Illinois is a state in the Midwestern United States. It is the 5th most populous state and 25th largest state in terms of land area, and is often noted as a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and greatagricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal, timber, and petroleum in the south, Illinois has a diverse economic base and is a major transportation hub. The Port of Chicago connects the state to other global ports from the Great Lakes, via the Saint Lawrence Seaway, to the Atlantic Ocean; as well as the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River, via the Illinois River. For decades,O'Hare International Airport has been ranked as one of the world's busiest airports. Illinois has long had a reputation as a bellwether both insocial and cultural terms and politics.
Although today the state's largest population center is around Chicago in the northern part of the state, the state's European population grew first in the west, with French Canadians who settled along the Mississippi River, and gave the area the name, Illinois. After the American Revolutionary War established the United States, American settlers began arriving from Kentucky in the 1810s via the Ohio River, and the population grew from south to north. In 1818, Illinois achieved statehood. After construction of the Erie Canal increased traffic and trade through the Great Lakes, Chicago was founded in the 1830s on the banks of the Chicago River, at one of the few natural harbors on southern Lake Michigan. John Deere's invention of the self-scouring steel plow turned Illinois' rich prairie into some of the world's most productive and valuable farmlands, attracting immigrant farmers from Germany and Sweden. Railroads carried immigrants to new homes, as well as being used to ship their commodity crops out to markets.
By 1900, the growth of industrial jobs in the northern cities and coal mining in the central and southern areas attracted immigrants fromEastern and Southern Europe. Illinois was an important manufacturing center during both world wars. The Great Migration from the South established a large community of African Americans in Chicago, who created the city's famous jazz and blues cultures.
Three U.S. presidents have been elected while living in Illinois: Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and Barack Obama. Additionally, Ronald Reagan, whose political career was based in California, was the only US President born and raised in Illinois. Today, Illinois honors Lincoln with its official state slogan, Land of Lincoln, which has been displayed on its license plates since 1954. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is located in the state capital of Springfield.
|State of Illinois|
|Nickname(s): Land of Lincoln; The "Prairie State"|
|Motto(s): State sovereignty, national union|
Illinois' major agricultural outputs are corn, soybeans, hogs, cattle, dairy products, and wheat. In most years, Illinois is either the first or second state for the highest production of soybeans, with a harvest of 427.7 million bushels (11.64 million metric tons) in 2008, after Iowa's production of 444.82 million bushels (12.11 million metric tons). Illinois ranks second in U.S. corn production with more than 1.5 billion bushels produced annually. With a production capacity of 1.5 billion gallons per year, Illinois is a top producer of ethanol; ranking third in the United States in 2011. Illinois is a leader in food manufacturing and meat processing. Although Chicago may no longer be "Hog Butcher for the World," the Chicago area remains a global center for food manufacture and meat processing, with many plants, processing houses, and distribution facilities concentrated in the area of the former Union Stock Yards. Illinois also produces wine, and the state is home to two American viticultural areas. In the area of The Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway, peach and apple are grown. The German immigrants from agricultural backgrounds who settled in Illinois in mid- to late 19th century are the in part responsible for the profusion of fruit orchards in that area of Illinois. Illinois' universities are actively researching alternative agricultural products as alternative crops.
Illinois has numerous museums; the greatest concentration of these is in Chicago. Numerous museums in the city of Chicago are considered some of the best in the world. These include the John G. Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum of Natural History, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Adler Planetarium, and the Museum of Science and Industry.
The modern Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield is the largest and most attended presidential library in the country. Other historical museums in the state include the Polish Museum of America in Chicago; Magnolia Manor in Cairo; the Elihu Benjamin Washburne;Ulysses S. Grant Homes, both in Galena; and the Chanute Air Museum, located on the former Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul.
The Chicago metropolitan area also has two zoos: The very large Brookfield Zoo, located approximately 13 miles west of the city center in suburban Brookfield, contains over 2300 animals and covers 216 acres (87 ha). The Lincoln Park Zoo is located in huge Lincoln Park on Chicago's North Side, approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) north of the Loop. The zoo covers over 35 acres (14 ha) within the park.
Illinois is a leader in music education having hosted the Midwest Clinic: An International Band and Orchestra Conference since 1946, as well being home to the Illinois Music Educators Association (IMEA), one of the largest professional music educator's organizations in the country. Each summer since 2004, Southern Illinois University Carbondale has played host to the Southern Illinois Music Festival, which presents dozens of performances throughout the region. Past featured artists include the Eroica Trio and violinist David Kim.
The Illinois state parks system began in 1908 with what is now Fort Massac State Park, becoming the first park in a system encompassing over 60 parks and about the same number of recreational and wildlife areas.
Areas under the protection and control of the National Park Service include: the Illinois and Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor nearLockport; the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail; the Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield; the Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail; the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail; and the American Discovery Trail.