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Central Alabama

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Central Alabama is the region in the state of Alabama
Alabama
Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

 that stretches approximately 170 miles (270 km) from the western border with Mississippi
Mississippi
Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

 to eastern border with Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

 and 136 miles (219 km) from the northern border of Cullman County
Cullman County, Alabama
Cullman County is a county of the U.S. state of Alabama. Its name is in honor of Colonel John G. Cullmann. As of 2010, the population was 80,406. Its county seat is the town of the same name, Cullman, Alabama. It is a "moist" county in terms of availablity of alcoholic beverages, which means...

 to the Alabama River in southern Autauga County
Autauga County, Alabama
Autauga County is a county in the U.S. state of Alabama. As of the 2010 census the population was 54,571. Its county seat is Prattville.Autauga County is part of the Montgomery Metropolitan Statistical Area.-History:...

. With a population 1,870,970 as of 2008. The Birmingham television market also is generally confined to this similar sized area.

The main foothills of the Appalachians such as ridges as Red Mountain, Sand Mountain, Beaver Creek Mountain, Shades Mountain, and Coldwater Mountain are co-located in this region primarily around Greater Birmingham, Gadsden
Gadsden
Gadsden may refer to:In geography:*Gadsden, Alabama**Gadsden Depot, a United States Army Depot in the city of Gadsden, Alabama*Gadsden, Arizona*Gadsden, Indiana*Gadsden, Tennessee*Gadsden County, Florida...

, and Anniston
Anniston, Alabama
Anniston is a city in Calhoun County in the state of Alabama, United States.As of the 2000 census, the population of the city is 24,276. According to the 2005 U.S. Census estimates, the city had a population of 23,741...

. The easternmost portions of Central Alabama around Anniston is the most ridged and elevated of the region. Coldwater Mountain and Mount Cheaha makes up the highest of the mountain ridges that are located in the eastern portion of the region. The Coosa River
Coosa River
The Coosa River is a tributary of the Alabama River in the U.S. states of Alabama and Georgia. The river is about long altogether.The Coosa River is one of Alabama's most developed rivers...

 divides the easternmost portion of the region from the central portion with the Birmingham area. The westernmost portion of Central Alabama is relatively a flat region with very fertile black soil, i.e. "The Black Belt
Black Belt (region of Alabama)
The Black Belt is a region of the U.S. state of Alabama, and part of the larger Black Belt Region of the Southern United States, which stretches from Texas to Maryland. The term originally referred to the region underlain by a thin layer of rich, black topsoil developed atop the chalk of the Selma...

". The Black Warrior River
Black Warrior River
The Black Warrior River is a waterway in west central Alabama in the southeastern United States. The river rises in the extreme southern edges of the Appalachian Highlands and flows 178 miles to the Tombigbee River, of which the Black Warrior is the primary tributary...

 and its
tributaries contribute to the very fertile land of the area, and also serve as a demarcation line between the western and the central portions of the region. The central portion of Central Alabama is mainly the region that varies from rugged to the east to flat to the west. There are numerous valleys that are scattered throughout this region between the mountain ridges including Jones Valley and Shades Valley. Jones and Shades Valley are the largest and the most densely populated of the valleys that are scattered around Central Alabama. Though the central portion is more rugged compared to the westernmost portion of Central Alabama, it is actually the most flood-prone. Urban sprawl
Urban sprawl
Urban sprawl, also known as suburban sprawl, is a multifaceted concept, which includes the spreading outwards of a city and its suburbs to its outskirts to low-density and auto-dependent development on rural land, high segregation of uses Urban sprawl, also known as suburban sprawl, is a...

 has exacerbated the risk of flooding in this area of alternating ridges and valleys.

The Black Warrior, Cahaba
Cahaba River
The Cahaba River is the longest free-flowing river in Alabama and is among the most scenic and biologically diverse rivers in the United States. The Cahaba River is a major tributary of the Alabama River and part of the larger Mobile River Basin...

, and Coosa Rivers and their tributaries are among the many waterways that snake their way through the region. Other major waterways that run through the area include Chocolocco Creek, Shades Creek, and the Little Cahaba River.

Large deposits of iron ore, limestone
Limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

, and coal
Coal
Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure...

 are chief among the plentiful mineral resources found in the region. The coincidence of these three in close proximity was a major incentive for the development of industry in the Birmingham District
Birmingham District
The Birmingham District is a geological area in the vicinity of Birmingham, Alabama where the raw materials for making steel, limestone, iron ore, and coal are found together in abundance...

.

Economy


The economic engine of the region ranges from the diversified economy of Greater Birmingham, to the college town of Tuscaloosa, to heavy industrialized economy of Anniston and Gadsden.

The primary economic center of the region is Greater Birmingham due to its size and very diversified economy. The major reason behind the area being considered the primary core of the region is mainly due to it being home to the state's most diversified employer, the University of Alabama at Birmingham
University of Alabama at Birmingham
The University of Alabama at Birmingham is a public university in Birmingham in the U.S. state of Alabama. Developing from an extension center established in 1936, the institution became an autonomous institution in 1969 and is today one of three institutions in the University of Alabama System...

 (UAB). UAB is the state's largest single employer with some 20,000 employees on its payroll, and being home to the one of largest medical districts in the South. In addition to that, most of the state-based corporations such as Alabama Power, AmSouth Bancorporation
AmSouth Bancorporation
AmSouth Bancorporation was a banking company headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, and operated for its final year in existence as a bank holding company of Regions Financial Corporation after a merger between the two banks. AmSouth was previously known as First National Bank of Birmingham, which...

, Compass Bancshares
Compass Bancshares
BBVA Compass is a United States financial holding company headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, with US$65 billion in assets and primarily located in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, and Texas. Compass Bancshares is one of the U.S.’s 25 largest banks, and was previously...

, Energen Corporation, HealthSouth Corporation, Regions Financial Corporation, Saks Incorporated
Saks Incorporated
Saks Incorporated , founded in Birmingham, Alabama in 1998, is headquartered in New York City, New York, and is a Fortune 1000 operator of high-end department stores in the United States under the nameplate Saks Fifth Avenue. Saks evolved from Proffitt's Inc. after Proffitt's changed its name in...

, and Southern Research Institute have their world headquarters located in the area. Though the Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz is a German manufacturer of automobiles, buses, coaches, and trucks. Mercedes-Benz is a division of its parent company, Daimler AG...

 and Honda
Honda
is a Japanese public multinational corporation primarily known as a manufacturer of automobiles and motorcycles.Honda has been the world's largest motorcycle manufacturer since 1959, as well as the world's largest manufacturer of internal combustion engines measured by volume, producing more than...

 automotive production facilities are not technically located in any of the Greater Birmingham metropolitan counties, they are both considered as substantial contributors to its economy.

Tuscaloosa is a slightly more diversified city than the economy of Anniston, but it is primarily a college-town regardless. Tuscaloosa's largest employer is the University of Alabama
University of Alabama
The University of Alabama is a public coeducational university located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, United States....

's main campus. The area's other large employer is Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz is a German manufacturer of automobiles, buses, coaches, and trucks. Mercedes-Benz is a division of its parent company, Daimler AG...

 production facility located in Vance
Vance, Alabama
Vance is a town in Bibb and Tuscaloosa Counties in the U.S. state of Alabama, just outside of the city of Tuscaloosa. It is most famous for the Mercedes-Benz plant, currently the only one in North America...

.

Anniston and Gadsden are very similar in their heavily industrialized economies. Gadsden, however, is a river town so it has helped in building and creating a tourist industry to slight the blow of its declining primary industry. Gadsden is now home to many riverfront-based festivals that goes on throughout the year to boost is economy. Anniston, on the other hand, has also suffered a major blow on 2 fronts with the closings of Fort McClellan
Fort McClellan
Fort McClellan, originally Camp McClellan, was a United States Army post located adjacent to the city of Anniston, Alabama. During World War II, it was one of the largest U.S. Army installations, training an estimated half-million troops...

 and many major iron smelting facilities in the 1990s. However, it has turned more towards military production at the Anniston Army Depot
Anniston Army Depot
Anniston Army Depot is a major United States Army facility fulfilling various depot operations. Primary missions are the repair of tracked vehicles and storage of chemical weapons . The depot is located in Bynum, Alabama....

 with several government production contracts issued to this military facility.

Important Cities

  • Anniston
    Anniston, Alabama
    Anniston is a city in Calhoun County in the state of Alabama, United States.As of the 2000 census, the population of the city is 24,276. According to the 2005 U.S. Census estimates, the city had a population of 23,741...

  • Birmingham
    Birmingham, Alabama
    Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama. The city is the county seat of Jefferson County. According to the 2010 United States Census, Birmingham had a population of 212,237. The Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Area, in estimate by the U.S...

  • Bessemer
    Bessemer, Alabama
    Bessemer is a city outside of Birmingham in Jefferson County, Alabama, United States eight miles west of Hoover. The population was 29,672 at the 2000 Census, but by the 2009 U.S...

  • Cullman
    Cullman, Alabama
    Cullman is a city in Cullman County, State of Alabama. Cullman is located along Interstate 65, about north of Birmingham, and about south of Huntsville. According to the U.S...

  • Gadsden
    Gadsden, Alabama
    The city of Gadsden is the county seat of Etowah County in the U.S. state of Alabama, and it is located about 65 miles northeast of Birmingham, Alabama. It is the primary city of the Gadsden Metropolitan Statistical Area, which has a population of 103,459. Gadsden is closely associated with the...

  • Hoover
    Hoover, Alabama
    Hoover is a city in Jefferson and Shelby Counties in north central Alabama, in the United States. The largest suburb of Birmingham, the population of the city was 62,742 as of the 2000 census and 81,619 in the 2010 census. Hoover is part of the Birmingham-Hoover, AL MSA and is also included in the...

  • Jasper
    Jasper, Alabama
    Jasper is a city in Walker County, Alabama, United States. At the 2000 census the population was 14,659. As of 2011 the population had was 13,857. The city is the county seat of Walker County, and once ranked among the world's leading producers of coal....

  • Montgomery
    Montgomery, Alabama
    Montgomery is the capital of the U.S. state of Alabama, and is the county seat of Montgomery County. It is located on the Alabama River southeast of the center of the state, in the Gulf Coastal Plain. As of the 2010 census, Montgomery had a population of 205,764 making it the second-largest city...

  • Sylacauga
    Sylacauga, Alabama
    Sylacauga is a city in Talladega County, Alabama, United States. At the 2000 census the population was 12,616.Nicknames for Sylacauga include: "The Marble City," "Buzzard's Roost" and "Sly Town"....

  • Tuscaloosa
    Tuscaloosa, Alabama
    Tuscaloosa is a city in and the seat of Tuscaloosa County in west central Alabama . Located on the Black Warrior River, it is the fifth-largest city in Alabama, with a population of 90,468 in 2010...

  • Valley
    Valley, Alabama
    Valley is a city steeped in tradition in Chambers County, Alabama, United States. Valley was incorporated in 1980 combining the four textile mill villages of Fairfax, Langdale, Riverview, and Shawmut...