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Alabama (AL): Info About Alabama's Colleges, Schools and Economy

Alabama is known as the Heart of Dixie, based on its geographic location. This Southern state has nearly 70 nonprofit colleges and universities.

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About Alabama

In 2013, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated the population of Alabama at 4.8 million. Nearly 27 percent of Alabama residents identified as black or African American, which was more than twice the national average. Approximately 70 percent of residents were white, while just over four percent identified as Hispanic; the latter figure was well below the national average of 17 percent.

Visitors to Alabama can retrace the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham, explore the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville or peruse the Hank Williams Museum in Montgomery. Mobile hosts the country's oldest Mardi Gras celebration, while Dauphin Island offers unique opportunities for bird watching. Orange Beach and Gulf Shores feature white sand beaches, and Fairhope is a mecca for shoppers, with its abundance of boutiques and art galleries.

Alabama Economy

For the years 2008-2012, the median household income in Alabama was $43,160, which was significantly lower than the national median of $53,046. More than 18 percent of Alabama residents lived below poverty level at that time, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

As of 2012, health care and social assistance was the top industry in Alabama, followed by manufacturing, retail trade, education services, and accommodation and food services. Top employers as of 2014 were Alabama Power Co. in Birmingham, Huntsville Hospital, real estate developer Manske John in Birmingham, UAB University Hospital in Birmingham and sports equipment manufacturer Russell Brands in Alexander. Other large employers included Honda Manufacturing in Lincoln, Children's Hospital Midtown in Birmingham and Gulf Coast Interiors and Upholstery in Fairhope.

Educational Opportunities in Alabama

The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa is the largest postsecondary school in the state. In 2014, U.S. News & World Report ranked this public school 86th among national universities. Auburn University, the state's second largest public school, was ranked 91st that same year.

U.S. News also recognized Samford University in Birmingham and Spring Hill College in Mobile as the third and 16th best regional universities in the South, respectively. Tuskegee University ranked 13th among regional colleges in the South.

John C. Calhoun State Community College in Tanner, Jefferson State Community College in Birmingham and Gadsden State Community College in Gadsden are among the state's more than two dozen nonprofit 2-year schools.

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