Georgia: Empire State of the South

Georgia is also known as the Empire State of the South due to its size – it is the largest state east of the Mississippi. It is also known as the state where Margaret Mitchell wrote the novel “Gone with the Wind.” Its capital Atlanta became famous for the Olympic Games of 1996 and location of the worldwide headquarters of CNN and Coca Cola. Atlanta has always been a paradise for live music. It has been the home of musicians such as Curtis Mayfield, Jimi Hendrix, the Indigo Girls and Elton John. The best meeting place is the Fox Theater, an extravagant Art Deco building from the 20s not far from downtown. Stars like Bruce Springsteen are recording live albums there due to the excellent acoustics.

Along Georgia’s Antebellum Trail, the route with the most beautiful buildings from the time before the Civil War in the 19th century, nice country roads paint a picture of the past in the Old South. You almost think you see Southern Belles in wide dresses on the porches of old mansions. The Civil War Trail is the route that Union General Sherman chose for his “March to the Sea”, which was victorious but had devastating consequences.

Political Turbulences

The state of Georgia has a varied history. The lower Mississippi valley had been the home of the Choctaw, Chickasaw and Cherokee Indians for a long time when the French, the Spanish and the British claimed it as their own in the 16th and 17th century. Only in the 18th century did the Europeans finally succeed. Georgia was one of the 13 colonies that fought the War of Independence against British predominance in North America. It was the fourth state to join the Union on January 2, 1788. In 1798 Georgia was the last of the US states to abolish the slave trade, but not slave labor. In 1802 the state ceded its claim to the territory west of the present day border to the Union (and was compensated for it). In 1838 conflicts arose between the federal government and the state concerning the relocation of the Creeks and Cherokees who were to be deported to the Indian territory further west – but they were solved peacefully. The decisive event, however, was the Civil War between 1861 and 1865. The South stands for romantic plantations, their wealth, however, was based – up to the war – on slave labor. Later, the Civil Rights Movement started in the South and ended discrimination not only in the US but also in other countries. Traveling Georgia is at the same time always a history lesson about decent people who fought against injustice. Today, in the Deep South of the US more African-American citizens are being elected for political offices than in any other part of the United States.

Real GDP per capita was US$ 35,362 in 2006 (national average of all 50 states: $37, 714), 26th place in the national ranking.

Learn more about Georgia here.