Georgia

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 was greatly reduced.

Beginning in the 1940s, thousands of farms
were consolidated and mechanized and the demand for farm workers decreased.

As farms consolidated their size got larger, and by the mid-1990s each
averaged 114 hectares (281 acres). Most farms are owner-operated.

Georgia is