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, indigenous people of North America
Alabama (ăləbămˈə), indigenous people of North America whose language belongs to the Muskogean branch of the Hokan-Siouan linguistic stock (see Native American languages). They lived in S Alabama in the early 18th cent. and were members of the Creek confederacy. During the 19th cent. they moved to W Louisiana and E Texas. The state of Alabama takes its name from them. In Texas the Alabama share a reservation with the Coushatta, who also speak a Muskogean language. In 1990, there were over 1,000 Alabama and Coushatta in the United States.


, state, United States

Alabama (ăləbămˈə), state in the SE United States. It is bordered by Tennessee (N), Georgia (E), Florida and the Gulf of Mexico (S), and Mississippi (W).

Facts and Figures

Area, 51,609 sq mi (133,677 sq km). Pop. (2020) 5,024,279, a 2.6% increase since the 2010 census. As of the 2020 census, the state's population was: White alone, 69.1%; Black alone, 26.8%; Hispanic or Latino, 4.6%; American Indian and Alaska native alone, 0.7%; Asian alone, 1.5%; Two or More Races, 1.8%. Capital, Montgomery. Largest city, Birmingham. Statehood, Dec. 14, 1819 (22d state). Highest pt., Cheaha Mt., 2,407 ft (734 m); lowest pt., sea level. Nickname, Heart of Dixie. Motto, We Dare Defend Our Rights. State bird, yellowhammer. State flower, camellia. State tree, Southern (longleaf) pine. Abbr., Ala.; AL


Except for the mountainous section in the northeast (the southern end of the Cumberland Plateau) Alabama is a rolling plain with an average elevation of c.500 ft (150 m) in two geologic regions—the Appalachian Piedmont above the fall line and the coastal plain below. These plains, drained by the Alabama and the Tombigbee rivers and their tributaries, are primarily devoted to agriculture. Montgomery is the capital and Birmingham the largest city of Alabama. Mobile is the state's major seaport. Places of interest in Alabama include Russell Cave National Monument, near Bridgeport, the site of caves that were inhabited almost continuously from 6000 B.C. to A.D. 1650, and Mound State Monument, near Tuscaloosa, the site of numerous early Native American mounds.


The central Black Belt, formerly a principal cotton-growing area, is now employed largely for raising poultry (the state ranks third in U.S. broiler chicken production) and cattle, Alabama's most valuable agricultural products. Cotton is still the chief crop; greenhouse plants, peanuts, and vegetables are also important.

Although about half of Alabama's area is devoted to agriculture, manufacturing accounts for a larger share of the state's income. Where the Tennessee River loops across the north, hydroelectric power from the Tennessee Valley Authority has converted much agricultural land to industrial uses. Alabama has the second most extensive (after Georgia) forests in the contiguous United States, and pulp and paper products lead manufactures. Other major industries produce chemicals, electronics, textiles, processed foods, and automobiles. Oil and gas, cement, and stone lead mineral production; the state's once-prominent coal industry is gradually declining. The Marshall NASA Space Flight Center, Redstone Arsenal, Maxwell Air Force Base, and Forts Rucker and McClellan contribute significantly to the economy.

Government, Politics, and Higher Education

Alabama's constitution, adopted in 1901, provides for an elected governor and a bicameral legislature that is made up of a 35-member senate and a 105-member house of representatives. The state elects two senators and seven representatives to the U.S. Congress and has nine electoral votes.

Alabama politics was dominated by the Democratic party from Reconstruction until the 1980s, but since then the governorship has alternated regularly between both parties, although Republicans have dominated over the last two decades.

Among Alabama's educational institutions are the Univ. of Alabama, at Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, and Huntsville; Auburn Univ., at Auburn; Birmingham-Southern College and Howard College, at Birmingham; Huntingdon College, at Montgomery; the Univ. of Montevallo, at Montevallo; and Tuskegee Univ., at Tuskegee.


Early History to Statehood

Agriculture was practiced by groups such as the Creeks and Cherokee in the east, and the Choctaws and Chickasaws in the west when Spanish explorers arrived. Cabeza de Vaca (and possibly Pánfilo de Narvaez) visited Alabama in 1528, and Hernando De Soto spent some time in the region in 1540. European settlement was begun, however, not by the Spanish but by the French in the Mobile area in 1702. The French and British contended for the furs gathered by Native Americans. In 1763 the region passed to the British, who were victorious over France and Spain in the French and Indian Wars.

At the close of the American Revolution, Great Britain ceded (1783) to the United States all lands east of the Mississippi except the Floridas (see West Florida Controversy). The Territory of Mississippi, which included parts of present-day Alabama, was set up in 1798, but the land was still largely a wilderness with a considerable fur trade, centered at Saint Stephens, and with only the beginnings of cotton cultivation.

Both the fur trade and cotton production were interrupted during the War of 1812, when part of the Creek Confederacy began attacking under William Weatherford. Andrew Jackson defeated a group of Native Americans at Horseshoe Bend on Mar. 27, 1814. That victory, coupled with the British demand for cotton, ushered in a period of heavy settlement. New settlers poured into the Alabama region, especially from Georgia and Tennessee. The wealthy newcomers settled in the fertile bottomlands and established large plantations based on slave labor, which helped to produce cotton for the markets of Southern ports. Poorer newcomers took over less fertile uplands, where they eked out a living. The population grew to such an extent that the Territory of Alabama, taking Saint Stephens as its capital, was set up in 1817 with William W. Bibb as governor; two years later it became a state.

Civil War and Reconstruction

In Alabama the slave-owning planters were dominant because of the prosperous cotton crop, and as the Civil War loomed closer, the support of Southern rights and secession sentiment grew under the urging of “fire-eaters” such as William L. Yancey. Alabama broke away from the Union on Jan. 11, 1861, when its second constitutional convention passed the ordinance of secession. The government of the Confederacy was organized at Montgomery on Feb. 4, 1861. Union troops held the Tennessee valley after 1862. One of the principal naval battles of the war was won by Admiral D. G. Farragut in Mobile Bay in 1864, but most of the state was not occupied in force until 1865. Alabama ratified the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1865, but in 1867 it refused to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment and was placed under military rule. That rule ended the following year when a new state legislature operating under a new constitution approved the Fourteenth Amendment. However, federal troops did not leave Alabama until 1876, and African Americans continued to suffer enormous oppression for decades.

In the Reconstruction era Alabama's government was dominated by the so-called carpetbaggers and scalawags, and corruption was widespread. Few reforms emerged during the period; but the mining of coal and iron was expanded by Daniel Pratt and his successor, H. F. De Bardeleben, marking the rise of industry in Alabama.


The railroads built during Reconstruction were a major impetus to the industrialization of Alabama's economy. Birmingham was founded in 1870, and its first blast furnace began operations in 1880. The cotton textile industry developed in the 1880s. At that time farming was still dominant, and the fortunes of the state rose and fell with the market price of cotton. Constant use and erosion, however, began to exhaust the land.

Diversification of crops, much advocated in the 20th cent., was accelerated in 1915 when the boll weevil invaded the cotton fields and the demand during World War I brought high prices for food crops. The Great Depression and the agricultural program of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal caused more farmers to produce subsistence crops and took more land away from the wasting cotton culture. Beginning in the 1920s, there was a large migration of African Americans out of the state to northern manufacturing centers.

Industrialization was greatly increased during World War II with the appearance of factories producing machines, munitions, powder, and other war supplies. Huntsville became a center for rocket research, and its population more than quadrupled between 1950 and 1960. Industrialization and commerce increased throughout the state. Adding impetus to that growth was an ambitious development program of Alabama's inland waterways to provide cheap water transportation, more hydroelectric power, and flood-control measures.

The Integration Years to the Present

In 1954 the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision ruling racial segregation in public elementary and secondary schools unconstitutional, and the decision was followed by an intensification of racial tension (see integration). Alabama has witnessed many civil-rights protests, including a year-long black boycott of public buses in Montgomery in 1955–56 to protest segregated seating and a Freedom March from Montgomery to Selma led by Martin Luther King Jr. in 1965.

George C. Wallace, a Democrat elected governor in 1962, fought the federally ordered integration of schools in Alabama. He was reelected three times: 1970, 1974, and 1982, the final time with substantial African-American support. In 1968 he entered the U.S. presidential race as the candidate of the American Independent party. He ran for the presidency twice more—in 1972 and 1976.

Since the late 1970s, public attention has largely shifted to economic issues, and major efforts have been made to achieve growth by encouraging further diversification of manufacturing industries. A notable success in this campaign was the building by Mercedes-Benz of auto assembly plant in Alabama. The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, connecting the port of Mobile with the industries that have developed in N Alabama and elsewhere along the Tennessee, opened in 1985. In 1995 Hurricane Opal caused extensive damage in Alabama as far north as Montgomery, and parts of the state suffered again in 2004 from Hurricane Ivan and in 2005 from Katrina.

In 1986, Harold Guy Hunt (1987-1993) became the first Republican to be elected Albama's governor in over a century. Since then, the two parties have vied for control over the state's highest office. In 1998, Democrat Don Siegelman was elected governor, but he narrowly lost the office to Republican Bob Riley (2002-10). Robert Bentley (2010-17), a Republican, was elected to succeed Riley, but resigned in 2017 amid ethics and criminal investigations arising from an extramarital affair; Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey succeeded him, and was elected to the office in 2018. Although generally supporting conservative issues, Ivey has been an outspoken critic of those who have opposed COVID-19 restrictions and taking the vaccine.


See C. P. Denman, The Secession Movement in Alabama (1933, repr. 1971); L. Griffith, Alabama: A Documentary History to 1900 (rev. ed. 1972); Federal Writers' Project, Alabama: A Guide to the Deep South (1941, repr. 1973); N. G. Lineback and C. T. Traylor, ed., Atlas of Alabama (1973); R. A. Thigpen, Alabama Government Manual (7th ed. 1986); S. W. Wiggins, ed., From Civil War to Civil Rights, 1860–1960 (1987).


, river, United States
Alabama, river, 315 mi (507 km) long, formed in central Ala. by the confluence of the Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers N of Montgomery, Ala., and flowing SW to Mobile, Ala., where it joins the Tombigbee to form the Mobile River; drains c.22,600 sq mi (58,500 sq km). In the 1800s the river played an important role in the development of the region's economy as a transporter of goods. It remains an important mover of farm products, lumber, and manufactured goods. The Cahaba River, its chief tributary, is the source of water for Birmingham, Ala.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

Alabama State Information

Phone: (334) 242-8000

Area (sq mi):: 52419.02 (land 50744.00; water 1675.01) Population per square mile: 89.80
Population 2005: 4,557,808 State rank: 0 Population change: 2000-20005 2.50%; 1990-2000 10.10% Population 2000: 4,447,100 (White 70.30%; Black or African American 26.00%; Hispanic or Latino 1.70%; Asian 0.70%; Other 2.20%). Foreign born: 2.00%. Median age: 35.80
Income 2000: per capita $18,189; median household $34,135; Population below poverty level: 16.10% Personal per capita income (2000-2003): $23,764-$26,505
Unemployment (2004): 5.20% Unemployment change (from 2000): 1.00% Median travel time to work: 24.80 minutes Working outside county of residence: 25.20%

List of Alabama counties:

  • Autauga County
  • Baldwin County
  • Barbour County
  • Bibb County
  • Blount County
  • Bullock County
  • Butler County
  • Calhoun County
  • Chambers County
  • Cherokee County
  • Chilton County
  • Choctaw County
  • Clarke County
  • Clay County
  • Cleburne County
  • Coffee County
  • Colbert County
  • Conecuh County
  • Coosa County
  • Covington County
  • Crenshaw County
  • Cullman County
  • Dale County
  • Dallas County
  • DeKalb County
  • Elmore County
  • Escambia County
  • Etowah County
  • Fayette County
  • Franklin County
  • Geneva County
  • Greene County
  • Hale County
  • Henry County
  • Houston County
  • Jackson County
  • Jefferson County
  • Lamar County
  • Lauderdale County
  • Lawrence County
  • Lee County
  • Limestone County
  • Lowndes County
  • Macon County
  • Madison County
  • Marengo County
  • Marion County
  • Marshall County
  • Mobile County
  • Monroe County
  • Montgomery County
  • Morgan County
  • Perry County
  • Pickens County
  • Pike County
  • Randolph County
  • Russell County
  • Saint Clair County
  • Shelby County
  • Sumter County
  • Talladega County
  • Tallapoosa County
  • Tuscaloosa County
  • Walker County
  • Washington County
  • Wilcox County
  • Winston County
  • Counties USA: A Directory of United States Counties, 3rd Edition. © 2006 by Omnigraphics, Inc.

    Alabama Parks

    Parks Directory of the United States, 5th Edition. © 2007 by Omnigraphics, Inc.
    The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



    a state in southern United States. Most of its territory is covered by a low-lying coastal plain which is marshy in places. The spurs and foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, which are crossed by the Tennessee River, are located in the north and northeast. With an area of 133,700 sq km, Alabama has a population of 3,540,000 (1967), of which approximately 30 percent is Negro. Its capital city is Montgomery. The urban population constitutes 55 percent (1960). Between 1950 and 1960, 368,000 people, including 224,000 Negroes, migrated from Alabama. Economically, it is a relatively backward state, with poorly developed mechanical engineering and only 276,000 people employed in the processing industry (1965). The major branches of industry are the ferrous metal and the related metalworking industries. There is mining of pit coal (1965 output, 13.5 million tons), iron ore (1965 output, 1,519,000 tons of metal), and bauxite. The textile industry consists mostly of cotton cloth production. The chemical industry (Muscle Shoals and Huntsville) and lumber and paper industry (Childersburg) are being developed. The established capacity of the electrical power stations is 9.1 million kW, including 2 million kW from a hydroelectric power plant (1966). The largest industrial centers are Birmingham, Gadsden, and Mobile (the major seaport of Alabama). In the Tennessee River Valley there are chemical and other power-consuming enterprises. Huntsville has factories producing rockets, missiles, and explosives. Alabama’s major farm products are broilers (third place in the nation), cotton (192,000 tons in 1965, fifth place in the nation), and eggs. Cattle are bred (in 1968, 1,848,000 head). Sowing areas cover 2.4 million hectares and include maize, peanuts, and fodder.




    a conflict between the USA and England which arose because of the military aid provided by England to the insurgent slaveholding states during the US Civil War (1861–65). In particular, the British government outfitted military ships for the rebels. One such ship was the cruiser Alabama, a cannon-armed wooden screw-steamer displacing 1,040 tons. In Aug. 1862, the cruiser, commanded by Captain R. Semmes, began actions against the trading vessels of the Northerners. Between 1862 and 1864, it seized and destroyed 68 trading shfps and one military ship on the Indian and Atlantic oceans. On July 14, 1864, it was sunk near Cherbourg by the Union corvette Kearsarge. After the conclusion of the war the USA raised the issue of the so-called Alabama Claims concerning England’s responsibility for the actions of the Alabama and other Confederate cruisers. The conflict was not resolved until Sept. 14, 1872, by a court of arbitration in Geneva. In accordance with the court’s decision, England paid the US $15.5 million.

    The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


    Twenty-second state; admitted on December 14, 1819 (seceded from the Union on January 11, 1861, and was readmitted on June 25, 1868)

    Alabama does not observe the anniversary of its admission day, but did hold festivities in 1969 in honor of the 150th, or sesquicentennial, anniversary of statehood. There were his­torical pageants, a boat parade, formal balls, music, fireworks, and the issuance of a commemorative stamp. The state was named for a southern Indian tribe, possibly a subdivision of the Chickasaws.

    State capital: Montgomery

    Nicknames: The Heart of Dixie; The Yellowhammer State; The Cotton State

    State motto: Audemus jura nostra defendere (Latin “We dare maintain our rights”)

    State agricultural museum: Dothan Landmarks Park

    State amphibian: Red Hills Salamander (Phaeognathus hubrichti Highton)

    State barbecue championship: Demopolis Christmas on the River Barbecue Cook- Off

    State bible: The Bible

    State bird: Yellowhammer or Common Flicker (Colaptes auratus)

    State butterfly and mascot: Easter tiger swallowtail

    State championship horse show: Alabama State Champi­onship Horse Show

    State creed: Alabama’s Creed

    State folk dance: Square dance

    State fish: saltwater: Fighting tarpon (Tarpon atlanticus); freshwater: Largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides)

    State flower: Camellia (Camellia japonica L.); wildflower: Oak-leaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia Bartr)

    State fossil: Basilosaurus cetoides

    State fruit: Blackberry

    State game bird: Wild turkey

    State gemstone: Star blue quartz

    State historic theatre: Alabama Theatre for the Performing Arts

    State horse: Racking horse

    State horseshoe tournament: Stockton Fall Horseshoe Tournament

    State insect: Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexipuss)

    State mammal: Black bear

    State mineral: Hematite (red iron ore)

    State nut: Pecan

    State outdoor drama: The Miracle Worker

    State outdoor musical drama: The Incident at Looney’s Tav­ern

    State quilt: Pine Burr Quilt

    State Renaissance faire: Florence Renaissance faire

    State reptile: Red-bellied turtle (Pseudemys alabamensis)

    State rock: Marble

    State shell: Johnstone’s Junonia (Scaphella junonia john­stoneae)

    State soil: Bama soil series

    State song: “Alabama”

    State spirit: Conecuh Ridge Alabama Fine Whiskey

    State stone: Marble

    State tree: Southern Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris Miller)

    State tree fruit: Peach

    More about state symbols at:


    AmerBkDays-2000, p. 829 AnnivHol-2000, p. 208


    State web site:

    Office of the Governor State Capitol 600 Dexter Ave Suite N-104 Montgomery, AL 36130 334-242-7100 fax: 334-353-0004

    Secretary of State PO Box 5616 Montgomery, AL 36103 334-242-7200 fax: 334-242-4993


    Alabama Public Library Service 6030 Monticello Dr Montgomery, AL 36130 334-213-3900 fax: 334-213-3993

    Archives & History Dept 624 Washington Ave Montgomery, AL 30130 334-242-4435 fax: 334-240-3433

    Legal Holidays:

    Columbus Day and American Indian Heritage DayOct 10, 2011; Oct 8, 2012; Oct 14, 2013; Oct 13, 2014; Oct 12, 2015; Oct 10, 2016; Oct 9, 2017; Oct 8, 2018; Oct 14, 2019; Oct 12, 2020; Oct 11, 2021; Oct 10, 2022; Oct 9, 2023
    Confederate Memorial DayApr 25, 2011; Apr 23, 2012; Apr 22, 2013; Apr 28, 2014; Apr 27, 2015; Apr 25, 2016; Apr 24, 2017; Apr 23, 2018; Apr 22, 2019; Apr 27, 2020; Apr 26, 2021; Apr 25, 2022; Apr 24, 2023
    Jefferson Davis's BirthdayJun 6, 2011; Jun 4, 2012; Jun 3, 2013; Jun 2, 2014; Jun 1, 2015; Jun 6, 2016; Jun 5, 2017; Jun 4, 2018; Jun 3, 2019; Jun 1, 2020; Jun 7, 2021; Jun 6, 2022; Jun 5, 2023
    Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday and Robert E. Lee's BirthdayJan 17, 2011; Jan 16, 2012; Jan 21, 2013; Jan 20, 2014; Jan 19, 2015; Jan 18, 2016; Jan 16, 2017; Jan 15, 2018; Jan 21, 2019; Jan 20, 2020; Jan 18, 2021; Jan 17, 2022; Jan 16, 2023
    Washington and Jefferson's BirthdaysFeb 21, 2011; Feb 20, 2012; Feb 18, 2013; Feb 17, 2014; Feb 16, 2015; Feb 15, 2016; Feb 20, 2017; Feb 19, 2018; Feb 18, 2019; Feb 17, 2020; Feb 15, 2021; Feb 21, 2022; Feb 20, 2023
    Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.


    1. a state of the southeastern US, on the Gulf of Mexico: consists of coastal and W lowlands crossed by the Tombigbee, Black Warrior, and Alabama Rivers, with parts of the Tennessee Valley and Cumberland Plateau in the north; noted for producing cotton and white marble. Capital: Montgomery. Pop.: 4 500 752 (2003 est.). Area: 131 333 sq. km (50 708 sq. miles)
    2. a river in Alabama, flowing southwest to the Mobile and Tensaw Rivers. Length: 507 km (315 miles)
    Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
    References in periodicals archive ?
    According to Kenny, the state-of-the-art gallery in New York is not intended to replicate the Alabama collection, but to build on it and create a new high-technology facility in the financial center of the world.
    The association hired Birmingham attorney Bruce Ely, one of the chief tax lobbyists in Alabama as well as a former camper and the parent of two sons who attended camp in Alabama.
    * Why do you think Alabama authorities suddenly freed four of the Scottsboro Boys in 1937?
    Nowadays, Alabama's charter fishing boat captains and some local community groups buy and deploy specially designed concrete artificial reefs.
    As a result, the department now trains officers from city and county agencies throughout Alabama.
    Although Alabama initially encouraged taxpayers to apply for refunds, the state does not have an obligation to provide relief unless taxpayers have complied with the applicable refund statutes.
    Selma, Alabama, Derrick Gayle's hometown, is a shrine of the civil rights movement.
    Of critical importance, according to Justice Breyer, was that Alabama law defined a domestic corporation's tax base as including only one item--the par value of capital stock--which a domestic company could set at whatever level it chose.
    However, this same benefit would also be available to corporations domiciled in other states with significant property and payroll in Alabama. This situation seems to provide a solution to Alabama's constitutional issue without increasing the tax on local businesses to the relative levels assessed by the prior scheme on many out-of-state corporations doing business in the state.
    After he threw the game-winning touchdown in relief in last season's national title game, Alabama handed the keys to quarterback Tua Tagovailoa this year, with great success.
    16 November 2018 - US-based BankFirst Capital Corp., parent of BankFirst Financial Services, has signed a definitive merger agreement with FNB Bancshares of Central Alabama, Inc., parent of FNB of Central Alabama, under which BankFirst will acquire FNB Bancshares, the company said.