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Compared to the rest of GEORGIA , the largest of the Southern
states, the bright lights of its capital Atlanta are a wild
aberration. Apart from some beaches and towns on the highly
indented coastline, this overwhelmingly rural state is composed
of slow, easygoing settlements where the best, and sometimes
the only, way to enjoy your time is to sip iced tea and have
a chat on the porch.
Settlement in Georgia, the thirteenth British colony (named
after King George II), started in 1733 at Savannah, intended
as a haven of Christian principles for poor Britons, with both
alcohol and slavery banned. However, under pressure from planters,
slavery was introduced in 1752, and by the time of the Civil
War almost half the population were black slaves. Little fighting
took place on Georgian soil until Sherman's troops marched in
from Tennessee, burned Atlanta to the ground and laid waste
to all property on the way to the coast. The economy successfully
re-established itself after the war, attracting substantial
investment in the latter years of the nineteenth century.
Today, bustling Atlanta stands as the unofficial capital of
the South. The city where Dr Martin Luther King Jr was born,
preached and is buried bears little relation to Gone with the
Wind stereotypes, and its forward-looking energy is upheld as
a role model for other cities with large black populations -
though it does still suffer high levels of urban poverty and
Atlanta's main rival as a tourist destination is the Georgia
coast , stretching south from beautiful old Savannah via the
sea islands to the semitropical Okefenokee Swamp , inland near
Florida. In the northeast , the Appalachian foothills are particularly
fetching in fall, while Athens has a reputation for producing
offbeat rock groups such as REM and the B-52's. Further south
, the agricultural heartlands are rich in musical history, but
only Macon and ancient Ocmulgee provide reasons to stop.
Georgia's main points of interest are easily accessible, but
local transportation is poor. Amtrak trains from Washington,
DC to New Orleans and Florida call at Atlanta and Savannah respectively.
Bus services in most areas are patchy and infrequent, though
Atlanta has regular connections to the major cities, and several
daily buses along the coast call at Savannah. Atlanta has the
world's largest passenger airport , and Savannah has a reasonable
service - but airfares between the two are high.
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