Alabama, also known as the "Heart of Dixie," is a state located in the Southern 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. The twenty-second state admitted to the Union, Alabama seceded from the union in 1861 to become part of the Confederate States of America. Following the Civil War Alabama was readmitted to the union in 1868.
Until World War II, Alabama, like many Southern states, remained mired in poverty. In the years following the war, Alabama emerged as a growing economic power as the economy of the state transitioned from agriculture to diversified interests in heavy manufacturing, mineral extraction, education, and high technology. Today, the state is heavily invested in the aerospace, education, health care, banking, and various heavy industries including automobile manufacturing and mineral extraction and steel production and fabrication.
Alabama is the 30th largest state in the United States with 52,423 square miles (135,775 km2) of total area. 3.19% of that is water, making Alabama 23rd in the amount of surface water, also giving it the second largest inland waterway system in the United States. Baldwin County, along the gulf coast, is the largest county in the state in both land area and water area. About three-fifths of the land area is a gentle plain with a general decline towards the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. The North Alabama region is mostly mountainous, with the Tennessee River cutting a large valley creating numerous creeks, streams, rivers, mountains, and lakes. Another natural wonder is "Natural Bridge", the longest land bridge span east of the Mississippi River. Alabama generally ranges in elevation from sea level at Mobile Bay, to a little more than 1,800 feet (550 m) in the Appalachian Mountains in the northeast. The highest point is Mount Cheaha.