85 Fun & Interesting Facts About Alabama, USA

“Sweet Home Alabama” is famous for much more than just her blue skies.

Let’s delve into the many things Alabama is known for with these fascinating, surprising, and fun facts about Alabama state!

General Alabama Facts

  • Alabama is located in the Southeastern region of the US, along with Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Tennessee. It is also considered part of the “Deep South”, and more generally, the Southern United States.
  • It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida to the south, and Mississippi to the west.
  • Alabama also has a small (60 mi / 96.5 km) coastline on the Gulf of Mexico, including Alabama’s only saltwater port in the city of Mobile.
  • Alabama is the 30th largest state, between Arkansas and Louisiana in size, covering 52,419 mi² (135,765 km²). It is similar in size to Azerbaijan.
  • 5.05 million people live in Alabama. According to the Census Bureau, despite the Covid pandemic, Alabama added just over 15,000 people to its population between July 2020 and July 2021.
  • Alabama is the 24th most populous state, sitting between South Carolina and Louisiana in terms of population.
  • The capital city of Alabama is Montgomery, which is the 3rd largest city in Alabama (population 200,000), after Huntsville (250,000) and Birmingham (201,000). The latter city was named after Birmingham, England.
An aerial view of downtown Montgomery, including a riverside park
Riverfront Park on the Alabama River in Montgomery
  • Alabama is known for its beautiful gulf coast beaches, friendly southern hospitality, American Civil War and Civil Rights history, cotton plantations, and music, especially blues, country, and Southern rock.
  • 0.52% of people in Alabama are Native Americans. They are mostly descendants of the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee, and Creek peoples who traditionally lived in the region.
  • Alabama’s name comes from a combination of Choctaw words: Alba, which means “plants”, and Amo which means “picker” or “gatherer”.
  • Alabama’s state motto is Audemus Jura Nostra Defendere, which is Latin for “We Dare Defend Our Rights” or “We Dare Maintain Our Rights”.
Aerial view of the port and city of Mobile, Alabama
The port city of Mobile on the Gulf of Mexico coast
  • People from Alabama call themselves Alabaman or Alabamian.
  • AL is the abbreviation for Alabama.
  • Alabama’s state flower is the Camellia and state bird is the Yellowhammer.
  • Alabama’s main nickname is “The Cotton State,” being located right in the middle of the cotton belt.
  • Another popular nickname is “The Heart of Dixie”. The nickname was born in the late 1940s and early 1950s during a public relations campaign that was promoted by the Alabama Chamber of Commerce.
The flag of the US state of Alabama
The Alabama state flag
  • Alabama has also been called “The Yellowhammer State”, not after the bird, but because American Civil War cavalry from Alabama had been known for wearing yellow, giving them the name Yellowhammers.
  • The flag of Alabama is a red cross of St. Andrew on a white background. The red bars must be at least 6 inches wide to be legally considered an official flag.

Random Interesting Facts About Alabama

The USS Alabama ship parked off the coast of Alabama
The USS Alabama in Mobile
  • There is a Civil Rights Memorial, Rosa Parks Museum, National Memorial for Peace and Justice, and Freedom Rides Museum in Montgomery, all dedicated to the Civil Rights Movement and its leaders.
  • Alabama has 21 State Parks which encompass 48,000 acres of land and water in the state. There are no national parks in Alabama.
  • The largest island belonging to Alabama is Dauphin Island (often mistakenly called “Dolphin” island). It is named after the dauphin (leader) of France Louis XV. It is known for its historic sites and as a bird sanctuary.
  • Alabama’s highest point is at 2,407 ft (734 m) on Cheaha Mountain in Cheaha State Park, while its lowest point is the Gulf of Mexico, which is at sea level.
  • Alabama has a full-sized replica of England’s Stonehenge called Bamahenge (“bama” after Alabama).
An aerial view of Bamahenge, a replica of Stonehenge, surrounded by trees
Alabama’s version of Stonehenge, Bamahenge
  • The climate in Alabama ranges from a coastal warm climate to a diverse and moderate climate in the northern areas. Alabama is known for its mild winters, which attract many “snowbirds”, people from northern states who move to Alabama during the winter months.
  • 112°F (44°C) is the all-time highest temperature recorded in Alabama, on 6 September 1925 in Centreville and -27°F (-33°C) is the all-time lowest temperature recorded in New Market on January 30, 1966.
  • 82% of the agricultural production in Alabama comes from its livestock, followed by peanuts, corn, grains, soy, and cotton.
  • Alabama is known far and wide for its peanuts. There are over 900 peanut farms in the state, with nearly half of all peanuts in the US being made around the city of Dothan, Alabama.
A metal scoop in a bin of peanuts
Along with Georgia, Alabama is a top producer of peanuts.
  • The longest state constitution in the US is Alabama’s state constitution, with over 300,000 words.
  • Before Covid, it was illegal to wear a mask in Alabama. During the pandemic, however, there was a state mandate to wear masks.
  • The Saturn V rocket was designed in Huntsville, Alabama. The rocket made it possible for humans to land on the moon.
  • Harper Lee, the Pulitzer prize-winning author of To Kill A Mockingbird, was born in Monroeville, Alabama–the same city that inspired her masterpiece.
A full sized replica of the Saturn V space ship in Huntsville, Alabama
Replica of Saturn V at the Space and Rocket Center, Huntsville
  • Tallulah Bankhead, born in Huntsville, Alabama, was the star of stage, screen, and radio for three decades (1930s-1950s).
  • Jesse Owens, born in Oakville, Alabama in 1913, was a four-time Olympic track and field champion at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games.
  • African American Booker T. Washington was an advisor to US presidents, orator, educator, and author. Born in Virginia, he founded the first college for African Americans in the US– the Tuskeegee Institute in Alabama in 1881.
  • Miller Reese Hutchison of Alabama was the inventor of the first portable electric hearing aid in 1895.
  • In 1903, upon returning home to Alabama, Mary Anderson invented windshield wipers after she saw a need for them. At the time, people didn’t believe her invention was practical as they saw windshield wipers as a distraction while driving, so she never made money from her invention.
Alabama white sauce on a hot dog, with a fire behind it
Usually put on chicken, Alabama white sauce can go on almost anything. (Image by LexnGer is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
  • White barbecue sauce (Alabama white sauce) was invented by Alabaman Robert Gibson, otherwise known as Big Bob. Featuring apple cider vinegar and mayonnaise, this iconic sauce was brewed for the first time in 1925. This rich sauce still graces dinner tables in Alabama today.
  • Alabaman George F. Kirchoff has saved many lives since he invented the airbag in 1987.
  • Dr. Regina Benjamin of Alabama served as the 18th surgeon general of the United States under Obama.
  • Wikipedia, the largest online encyclopedia in the world, was started in 2001 by Alabaman co-founders Jimmy Wales and Larry Sang.
  • Famous people from Alabama include activist Rosa Parks, boxers Joe Louis and Evander Holyfield, blind author Hellen Keller, actresses Courtney Cox and Tallulah Bankhead, scientist Warren Henry, soccer player Mia Hamm, and runner Jesse Owens.
A mosaic of famous people from Alabama
Famous Alabamans Rosa Parks, Hellen Keller, Hank Williams, Courtney Cox, Lionel Richie, and Nat King Cole (clockwise from top left)
  • The official state song is “Alabama”, written by Julia Tutwiler in 1931. There is also a song called “Alabama” by John Coltrane, and an “Alabama Song” by the Doors.
  • Lynryd Skynyrd also has a famous song “Sweet Home Alabama,” although the band is from Florida. They wrote it in response to the songs “Alabama” and “Southern Man” by Neil Young (a songwriter from Canada), in which he blamed the whole South for slavery.
  • The country/southern rock band called “Alabama” was formed in Fort Payne, Alabama in 1969.
  • Other famous musicians from Alabama include Hank Williams, Nat King Cole, Lionel Richie, Percy Sledge, Emmylou Harris, Eddie Floyd, and Tammy Wynette.
A road sign that says "Welcome to Sweet Home Alabama"
The famous song title has become an unofficial state slogan
  • In Mobile, Alabama, there’s a law forbidding women to wear stiletto heels. After it was created in 1959, women had to apply for special permission to wear them.
  • There’s also a bizarre law forbidding people to tie their alligator to a fire hydrant–apparently, some locals take their pet alligators for walks.

Historical Facts About Alabama

  • According to archaeological findings, people came to Alabama over 10,000 years ago.
  • From around 6500 BCE to the time of European contact, indigenous people used Russell Cave as a winter shelter. The cave is now in a national monument of the same name.
Looking out at the forest from a cave in Russell Cave National Monument, Alabama
Russell Cave National Monument
  • The Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee, and Creek native peoples lived in the area of Alabama over the following millennia.
  • During the Mound Burial Period (1000 BCE to 700 CE), native people in Alabama traded with those living in the Ohio River Valley to the northeast.
  • In the 1500s, Spanish explorers arrived for the first time in the area that’s now known as Alabama. Hernando de Soto was the first European to cross the state’s interior, in 1540.  
  • The first permanent European settlement in Alabama was founded by the French in 1702 at Fort Louis, presently known as the city of Mobile.
  • The first Africans arrived at Port Dauphin on Dauphin Island in a slave ship in 1719.
Aerial view of Fort Morgan and a point of land called Mobile Point in Alabama
Fort Morgan on Mobile Point
  • At different times, the area was controlled by England, France, and then Spain.  
  • In 1763, the only settled part of Alabama (Mobile area) at the time was given to Britain by the Treaty of Paris.
  • In 1783, another Treaty of Paris ended the American Revolution and Spain acquired Mobile, while the rest of the territory was given to the US with the Treaty of San Lorenzo in 1795.
  • Stating that it had been a part of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase area, the US claimed Mobile in 1813 and drove the Spanish out of the area.
  • When Mississippi became a state in 1817, the more sparsely populated area of Alabama beside it became the “Alabama Territory.”
A road leading up to the white Alabama State Capital building
The Alabama State Capital in Montgomery
  • Alabama officially became the 22nd US state in 1819.
  • Christmas was declared a legal holiday by Alabama in 1836, the first state in the US to do so.
  • Before Montgomery became Alabama’s present capital in 1846, the following four cities were previous named capital cities of Alabama: St. Stephens in 1817, Huntsville in 1819, Caraway in 1820, and Tuscaloosa in 1826.
  • In 1849, the first wooden roads in the US were built by Daniel Pratt for transportation from his Pratt Cotton Gin to the Alabama River and for the public. The wooden roads were constructed of large pine logs, which were sawed lengthwise and laid with their round-side down.
  • By 1860, nearly half a million slaves were being used in Alabama.
A large canon on a hill overlooking the coast in Alabama
Civil War canon on the coast of Alabama
  • Alabama was central to the American Civil War. In 1861, the Confederacy was born in Montgomery, Alabama, with 10 other states joining them in war again the United States.
  • The Civil War began due to a telegram that was sent from Montgomery on April 11, 1861. The telegram was sent by Leroy Pope Walker, the Confederate Secretary of War and Huntsville native.
  • In 1865, the Civil War came to an end and Alabama’s slaves were freed as a part of the 13th amendment.
  • Cotton remained a significant crop in the Alabama economy after the Civil War, although today the state is only the 8th largest producer (Texas is #1, by a long shot).
  • In the following decades, several African American political leaders would emerge from the state, including Jeremiah Haralson, Benjamin S. Turner, and James T. Rapier.
The Alabama Confederate Memorial
Alabama Confederate Memorial in Montgomery
  • After forming in neighboring Tennessee, the Ku Klux Klan soon became active in Alabama, killing many Blacks, and Whites who supported them.
  • Schools in Alabama were racially segregated in 1875, followed by public transportation in 1891, prisons in 1911, hospitals in 1915, restrooms, hotels, and restaurants in 1918, and bus shelters in 1945.
  • The 1901 Alabama constitution made it very difficult for Blacks, Native Americans, and the poor to vote.
  • In the early to mid 1900s, six million Blacks left Alabama and other southern states due to the poor economic situation and racial segregation.
  • December 1, 1955 was a fateful day that marked the beginning of the revolution that lead to the modern civil rights movement. On that day, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama.
A museum display introducing Rosa Parks and a model of the bus on which she refused to move seats
Display commemorating Rosa Parks’ bus stop protest at Rosa Parks Museum
  • In the 1960s, many Alabama institutions resisted the federal demands to desegregate.
  • In 1965, thousands of protestors joined a 54-mile march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. The protest, among others led to the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act.
  • Alabama’s first female governor, Lurleen Wallace, was inaugurated in 1967. She passed away a year later.
  • On February 16, 1968, the first ever 911 call in the US was made in Haleyville, Alabama.
A view of a park and buildings in Huntsville Alabama at night
Huntsville today
  • Alabama-native Heather Whitestone made history by becoming the first Miss America with a disability in 1995.
  • In 2001, a statue of the 10 Commandments was erected in Montgomery. The federal government ordered it removed, but the Alabama Supreme Court Chief refused, and locals protested to keep it. It was finally removed in 2003.
  • War Eagle VI was a golden eagle that would fly before football games at Auburn University from 1986 until 2006. On February 8, 2002, she made a special flight for the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. War Eagle VI passed away in 2014.
  • In 2004, Hurricane Ivan caused billions of dollars of damage to the state.
  • In 2011, 62 tornadoes hit the state in a single month, April.