Physical Geography

GeorgiaGeorgia is one of the Southern States of the United States.

Georgia occupies parts of three physical regions of the United States: the Appalachians, the Piedmont Plateau, and the Coastal Plain.

The Appalachian section is a hilly-to-mountainous area in the extreme northern part of the state. It consists largely of the southern tip of the Blue Ridge, in the northeast, and a series of low, nearly parallel ridges and intervening valleys, in the northwest. The general trend of the ridges and mountains is northeast-southwest. Elevations are highest in the Blue Ridge, where a number of heavily wooded, rounded peaks reach more than 3,500 feet (1,067 m) above sea level. The state's highest point. Brasstown Bald, rises to 4,784 feet (1,458 m).

The Piedmont Plateau lies immediately south of the Appalachian section and covers about a third of the state. It is an upland with rolling terrain and fairly deep, narrow-valleys cut by rivers and streams. The slope of the land is downward from north to south. Elevations vary from about 1,500 to 500 feet (450 to 150 m). The Piedmont ends at the fall line, where waterfalls and rapids occur as rivers descend to the Coastal Plain below.

About half of the state lies in the Coastal Plain, a broad lowland. Most of it is level to rolling land, though there are moderately hilly areas. Stretching along the 100 miles (160 km) of coast is a band of sea marshes and sandy beaches. Just offshore are the Sea Islands, known also in Georgia as the Golden Isles. Among them are Ossabaw, St. Catherines, Sapelo, St. Simons, Jekyll, and Cumberland islands. In the southeastern corner of the state, extending into Florida, is Okefenokee Swamp, a watery wilderness with moss-draped cypress, rare plants, and abundant wildlife, including bears and alligators.

Georgia'sGeorgia's state tree is the live oak.
Interesting facts about Georgia
The Girl Scouts of the USA originated in Georgia. Juliette Gordon Low, of Savannah, founded the group on March 12, 1912. Low's childhood home is now the Girl Scout National Center and one of Savannah's National Historical Landmarks.
The first successful use of ether in surgery took place in Georgia in 1842. Crawford W. Long anesthetized his patient, James Venable, with ether, and painlessly removed a tumor from Venable's neck.
The Rock Eagle Effigy, near Eatonton, is a 10-foot (3-meter) high mound of milky white quartz shaped like a great prone bird with wings spread and head turned eastward. The bird is 102 feet (31 meters) from head to tail and 120 feet (37 meters) from wingtip to wingtip. Archaeologists estimate that the monument is more than 6,000 years old, and believe it was used by ancient Indians for religious ceremonials.
A double-barreled cannon stands on the lawn of the City Hall of Athens. Cast in Athens and first fired in 1863, it is believed to be the world's only double-barreled cannon.
The first known newspaper to use an Indian language in the United States was the bilingual Cherokee Phoenix, first printed in New Echota in 1828. The newspaper was printed in both English and the Cherokee syllabary (system of writing using syllables) developed by the Cherokee Indian Sequoyah.

Except along the northern border, where drainage is northward to the Tennessee River, Georgia is drained by rivers flowing southward to either the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico. To the Atlantic flow the Savannah, along much of the Georgia-South Carolina border; the Ogeechee; the Altamaha, formed by the Oconee and Ocmulgee; the Satilla; and the St. Marys.

Draining to the Gulf are the Suwannee, the Flint, and the Chattahoochee, which makes up part of the Georgia-Alabama border. In northwestern Georgia the Coosa River is formed by the union of several headwater streams.

The chief lakes are reservoirs created by dams. They include Hartwell Lake, Russell Lake, and J. Strom Thurmond Lake (also known as Clarks Hill Lake), on the Savannah River; Lakes Oconee and Sinclair, on the Oconee; Lake Sidney Lanier, West Point Lake, and Walter F. George Reservoir, on the Chattahoochee; and Lake Seminole, on the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers.


Georgia has a humid subtropical climate. Summers are warm to hot except in the mountains, where increased elevation causes somewhat cooler conditions. July temperatures average about 79° F. (26° C.) on the Piedmont and about 81° F. (27° C.) on the Coastal Plain. Daytime highs of 90° F. (32° C.) or more are common. Many days are made oppressive by high humidity, especially on the Coastal Plain. Winters are brief. January temperatures average about 55° F. (13° C.) in the south and decline northward, averaging about 45° F. (7° C.) on the Piedmont and slightly lower in the far north. Cold weather occasionally grips the state, but is usually of short duration.

Precipitation is abundant and varies considerably in total amount throughout the state and from year to year. The far north usually gets 55 to 75 inches (1,397 to 1,905 mm), the rest of the state 40 to 55 inches (1,016 to 1,397 mm). Snow is a rare occurrence except in the mountains.

The state is occasionally struck by tornadoes and hurricanes.


Georgia's forest area is the largest in the eastern United States and fourth largest in the nation. Forests cover slightly less than two-thirds of the state. They consist largely of pines, especially loblolly pine; slash, shortleaf, and other yellow pines are also widespread.

Many kinds of deciduous hardwood trees grow in Georgia, mostly in the mountains, on the Piedmont, and, elsewhere in the state, along rivers and streams. Oak, hickory, gum, poplar, and maple are among the principal species. Bald cypress and water tupelo are common in swampy areas; palmettos are found along the coast. The live oak, Georgia's state tree, grows mainly in the southern part of the state.

Georgia'sGeorgia's state flower is the Cherokee rose.