You may have learned a little bit about the state of Georgia in school, or perhaps from your travels to the state.
Some of the more commonly known Georgia facts include that the state was one of the original 13 colonies, the birthplace of former US President Jimmy Carter, and that Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world.
But there are lots of other interesting tidbits of Georgia trivia you may not know.
For instance, did you know that the first American woman to graduate college with a bachelor’s degree did so at Wesleyan College in Macon GA?
Or that one of the biggest archaeological digs in U.S. history took place in 1933 at Macon’s Ocmulgee Mounds, which is now a National Historical Park?
The “Empire State of the South” not only offers southern charm and hospitality, but also a vibrant culture and an interesting history that could fill more than one textbook with colorful stories and rich folklore.
If you’re interested in some Jeopardy-level knowledge about the state’s history and culture, read on to discover 30 fun facts about Georgia!
READ MORE: 101+ Things to Do in North Georgia
Early Georgia History Facts
1. Named after King George II, Georgia was established in 1732 as the last of the original 13 colonies. James Oglethorpe proposed using the area as a felon colony and refuge for London’s indebted prisoners, but it was ultimately founded to protect South Carolina from Spanish enemies in Florida.
2. The Cherokee are one of the most prominent Native American tribes in Georgia. When the Cherokee Nation government began meeting in New Echota (in Calhoun GA) in 1825, it was officially named their capital. This was the site of the first Cherokee newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix, as well as the first Cherokee Supreme Courthouse.
3. The Georgia gold rush was the first in America, beginning in 1828 after a farmer noticed a rock flecked with gold. Thousands of eager prospectors arrived, and the ensuing Georgia land lotteries led to the forced removal of Cherokee people from their land during the tragic Trail of Tears.
4. One of the bloodiest skirmishes in American history, the Battle of Chickamauga took place in 1863. Today the battlefields are preserved by the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park. Encompassing 5,000+ acres in northwest Georgia, it is the largest and oldest park commemorating the Civil War.
Famous Georgia Icons
5. During his time in Savannah in 1793, Eli Whitney invented the Cotton Gin, which went on to transform the American economy. After learning about cotton production and the painstaking process of cleaning cotton while in Georgia, he built a machine that could remove seeds quickly, effectively changing the game for the south’s cotton farmers.
6. Georgia was a major hub for the Civil Rights movement. In 1957, Martin Luther King Jr. co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Atlanta, which played a significant role in organizing marches and protests. The SCLC is still active today, and remains committed to fighting for equal rights and justice in America.
7. Jimmy Carter, who served as the 39th President of the United States, is the only president from Georgia to date. Born in the small town of Plains, he helped manage his family’s peanut farm before getting involved in politics. The former Senator and Governor is also a high-profile proponent for the Georgia-based Habitat For Humanity NGO.
State of Georgia Landmarks
8. Georgia is known for its impressive natural beauty, from majestic mountains and pristine forests to countless creeks, lakes, and rivers. The 7 Natural Wonders of Georgia include Amicalola Falls, the Okefenokee Swamp, Providence Canyon, Radium Springs, Stone Mountain, Tallulah Gorge, and Warm Springs.
9. Nestled in the mountains south of Blue Ridge GA, breathtaking Amicalola Falls is the tallest of the North Georgia waterfalls at 729 feet (with 7 cascades). Amicalola Falls State Park offers numerous different hiking trails, including the Springer Mountain approach trail and the popular Amicalola Loop Trail.
10. Located in Fannin County, Springer Mountain is the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, which stretches 2,190 miles north to Maine. There are some 76 miles of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, including popular hikes from Woody Gap to Big Cedar Mountain and from 3 Forks to Springer Mountain.
11. Georgia’s Stone Mountain is the world’s largest piece of exposed granite, with a base circumference of 3.8 miles and a height of 1,500 feet. The controversial carving of Confederate Generals Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson measures 90′ tall, 190′ wide, and 11′ deep, so it’s larger than Mount Rushmore!
12. The Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park in Macon is a prehistoric Native American site with evidence of 17,000 years of continuous human habitation. A 1933 archeological dig uncovered 2.5 million artifacts from various civilizations that lived on the Macon Plateau. Many of these artifacts remain on display at the national park’s museum.
13. The highest elevation point in Georgia is Brasstown Bald, which towers 4,784 feet high. There’s a viewing platform at the top that offers 360º views, which are truly jaw-dropping when the fall colors in North Georgia reach their peak. On a clear day, you can see four states: Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
Fun Facts About Georgia
14. There are 71 streets in Atlanta that have some variant of “Peachtree” in their name. Many people assume this is due to Georgia’s reputation as “The Peach State.” But some historians believe the word is actually a reference to a Creek Indian settlement near Atlanta, “Standing Pitch Tree.”
15. The official State Bird of Georgia is the Brown Thrasher; the State Fish is the Largemouth Bass; and the State Tree is the Southern Live Oak. Georgia’s State Motto is “Wisdom, Justice, Moderation.”
16. According to the American Institute of Parapsychology, Savannah is the most haunted city in the USA. Many buildings there sit atop Native American burial grounds, and some roads cover cemeteries of enslaved Africans. Deadly battles, fires, and epidemics have also plagued the coastal city’s past.
17. In 1943, the State of Georgia became the first state to lower the legal voting age from 21 to 18. The campaign was famous for the slogan, “Old enough to fight, old enough to vote,” which referenced the fact that young adults who could not yet vote were fighting overseas in World War II.
18. Georgia has 159 counties, but only one is named after a woman. Hart County was named for Revolutionary War heroine Nancy Hart, who was renowned for her fearlessness. Folklore holds that the Cherokee called her “Wahatchee” (or “war woman”), and that Warwoman Dell in Clayton, GA may also have been named for her. But we know for a fact that both Lake Hartwell and Hart State Park were named in tribute to the fierce anti-British fighter.
Interesting Facts About Georgia
19. Located in tiny Elberton, the controversial Georgia Guidestones offer tips on rebuilding a post-apocalyptic society. Listed in 8 languages, the 10 guidelines include instructions like “avoid petty laws and useless officials,” and “unite humanity with a living new language.” But nobody knows who funded the mysterious stones, or why.
20. The Georgia State Flower is the Cherokee Rose, which is linked to the removal of Cherokee Indians via the Trail of Tears. It was named for the tears shed during the brutal trek, and the chiefs prayed for a sign to give the women hope. They believed that their prayers were answered, and that wherever a tear dropped, a Cherokee Rose bloomed.
21. Known as “The Tree That Owns Itself,” there’s a white oak tree in Athens GA that, according to legend, has legal ownership of itself and all land within 8 feet of its base. The tree that stands today is actually the “Son of the Tree That Owns Itself.” The original fell in a storm in 1942, but locals planted a seedling from the original tree in the same spot.
22. Georgia is the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts. Born in 1860 in Savannah, Low wanted to create a place where young girls could grow and learn leadership skills.Low’s home along Oglethorpe Avenue in Savannah was registered as a National Historic Landmark in 1965.
Georgia Music Facts
23. The ring shout is the oldest surviving African-American performance tradition in America. Originally practiced by enslaved Africans, it’s a combination of song, dance, and percussion, where worshipers move in a circle while stomping feet and clapping hands. The book Shout Because You’re Free documents GA’s McIntosh County Shouters.
24. Rome GA was the birthplace of Ma Rainey, who’s known as “the Mother of the Blues.” Widely considered among the first professional blues singers, Rainey was a turn-of-the-century vaudeville performer and later recorded with Louis Armstrong. She is honored every year at the Ma Rainey International Blues Festival in Columbus GA.
25. The beloved song “Georgia on My Mind” was written in 1930 by Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell. But the tune is most commonly associated with Albany GA native Ray Charles, who recorded it for his 1960 album, “Genius Hits the Road.” In 1979, it was designated as Georgia’s official State Song.
26. Though James Brown was born in South Carolina, Georgia was where his music career took off. Long before he became the “Godfather of Soul,” he was singing in gospel quartets in Toccoa GA. After being frontman for the Famous Flames (an R&B group), he eventually went solo, gained national recognition, and recorded 17 #1 hit singles.
Georgia Food Facts
27. Agriculture in Georgia contributes $70 billion dollars to the annual economy. There are nearly 10 million acres of farmland in Georgia, with 40,000+ farms featuring vegetables, apple orchards, pumpkin patches, and Christmas Trees. The unique climate/geology of the Blue Ridge Mountains provides the perfect conditions for wineries.
28. Georgia is widely known as “the Peach State” due to its reputation for producing high-quality fruit, and peaches became the official State Fruit in 1995. In 1990, the Vidalia Onion (the sweetest onion in the world) was officially designated as Georgia’s State Vegetable, and in 1995 peanuts were selected as the official State Crop.
29. Georgia is known as the pecan capital of the U.S., producing more than any other state. The city of Albany alone boasts 600,000+ pecan trees and hosts the National Pecan Festival. The annual celebration includes a parade, pecan-cooking contest, and crowning of the National Pecan Queen, among other activities.
30. Coca-Cola was invented by Atlanta pharmacist John S. Pemberton in 1886. Originally created as a nerve tonic for exhaustion, the first glass was sold at Jacobs’ Pharmacy in downtown Atlanta. Today you can visit the World of Coca-Cola to explore the drink’s history and sample 100+ flavors from all around the world. –by Christina Maggitas