Georgia has a total area of 153,910 sq km (59,425 sq mi), including 2,631 sq km (1,016 sq mi) of inland water and 124 sq km (48 sq mi) of coastal waters over which the state has jurisdiction. The state is the 24th largest in the country and has the largest land area of any state east of the Mississippi River. Georgia has a maximum dimension north to south of 515 km (320 mi) and east to west of 441 km (274 mi). The mean elevation is about 180 m (600 ft).
Georgia occupies parts of six natural regions, or physiographic provinces. They are the Atlantic Coastal Plain, the Gulf Coastal Plain, the Piedmont, the Blue Ridge province, the Ridge and Valley province, and the Appalachian Plateaus.
The six natural regions are parts of two major physiographic divisions of the United States. The Atlantic Coastal Plain and Gulf Coastal Plain are parts of the Coastal Plain, a lowland that extends around the coast of the eastern United States from New York to Texas. The four other natural regions are parts of the Appalachian Region, or Appalachian Highland.
The boundary between the Coastal Plain and the Appalachian Highland is marked by the Fall Line, or more accurately a zone along which the rivers and streams of the Piedmont flow across resistant rocks that mark the boundary with the Coastal Plain. Rapids and small waterfalls are numerous along the Fall Line. The falls provided waterpower for early industry, but impeded navigation above the Fall Line. Cities such as Columbus, Macon, and Augusta developed on the Fall Line at the head of navigation on the rivers and became major manufacturing centers due to the availability of water power. The Atlantic Coastal Plain and the adjoining Gulf Coastal Plain occupy about 60 percent of Georgia. The Atlantic Coastal Plain rises gradually from sea level along the coast to an elevation of nearly 240 m (800 ft) near the Fall Line. Most of the plain is generally flat.
Near the Fall Line, however, it becomes quite rolling and hilly. All rivers on the plain flow generally eastward to the Atlantic Ocean. Extensive salt marshes, which become flooded at high tide, are found in the coastal areas. There are also many freshwater swamps on the plain. Okefenokee Swamp, a vast watery region teeming with life, covers the extreme southeastern corner of the state and extends into the Gulf Coastal Plain and into Florida. Except for the swamps and the pine-covered hilly areas, most of the Atlantic Coastal Plain is covered by farmlands.
The Gulf Coastal Plain in Georgia differs little from the Atlantic Coastal Plain except that its rivers drain southward to the Gulf of Mexico. Underlain by soft limestone, the extensive pumping of groundwater in this region to irrigate agricultural land has resulted in many sinkholes.
The Piedmont, or Piedmont Plateau, which occupies about 30 percent of Georgia, is a rolling upland region. It lies between the lowlands of the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains and the truly mountainous land of the Appalachians farther north. Rolling hills are characteristic of the Piedmont, and many of them rise high above the surrounding countryside. One of the most prominent is Stone Mountain, a steep-sided, whale-back-shaped mountain near Atlanta. Stone Mountain, 514 m (1,686 ft) above sea level, is a great mass of exposed granite. The gently rolling areas of the Piedmont are generally cultivated, but the more hilly sections are usually covered by forests, mainly of pine.
The Blue Ridge province, or Blue Ridge region, includes, in Georgia, the Blue Ridge Mountains and the neighboring valley. It occupies only about 5 percent of the state. Mount Oglethorpe, which reaches an elevation of 1,003 m (3,290 ft), is the southernmost point of the Blue Ridge. Brasstown Bald Mountain, which rises to 1,458 m (4,784 ft), is the highest point in the state. Several other peaks are more than 1,200 m (4,000 ft) above sea level. The region is a sparsely populated rural area, and heavily forested. It is one of the most scenic areas in Georgia, and has many deep and steep-sided river valleys and small waterfalls. Amicalola Falls, the state’s highest falls, drop 222 m (729 ft). The Ridge and Valley province is characterized by a series of prominent ridges and narrow lowlands, which extend across the northwest in a southwest to northeast direction. The ridges mark outcrops of resistant rocks, and the lowlands are formed on softer rocks. The principal lowland is the Rome Valley. The most prominent ridges are Taylor Ridge and Pigeon Mountain. Most of the ridges, which reach elevations of 460 m (1,500 ft), are forested, and the valleys are used for farming.
The Appalachian Plateaus in Georgia are made up of part of the section known as the Cumberland Plateau. This plateau occupies the extreme northwestern corner of Georgia. Lookout Mountain is a long ridge that lies partly in Alabama and Tennessee and cuts across Georgia’s portion of the Cumberland Plateau. Sand Mountain, 460 m (1,500 ft) in elevation, forms the eastern edge of the plateau. The north Georgia mountain country has experienced population growth in recent years as residents of Atlanta favor the area for locating second homes and Floridians seek cooler locales to spend their summers. The fragile ecosystem in the area makes it increasingly vulnerable as development proceeds. "Georgia" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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