The state of Alabama is located in the southeastern United States, and is sometimes referred to as the Yellowhammer State, which is the state bird, "The Heart of Dixie," or "The Cotton State." Alabama covers an area of 52,419 square miles and has a population of approximately 4,858,979, making it the 28th largest US city by land area and the 23rd most populous. The state is divided into 67 counties, and includes 460 incorporated municipalities, 291 towns, and 169 cities. These urban areas cover only 9.6% of the state's total area, but make up 60.4% of Alabama's population.
The 5 Biggest Cities in Alabama
Located in the north-central part of the state, Birmingham is Alabama’s largest city, with a population of around 210,710. Birmingham was founded in 1871 during the post-Civil War Reconstruction era, when three former farm towns were merged to form the city. Historically, the city’s steel industry played a significant role in its development, and industry continues to play a key role in Birmingham's economy. During the 1970s and 1980s, Birmingham’s economy was transformed by investments in medical research and biotechnology. The city is now a top banking hub, and construction and engineering corporations also thrive in the city. Birmingham serves as a cultural hub of Alabama.
With a population of 199,518 individuals, Montgomery is Alabama’s second most populous city. It is also the state capital of Alabama and the county seat of Montgomery County. Montgomery is located on the banks of the Alabama River, and was formed by the merger of two towns in 1819. The city’s central location in the Black Belt of the state has enabled it to become a processing center for a variety of commodity crops such as cotton, soybeans, and peanuts. With its well-developed transport infrastructure, including extensive railway connections, Montgomery continues to be a regional distribution hub for many different types of industries.
Huntsville, the third largest city in the state, is located in the Appalachian region of northern Alabama. It is the county seat of Madison County, and also extends into Limestone County and Morgan County. The 2017 census estimates Huntsville’s population to be approximately 194,585. The city's economy is driven by military and aerospace technology facilities and research, including the United States Army Aviation Missile Command, NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Cummings Research Park, and University of Alabama in Huntsville.
Alabama’s fourth largest city, Mobile, has a population of 190,265. The city is located on the Mobile River, at the head of Mobile Bay, and is the state’s only seaport. Mobile is the county seat of Mobile County. The city was established in 1702 by French colonialists, where it served as the capital of colonial New France, and was later incorporated as part of the United States in 1813. The city is a major industrial hub, particularly for the steel, shipbuilding, construction, medicine, and aerospace industries.
Tuscaloosa is the fifth most populated city in Alabama. The city has a population of approximately 100,287, and serves as the county seat of Tuscaloosa County. It is located on the banks of the Black Warrior River, at the Atlantic Seaboard fall line, and was designated as a town in 1819. Higher education is a key part of Tuscaloosa's economy, as it is home to the University of Alabama and multilple colleges, although the city also has well-developed service and manufacturing sectors.
Classification of Cities in Alabama
Municipalities in Alabama are divided into eight classes based on population. Class 1 cities are those with a population of 300,000 or more. Although none of the state’s cities meet this requirement, Birmingham is still regarded as a Class 1 city. Class 2 cities are those with a population between 175,000 and 299,999 inhabitants, which includes Montgomery, Huntsville, and Mobile. Class 9 includes all towns and cities with populations of less than 6,000.