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Jose Luis Ibave Gonzalez, Ph.D.

State of Alabama

ORIGIN OF STATE NAME: Probably after the Alabama Indian tribe. NICKNAME: The Heart of Dixie. CAPITAL: Montgomery. ENTERED UNION: 14 December 1819 (22nd). SONG: “Alabama.” MOTTO: Aldemus jura nostra defendere (We dare defend our rights). COAT OF ARMS: Two eagles, symbolizing courage, support a

shield bearing the emblems of the fivegovernments (France, England, Spain, Confederacy, US) that have held sovereignty over Alabama. Above the shield is a sailing vessel modeled upon the ships of the first French settlers of Alabama; beneath the shield is the state motto. FLAG: Crimson cross of St. Andrew on a square white field. OFFICIAL SEAL: The map of Alabama, including names of major rivers and neighboring states, surrounded bythe words “Alabama Great Seal.” BIRD: Yellowhammer. FISH: Tarpon. FLOWER: Camellia. TREE: Southern (longleaf) pine. GEM: Star Blue Quartz. LEGAL HOLIDAYS: New Year’s Day, 1 January; Birthdays of Robert E. Lee and Martin Luther King, Jr., 3rd Monday in January; George Washington’s/Thomas Jefferson’s Birthdays, 3rd Monday in February; Mardi Gras, February or March; Confederate Memorial Day, 4thMonday in April; Jefferson Davis’s Birthday, 1st Monday in June; Independence Day, 4 July; Labor Day, 1st Monday in September; Columbus Day/American Indian Heritage Day, 2nd Monday in October; Veterans Day, 11 November; Thanksgiving Day, 4th Thursday in November; Christmas Day, 25 December. TIME: 6 AM CST = noon GMT.



Located in the eastern south-central UnitedStates, Alabama ranks 29th in size among the 50 states. The total area of Alabama is 51,705 sq mi (133,915 sq km), of which land constitutes 50,767 sq mi (131,486 sq km) and inland water, 938 sq mi (2,429 sq km). Alabama extends roughly 200 mi (320 km) e–w; the maximum n–s extension is 300 mi (480 km). Alabama is bordered on the n by Tennessee; on the e by Georgia (with part of the line formed by theChattahoochee River); on the s by Florida (with part of the line defined by the Perdido River) and the Gulf of Mexico; and on the w by Mississippi (with the northernmost part of the line passing through the Tennessee River). Dauphin Island, in the Gulf of Mexico, is the largest offshore island. The total boundary length of Alabama is 1,044 mi (1,680 km). The state’s geographic center is inChilton County, 12 mi (19 km) sw of Clanton.


Alabama is divided into four major physiographic regions: the Gulf Coastal Plain, Piedmont Plateau, Ridge and Valley section, and Appalachian (or Cumberland) Plateau. The physical characteristics of each province have significantly affected settlement and industrial development patterns within the state. The coastal plain, comprising thesouthern half of Alabama, consists primarily of lowlands and low ridges. Included within the coastal plain is the Black Belt—historically, the center of cotton production and plantation slavery in Alabama—an area of rich, chalky soil that stretches across the entire width of central Alabama. Just to the north, the piedmont of east-central Alabama contains rolling hills and valleys. Alabama’shighest elevation, Cheaha Mountain, 2,405 ft (733 m) above sea level, is located at

the northern edge of this region. North and west of the piedmont is a series of parallel ridges and valleys running in a northeastsouthwest direction. Mountain ranges in this area include the Red, Shades, Oak, Lookout, and other noteworthy southern extensions of the Appalachian chain; elevations of 1,200 ft (366 m)are found as far south as Birmingham. The Appalachian Plateau covers most of northwestern Alabama, with a portion of the Highland Rim in the extreme north near the Tennessee border. The floodplain of the Tennessee River cuts a wide swath across both these northern regions. The lowest point in the state is at sea level at the Gulf of Mexico. The mean elevation of the state is approximately 500 ft...
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