The last of the original 13 English colonies, Georgia covers 58,930 sq mi and is the largest state east of the Mississippi River; its capital is Atlanta. The area was inhabited by the Creek and Cherokee Indians when Spanish missionaries arrived in the 16th century. English settlement began in 1733 at Savannah when James Oglethorpe established a refuge for debtors. European settlement accelerated after the American Revolution, and the last of the Indians were forcibly removed in the 1830s. Georgia seceded from the Union in 1861, and the American Civil War was particularly hard on the state. It was the last former Confederate state to be readmitted to the Union in 1870. Its landscape sweeps from the Blue Ridge in the north to the Okefenokee Swamp (which it shares with Florida) in the south. For most of the 19th century it was the capital of the cotton empire of the South; in the 20th century industry predominated. The state's population grew throughout the 20th century, with Atlanta especially attracting national corporations.
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