Alabama Fast Facts

In addition to exploring the categories below, we recommend that you visit the Encyclopedia of Alabama, a free online resource with comprehensive, reliable articles about all aspects of the state’s history, environment, people, and culture.

The etymology of the word or name, Alabama, has evoked much discussion among philological researchers. It was the name of a noted southern Indian tribe whose habitat when first known to Europeans was in what is now central Alabama. One of the major waterways in the state was named for this group and from this river, in turn, the name of the state was derived. The tribal name of Alabama was spelled in various ways by the early Spanish, French, and British chroniclers: Alabama, Albama, Alebamon, Alibama, Alibamou, Alibamon, Alabamu, and Allibamou. The appellation first occurs in three of the accounts of the Hernando de Soto expedition of 1540: written Alibamo by Garcillasso de la Vega, Alibamu by the Knight of Elvas, and Limamu by Rodrigo Ranjel (in the last form, the initial vowel is dropped and the first m is used for b, the interchange of these two consonants being common in Indian languages). The name as recorded by these chroniclers was the name of a subdivision of the Chickasaws, not the historic Alabamas of later times.

The popular belief that Alabama signifies "Here We Rest" stems from an etymology given wide currency in the 1850s through the writings of Alexander Beauford Meek. However, the first known use of this derivation appeared earlier in an unsigned article in the issue of the Jacksonville Republican for July 27, 1842. Experts in the Muskogee dialect have been unable to find any word or phrase similar to Alabama with the meaning "Here We Rest."

According to some investigations, the tribal name Alabama must be sought in the Choctaw tongue, as it is not uncommon for tribes to accept a name given them by a neighboring tribe. Inquiry among the early Indians themselves appears to have yielded no information about the meaning of the word. The Rev. Allen Wright, a Choctaw scholar, translated the name as “thicket clearers,” compounded of Alba meaning "a thick or mass vegetation," and amo meaning "to clear, to collect, to gather up."

Alabama is 330 miles long and 190 miles wide at its most distant points. It covers 52,423 square miles, making it the 30th largest of the 50 states. Alabama currently has 67 counties. The oldest county, Washington, was created on June 4, 1800, when what is now Alabama was then part of the Mississippi Territory. The newest county is Houston, created on February 9, 1903. This list contains all counties that have existed in Alabama since the state was created in 1819.

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County Name Date Established Origin of Name County Seat
Autauga November 21, 1818 American Indian village of Atagi Prattville
Baine, see Etowah December 7, 1866 General David W. Baine, CSA Gadsden
Baldwin December 21, 1809 Senator Abraham Baldwin of Georgia Bay Minette
Baker, see Chilton December 30, 1868 Alfred Baker Grantville
Barbour December 18, 1832 Governor James Barbour of Virginia Clayton
Benton, see Calhoun December 18, 1832 Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri Jacksonville
Bibb February 7, 1818 Governor William W. Bibb Centreville
Blount February 6, 1818 Governor Willie G. Blount of Tennessee Oneonta
Bullock December 5, 1866 Colonel Edward C. Bullock Union Springs
Butler December 13, 1819 Captain William Butler of the Creek wars Greenville
Cahawba, see Bibb February 7, 1818 Cahawba River (Choctaw for "water above") Cahawba
Calhoun December 18, 1832 Senator John C. Calhoun of South Carolina Anniston
Chambers December 18, 1832 Senator Henry C. Chambers of Alabama Lafayette
Cherokee January 9, 1836 American Indian Tribe Centre
Chilton December 30, 1868 Confederate Congressman William P. Chilton Clanton
Choctaw December 29, 1847 American Indian tribe Butler
Clarke December 10, 1812 General John Clarke of Georgia Grove Hill
Clay December 7, 1866 Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky Ashland
Cleburne December 6, 1866 Major General Patrick Cleburne of Arkansas Heflin
Coffee December 29, 1841 General John Coffee Elba
Colbert February 6, 1867 Chiefs George and Levi Colbert Tuscumbia
Conecuh February 13, 1818 American Indian word Evergreen
Coosa December 18, 1832 Alabama Indian town Rockford
Cotaco, see Morgan February 8, 1818 Cotaco Creek Somerville
Covington December 7, 1821 Brigadier General Leonard Covington of Maryland Andalusia
Crenshaw November 24, 1866 Judge Anderson Crenshaw Luverne
Cullman January 24, 1877 Johann G. Cullmann Cullman
Dale December 22, 1824 General Samuel Dale Ozark
Dallas February 9, 1818 U.S. Secretary of the Treasury A.J. Dallas Selma
Decatur December 7, 1821 (abolished in 1825) Commodore Stephen Decatur Woodville
DeKalb January 9, 1836 Major General Baron DeKalb of the American Revolution Fort Payne
Elmore February 15, 1866 General John A. Elmore Wetumpka
Escambia December 10, 1868 American Indian name and river Brewton
Etowah December 7, 1866 Cherokee Indian name Gadsden
Fayette December 20, 1824 Marquis de LaFayette Fayette
Franklin February 6, 1818 Benjamin Franklin Russellville
Geneva December 26, 1868 Geneva, Switzerland Geneva
Greene December 13, 1819 General Nathaniel Greene of Georgia Eutaw
Hale January 30, 1867 Colonel Stephen F. Hale Greensboro
Hancock, see Winston February 12, 1850 Governor John Hancock of Massachusetts Double Springs
Henry December 13, 1819 Governor Patrick Henry of Virginia Abbeville
Houston February 9, 1903 Governor George S. Houston Dothan
Jackson December 13, 1819 General Andrew Jackson Scottsboro
Jefferson December 13, 1819 President Thomas Jefferson Birmingham
Jones, see Lamar February 4, 1867 E. P. Jones of Fayette County Vernon
Lamar February 4, 1867 Senator L. Q. C. Lamar of Mississippi Vernon
Lauderdale February 6, 1818 Colonel James Lauderdale of Tennessee Florence
Lawrence February 6, 1818 Captain J. Lawrence of Vermont Moulton
Lee December 5, 1866 General Robert E. Lee Opelika
Limestone February 6, 1818 Limestone Creek Athens
Lowndes January 20, 1830 Cong. William Lowndes of South Carolina Hayneville
Macon December 18, 1832 Senator Nathaniel Macon of North Carolina Tuskegee
Madison December 13, 1808 President James Madison Huntsville
Marengo February 6, 1818 French battlefield Linden
Marion February 13, 1818 General Francis Marion of South Carolina Hamilton
Marshall January 9, 1836 Chief Justice John Marshall Guntersville
Mobile December 18, 1812 Maubila Indians Mobile
Monroe June 29, 1815 Pres. James Monroe Monroeville
Montgomery December 6, 1816 Major L. P. Montgomery of Tennessee Montgomery
Morgan February 6, 1818 General Daniel Morgan of Virginia Decatur
Perry December 13, 1819 Commodore O.H. Perry/RI Marion
Pickens December 20, 1820 General Andrew Pickens of South Carolina Carrollton
Pike December 17, 1821 General Zebulon M. Pike of New Jersey Troy
Randolph December 18, 1832 Senator John Randolph of Virginia Wedowee
Russell December 18, 1832 Colonel Gilbert C. Russell of the Creek wars Phenix City
Sanford, see Lamar February 4, 1867 H. C. Sanford of Cherokee County Vernon
St. Clair November 20, 1818 General Arthur St. Clair of Pennsylvania Ashville
Shelby February 7, 1818 Governor Isaac Shelby of Kentucky Columbiana
Sumter December 18, 1832 General Thomas Sumter of South Carolina Livingston
Talladega December 18, 1832 Creek Indian town Talladega
Tallapoosa December 18, 1832 Senator John W. Walker of Alabama Jasper
Tuscaloosa February 6, 1818 Chief Tuscaloosa Tuscaloosa
Washington June 4, 1800 President George Washington Chatom
Wilcox December 13, 1819 Lieutenant J. M. Wilcox of the Creek Wars Camden
Winston February 12, 1850 Governor John A. Winston Double Springs

For more information about the symbols and emblems below, see the Quick Facts page at the Encyclopedia of Alabama.

Emblem or Symbol Name of Emblem or Symbol Date Adopted
Agricultural Insect Queen honeybee 2015
Agricultural Museum Landmark Park in Dothan 1992
Amphibian Red Hills salamander 2000
Barbecue Championship Christmas on the River Cook-off in Demopolis 1991
Bible State Bible 1853
Bird Yellowhammer 1927
Coat of Arms Eagles supporting shield with flags of countries that ruled Alabama 1939
Creed Alabama's Creed 1953
Crustacean Brown shrimp 2015
Dessert Lane Cake 2016
Flag Crimson Cross of St. Andrew on a white field 1895
Flower Camellia 1959
Folk Dance Square dance 1981
Fossil Basilosaurus cetoides 1984
Freshwater Fish Largemouth bass 1975
Fruit Blackberry 2004
Game Bird Wild turkey 1980
Gemstone Star blue quartz 1990
Historic Theater Alabama Theatre for the Performing Arts 1993
Horse Racking horse 1975
Horse Show AOHA Alabama State Championship Horse Show 1988
Horseshoe Tournament Stockton Fall Horseshoe Tournament 1992
Insect Monarch butterfly 1989
Mammal Black bear 2006
Mascot & Butterfly Eastern tiger swallowtail 1989
Mineral Hematite (red iron ore) 1967
Motto “We Dare Maintain Our Rights” 1939
Nut Pecan 1982
Outdoor Drama The Miracle Worker by William Gibson 1991
Outdoor Musical Drama The Incident at Looney's Tavern 1993
Quilt Pine Burr Quilt 1997
Renaissance Faire Florence Renaissance Faire 1988
Reptile Alabama red-bellied turtle 1990
Rock Marble 1969
Saltwater Fish Fighting tarpon 1955
Seal State map showing major rivers 1939
Shell Scaphella junonia johnstoneae 1990
Soil Bama Soil Series 1997
Song Alabama 1933
Spirit Conecuh Ridge Alabama Fine Whiskey 2004
Tree Southern longleaf pine 1997
Tree Fruit Peach 2006
Vegetable Sweet potato 2021
Wildflower Oak-leaf hydrangea 1999
Executive Department

According to Article V, Section 112 of the 1901 Alabama Constitution, "The executive department shall consist of a governor, lieutenant governor, attorney-general, state auditor, secretary of state, state treasurer, superintendent of education, commissioner of agriculture and industries, and a sheriff for each county." (Currently, however, the superintendent of education is a member of the governor's cabinet rather than a constitutional officer, having been removed from the executive department by Amendment No. 284.)

Judicial Department

According to Article V, Section 112 of the 1901 Alabama Constitution, "The supreme court shall consist of one chief justice and such number of associate justices as may be prescribed by law." Act No. 602 of the 1969 regular legislative session set the number of associate justices to eight.

African Americans in the Reconstruction Legislature

This list names the African American men who served in the constitutional conventions, Alabama Senate, and Alabama House of Representatives from 1867 to 1880.
Alabama Congressional and Legislative Representation, 1819 to 1960

The maps in this publication were compiled by an archivist at the Alabama Department of Archives and History. They depict the changing county lines and legislative districts through the state's history.