Georgia (state), one of the South Atlantic states of the United States. Founded in 1733, Georgia was the last of the 13 original English colonies to be established in what is now the United States. Georgia emerged as a state during the American Revolution (1775-1783), and Georgians were among the first signers of the Declaration of Independence. On January 2, 1788, Georgia became the fourth state, and the first Southern one, to ratify the Constitution of the Constitution of the United States. Georgia developed slowly and did not begin to prosper until late in the 18th century. However, during the first half of the 19th century Georgia flourished as an agricultural state, with vast cotton and rice plantations. By 1860 Georgia was one of the wealthiest Southern states, and stately plantation homes graced the rolling hills of the coastal and central sections of the state.
The American Civil War (1861-1865) and its aftermath were major turning points in the economic and social life of Georgia. The state was devastated during the war, and after the abolition of slavery the plantation system was replaced by tenant farming, which still focused on traditional agricultural products such as cotton, tobacco, peanuts, and grain crops. The state remained poor, and during the Great Depression of the 1930s it was particularly devastated as the boll weevil decimated the cotton economy.
Migration to other states seemed to be one of the few ways of overcoming poverty. The state remained primarily agricultural in nature until the early 1950s, when the development of industry began to accelerate. By the early 1960s, industrial production far outranked agriculture as the chief source of income.
In the late 1990s Georgia had an economy based on manufacturing and service industries. Atlanta, the largest city and capital of the state, serves as an important economic center of the South and the nation.
The early colony was named in honor of King George II of the United Kingdom of Great Britain. Over the years the state has acquired many nicknames. Nicknames include the Buzzard State, in commemoration of an early state law to protect buzzards; and the Goober State, for the state’s enormous annual peanut crop. Two nicknames, however, are gaining frequency in use. Georgia is known as the Peach State, for the famous peaches grown there, and the peach emblem is on the state’s automobile license plates.
Georgia is also known as the Empire State of the South. This nickname alludes to New York, which is known as the Empire State, and reflects Georgia’s size and the rapid development of its economy. © "United States" © Emmanuel Buchot and Encarta
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