Georgia ranked 10th in population in the US with an estimated total of 8,560,310 in 2002, an increase of 4.6% since 2000. Between 1990 and 2000, Georgia's population grew from 6,478,453 to 8,186,453, an increase of 26.4% and the fourth-largest population gain among the 50 states for this period. The population is projected to reach 9.9 million by 2025. The population density was 141.4 per sq mi in 2000.
During the first half of the 18th century, restrictive government policies discouraged settlement. In 1752, when Georgia became a royal colony, the population numbered only 3,500, of whom 500 were blacks. Growth was rapid thereafter, and by 1773 there were 33,000 people, almost half of them black. The American Revolution brought free land and an influx of settlers, so that by 1800 the population has swelled to 162,686. Georgia passed the million mark by 1860, the two million mark by 1900, and by 1960, the population had doubled again. Georgia's population increased 19% between 1980 and 1990.
In 2000, the median age was 33.4, up from 26.7 in 1990. Over 26.5% of the population was under the age of 18 in 1998 while 9.6% were age 65 or older.
There has always been a strained relationship between rural and urban Georgians, and the state's political system long favored the rural population. Since before the American Revolution, the city people have called the country folk "crackers," a term that implies a lack of good manners and which may derive from the fact that these pioneers drove their cattle before them with whips.
The state's three largest cities in 2002 were Atlanta, with an estimated population of 424,868; Columbus, 185,948; and Savannah, 127,691. The Atlanta metropolitan area had an estimated population of 3,857,097 in 1999.