Thrasher by Dan Pancamo 1
A brown thrasher, Georgia's state bird.
Cherokee rose
Rosa laevigata, Cherokee rose, the state flower of Georgia.

Reference: Georgia Symbols

  • Amphibian: American green tree frog
  • Bird: brown thrasher
  • Crop: peanut
  • Fish: largemouth bass
  • Flower: Cherokee rose
  • Fruit: peach
  • Gem: quartz
  • Insect: honey bee
  • Mammal: white-tailed deer
  • Marine mammal: right whale
  • Mineral: staurolite
  • Nicknames:
    • "Peach State"
    • "Empire State of the South"
  • Reptile: gopher tortoise
  • Song: "Georgia on My Mind"
  • Tree: live oak
  • Vegetable: Vidalia onion

Related pages


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