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Florida Guide > Florida History

The State Nicknames Part 1

There are 50 states in the USA, and most of them have a nickname, which reflects the various characteristics of that state. If you look at licence plates on cars as you travel around the Orlando area, or further afield in Florida, you will see many plates which display these nicknames. We always have great fun looking out for the licence plates to see how many we can spot during our stay. Here is some facts about the states beginning with the letter ‘A, ’ Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, and Arkansas.

ALABAMA

This state has a number of different nicknames, including the ‘Cotton Plantation State, ’ the ‘Cotton State, ’ the ‘Lizard State’ (due to the number of lizards to be found along its riverbanks), ‘The Camellia State, ’ and the ‘Heart of Dixie, ’ which has been used on license plates.

However, since the Civil War it has also been known as the ‘Yellowhammer State’, when the name was given to the Confederate soldiers from Alabama. This name is said to reflect the bits of yellow cloth which trimmed the sleeves, collars and coat-tails of the new cavalry troops under the command of Rev. D. C. Kelly. The uniforms reminded people of these yellow birds. Of course, at one time Alabama was a major producer of cotton, and the prosperity of this state relied heavily on the success of the crop each year. It still produces a considerable amount of cotton today. The Alabama State Quarter shows Helen Keller, reading a book in Braille.

ALASKA

Alaska was one of the later states to join, and it is often called the ‘Last Frontier, ’ because so much of it remains unoccupied, and this was used on license plates, as was the name ‘Great Land. ’ On March 30th, 1867, the United States agreed to purchase Alaska from Russia for the princely sum of $7. 2 million dollars, which represents about 2 cents an acre. Little could they have known what a valuable piece of land they had purchased.

In 1959 it became the 49th state in the union. It is a huge state, with a land mass larger than Texas, Montana, and California put together. Its name reflects its rugged landscape and climate, and also the fact that it is a great distance from most of the other states. It is also called the Land of the Midnight Sun, due to the fact that it’s most northerly locations have sun shine almost around the clock during their summers, as the sun never completely dips below the horizon. In some parts the sun doesn’t set for 84 days.

Another name, ‘Seward’s Folly, ’ refers to the scepticism with which the purchase was looked upon, and it was Secretary of State William H Seward who fought a long battle to get this agreement finalised by Congress.

Look out for the bear on their State quarter.

ARIZONA

Arizona’s most famous natural feature, the Grand Canyon, gives it its nickname, the ‘Canyon State, ’ and this is currently used on the license plates. The Grand Canyon itself is vast, 217 miles in length and a mile deep, and varying from 4 – 18 miles in width, and it is one of the world’s natural wonders.

It also can be called the ‘Copper State’ due to its huge mineral wealth. A copper star can be found in the centre of the state flag. However, it has been known by a number of other nicknames, such as the ‘Apache State’ due to the large number of Apaches that lived there, the ‘Aztec State, ’ the ‘Sunset State’ – due to its spectacular sunsets particularly around the Grand Canyon, the ‘Sweetheart State’ and the ‘Baby State’ – this last name was given to it during the 47 years that Arizona was the newest state in the Union. An interesting nickname is the ‘Valentine State’ as it gained statehood on February 14th, 1912.

Finally it has sometimes been given the nickname ‘The Italy of America, ’ due to the fact that its beautiful scenic mountains can be compared to those of Italy. Its State quarter depicts the Grand Canyon.

ARKANSAS

Known for its abundant natural wildlife, pristine lakes and streams, and superb natural beauty, this state has become officially known as the ‘Natural State, ’ and this name can be found on the licence plates. It has been described as having ‘unsurpassed scenery, clear lakes, free-flowing streams, magnificent rivers, meandering bayous, delta bottomlands, forested mountains and abundant fish and wildlife. ’

However, it has a few other names such as the ‘Bear State’ – due to the number of bears, the ‘Hot Springs State, ’ the ‘Razorback State, ’ the ‘Toothpick State’ (a knife) and the ‘Land of Opportunity’ – which previously was seen on licence plates. The ‘Razorback State’ refers to both the long-legged wild hog which lives in Arkansas as well as the athletic teams of the University of Arkansas. Its state quarter depicts a diamond which is the state gem, as well as a mallard duck and a rice plant.

We aim to provide accurate and useful information, but if you feel anything provided here is not accurate or out of date, please email us with the address of the page concerned and any comments so we can amend as necessary.

Page added on: 5 August 2009
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