Georgia (U.S. state)

State of Georgia
Missing image
State flag of Georgia

State seal of Georgia
(Flag of Georgia) (Seal of Georgia)
State nickname: Peach State / Empire State of the South
Map of the U.S. with Georgia highlighted
Other U.S. States
Capital Atlanta
Largest city Atlanta
Governor Sonny Perdue
Official languages English
Area 154,077 km² (24th)
 - Land 150,132 km²
 - Water 3,945 km² (2.6%)
Population (2000)
 - Population 8,186,453 (10th)
 - Density 54.59 /km² (18th)
Admission into Union
 - Date January 2, 1788
 - Order 4th
Time zoneEastern: UTC-5/-4
Latitude30°31'N to 35°N
Longitude81°W to 85°53'W
Width 370 km
Length 480 km
 - Highest 1,458 m
 - Mean 180 m
 - Lowest 0 m
 - ISO 3166-2 US-GA
Web site

Georgia is a southern state of the United States and its U.S. postal abbreviation is GA. Georgia was one of the thirteen colonies that revolted against British rule in the American Revolution. It was the thirteenth colony and became the fourth state, ratifying the United States Constitution on January 2, 1788. Georgia's population in 2000 was 8,186,453 (U.S. Census). Georgia is one of the fastest growing states in the nation, with an estimated 8,829,383 people in 2004. Georgia is also known as the Peach State or Empire State of the South .

The state song, Georgia on My Mind by Hoagy Carmichael was originally written about a woman of that name, but after Georgia native Ray Charles sang it, the state legislature voted it the state song. Ray Charles sang it on the legislative floor when the bill passed.

The state tree is the Southern live oak (Quercus virginiana), the state bird is the brown thrasher (Toxostoma rufum), and the state flower is the cherokee rose (Rosa laevigata).

Several U.S. Navy ships have been named USS Georgia in honor of this state.



Main article: History of Georgia

Early on, a number of Spanish explorers visited the inland region of Georgia, leaving a trail of destruction behind them. The local moundbuilder culture, described by Hernando de Soto in 1540, had completely disappeared by 1560.

The conflict between Spain and Britain over control of Georgia began in earnest in about 1670, when the British, moving south from their Carolina colony in present-day South Carolina met the Spanish moving north from their base in Florida. In 1724, it was first suggested that what was by then a British colony be called Province of Georgia in honor of King George II.

Massive British settlement began in the early 1730s with James Oglethorpe, an Englishman in the British parliament, who promoted the idea that the area be used to settle people in a debtors' prison. On February 12, 1733, the first settlers landed in the HMS Anne at what was to become the city of Savannah. This day is now known as Georgia Day, which is not a public holiday, but is mainly observed in schools and by some local civic groups.

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 was destroyed during General William Tecumseh Sherman's March to the Sea. This event served as the historical background for the book and movie Gone With the Wind. On July 15, 1870, following Reconstruction, Georgia became the last former Confederate state to be readmitted to the Union.

On February 19, 1953 Georgia became the first U.S. state to approve a literature censorship board in the United States.

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

Law and Government

Until recently, Georgia's state government had the longest unbroken record of single-party dominance of any state in the Union. For over 130 years, from 1872 to 2003, Georgians only elected Democratic governors, and Democrats held the majority of seats in the General Assembly. The state capital is Atlanta.

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). The Lieutenant Governor, currently Mark Taylor (Democrat), is elected on a separate ballot. Both the governor and lieutenant governor are elected 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.

(See: list of Georgia governors.)

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 state 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.

At the federal level, Georgia's two U.S. senators are Saxby Chambliss (Republican) and Johnny Isakson (Republican). As of the 2001 reapportionment, the state has 13 congressmen and women in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Georgia also has 159 counties, the most of any state except Texas (254). Before 1932, there were 161, with Milton and Campbell being merged into Fulton at the end of 1931, during the Great Depression. Gwinnett County was named after Button Gwinnett, one of the delegates from Georgia who signed the U.S. Declaration of Independence. Counties in Georgia have their own elected legislative branch, usually called the Board of Commissioners, which usually also has executive authority in the county. Georgia's Constitution provides all counties and cities with "home rule" authority, and so the county commissions have considerable power to pass legislation within their county as a municipality would.

Besides the counties, Georgia only defines cities as local units of government. Every incorporated town, no matter how small, is legally a city. Conversely, the city of Sandy Springs is one of the largest in the state (over 80,000), but is not legally so since it is not yet incorporated, although a referendum is planned for the summer of 2005. Georgia does not provide for townships or independent cities, but does allow consolidated city-county governments by local referendum. So far, only Columbus, Augusta, and Athens have done this.

Georgia has a modest income tax and a 4% state sales tax, which is not applied to groceries or prescription drugs. Each county may add up to a 2% SPLOST. Counties participating in MARTA have another 1%, the city of Atlanta (in two counties) has the only city sales tax (1%, total 8%) for fixing its old sewers. Local taxes are almost always charged on groceries but never prescriptions. Up to 1% of a SPLOST can go to homestead exemptions. All taxes are collected by the state and then properly distributed according to any agreements that each county has with its cities.

There is no true metropolitan government in Georgia, though the Atlanta Regional Commission and Georgia Regional Transportation Authority do provide some regional services, and the ARC must approve all major land development projects in metro Atlanta.

(See: list of Georgia counties.)


Georgia is bordered on the south by Florida, on the east by the Atlantic Ocean and South Carolina, on the west by Alabama, and on the north by Tennessee and North Carolina. 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, 4784 feet (1458 m); the lowest point is sea level.

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

Georgia is also the largest state east of the Mississippi River, since West Virginia seceded from Virginia during the Civil War.


Atlanta is still a major railroad hub for CSX and Norfolk Southern, in addition to being a major airport hub now as well. Several highways and short line railroads also traverse the state.

Interstate highways

United States highways

North-south routesEast-west routes


Georgia's 2003 total gross state product was $320 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, peanuts, cattle, hogs, dairy products, and vegetables. Its industrial outputs are textiles and apparel, transportation equipment, food processing, paper products, chemical products, electric equipment, and tourism.


As of 2003, the population of Georgia was 8,684,715, making it the 10th most populous state. Its population has grown 34% (2.2 million) from its 1990 levels, making it one of the fastest-growing states in the country. More than half of the state's population lives in the Atlanta metro area.

Racially, Georgia is:

7.3% of its population were reported as under 5 years of age, 26.5% under 18, and 9.6% were 65 or older. Females made up approximately 50.8% of the population.


Religiously, Georgia is overwhelmingly Protestant:

  • Protestant 84%
  • Roman Catholic 6%
  • Other Christian 1%
  • Other Religions 1%
  • Non-Religious 5%

The three largest Protestant denominations in Georgia are: Baptist (51% of total state population), Methodist (12%), Presbyterian & Pentecostal & Episcopalian (tied 2%)

Important cities and towns

Population > 1,000,000 (urbanized area)

Population > 100,000 (urbanized area)

Population > 10,000 (urbanized area)

Major military bases

Important Suburbs of Atlanta

Suwanee, Georgia of Savannah


Colleges and universities

Private schools= ?

† denotes religious schools

University System of Georgia [32] (

Radio and television

Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) operates nine major educational television stations across the state as Georgia Public Broadcasting Television. It also operates, in whole or in part, several radio stations as Georgia Public Radio (GPR). See also List of radio stations in Georgia (U.S. state).

Georgia is also home to Ted Turner, who founded TBS, TNT, and CNN, among others. The CNN Center headquarters is located in Atlanta, GA.

Professional sports teams

See also

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Regions of Georgia Missing image
Flag of Georgia

Colonial Coast | Metro Atlanta | North Georgia Mountains | Historic South | Inland Empire | Southern Rivers
Largest cities
Albany | Atlanta | Athens | Augusta | Columbus | Macon | Savannah
Counties of Georgia

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