35 Alabama Facts: Interesting Facts About Alabama

Last updated on May 2nd, 2019

Alabama is the 24th most populous and the 30th most extensive of the 50 states of the United States. It lies in the southeastern region of the United States. The state attained statehood on December 14, 1819, becoming the 22nd state to join the union. It shares its border with four (4) states (Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, and Mississippi.) See the full list of the 50 states and their borders here. Alabama (nicknamed: the “Yellowhammer State”, the “Cotton State”, the “Heart of Dixie”) has 67 counties. The state’s capital is Montgomery. With these facts about Alabama, let us learn more about its history, geography, people, economy and more.

1. The state was named after the Alabama River. The origin of the word Alabama is considered to be from two words “Alba and Amo”. Alba refers to vegetables, herbs; and plants while Amo refers to gatherer or picker. The combination of these words “vegetation pickers” describes the Alabama Indians who were the early settlers in the region.[1]

2. Founded by the French colonists in 1702, Mobile is the oldest city in the state.[2]

3. Did you know that the Spanish were the first Europeans to reach Alabama? This happened in 1540. But it was the French who settled first.

Alabama on the U.S. map with bordering states
Alabama (in red) on the map with bordering states.

4. On January 11, 1961, Alabama seceded from the Union. The delegates from six states met at Montgomery and formed the Confederate States of America. Montgomery was chosen as the capital. Because of this, Montgomery is known as the “Cradle of the Confederacy.” The Confederate flag was designed and first flown in Alabama in 1861.[6,7,15]

5. Did you know that Helen Keller, born on June 27, 1880, in Tuscumbia, Alabama, was the first deaf and blind person to earn a college degree? Directed by Arthur Penn, a film “The Miracle Worker” was also produced in 1962 depicting the story of the remarkable tutor Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller.[32] 

6. The arrest of Rosa Parks in 1955 when she refused to give up her bus seat to a white man in Montgomery became a key event in the civil rights movement. She is called “the mother of the civil rights movement“.[13]

7. On 15 April 1886, Montgomery, Alabama became the first U.S. city to initiate an electric streetcar system for transportation, The Capital City Street Railway, also known as the Lightning Route. The system was however retired exactly after 50 years on April 15, 1936, and was replaced by buses.[5]

Launch of Apollo 10 on Saturn V
The launch of Apollo 10 on Saturn V AS-505, May 18, 1969. Image credit – Wikipedia.org

8. Did you know that Saturn V, the rocket used by NASA to send people to the moon, was developed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama? The first Saturn V was launched in 1967. The rocket was about the height of a 36 story-tall building and weighed about the weight of about 400 elephants.[3]

Flag of Alabama

Alabama Flag
9. Interestingly, due to the presence of a rocket building facility in Huntsville, it (Huntsville) earned the name “Rocket City U.S.A.”[4]

10. Mary Anderson, born in Greene County, Alabama, is credited with the invention of windshield wipers. She was granted the patent for her invention in 1903. In 1922, Cadillac became the first car manufacturer to adopt them as standard equipment. [27]

11. Explorer 1 was the first successful U.S. satellite. It was launched on Jupiter C rocket, which was built at the Army Ballistic Missile Agency in Huntsville, Alabama. The satellite was launched on January 31, 1958, from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The satellite orbited Earth every 114.8 minutes, making 12.54 orbits each day.[8,9]

Alabama on the map

12. Did you know that Mobile, Alabama is the birthplace of America’s original Mardi Gras? The parade originated in 1703 in port city.[10]

13. The Vulcan statue, the city symbol of Birmingham, Alabama, is the largest cast iron statue in the world. The 56-foot tall statue (from toe to spear point) depicting the Roman god Vulcan is the world’s largest iron-ore statue. It weighs 101,200 pounds. The statue was designed by the Italian artist Giuseppe Moretti.[11]

Vulcan statue - the city symbol of Birmingham, Alabama.
Vulcan is the largest cast iron statue in the world and the largest metal statue ever made in the United States. Image credit – Vulcan statue

14. The Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama, honors those killed in the struggle for racial equality. The memorial also has a timeline of key events and the names of the 40 victims etched in black granite. The memorial was designed by Vietnam Veterans Memorial designer Maya Lin. It is located on an open plaza accessible to visitors 24 hours a day, every day of the week.[12] 

15. Condoleezza Rice, the first African-American women to serve as U.S. secretary of state was born in Birmingham. Note that Birmingham is also the state’s largest city.[14]

16. The nickname the “Yellowhammer State” originates from the fact that the Confederate troops placed yellow trimmings on their uniform during the Civil War. Yellowhammers are the birds with yellow patches under their wings.[15]

17. Did you know that Martin Luther King, Jr. began his career as a local pastor at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery?[17]

18. The Selma-to-Montgomery march in 1965 guaranteed the right to vote to all African Americans. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. participated in the march. He had recently won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, which helped him draw attention to the difficulties faced by black voters, and the need for a national Voting Rights Act.[34]

19. “Until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a might steam.” – These are his words that are inscribed on Montogomery’s Civil Rights Memorial.[35]

20. Did you know that on the night of November 12, 1833, a spectacular occurrence of the Leonid meteor shower had been observed in Alabama? The shower was so intense that many people thought that the world is coming to an end. The “night the stars fell” is mentioned in several stories about Ray County.[24]

21. Did you know that Marie Bader, a 26-year-old from Mobile, Alabama, holds the world record for the fastest 10-kilometer run on sand? She completed the remarkable run in 55 minutes and 1 second.[16]

Wright brothers
Wright brothers – inventors and pioneers of aviation.

22. In 1910, Wright brothers opened the first-ever in the U.S. civil aviation school on an old cotton plantation on the outskirts of Montgomery, Montgomery County. However, the flight school did not remain operational for a long time due to some problems.[28]

23. Carl Lewis, the famous track-and-field athlete, who won nine Olympic gold medals during the 1980s and ’90s, was born in Birmingham, Alabama. He also won one Olympic silver medal, and 10 World Championships medals, including eight gold.[18] 

24. Jesse Owens is an Olympic gold medalist who was born in Oakville, Alabama. He was the son of a sharecropper and grandson of a slave. He won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.[30]

25. According to PEW research, Alabama is the most religious states in the US, followed by Mississippi (2nd), Tenessee (3rd), Louisiana (4th), and Arkansas (5th).[19]

26. In 2017, a record 26 million tourists visited Alabama spending an all-time high of $14.3 billion.[20]

27. Talladega Superspeedway, formerly named Alabama International Motor Speedway (AIMS), is a motorsports complex located north of Talladega, Alabama. It is the longest NASCAR oval with a length of 2.66-mile-long (4.281 km).[21]

Talladega Superspeedway
Aerial view of Talladega Superspeedway in 2007. Image credit – Wikipedia.org

28. On December 14, 2019, Alabama celebrates its Bicentennial year (marks the completion of 200 years of its statehood).[22] 

29. During the first half of the 19th century, cotton and slave labor played a central role in the state’s economy. 

30. Did you know that in 1836 Alabama was the first U.S. state to declare Christmas a holiday and Oklahoma in 1907 was the last to do so?[23]

31. In terms of alcohol consumption, Alabama is one of the driest states in the U.S.[25]

32. The last constitution adopted by Alabama in 1901, is the longest of all the state constitutions. the document has more than 376,000 words. Vermont has the shortest constitution (8,565 words) among the 50 states.[26]

33. Alabama is the second leading catfish producing state in the U.S., surpassed only by Mississippi.[29]

34. Did you know that Mercedes Benz established its first U.S. factory in Vance, Tuscaloosa, Alabama? It was also the first-ever automobile factory in the state. The plant started producing cars in January 1997.[31]

35. The spiral staircase in the Alabama State Capitol was built by Horace King, who was an architect, engineer and bridge builder. He was born in slavery in South Carolina in 1807. [33]

Alabama – Quick facts and state symbols

State AbbreviationAL
Table last updatedMay 14, 2019
State CapitalMontgomery
State SizeTotal (Land + Water): 52,419 sq miles; Land Only: 50,744 sq miles
Population
4,887,871
(Estimate July 1, 2018 from United States Census Bureau)
StatehoodDecember 14, 1819
State rank by population24th
State rank by date of formation22nd
State rank by area30th
Number of Counties67
Complete list of 50 states and number of counties in each
DemonymAlabamian
Bordering StatesFlorida, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee
Official LanguageEnglish
Highest PointMount Cheaha
2,413 ft (735.5 m)
Lowest pointGulf of Mexico
Sea level
Mean elevation500 feet above sea level
Length 330 miles (531 km)
Width190 miles (305 km)
GovernorKay Ivey (R)
Lieutenant GovernorWill Ainsworth (R)
Electoral Votes9
State MottoAudemus jura nostra defendere (We dare defend our rights)
State NicknameYellowhammer State

% Water3.20
Nobel Prize WinnersFrederick C. Robbins (Physiology or Medicine, 1954)
Famous PeopleChanning Tatum (Actor)
Nat King Cole (Singer)
Mark Childress(American Novelist)
State HorseRacking horse

State FlagThe flag of Albama

Alabama flag

State Seal The Seal of Alabama

Alabama seal

State coat of arms

Coat of arms of Alabama.svg

State quarter

Alabama quarter

State BirdYellowhammer

Colaptes auratus auratus1.jpg

State CrustaceanBrown shrimp

Brown Shrimp
State AmphibianRed hills salamander

Phaeognathus hubrichii.jpg

State FlowerCamellia

Camellia japonica-IMG 2052.jpg

State FossilBasilosaurus Cetoides

Basilosaurus skeleton.jpg

State GemstoneStar blue quartz

Statestarquartz.jpg

State MammalBlack bear

Black bear large.jpg

State NutPecan

Pecans.jpg

State TreeLongleaf pine

Longleaf 8246.jpg

State Fresh Water FishLargemouth bass

Largemouth Bass 001.jpg

State InsectMonarch butterfly

Danaus plexippus Cirsium.jpg

State FruitBlackberry

Rubus occidentalis 2008 07 06.JPG

State ReptileAlabama red-bellied turtle

Pseudemys alabamensis.png

State RockMarble

MarbleUSGOV.jpg

State Salt Water Fish(Fighting) tarpon

Atlantic tarpon.jpg

State ShellScaphella junonia johnstoneae

Scaphella junonia.jpg

State SoilBama soil series

Bama soil.png

State WildflowerOak-leaf hydrangea

Hydrangea quercifolia BhamBotGdn.jpg

State Tree FruitPeach

Vineyard peaches de.jpg

Longitude84° 53′ W to 88° 28′ W
Latitude30° 11′ N to 35° N
Time ZoneCentral Time Zone
Websitealabama.gov
Area Codes205, 251, 256, 334, 659, 938
Data SourceCIA, Wikipedia.org, 1KeyData.com, State Symbols USA