As one of the original 13 colonies, the state of Georgia has a rich history that continues today as one of the most populous states in the U.S.
Along with other Southern states, Georgia seceded from the union in 1861, which triggered the Civil War. Although insulated from the war through years of fighting, Union General William T. Sherman captured Atlanta in 1864 and began a march to the coastal city of Savannah that destroyed much of the state’s infrastructure and crippled the Confederacy’s economy in the process.
Georgia became a battleground during the 20th century civil rights movement. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was born in Atlanta, the state’s capital and largest city, and grew up there, attending Morehouse College. Other notable figures from the state include 39th President Jimmy Carter, Gone With the Wind author Margaret Mitchell and Jackie Robinson, the first black player in Major League Baseball.
The state has tried to capitalize on its history with sites such as the Center for Civil and Human Rights established in 2007, as well as tourist draws such as the Georgia Aquarium, which is the biggest in the U.S. The city also gained greater prominence after hosting the Summer Olympics in 1996.
Still, most out-of-staters pass through Georgia on their way to other destinations via Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world’s busiest airport. The state is the headquarters for Delta as well as companies as varied as Home Depot, UPS, Coca-Cola and Aflac.
As a result of generous tax incentives in the state, movie and television production companies have flocked to Georgia in recent years, making it the third most popular filming location in the U.S., behind only California and New York. Gov. Nathan Deal announced that the industry generated $9.5 billion in the 2017 fiscal year thanks to more than 300 film and television productions shot in the state.
Bolstered by the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, like many metropolitan areas, has a growing startup scene. Atlanta also is home to Morehouse College, Spelman College and Emory University. The affiliated hospital, Emory University Hospital, ranks nationally in treatment for cancer, cardiology and heart surgery, diabetes and endocrinology, geriatrics, neurology and neurosurgery and orthopedics.
An unrelenting suburban sprawl and a public transportation system unable to keep up with it have left the city riddled with traffic. In past years, though, the government has worked on projects to draw more residents back to the city. Indeed, many of the state’s best high schools are located in these suburban areas.
Northeast of Atlanta is another one of the state’s most populous cities, Athens, which is home to The University of Georgia. Aside from the state’s flagship university, the city also is famous for its music scene, which produced R.E.M., the B-52’s, Widespread Panic and the Modern Skirts.
Georgia is more diverse than the U.S. on average. One in three Georgia residents are African-American, which is more than double the rate for the U.S. The state also has been a draw for international immigration from Asia, which is expected to continue. It is poorer on average, with a median household income of $53,559 in 2016, compared with the national level of $57,617.
Like the bordering Bible Belt states of Tennessee, North Carolina, Alabama and South Carolina, Georgia continues to rank as one of the most religious states in the U.S., according to Pew Research Center.