Alabama, nicknamed the "Heart of Dixie", joined the union as the 22nd state in 1819. It is located in the southeastern region of the United States, bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. The state capitol is Montgomery.
Spanish explorers are believed to have arrived at Mobile Bay in 1519, and the territory was visited in 1540 by the explorer Hernando de Soto. The first permanent European settlement in Alabama was founded by the French at Fort Louis de la Mobile in 1702.
The British gained control of the area in 1763 by the Treaty of Paris but had to cede almost all the Alabama region to the U.S. and Spain after the American Revolution. The Confederacy was founded at Montgomery in Feb. 1861, and, for a time, the city was the Confederate capital.
Alabama has rich deposits of iron ore, coal, and limestone. This has helped make the state a leader in steel production. Alabama is the largest supplier of cast-iron and steel pipe products. Birmingham, Alabama's largest city, is the greatest producer of steel in the South.