Located in the Southeastern United States, Alabama is surrounded by the states of Tennessee to the north, Georgia and Alabama's Gulf of Mexico to the east, Florida and Alabama's Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama is the 30th-largest state in terms of land area and the 24th-most populated state in the United States. A total of 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometres) of inland waterways make Alabama one of the states with the greatest number of such routes.
Alabama is known as the Yellowhammer State because of its state bird, the Yellowhammer. Alabama is frequently referred to as the "Heart of Dixie" and the "Cotton State" by local residents. The longleaf pine serves as the state tree, while the camellia serves as the official flower. Alabama's capital is Montgomery, and its most populous and biggest city, Huntsville, is the state's largest city by population and area. Mobile, the state's oldest city, was established by French colonists in 1702 as the capital of French Louisiana. It is the state's largest metropolis. Greater Birmingham is the state's most populous metropolitan region as well as its economic hub.
The state's topography is varied, with the hilly Tennessee Valley dominating the northern hemisphere and Mobile Bay, a historically important port, dominating the southern hemisphere. Due to its location in the Deep South, Alabama has shifted to a more conservative political stance in recent years and is well-known for its Southern culture. The sport of American football, particularly at the collegiate level at schools such as Auburn University, the University of Alabama, Alabama A&M University, Alabama State University, Troy University, the University of South Alabama, and Jacksonville State University, has become a significant part of the state's culture in recent decades.