Although Alabama continues to reside in the lower segment nationally in many significant social and economic rankings, there has been improvement in some areas, particularly in ethnic relations, including the integration of schools and the election of African Americans to political offices.
Nevertheless, Alabamians and outsiders alike tend to agree that the state retains a distinctive way of life, rooted in the traditions of the Old South. Population (2010) 4,779,736; (2017 est.) 4,874,747. Although the average elevation of Alabama is about 500 feet (150 metres) above sea level, this represents a gradation from the high point of 2,407 feet (734 metres), atop Cheaha Mountain in the northeast, down across the Black Belt to the flat, low southern Gulf Coast counties.
Elevations rise to 1,800 feet (550 metres) in the more rugged eastern portions.
The Alabama climate is temperate, with an average annual temperature of about 64 °F (18 °C), mellowed by altitude to some 60 °F (16 °C) in the northern counties and reaching 67 °F (19 °C) in the southern counties, although summer heat is often alleviated somewhat by the winds blowing in from the Gulf of Mexico.Occasionally the temperature may rise to 100 °F (38 °C) in the summer, whereas frosts occur with more frequency; snow may sometimes fall in the northern counties.The average summer temperature is 79 °F (26 °C); the winter average is 48 °F (9 °C).Precipitation is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year, with an annual average of 56 inches (1,420 mm) and a concentration on the coast. These favourable conditions have given the state a long growing season, ranging from about 200 days in the north to some 300 days in the south.Alabama is subject to severe weather, especially during the warmer months.In late summer and early fall, southern areas can be hit by strong tropical storms, including hurricanes as they sweep northward from the Gulf; Hurricanes Camille (1969) and Katrina (2005) were especially devastating to coastal areas.