The Spanish arrived here in 1540, disrupting the quiet lifestyle of the Native American Indians. In only a few short years forts and missions were built along the coastal islands; all subsequently becoming easy targets for pirates that terrorized the area.
In the late 17th century the English and Spanish fought for control. The English (and their Indian allies) finally gaining the upper-hand, and by the 1720's there was talk (in England) of a new British colony, one to be named Georgia in honor of the king.
Led by General James Oglethorpe, the first colonists arrived in Georgia and founded Savannah in 1773. Just three years later Georgia and the other colonies rebelled against British rule. They signed the Declaration of Independence, and from north to south, revolutionary war swept across this upstart land.
English troops marched south and captured Savannah, and in short order they controlled most of Georgia. However, when General Cornwallis surrendered his British troops in 1781, the bloody land war for independence was over and Georgia would become the fourth state to ratify America's new Constitution.
With its resources and geographic position, Georgia quickly developed into a regional center of commerce. The population expanded and Indian controlled lands were all but gone by the 1820's.
Eli Whitney's cotton gin invention propelled cotton production into one of Georgia's most significant industries. Riches gained from the endless toil of black slaves in cotton farming was a hot-button issue between North and South, and that thorny debate and other slave problems sparked a tragic civil war.
Abraham Lincoln became President of the United States in 1861, and shortly thereafter Georgia and other southern states withdrew from the Union and joined the Confederacy. America's Civil War played-out across the south; at war's end Georgia was devastated and Savannah was in ruins and Atlanta burned right to the ground.
During the reconstruction period southern states were all placed under military control. The state's constitution was revised, one that gave all of the former slaves the right to vote. Georgia began to rebuild, and in 1870, Georgia was readmitted to the Union, with Atlanta declared the 5th state capital in its young history.
Growth was slow, but by the beginning of the 20th century, Georgia was on the road to economic recovery. Besides industrial expansion, cotton and tobacco production continued to surge, as well as those "now famous" Georgia peaches and pecans.
Like most other states, Georgia also prospered during World War I, but then, in 1929, America's stock market crashed, the Great Depression took hold, and Georgians would suffer once again.
Though it crushed most of Europe, World War II helped restart the Georgia economy. Military installations were constructed, new factories built and Georgia cities grew quickly as people went back to work.
In the 1950's the ugly head of racism surfaced across America's south. Many school systems were still segregated (blacks from whites), and even though the U.S. Supreme Court legally ended segregation in 1954, Georgia was not fully integrated until 1970.
The state and its people (to their credit) moved steadly forward, and in 1977, Jimmy Carter from Plains, Georgia, was elected President of the United States.
Today Georgia is home to Coca Cola, and numerous Fortune 500 corporations. It's also the site of the busiest airport on the planet, and the manufacturing and marketing hub of the American South.
From quiet rivers towns to the dizzying pace of Atlanta, and from the refined styles of sophisticated Savannah, south to the isolated barrier islands, there's really no destination quite like the "Peach Tree" state.
Georgia is mint juleps, antebellum homes, covered bridges and a friendly, welcoming place, one rich in southern history and a wide assortment of amazing sites to visit and enjoy.