On December 14, 1819, Alabama became the 22nd state of the United States. A lot has changed since its statehood two hundred years ago. To date, Alabama is the 30th largest by area and the 24th most populous of the U.S. states.
Located in the southeastern region of the United States, Alabama is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west with Montgomery as the capital. Birmingham is the largest city by population whereas Huntsville is the largest city by land area. Founded by French colonists in 1702 as the capital of French Louisiana, Mobile is the oldest city in Alabama.
Alabama is nicknamed the Yellowhammer State, after the state bird the Yellowhammer Woodpecker (Northern Flicker). It is also well-known as the “Heart of Dixie” and the “Cotton State”. The state tree is the longleaf pine and the state flower is the camellia. The state motto is ‘We Dare Defend Our Rights’ (Latin: Audemus jura nostra defendere).
Major airports with sustained commercial operations in Alabama include Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport (BHM), Huntsville International Airport (HSV), Dothan Regional Airport (DHN), Mobile Regional Airport (MOB), Montgomery Regional Airport (MGM), and Muscle Shoals – Northwest Alabama Regional Airport (MSL).
For rail transport, Amtrak schedules the Crescent, a daily passenger train, running from New York to New Orleans with station stops at Anniston, Birmingham, and Tuscaloosa.
Alabama has six major interstate roads that cross the state: Interstate 65 (I-65) travels north–south roughly through the middle of the state; I-20/I-59 travel from the central west Mississippi state line to Birmingham, where I-59 continues to the north-east corner of the state and I-20 continues east towards Atlanta; I-85 originates in Montgomery and travels east-northeast to the Georgia state line, providing a main thoroughfare to Atlanta; and I-10 traverses the southernmost portion of the state, traveling from west to east through Mobile. I-22 enters the state from Mississippi and connects Birmingham with Memphis, Tennessee. In addition, there are currently five auxiliary interstate routes in the state: I-165 in Mobile, I-359 in Tuscaloosa, I-459 around Birmingham, I-565 in Decatur and Huntsville, and I-759 in Gadsden. A sixth route, I-685, will be formed when I-85 is rerouted along a new southern bypass of Montgomery. A proposed northern bypass of Birmingham will be designated as I-422. Since a direct connection from I-22 to I-422 will not be possible, I-222 has been proposed, as well.
Several U.S. Highways also pass through the state, such as U.S. Route 11 (US-11), US-29, US-31, US-43, US-45, US-72, US-78, US-80, US-82, US-84, US-90, US-98, US-231, US-278, US-280, US-331, US-411, and US-431.
There are four toll roads in the state: Montgomery Expressway in Montgomery; Tuscaloosa Bypass in Tuscaloosa; Emerald Mountain Expressway in Wetumpka; and Beach Express in Orange Beach.
The Port of Mobile, Alabama’s only saltwater port, is a large seaport on the Gulf of Mexico with inland waterway access to the Midwest by way of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. The Port of Mobile was ranked 12th by tons of traffic in the United States during 2009. The newly expanded container terminal at the Port of Mobile was ranked as the 25th busiest for container traffic in the nation during 2011. The state’s other ports are on rivers with access to the Gulf of Mexico.
Water ports of Alabama, listed from north to south: Port of Florence located in Florence/Muscle Shoals, on Pickwick Lake and connected to the Tennessee River. Port of Decatur located in Decatur, on Wheeler Lake and connected to the Tennessee River. Port of Guntersville located in Guntersville, on Lake Guntersville and connected to the Tennessee River. Port of Birmingham located in Birmingham, on Black Warrior River and connected to the Tenn-Tom Waterway. Port of Tuscaloosa located in Tuscaloosa, on Black Warrior River and connected to the Tenn-Tom Waterway. Port of Montgomery located in Montgomery, on Woodruff Lake and connected to the Alabama River. Port of Mobile located in Mobile, on Mobile Bay and connected to the Gulf of Mexico.