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What Is The State of Georgia Known For?
Established in 1732, Georgia has a long history. Artists have penned songs dedicated to the state and authors have written books about the land and its legacy. The state holds a special place in the hearts of Americans—but what exactly is the state of Georgia known for?
Often referred to as the “Peach State,” Georgia is known for its subtropical climate, agriculture-based economy, role in the American Civil War, the city of Atlanta, Coca-Cola’s headquarters, peanut production, and many famous natives.
The state boasts a rich history, significant economic contributions, fascinating people, and more. Read on to learn more about the state of Georgia and what it’s known for.
Georgia Is Known As the “Peach State”
When you think of Georgia, the peach is probably the first thing that comes to mind. This fuzzy fruit is the official state fruit.
So, why is the peach Georgia’s state fruit—especially when the state produces more blueberries than peaches?
It started in the mid-1800s when Berckmans Nursery grew peaches explicitly designed to thrive in Georgia’s humid, subtropical climate. During the Reconstruction Era, government officials urged Georgian farmers to diversify their crops, as it was “too risky” to depend solely on cotton.
As a result, many farmers began planting pecans, onions, and—you guessed it—peaches. Thus, Berckmans Nursery paved the path for the future of peach culture in Georgia.
Peach farming was a success. Today, Georgia is one of the top four states for peach production in the United States—but Georgia peaches are considered superior to the rest. If you’re ever visiting the southern state, grab a peach during peak season from a roadside market and give it a try. Georgia’s climate makes for flavorful, textured, large, plump, and perfectly juicy peaches.
Interestingly, most of Georgia’s peaches are fresh when sold. Despite being a leading producer of the fuzzy fruit, there are no large peach-processing factories in the state and most purchasers buy in bulk.
If you’re ever down south in June, head to Fort Valley for the Georgia Peach Festival. There, you can sample The World’s Largest Peach Cobbler, at no charge.
It Has a Warm, Subtropical Climate
Georgia’s subtropical climate is why many summer-lovers make the state their permanent residence—however, the climate is variable throughout the state due to the topographical differences. The state boasts coastlines, mountains, forests, and foothills.
Generally, the state experiences long, hot, and humid summers with short, mild winters. Summer temperatures regularly exceed 90°F (32°C), and the heat often extends into October.
During the fall, gorgeous Autumn colors dot the landscape, especially in the state’s mountainous areas. Winter often drops a small amount of snowfall in the north. Spring in Georgia is magnificent, with blooming dogwoods, azaleas, and hyacinths.
Compared to most states, the weather in The Peach State is moderate, but there are instances of extreme weather, including heatwaves, tornadoes, and hurricanes.
The temperatures and precipitation provide a long growing season for Georgia, making it a prime location for agriculture. It’s no surprise that agriculture is the leading industry in Georgia’s economy.
The State Has a Robust Economy
Georgia regularly ranks in the top ten largest state economies in the United States, with agriculture being the driving force.
Annually, Georgia generates 74 billion dollars from the sale of corn, tobacco, pecans, peaches, and peanuts. In the past, cotton was Georgia’s most valuable crop. After World War II, cotton production slowed, but Georgians never gave up on it. Today, it is the most widely grown row crop in the state, with over a million acres planted in 2020.
In 2019, Georgia’s Gross State Product (GSP) totaled over $539 billion and experienced a 3 percent growth from 2014 to 2019. Businesses within the state employ over 24 million people and undergo an annual job growth rate of around 2 percent.
Georgia Played a Critical Role in the Civil War
In 1860, Georgia was known as the “Empire State of the South” because of its large population and robust economy at the time. A year later, the American Civil War began, and Georgia, strong and full of pride, played a critical role in the secession and formation of the Confederacy.
Many Georgians had mixed feelings about the state’s role in the war. It was mainly due to slavery not playing an important role in many regions of Georgia. However, the state was home to the largest number of enslaved people compared to all other states in the Deep South. Despite its wildly divided secession convention, Georgia was the fifth state to secede from the Union.
After Georgia seceded, it played a critical role in the war. Atlanta served as a major hub for weapons and supplies for the Confederacy. Georgians seemed convinced that Atlanta would continue to stand—but it was not to be.
In 1864, General William Sherman led his troops from Tennessee into Georgia, and by September, his campaign burned Atlanta to the ground. The morale of the Confederacy diminished, especially as Sherman and his troops began their March to the Sea. By December, his troops occupied Savannah, Georgia, and in the end, the South had lost.
Despite the loss, Atlanta rebuilt, and Georgia grew to become a bustling economy yet again. Interestingly, almost 100 years after the American Civil War began, the Civil Rights Movement took off—with Atlanta at the epicenter.
It’s Home to the Bustling City of Atlanta
Atlanta is the capital of Georgia and the state’s largest city. The mega-metropolis has a deep-rooted history, bustling economy, diverse cultural scene, and strong tourism business.
Once dubbed “Terminus,” Georgia’s capital was a central transportation hub for the entire state. Renamed Atlanta in 1845, the bustling city went on to play a significant role in both the American Civil War and, later, the American Civil Rights Movement.
Today, Atlanta is home to a strong economy—the tenth-largest in the United States and the 18th largest in the world. Each year, Atlanta experiences significant job growth, which contributes to its ever-growing economy.
Immigrants play a critical role in Atlanta’s economy. The cultural scene is robust, with diversity at the forefront. Nearly ten percent of people in Atlanta are foreign-born, making multiculturalism part of the city’s identity.
With the world’s busiest airport located here, Atlanta is a prime location for tourists and travelers worldwide. More than 42 million people visit the city annually.
Find out everything Atlanta is known for here.
Coca-Cola Was Invented in Georgia
Over 100 years ago, Coca-Cola was invented and would later become the world’s most recognized soft drink—and it all started in Georgia.
Coca-Cola was invented in 1886 in Atlanta, Georgia, by Dr. John Pemberton, pharmacist and Confederate Army veteran. During the first year of its invention, Coca-Cola was a hit—nearly 1,500 drinks were sold at five cents per glass.
Dr. Pemberton produced the syrup and shared the formula with a handful of people. In 1891, three years after Pemberton’s death, Asa Candler acquired the formula and founded the Coca-Cola Company. Candler changed the ingredients list, improving the flavor, and therefore, created a new secret recipe that remains shrouded in mystery today.
The drink was touted as one with medicinal properties, marketing it as a “brain and nerve tonic,” due partly to the incorporation of cocaine in the formula. By 1903, Coca-Cola removed cocaine from the syrup—but that didn’t slow the company’s success.
As time went on, Coca-Cola became a household name. The drink became a staple in homes, and—for reasons unknown—someone dropped peanuts into their Coca-Cola bottle, and the South was forever changed.
The drink became a staple in homes—and then, something strange happened. Someone dropped peanuts into their Coca-Cola bottle, and the South was forever changed. By the 1920s, peanuts in Coca-Cola were as common as peaches in the state of Georgia. Today, it continues to be a regional trend and something of a Southern tradition.
Speaking of peanuts…
Georgia’s Official Crop Is the Peanut
Native to South America, peanuts are thought to have been transported from the southern continent to Georgia over a century ago. It’s believed that farmers grew peanuts even before the start of the American Civil War. Georgia’s subtropical climate makes it ideal for producing the crop, and today, Georgia is the number one producer of peanuts—and it’s the state crop.
Currently, Georgia is the only state with an official crop. Every year, Georgia generates over $600 million from peanut farming alone, contributing to 45 percent of the country’s annual peanut crop. In 2014, Georgia farmers produced over 590,000 acres (238,764.529 hectares) of peanuts. One of the most famed peanut farmers is Jimmy Carter, former United States President.
So, how did peanuts become the official crop of Georgia?
After World War II, government officials urged Georgia farmers to plant peanuts to support the war effort, mainly for the plant’s oil. Oil, in all forms, was a critical ingredient in the war effort, used in bomb production, rubber making, and as a lubricant. As a result, Georgia increased its peanut production to over a million acres.
Today, the farming continues—and Georgia isn’t limited to just farming peanuts. Georgia is heavily involved in all segments of the peanut industry, from shelling, storing, transporting, and even manufacturing peanut-related products.
The University of Georgia (UGA) even takes part in the peanut business by researching the crop to improve quality and yield—and their efforts have been successful. UGA has contributed to advancements in harvest techniques, water conservation, and pest control, among other applications.
The State Is Home to Many Famous Names
NFL legends like Herschel Walker got their start at the University of Georgia. In 2018 42 of the NFL’s 1,696 rostered players were UGa alumni. But Georgia has more than football. From James Brown to the legendary Jackie Robinson, some big names hail from the state of Georgia.
Here are a few of the musicians, athletes, writers, and politicians who have helped the world keep Georgia on its mind:
James Brown, Singer
While the “Godfather of Soul” was born in South Carolina, he moved to Georgia when he was only four years old and grew up in The Peach State. His career began in Toccoa, Georgia, where he started singing as a gospel artist. In the 1950s, James Brown received his claim to fame after performing as the lead singer for the Famous Flames. By the 1960s, he was a solo artist, with hits like “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” and “I Got You (I Feel Good).”
You can learn more about James Brown in the book Cold Sweat: My Father James Brown and Me written by his daughter Yamma Brown.
James E. “Jimmy” Carter, Former President
Jimmy Carter has deep roots in the state of Georgia. In the 1950s, former president Carter took over his family’s peanut farm and expanded the business. Later, from 1963 to 1967, he served as one of the State Senators, and by 1971, he was serving as Georgia’s Governor.
Check out his biography His Very Best: Jimmy Carter, A Life written by Jonathan Alter here.
Ray Charles, Singer
Blind rhythm and blues singer Ray Charles was born in Albany, Georgia. His music career began when he was only three years old after taking an interest in the piano. Around the age of seven, Charles was completely blind. His mother advocated for him, landing him a spot in a school for the blind, where he continued to develop his musical talents.
By the age of 29, Ray Charles recorded “Georgia on My Mind,” one of his first hits, which is now the state’s official song.
Check out his autobiography Brother Ray: Ray Charles’ Own Story here.
Alan Jackson, Singer
Born in Newnan, Georgia, Alan Jackson spent much of his childhood and teenage years in the state. He attended Elm Street Elementary and, later, Newnan High School. After graduating, Jackson joined a band and started writing music. When he turned 27, he moved to Tennessee, where he began pursuing a musical career. Today, Jackson is one of the best-selling music artists and was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 2001.
Martin Luther King, Jr, Civil Rights Leader
On January 15, 1929, Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in Atlanta, Georgia. By the 1950s, King was leading the Civil Rights Movement, staging protests and sit-ins to bring awareness to the mistreatment and injustices faced by the Black community. Today, you can visit Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park and his birth home in Atlanta.
Margaret Mitchell, Novelist
Margaret Mitchell is renowned for her novel “Gone with the Wind.” Mitchell penned the book while living in Atlanta at 979 Crescent Avenue. Today, the Margaret Mitchell House is a historic house museum. There, visitors can tour Mitchell’s former home and birthplace of the famed story.
The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and deemed a historical site by the Atlanta city government.
Check out Margaret Mitchell’s author page here.
Jackie Robinson, Baseball Player
Jackie Robinson was the first African American allowed to play in the MLB and thus, paved the way for minorities in sports. Robinson was born in Cairo, Georgia, and went on to become not only a legendary baseball player but a voice against racial segregation.
You can find Jackie Robinson’s autobiography I Never Made It here.
The next time you visit Georgia, recognize that the state is more than the land of peaches. The largest state east of the Mississippi is home to fascinating history and people. Its subtropical climate allows it to contribute significantly to the United States’ economy with its agriculture industry.
The deep-rooted history makes it a premium destination for tourists. Finally, its capital city is one of the country’s largest economies, where corporate giants like Coca-Cola call home.
If you’re planning a trip to Georgia check out this guidebook Georgia Discovered: Exploring the Best of the Peach State on Amazon here.