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In 1540, Hernando de Soto brought an expedition to what is now Alabama. The local residents at that time, the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Creek Indians, were not very happy about the new settlers. Several revolts came about and many thousands died in the battles. Gradually the indians were forced from their homes and eventually wound up in the Oklahoma Territory. Various nations struggled for of the area through this time - the French, British and the Spanish. The first permanent settlement was by the French at Mobile in 1702. The British moved down from the Carolinas with their expeditions. Conflict grew from both sides wanting possession of the area. Finally, after the French and Indian War and the treaty of 1763, Mobile was given to the British.

In approximately 1938, when the site of the state capital was being voted on, Autaugaville Alabama missed being the site for the Capital of Alabama by one vote.

The name, Alabama, came from the Alabama River.  The river was named after the local Indian tribe that was in the area as early as 1540.  DeSoto wrote the name in his journal as “Alibamu, Alibamo and Limamu.”  The name origin has to do with vegetation and plants and gatherers or pickers.  This was a good description of the early tribes who lived in the area.

The current state motto, Audemus Jura Nostra Defendere, is not the first motto for Alabama. The first was Here We Rest. It appeared just after the Civil War during the reconstruction era. At the same time, a new state seal was adopted. It replaced the existing seal. The new seal had a bald eagle on a the United States Seal with a banner in its beak reading, Here We Rest. Many state residents didn't like the new motto since they felt it was a negative statement right after the Civil War. Later, on 14 March 1939, the original seal was restored as the official great seal of Alabama and a new state motto was adopted, as well as an official Coat-of-Arms. The current motto is unique in that it was first written in English and then translated into Latin. Most state mottos began in Latin.


Longitude: 84° 51' W to 88° 28' W
Latitude: 30° 13' N to 35° N
Length: 330 miles
Width: 190 miles

Total land area: 50,750 square miles
Total water area: 1,673 square miles
Total area: 52,423 square miles

Highest Point: 2,407 Feet above sea level at Cheaha Mountain
Lowest Point: Sea Level, at the Gulf of Mexico
Average elevation: 500 feet above sea level

While the Coastal Plain covers more than half of the state, the rest is quite mixed as far as terrain goes. Part of the Cumberland Plateau moves across the northern border. A little bit of the Piedmont Plateau creeps into the east-central portion of Alabama. Swamps, bayous and the like, along with nice, white-sand beaches are found in the southern reaches of the state.

All of Alabama's rivers flow south to the Gulf of Mexico with the exception of the Tennessee River that enters the state in northern Alabama on its way to Kentucky and the Mississippi River.

Alabama is famous for its band of soil known as the "Black Belt." This is a path of rich, black prairie soil across the middle of the state. It is here that cotton and peanuts are grown. Much iron is found in the area known as the "Big Seam." It is near Birmingham and is one of the largest such deposits in the southeast portion of the USA.

Climate & Weather:

Alabama has a wonderful climate most of the year with sunshine and nice temperatures.  It is usually Spring by March with temperatures in the 60’s.  Most summer days are in the 80s with a few hot spells up into the 90s.  Fall usually requires a light sweater to stay warm.  Snow and freezing temperatures are rare in Alabama. 
Record low temperature: -27 degrees on 30 January 1966 at New Market
Record high temperature: 112 degrees on 5 September 1925 at Centerville
Average high temperature: 73 degrees
Average low temperature: 55 degrees


The most common nickname for Alabama is “The Heart of Dixie,” though this is not an official one.  In fact, the state has no official state nickname.  Montgomery was the first Confederate Capital and the area was a leader in secession prior to the Civil War..  Another nickname that originated from the Civil War era was the “Yellowhammer State.”  The Alabama soldiers had uniforms that reminded people of the Yellowhammer bird that have yellow patches under their wings.

A common phrase, Stars Fell on Alabama, began around 2002. ON 12 November 1833, there was a great meteor shower in the southeastern United States. Locals refered to the even as the night stars fell on Alabama. For many years, the meteor shower was used to keep track of many events that were happening, even making its way into state folklore in many areas.

Because of its prominence in the production of cotton, Alabama has been known as the “Cotton Plantation State.”  Cotton has been the major crop and industry in the state for years.  Due to many cotton crop failures here in the early 1900’s, farmers here had a hard time.  Again, Alabama was given the nickname of the “Cotton State” because of its production of cotton.  Though many of the southern states had large cotton crops, Alabama was the “king” and also in the central area of the south.

One last nickname is the “Lizard State.”  Early on, there seemed to be a great many of these reptiles, leading residents to coin the term as a nickname for their state.

Other Information:

Division of Parks
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
64 N. Union St.
Montgomery, AL 36130
Phone: (205) 242-3333
For Reservations, please call:
(800) ALA-PARK



Alabama Bureau of Tourism and Travel
401 Adams Ave.
P.O. Box 4309
Montgomery, AL 36103-4309

Call: 1-800-ALABAMA


Link page for Alabama Government
Great page for lots of links at all levels of Alabama government

Vital Record information for Alabama

State Symbols  page
Information on the current State Motto


Find the weather for anyplace in the USA


This page was created 5 November 1998

This page was last updated on 4 December 2006 at 11:54 pm

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