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Located on the east of the Mississippi River and with 159 counties, more than any other state in the area, Georgia is easily the largest state in the region. Known as the ‘Peach State’, Georgia is said to be the country’s top producer of peanuts, pecans and vidalia onions, regarded as some of the sweetest onions in the world.
Georgia was the last of the 13 original colonies and became the fourth U.S. state in 1788. It eventually joined in with the growing rebellion against Great Britain. With its rich culture and history, the state is one of the most popular tourist destinations, which is why thousands of people visit it each year. It’s also home to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Georgia has several symbols, both official and unofficial, that represent its cultural and historical heritage. Here’s a look at some of the most popular symbols of Georgia.
The Flag of Georgia
Adopted in 2003, the state flag of Georgia consists of three horizontal red-white-red stripes and a blue canton with a circle made up of 13 white stars. Inside the ring is the state coat of arms in gold and under it is the state motto: ‘In God We Trust’. The coat of arms represents the state’s constitution, and the pillars represent all three branches of the government. The 13 stars represent Georgia as the last of the 13 original U.S. states and the colors on the flag are the official state colors.
Seal of Georgia
The Great Seal of Georgia has been used throughout history to authenticate government documents executed by the state. The current form of the seal was adopted back in 1799 and underwent some alterations later in 1914.
On the obverse, the seal features the state coat of arms and on the reverse, it contains an image of the coast of Georgia with a ship bearing the U.S. flag. The ship is arriving to take cotton and tobacco representing the export trade of the state. The smaller boat symbolizes Georgia’s internal traffic. On the left side of the seal is a flock of sheep and a man plowing and outside the image is the state motto: ‘Agriculture and Commerce’.
Coat of Arms of Georgia
The state coat of arms of Georgia contains an arch (symbolizing Georgia’s Constitution) and three columns which stand for the executive, judicial and legislative branches of the government. The state motto ‘Wisdom, Justice, Moderation’ can be seen inscribed on scrolls wrapped around the three columns. In between the 2nd and 3rd columns, a Georgia Militia member stands holding a sword in his right hand. He symbolizes the citizens and soldier’s defence of Georgia’s Constitution. Inscribed on the border outside the coat of arms are the words ‘State of Georgia’ and the year Georgia became a state: 1776.
State Amphibian: Green Tree Frog
The American green tree frog is a medium-sized frog that grows up to 2.5 inches long. Its body is usually different shades ranging from a bright yellowish-olive color to lime green, depending on the temperature and lighting. Some also have small patches of white or gold on their skin while others may have pale yellow, cream-colored or white lines running from their upper lips to their jaws.
These frogs are recognized by the choruses they produce in the night-time during the warmer months in Georgia. A popular pet in the U.S., the green tree frog was named the official amphibian of the state in 2005.
Georgia Museum of Art
Associated with the University of Georgia, the Georgia Museum of Art is a massive building with ten galleries, a café, theater, studio classroom, art reference library, study room, museum shop and auditorium. The museum was built to collect, exhibit, interpret and preserve works of art, hosting about 20 culturally diverse exhibitions each year to represent all the periods of art history. It contains over 12,000 works of art and the collection grows steadily every year.
The Georgia Museum of Art is both an academic and official art museum of Georgia. Opened in 1948, it remains one of the most important and well-known landmarks of the state.
State Gem: Quartz
Quartz is a hard mineral made of oxygen and silicon atoms, and is the most abundant mineral found on the surface of the earth. Its unique properties are what make it one of the most important and useful substances. Because quartz is durable and heat resistant it’s a common choice in the making of electronic products.
Designated the state gem of Georgia in 1976, quartz is commonly found all over the state and is available in a wide range of colors. Clear quartz has been found in Hancock, Burke, DeKalb and Monroe Counties and violet quartz (commonly known as Amethyst) is found in abundance at Jackson’s Crossroad Mine, Wilkes County.
State Game Bird: Bobwhite Quail
The bobwhite quail (also known as a partridge or a Virginia quail), is a small, brown game bird belonging to the group of species called ‘New World quails’. Native to the U.S., this bird is a victim of habitat degradation which has greatly contributed to the decline of the bobwhite population in North America by 85%.
Bobwhites are found all year round in grasslands, agricultural fields, roadsides, open woodland areas and wood edges. It’s an elusive and shy bird that depends on camouflage to stay undetected when threatened, feeding on mostly plant material and tiny invertebrates like snails, beetles, grasshoppers, crickets and leafhoppers.
Since the bobwhite is a popular game bird in Georgia, it was made the official state game bird in 1970.
The Peanut Monument
At a certain time in history, peanuts were the main cash crop in Georgia, largely responsible for feeding many Turner County families and giving Ashburn the title ‘The Peanut Capital of the World’. To honor its importance, one of the citizens of Ashburn erected what is now famous as the ‘World’s Largest Peanut’, a gigantic peanut set upon a cylindrical brick perch.
In 2018, the peanut monument, which is officially recognized as one of the state symbols of Georgia, was severely damaged as a result of the effects of Hurricane Michael. Only its brick cylinder base was left, and the peanut and crown were removed. The locals are currently attempting to raise funds to repair it.
State Prepared Food: Grits
Grits is a type of breakfast porridge made from cornmeal, one of the most important crops grown all throughout the state of Georgia, and served with several other flavorings. It can be either sweet or savory, but the savory seasonings are the most common. Although this dish originated in the Southern U.S., it’s now available throughout the nation.
Grits is an interesting and unique food that was first prepared by the native American Muskogee tribe many centuries ago. They ground the corn using stone grinders, which gave it a ‘gritty’ texture and it became highly popular among the colonists and settlers. Today, it’s the official prepared food of the state of Georgia as declared in 2002.
Georgia Commemorative Quarter
The fourth coin released in the U.S. 50 State Quarters Program, the Georgian commemorative quarter features several state symbols including a peach in the center of a silhouetted outline of Georgia with live oak sprigs on either side.
Over the peach hangs a banner with the state motto on it and under it is the year it was released: 1999. On the top is the word ‘GEORGIA’ under which can be seen the year Georgia was admitted to the Union: 1788.
The upper left corner of the state outline is missing. This area is Dade County which seceded from the nation and didn’t official rejoin until 1945.
State Tree: Live Oak
The live oak (or evergreen oak) is the state tree of Georgia, official designated in 1937.
The reason it’s called ‘live oak’ is because it remains green and live all throughout winter when the other oaks are leafless and dormant. This tree is commonly found in the southern area of the U.S. and is an important symbol of the state. Its sprigs are featured on the commemorative state quarter.
The wood of the live oak was used for shipbuilding by the early Americans and even today, it continues to be used whenever available for the same purpose. It’s also popularly used for making tool handles as well because of its absorption, density, energy and strength.
State School: Plains High School
The official state school of Georgia, Plains High School, was built back in 1921. Graduates from this school have made massive contributions to the state as well as to the rest of the world, with many notable alumni, including President Jimmy Carter and his wife.
The school was closed in 1979 and several years later it was restored and reopened as a museum with a visitor center for the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site. It now has several display rooms which teach students and visitors about President Jimmy Carter’s early life as well as others in the small and simple farming community.
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