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ORIGIN OF STATE NAME: Named for King George II of England in 1732. NICKNAME: The Empire State of the South; also, the Peach State. CAPITAL: Atlanta. ENTERED UNION: 2 January 1788 (4th). SONG: "Georgia on My Mind." MOTTO: Wisdom, Justice and Moderation. COAT OF ARMS: Three columns support an arch inscribed with the word "Constitution"; intertwined among the columns is a banner bearing the state motto. Right of center stands a soldier with a drawn sword, representing the aid of the military in defending the Constitution. Surrounding the whole are the words "State of Georgia 1776." FLAG: Three red-and-white stripes and the state coat of arms in the upper left corner on a field of blue. OFFICIAL SEAL: OBVERSE: same as the coat of arms. REVERSE: a sailing vessel and a smaller boat are offshore; on land, a man and horse plow a field, and sheep graze in the background. The scene is surrounded by the words "Agriculture and Commerce 1776." BIRD: Brown thrasher. FISH: Largemouth bass. INSECT: Honeybee. FLOWER: Cherokee rose. WILDFLOWER: Azalea. TREE: Live oak. GEM: Quartz. FOSSIL: Shark tooth. LEGAL HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Robert E. Lee's Birthday, 19 January; Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., 3rd Monday in January; Washington's Birthday, 3rd Monday in February; Confederate Memorial Day, 26 April; National Memorial Day, last Monday in May; Jefferson Davis's Birthday, 3 June; Independence Day, 4 July; Labor Day, 1st Monday in September; Columbus Day, 2nd Monday in October; Veterans Day, 11 November; Thanksgiving Day, 4th Thursday in November; Christmas Day, 25 December. TIME: 7 AM EST = noon GMT.
The Chattahoochee River divides Georgia into separate climatic regions. The mountain region to the northwest is colder than the rest of Georgia, averaging 39°F (4°C) in January and 78°F (26°C) in July. The state experiences mild winters, ranging from a January average of 44°F (7°C) in the piedmont to 54°F (12°C) on the coast. Summers are hot in the piedmont and on the coast, with July temperatures averaging 80°F (27°C) or above. The record high is 113°F (45°C) at Greenville on 27 May 1978; the record low is –17°F (–27°C), registered in Floyd County on 27 January 1940.
Humidity is high, ranging from 82% in the morning to 56% in the afternoon in Atlanta. Rainfall varies considerably from year to year, but averages 50 in (127 cm) annually in the lowlands, increasing to 75 in (191 cm) in the mountains; snow falls occasionally in the interior. Tornadoes are an annual threat in mountain areas, and Georgia beaches are exposed to hurricane tides.
The growing season is approximately 185 days in the mountains and a generous 300 days in southern Georgia.
Georgia ranked 10th in population in the US with an estimated total of 8,560,310 in 2002, an increase of 4.6% since 2000. Between 1990 and 2000, Georgia's population grew from 6,478,453 to 8,186,453, an increase of 26.4% and the fourth-largest population gain among the 50 states for this period. The population is projected to reach 9.9 million by 2025. The population density was 141.4 per sq mi in 2000.
Georgia, which occupies 1.6% of the total US land area, has nearly 3.3% of the nation's forestland and nearly 5% of the nation's commercial forests. In 2002 Georgia's forest area totaled 24,405,000 acres (9,877,000 hectares), of which 23,802,000 acres (9,633,000 hectares) are commercial forest.
Forests cover about two-thirds of the state's land area. The most densely wooded counties are in the piedmont hills and northern mountains. Ware and Charlton counties in southeastern Georgia, containing the Okefenokee Swamp, are almost entirely forested. In 2002, about 90% of Georgia's forestland was privately owned.
The chief products of Georgia's timber industry are pine lumber and pine panels for the building industry, hardwood lumber for the furniture industry, and pulp for the paper and box industry. In 2002, Georgia produced over 3.04 billion board feet of lumber (3rd in the US), of which 87% was softwood (pine).
The chief recreational forest areas are in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, consisting of two main tracts in the northern and central part of the state. Georgia has 1,856,000 acres (751,123 hectares) of National Forest System lands, 99% of which are within the boundaries of the two major tracts.
Post-World War II housing developments provided Georgia families with modern, affordable dwellings. The home-loan guarantee programs of the Federal Housing Administration and the Veterans Administration made modest down payments, low interest rates, and long-term financing the norm in Georgia. The result was a vast increase in both the number of houses constructed and the percentage of families owning their own homes.
Between 1940 and 1970, the number of housing units in the state doubled to 1,470,754. In 1940, only 3 in 10 Georgia homes were owner-occupied; by 1990, nearly 6 in 10 were. In 1970, 13% of all Georgians were still living in units that lacked full plumbing; in 1990, the number decreased to 1.1%.
In 2002, there were an estimated 3,487,088 housing units in Georgia, of which 3,078,258 were occupied; 67.9% were owneroccupied. About 64.9% of all units were single-family, detached homes; about 12% were mobile homes. The average household size was 2.7 people. It was estimated that about 137,503 units were without telephone service, 14,408 lacked complete plumbing facilities, and 16,281 lacked complete kitchen facilities. Most household relied on gas and electricity for heating.
In 2002, 97,523 privately owned housing units were authorized for construction. The median value of a one-family home was about $131,221. The median monthly cost for mortgage owners was $1,125 while renters paid a median of $664 per month. During 2002, Georgia received over $137.5 million in community planning and development aid from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
There are four major league professional sports teams in Georgia, all in Atlanta. Turner Field and the Georgia Dome, main venues for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games hosted by the city, serve as the home field for two professional teams: baseball's Atlanta Braves, for whom Henry Aaron hit many of his record 755 home runs, and the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League. The Philips Arena houses the Atlanta Hawks of the National Basketball Association and the Atlanta Thrashers of the National Hockey League. The Atlanta Braves won the National League Pennant in 1991, 1992, 1995, 1996, and 1999. The Braves went on to win their only World Series championship since moving to Atlanta, defeating the Cleveland Indians in 1995. The Braves lost the Series to the New York Yankees in 1996 and 1999, and to the Toronto Blue Jays in 1991 and 1992.
The Cracker Barrel Old Country Store 500 and the NAPA 500 are two of the NASCAR Winston Cup auto races. They are both held at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The Masters, the most publicized golf tournament in the world, has been played at the Augusta National Golf Club since 1934. The Atlanta Golf Classic is also listed on the professional golfers' tour.
Football and basketball dominate college sports. The University of Georgia Bulldogs, who play in the Southeastern Conference, were named National Champions in football in 1980 and advanced to the Final Four in basketball in 1983. Georgia Tech's Yellow Jackets of the Atlantic Coast Conference are a perennial basketball power. The Peach Bowl has been an annual postseason football game in Atlanta since 1968.
Professional fishing, sponsored by the Bass Anglers Sportsman's Society, is one of the fastest-growing sports in the state. Another popular summer pastime is rafting. Massive raft races on the Chattahoochee at Atlanta and Columbus, and on the Savannah River at Augusta, draw many spectators and participants.
Atlanta hosted the 1996 Summer Olympic Games at a cost of more than $1 billion.
Jackie Robinson, who broke baseball's color barrier in 1947, and Ty Cobb, nicknamed the "Georgia Peach," were both born in Georgia.
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