A map of AlabamaAlabama is located in the southeastern region of the US. Much of the state is made up of a rolling plain that slopes gently down towards the Gulf of Mexico. A number of rivers, including the Alabama and its tributaries, flow across it in a generally southwards direction. In the north of the state, the Tennessee River cuts a deep valley across the mountains that make up the far southwestern corner of the Cumberland Plateau—part of the Appalachian range. Alabama was once covered by vast areas of pine forest. Today, although it still has the second most extensive forests of all the states in the contiguous US after Georgia, it is mostly agricultural.
The naming of both the state and Alabama River comes from the Alabama people, a Muskogean-speaking tribe who once lived in the area close to where the Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers meet the Alabama river. The Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto first used the name, which he wrote as “Alibamu”, when describing his expedition there in 1540.
Alabama has very hot summers—among the hottest in the US—and mild winters, with high levels of rainfall throughout the year. Temperatures are generally warmer in the southern part of the state, close to the shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico, while northern parts, especially in the Appalachian Mountains in the northeast, tend to be cooler.
In some parts, Alabama is prone to tornadoes, tropical storms and hurricanes. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina caused major flooding and destruction along the coast.
Although about half of Alabama's area is devoted to farming, manufacturing accounts for a much larger share of the state's income. While Alabama is still known as "The Cotton State", its central “Black Belt”, which was once the chief cotton-growing area, is now given over to raising poultry and cattle. Other agricultural products include peanuts, maize, vegetables and soya beans.
Much of Alabama's economic growth since the 1990s has been due to its growing vehicle manufacturing industry. Once known as a coal mining state, Alabama’s other main industries include paper, chemicals, rubber, plastics, textiles and iron and steel.
Shrimp boats moored at Bayou La Batre
Facts about Alabama
History of Alabama
Among the Native American peoples living in the area at the time of European contact were the Iroquoian-speaking Cherokee and the Muskogean-speaking Alabama (Alibamu), Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Koasati peoples
Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto passes through the area
The French claim the area of present-day Alabama as part of French Louisiana (La Louisiane) and found the first European settlement at Fort Louis de la Mobile (later moved to the current site of Mobile in 1711)
Alabama, then known as the Yazoo lands, becomes part of British West Florida by the Treaty of Paris
The area is claimed by the Province of Georgia
After the US victory in the American Revolutionary War, what is now Alabama is split between the US and Spain
The Territory of Mississippi, which includes parts of present-day Alabama, is established; the land is still largely a wilderness
The Spanish garrison at Mobile surrenders to US forces, leading to a US takeover of the Spanish lands
Andrew Jackson defeats a Native American force at Horseshoe Bend
Alabama Territory is created by the US Congress, with Saint Stephens as its capital
Alabama is admitted to the Union as the 22nd state; “Alabama Fever” gets underway as settlers, bringing slaves with them, pour into the state to claim the fertile lowlands for cotton cultivation
Alabama’s population has increased to more than 300,000 people (it was under 10,000 in 1810); most Native American tribes are removed from the state after the Indian Removal Act
Alabama secedes (breaks away) from the Union; it joins the Confederate States of America at the outbreak of the Civil War
Alabama is officially restored to the Union
Birmingham is founded in 1870; its first blast furnace (for the production of steel) begins operations in 1880
Coal mining and cotton textile industries are developed
Constitution of Alabama effectively disenfranchises (removes the right to vote from) nearly all African-Americans and Native Americans, as well as many poor whites
Boll weevil devastates the cotton fields
Major migration of African-Americans out of Alabama to the manufacturing cities in the northern US
Montgomery Bus Boycott: African-American Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger, and is arrested for violating the city’s segregation laws
“Freedom March” from Selma to Montgomery; federal civil rights legislation enforces the constitutional rights of black inhabitants as citizens
See also in Geography