Tuscaloosa is a city in Tuscaloosa County in west central Alabama, on the Black Warrior River. The seat of Tuscaloosa County6, it is the fifth-largest city in the state with a population of 79,294 (2003 U.S. Census Bureau Estimate).
The city occupies a unique location at the fall line of the Black Warrior River on the boundry between the Appalachian Highland and the Gulf Coastal Plain approximately 311 km (120 mi.) upriver from its confluence with the Tombigbee River in Demopolis. Consequently, the geography of the area around Tuscaloosa is quite diverse, being hilly to the northeast and low-lying to the southwest.
Tuscaloosa is the center of industry, commerce, healthcare, and education for the region commonly known as West Alabama. The city is home to the University of Alabama, Stillman College, and Shelton State Community College. Additionally, the city is home to the region's largest mall and hospital.
The name of the city and the river come from two Choctaw Indian words, tushka (warrior) and lusa (black). It is assumed that the city received its name from the Choctaw chief Tascaluza/Tuskalusa, who was defeated by Hernando de Soto in 1540 in the Battle of Mauvila.