State, south-central U.S. Area: 51,700 sq mi (133,902 sq km). Pop. (2009 est.): 4,708,708. Capital: Montgomery. It is bordered by Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, and Mississippi; the Gulf of Mexico lies to the southwest. Alabama's original inhabitants included Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Creek peoples; evidence of their activity can be found near Tuscaloosa. Hernando de Soto traveled there, and the French founded a settlement at Fort Louis in 1702. The Alabama Territory was created in 1817, and statehood was granted in 1819. Alabama seceded from the Union in 1861, becoming part of the Confederacy; it was readmitted in 1868. Efforts during Reconstruction to include blacks in government failed, and Alabama remained segregationist until the 1960s. Dependent on cotton until the early 20th century, the state has since diversified its agricultural production and developed industrially, especially at Birmingham; Mobile has become a major ocean terminal.