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Alabama

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Alabama, state in the southeast United States; bordered by Tennessee in the north, Georgia in the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico in the south, and Mississippi in the west.

Land and climate

The Appalachian Mountain chain ends in northern Alabama, where it forms a plateau covering a third of the state. The rest of the state is largely lowland plains, the most important of which is the famous Black Belt. Forests cover more than 60% of Alabama's land surface. Among the most important rivers are the Tennessee, the Tombigbee, the Alabama, the Coosa, the Black Warrior, and the Chattahoochee. Alabama has a generally moderate climate. Principal cities are Birmingham, Mobile, and Montgomery.

Economy

Manufacturing is the largest contributor to Alabama's economy. Leading goods are paper products, chemicals, and steel. Coal, natural gas, petroleum, and limestone are the state's most valuable minerals. Although cotton, which once ruled Alabama's 1-crop economy, is still an important crop, livestock, poultry, soybeans, and peanuts have supplanted it in revenue earned. Alabama's forests support a large lumber industry.

Government

Alabama's constitution was adopted in 1901. The governor serves a 4-year term. The state legislature is composed of a senate of 35 members and a house of representatives of 105 members elected for 4-year terms. Alabama sends 7 representatives and 2 senators to the U.S. Congress.

History

Choctaws, Creeks, and other members of the Five Civilized Tribes originally peopled Alabama. Spain's Hernando De Soto explored the region in 1540, and France's Sieur de Bienville founded the first permanent European settlement in the Mobile area in 1702. The defeat of the Creeks by Andrew Jackson at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend (1814) opened south Alabama to settlers, who developed a slave-based plantation economy. At the outbreak of the Civil War Montgomery became the first Confederate capital. Alabama was readmitted to the Union in 1868.One-crop farming and the sharecropping system brought widespread agricultural depression and poverty, accentuated during the early 20th century by the infestation of the cotton-fields by the boll weevil. Tennessee Valley Authority projects (begun in 1933) and World War II boosted industry. The 1954 Supreme Court decision outlawing school segregation led to a period of racial tension. In 1965, black civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., led a march from Selma to Montgomery in protest of voter discrimination. Alabama suffered financially in the 1970s and 1980s, although industry continues to grow.

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