State of Georgia

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   Introduction    Georgia Top of Page
The local moundbuilder culture, described by Hernando de Soto in 1540, completely disappeared by 1560. Early on, in the course of European exploration of the area, a number of Spanish explorers visited the inland region of Georgia.

The conflict between Spain and Britain over control of Georgia began in earnest in about 1670, when the British founded the Carolina colony in present-day South Carolina. Nearly a century earlier, the Spanish of Spanish Florida had established the missionary provinces of Guale and Mocama on the coast and Sea Islands of present-day Georgia. After decades of fighting, the Carolinians and allied Indians permanently destroyed the Spanish mission system during the invasions of 1702 and 1704. After 1704, Spanish control was limited to St. Augustine and Pensacola. The Florida peninsula was subjected to raids as far as the Florida Keys. The coast of Georgia was occupied by English-allied Indians such as the Yamasee until the Yamasee War of 1715-1716, after which the region was depopulated, opening up the possibility of a new British colony. In 1724, it was first suggested the British colony there be called Province of Georgia in honor of King George II.

Georgia was one of the thirteen colonies that revolted against British rule in the American Revolution by signing the 1776 Declaration of Independence, despite a large population of people loyal to the crown. Following the war, it became the fourth state of the United States of America after ratifying the United States Constitution on January 2, 1788. Georgia established its first state constitution in 1777. The state established new constitutions in 1788, 1799, 1861, 1865, 1868, 1877, 1945, 1976, and 1983, for a total of 10 more constitutions than any other state.

On January 18, 1861 Georgia joined the Confederacy and became a major theater of the American Civil War. 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. This event served as the historical background for the 1936 novel Gone with the Wind and the 1939 film of the same name. On July 15, 1870, following Reconstruction, Georgia became the last former Confederate state to be readmitted to the Union.

Georgia has had five official state capitals: colonial Savannah, which later alternated with Augusta; then for a decade at Louisville (pronounced Lewis-ville), and from 1806 through the American Civil War, at Milledgeville. In 1868, Atlanta became the fifth capital of the state. The state's legislature also met at other temporary sites, including Macon, especially during the Civil War.

   Geography    Georgia Top of Page
Geographic coordinates:
3031'N to 35N
81W to 8553'W
total: 59,441 sq mi
land: 57,919 sq mi
water: 1,522 sq mi
coastline: 100 miles
shoreline: 2,344 miles
Bordering States:
Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: 0 ft
highest point: Brasstown Bald 4,784 ft
The northern part of the state is in the Blue Ridge Mountains, a mountain range in the mountain system of the Appalachians. The central piedmont extends from the foothills to the fall line, where the rivers cascade down in elevation to the continental coastal plain of the southern part of the state. The highest point in Georgia is Brasstown Bald, 4,784 feet (1,458 m); the lowest point is sea level.

The capital is Atlanta, in the north central part of Georgia, and the peach is a symbol of the state. The state is an important producer of pecans, cotton, tobacco, and forest products, notably the so-called "naval stores" such as turpentine and rosin from the pine forests.

With an area of 59,441 square miles (153,951 km), Georgia is ranked 24th in size among the 50 U.S. states. It is fifth largest in size among states east of the Mississippi River (after Michigan, Minnesota, Florida, and Wisconsin). It is largest in land area east of the Mississippi.

   People    Georgia Top of Page
8,186,453 (2000)
Largest City:
Atlanta: 4,917,717 (2005)
Age structure:
0-5 years old: 7.5%
<18 years old: 26.5%
65 years and over: 9.6%
Male: 49.2% Female: 50.8%
Population growth rate:
10.8% (2000-2005)
Population density:
141.4 per sq mi
Race(2000 Census):
White non-Hispanic: 60.2%
Hispanic: 6.8%
Black: 29.6%
Asian: 2.6%
Native American: 0.3%
Multi-Race: 1.0%
Christian: 85%
Other: 2%
Non-Religious: 13%
   Government    Georgia Top of Page
January 2, 1788 (4th State)
Local and County Government:
As with all other U.S. States and the federal government, Georgia's government is based on the separation of legislative, executive and judicial power. Executive authority in the state rests with the governor, currently Sonny Perdue (Republican). Both the governor and lieutenant governor are elected on separate ballots to four-year terms of office. Unlike the federal government, but like many other U.S. States, most of the executive officials who comprise the governor's cabinet are elected by the citizens of Georgia rather than appointed by the governor.

Legislative authority resides in the General Assembly, composed of the Senate and House of Representatives. The Lieutenant Governor presides over the Senate, while the House of Representatives selects their own Speaker. The Georgia Constitution mandates a maximum of 56 senators, elected from single-member districts, and a minimum of 180 representatives, apportioned among representative districts (which sometimes results in more than one representative per district); there are currently 56 senators and 180 representatives. The term of office for senators and representatives is two years.

State judicial authority rests with the state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, which have statewide authority. In addition, there are smaller courts which have more limited geographical jurisdiction, including State Courts, Superior Courts, Magistrate Courts and Probate Courts. Justices of the Supreme Court and judges of the Court of Appeals are elected statewide by the citizens in non-partisan elections to six-year terms. Judges for the smaller courts are elected by the state's citizens who live within that court's jurisdiction to four-year terms.

Georgia has 159 counties, the most of any state except Texas (with 254). Before 1932, there were 161, with Milton and Campbell being merged into Fulton at the end of 1931. Counties have been named for prominent figures in both American and Georgia history.

State Tree:
Live Oak
State Bird:
Brown Thrasher
State Flower:
Chreokee Rose
   Economy    Georgia Top of Page
Economy - overview:
Georgia's 2004 total gross state product was $343 billion. Its per capita personal income for 2003 put it 31st in the nation at $29,000.

Georgia's agricultural outputs are poultry and eggs, pecans, peaches, peanuts, rye, cattle, hogs, dairy products, turfgrass, and vegetables. Its industrial outputs are textiles and apparel, transportation equipment, food processing, paper products, chemical products, electric equipment. Tourism also makes an important contribution to the economy. Georgia is home to the Granite Capital of the World (Elberton). Atlanta has been the site of enormous growth in real estate, service, and communications industries.

Atlanta has a very large effect on the state of Georgia and the Southeastern United States. The city is an ever growing addition to communications, industry, transportation, tourism, and government.

Industry in Georgia is now quite diverse. Major products in the mineral and timber industry include a variety of pines, clays, stones, and sands. Textile industry is located around the cities of Rome, Columbus, Augusta, and Macon. Atlanta is a leading center of tourism, transportation, communications, government, and industry. Some industries there include automobile and aircraft manufacturing, food and chemical processing, printing, publishing, and large corporations.