Georgia

The state of Georgia has a total area of 152,750 sq km (58,977 sq mi), including 2618 sq km (1011 sq mi) of inland water and 122 sq km (47 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 top range north to south of 515 km (320 mi) and east to west of 441 km (274 mi). The mean elevation is about 180 m (about 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.

Almost the whole area of Georgia was forested in early colonial times, and about three-fifths of the land is still covered by forests and woodlands. Mixed forests of deciduous and coniferous trees cover most of the Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountain areas. Normal trees in these areas include species of ash, beech, birch, hemlock, hickory, poplar, sweetgum, sycamore, red oak, white oak, and Virginia, shortleaf, and loblolly pines. Pines which dominate on the Piedmont are loblolly and shortleaf pine trees. On the coastal plains, slash, loblolly, and longleaf pines are found. The live oak, the state tree, thrives in the southern part of the coastal plains. Palmettos are found in areas of sandy soil, and bald cypresses and tupelo gums are commonly found in swampy and badly drained areas. Spanish moss festoons many of the cypresses in Okefenokee Swamp. Other trees that are found in the state include the red maple, sweet bay, black cherry, butternut, sassafras, southern magnolia, cottonwood, locust, and elm. Flowering plants grow in great abundance in Georgia. Those natural to the state include the trillium, galax, bellwort, hepatica, mayapple, bloodroot, violet, columbine, lady slipper, and Cherokee rose, which is the stte of Georgia's state flower. Among the many shrubs and tiny flowering trees common in Georgia are species of laurel, mimosa, redbud, flowering dogwood, rhododendron, and flame azalea. White-tailed deer are the most common of the larger mammals found in the state. There are black bears in the northern mountains and in Okefenokee Swamp, and bobcats roam many of the rural areas. Red foxes, gray foxes, muskrats, raccoons, opossums, flying squirrels, foxes and gray squirrels are abundant in the forested areas, and otter and beaver are met in many swamps and rivers.

In the mid-1990s there was about 43,000 farms in Georgia. Only about two-fifths had annual sales of $10,000 or more. Many of the rest of the farms were hobbies for operators who held different jobs. Farmland occupied 4.9 million hectares (12.1 million acres), of which less than one-third was harvested. The rest was mostly pasture or woodland.

The sale of livestock and livestock products accounts for about three-fifths of total yearly farm income. The sale of produce accounts for the rest. Broilers (young chickens raised for meat) are the state's most valuable farm product, followed by peanuts and beef cattle. The state's other important farm products include eggs, hogs, milk, vegetables, greenhouse seedlings, tobacco, soybeans, corn, pecans, and cotton. Georgia leads all other states in the production of peanuts and pecans and is second after Arkansas in the producing of broilers.

Until the Civil War, nearly all the cotton during most of the 19th century, cotton was the main crop. Itwas grown on plantations by black slaves, who picked it by hand. After slavery was abolished most blacks, having no land of their own, became sharecroppers, who got their farm and family supplies on credit from the planters and were in assumption paid a share of the crop income. Under this system, cotton dominated the economy more than ever. However, during the 1920s the boll weevil, a tiny beetle that eats the growing cotton boll, devastated much of the cotton crop and infested great areas of the cotton-growing lands of the South. Moreover, at about that same time, crop yields began to fall, and it became clear that nearly 200 years of constant cotton cultivation had ruined the soil. Efforts were made to vary the state's farm economy. As a result, many cotton lands were planted in other crops or switched over to pasture. Cotton cultivation was resumed after methods were found to control the boll weevil, but cotton acreage