Category: Guide to Alabama

Folks driving north-south along Interstate 65 in Alabama may wonder if there are any cities in the state. Huge rural areas separate Huntsville, Birmingham, Montgomery, and Mobile, and it’s a fact that two-thirds of the state is covered by forest land. The “Heart of Dixie” is characterized by smaller communities; no mega-cities like Atlanta or Houston sprawl through its pine woods. And while life moves a little slower in Alabama and the residents speak with a distinctive twang, don’t mistake this state for a backwater.

From the space-age research being conducted in Huntsville to the busy seaport of Mobile, Alabama is playing a vital role in the nation’s technological development, and contributes heavily to its economic base. Recreational venues span the spectrum from the white sand beaches of Gulf Shores to the tree-covered mountains of Cheaha. History wafts through the air here like perfume from a magnolia.

You probably didn’t know that Mardi Gras started in Mobile 200 years before New Orleans adopted the celebration as its own, or that Alabama was the first state to erect a statue to an insect, the Boll Weevil Monument. Enjoy the whimsy and celebrate the progressiveness of this state they call “the Beautiful.”

Alabama Demographics

Nickname: Heart of Dixie; Camellia State
Motto: We dare defend our rights
Flower: Camellia
Bird: Yellowhammer
Area: 50,744 square miles (2000; U.S. rank: 30th)
Elevation: Ranges from sea level to 2,407 feet
Climate: Subtropical and humid; summers are long and hot, winters mild, rainfall abundant
Admitted to Union: December 14, 1819
Capital: Montgomery
Head Official: Governor Bob Riley (R) (until 2006)
1980: 3,894,000
1990: 4,040,587
2000: 4,447,100
2003 estimate: 4,500,752
Percent change, 1990–2000: 10.1%
Percent change, 2000–2003: 1.2%
U.S. rank in 2003: 23rd
Percent of residents born in state: 73.4% (2000)
Density: 87.6 people per square mile (2000)
2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 200,331
Racial and Ethnic Characteristics (2000)
White: 3,162,808
Black or African American: 1,155,930
American Indian and Alaska Native: 22,430
Asian: 31,346
Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 1,409
Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 75,830
Other: 28,998
Age Characteristics (2000)
Population under 5 years old: 295,992
Population 5 to 19 years old: 960,177
Percent of population 65 years and over: 13.0%
Median age: 35.8 years (2000)

Vital Statistics

Total number of births (2003): 59,356
Total number of deaths (2003): 46,598 (infant deaths, 519)
AIDS cases reported through 2003: 7,607


Major industries: Paper products, agriculture, chemicals,
textiles, lumber, wood, metals, electronics, automobiles, food processing
Unemployment rate: 5.2% (November 2004)
Per capita income: $26,276 (2003; U.S. rank: 42nd)
Median household income: $37,419 (3-year average, 2001-2003)
Percentage of persons below poverty level: 15.1% (3-year average,
Income tax rate: Ranges from 2.0 to 5.0%
Sales tax rate: 4.0%