Alabama (formally, the State of Alabama; /ˌæləˈbæmə/ (help·info)) is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. It became the 22nd state to enter the Union in 1819 and was the fifth state to secede in 1861 to form the Confederate States of America. Its capital, Montgomery, served briefly as the capitol of the Confederate 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. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland waterways. The state ranks 23rd in population with almost 4.6 million residents in 2006.
From the American Civil War until World War II, Alabama, like many Southern states, suffered economic hardship, in part because of continued dependence on agriculture. White rural interests dominated the state legislature until the 1960s, while urban interests and African Americans were underrepresented. In the years following World War II, Alabama experienced significant recovery as the economy of the state transitioned from agriculture to diversified interests in heavy manufacturing, mineral extraction, education, and high technology, as well as the establishment or expansion of multiple military installations, primarily those of the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force. Today, the state is heavily invested in aerospace, education, health care, banking, and various heavy industries including automobile manufacturing, mineral extraction, steel production and fabrication.
Alabama is unofficially nicknamed the Yellowhammer State, which is the name of the state bird. Alabama is also known as the "Heart of Dixie". The state tree is the Longleaf Pine, and the state flower is the Camellia. The capital of Alabama is Montgomery, and the largest city by population is Birmingham. The largest city by total land area is Huntsville. The oldest city is Mobile.