Illinois facts for kids
|State of Illinois|
|Nickname(s): Land of Lincoln; The Prairie State|
|Motto(s): State sovereignty, national union|
|Spoken languages||English (80.8%)
|Largest metro||Chicago metropolitan area Chicagoland|
|- Total||57,914 sq mi
|- Width||210 miles (338 km)|
|- Length||390 miles (628 km)|
|- % water||3.99|
|- Latitude||36° 58′ N to 42° 30′ N|
|- Longitude||87° 30′ W to 91° 31′ W|
|Number of people||Ranked 6th|
|- Total||12,801,539 (2016 est)|
|- Density||232/sq mi (89.4/km2)
|- Average income||$60,413 (19th)|
|Height above sea level|
|- Highest point||Charles Mound
1,235 ft (376.4 m)
|- Average||600 ft (180 m)|
|- Lowest point||Confluence of Mississippi River and Ohio River
280 ft (85 m)
|Became part of the U.S.||December 3, 1818 (21st)|
|Governor||J. B. Pritzker|
|Time zone||Central: UTC -6/-5|
|Abbreviations||IL, Ill. US-IL|
|The Flag of Illinois.|
|The Seal of Illinois.|
|Amphibian||Eastern tiger salamander|
|Food||Gold Rush Apple, popcorn|
|Slogan(s)||"Land of Lincoln"|
|Soil||Drummer silty clay loam|
|Released in 2003|
|Lists of United States state insignia|
With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural 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. For decades, O'Hare International Airport has been ranked as one of the world's busiest airports.
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 U.S. president born and raised in Illinois.
- Arts and culture
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"Illinois" is the modern spelling for the early French Catholic missionaries and explorers' name for the Illinois Native Americans, a name that was spelled in many different ways in the early records.
American Indians of successive cultures lived along the waterways of the Illinois area for thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans. The Koster Site has been excavated and demonstrates 7,000 years of continuous habitation. Cahokia, the largest regional chiefdom and urban center of the Pre-Columbian Mississippian culture, was located near present-day Collinsville, Illinois. They built an urban complex of more than 100 platform and burial mounds, a 50 acres (20 ha) plaza larger than 35 football fields, and a woodhenge of sacred cedar, all in a planned design expressing the culture's cosmology. Monks Mound, the center of the site, is the largest Pre-Columbian structure north of the Valley of Mexico.
European exploration and settlement prior to 1800
French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet explored the Illinois River in 1673.
In 1680, other French explorers constructed a fort at the site of present-day Peoria, and in 1682, a fort atop Starved Rock in today's Starved Rock State Park. French Canadians came south to settle particularly along the Mississippi River, and Illinois was part of the French empire of La Louisiane until 1763, when it passed to the British with their defeat of France in the Seven Years' War.
- See also: History of Nauvoo, Illinois
The State of Illinois prior to the Civil War
In 1818, Illinois became the 21st U.S. state. The capital remained at Kaskaskia, headquartered in a small building rented by the state. In 1819, Vandalia became the capital, and over the next 18 years, three separate buildings were built to serve successively as the capitol building. In 1837, the state legislators representing Sangamon County, under the leadership of state representative Abraham Lincoln, succeeded in having the capital moved to Springfield, where a fifth capitol building was constructed. A sixth capitol building was erected in 1867, which continues to serve as the Illinois capitol today.
In 1832, the Black Hawk War was fought in Illinois and current-day Wisconsin between the United States and the Sauk, Fox (Meskwaki) and Kickapoo Indian tribes. It represents the end of Indian resistance to white settlement in the Chicago region. The Indians had been forced to leave their homes and move to Iowa in 1831; when they attempted to return, they were attacked and eventually defeated by U.S. militia. The survivors were forced back to Iowa.
Chicago gained prominence as a Great Lakes port and then as an Illinois and Michigan Canal port after 1848, and as a rail hub soon afterward. By 1857, Chicago was Illinois' largest city. With the tremendous growth of mines and factories in the state in the 19th century, Illinois was the ground for the formation of labor unions in the United States.
Civil War and after
Beginning with President Abraham Lincoln's first call for troops and continuing throughout the war, Illinois mustered 150 infantry regiments, which were numbered from the 7th to the 156th regiments. Seventeen cavalry regiments were also gathered, as well as two light artillery regiments.
During the Civil War, and more so afterwards, Chicago's population skyrocketed, which increased its prominence.
At the turn of the 20th century, Illinois had a population of nearly 5 million. Many people from other parts of the country were attracted to the state by employment caused by the then-expanding industrial base. Whites were 98% of the state's population. Bolstered by continued immigration from southern and eastern Europe, and by the African-American Great Migration from the South, Illinois grew and emerged as one of the most important states in the union. By the end of the century, the population had reached 12.4 million.
Illinois manufactured 6.1 percent of total United States military armaments produced during World War II, ranking seventh among the 48 states. Chicago became an ocean port with the opening of the Saint Lawrence Seaway in 1959. The seaway and the Illinois Waterway connected Chicago to both the Mississippi River and the Atlantic Ocean.
Illinois had a prominent role in the emergence of the nuclear age. In 1967, Fermilab, a national nuclear research facility near Batavia, opened a particle accelerator, which was the world's largest for over 40 years. With eleven plants currently operating, Illinois leads all states in the amount of electricity generated from nuclear power.
Illinois is located in the Midwest Region of the United States and is one of the eight states and Canadian Province of Ontario in the bi-national Great Lakes region of North America.
Though Illinois lies entirely in the Interior Plains, it does have some minor variation in its elevation. In extreme northwestern Illinois, the Driftless Area, a region of unglaciated and therefore higher and more rugged topography, occupies a small part of the state. Charles Mound, located in this region, has the state's highest elevation above sea level at 1,235 feet (376 m). Other highlands include the Shawnee Hills in the south, and there is varying topography along its rivers; the Illinois River bisects the state northeast to southwest. The floodplain on the Mississippi River from Alton to the Kaskaskia River is known as the American Bottom.
Illinois has three major geographical divisions. Northern Illinois is dominated by Chicagoland, which is the city of Chicago and its suburbs, and the adjoining exurban area into which the metropolis is expanding.
The midsection of Illinois is a second major division, called Central Illinois. It is an area of mostly prairie and known as the Heart of Illinois. It is characterized by small towns and medium-small cities.
The third division is Southern Illinois, comprising the area south of U.S. Route 50, including Little Egypt, near the juncture of the Mississippi River and Ohio River. Southern Illinois is the site of the ancient city of Cahokia, as well as the site of the first state capital at Kaskaskia, which today is separated from the rest of the state by the Mississippi River. This region has a somewhat warmer winter climate, different variety of crops (including some cotton farming in the past), more rugged topography (due to the area remaining unglaciated during the Illinoian Stage, unlike most of the rest of the state), as well as small-scale oil deposits and coal mining.
Illinois has a climate that varies widely throughout the year. Because of its nearly 400-mile distance between its northernmost and southernmost extremes, as well as its mid-continental situation, most of Illinois has a humid continental climate, with hot, humid summers and cold winters.
Illinois averages approximately 51 days of thunderstorm activity a year, which ranks somewhat above average in the number of thunderstorm days for the United States.
Illinois is vulnerable to tornadoes with an average of 35 occurring annually, which puts much of the state at around five tornadoes per 10,000 square miles (30,000 km2) annually. While tornadoes are no more powerful in Illinois than other states, some of Tornado Alley's deadliest tornadoes on record have occurred in the state.
The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Illinois was 12,801,539 on July 1, 2016, a 0.23% decrease since the 2010 United States Census. Illinois is the most populous state in the Midwest region. Chicago, the third most populous city in the United States, is the center of the Chicago metropolitan area. Chicagoland, as this area is known locally, comprises only 8% of the land area of the state, but contains 65% of the state's residents.
According to the 2010 Census, the racial composition of the state was:
- 71.5% White American (63.7% non-Hispanic white, 7.8% White Hispanic)
- 14.5% Black or African American
- 0.3% American Indian and Alaska Native
- 4.6% Asian American
- 2.3% Multiracial American
- 6.8% some other race
Chicago, along the shores of Lake Michigan, is the nation's third largest city. In 2000, 23.3% of Illinois' population lived in the city of Chicago, 43.3% in Cook County, and 65.6% in the counties of the Chicago metropolitan area: Will, DuPage, Kane, Lake, and McHenry counties, as well as Cook County.
Major cities and towns
- Chicago - population 2,720,546
- Aurora - population 200,661
- Rockford - population 148,278
- Joliet - population 147,861
- Naperville - population 147,100
- Springfield - population 116,565
- Peoria - population 115,070
- Elgin - population 112,111
- Waukegan - population 88,475
- Champaign - population 86,096
Nearly 80% of people in Illinois speak English natively, and most of the rest speak it fluently as a second language. A number of dialects of American English are spoken, ranging from Inland Northern American English and African American Vernacular English around Chicago, to Midland American English in Central Illinois to Southern American English in the far south.
Over 20% of Illinoians speak a language other than English at home, of which Spanish is by far the most widespread at more than 12% of the total population. A sizeable number of Polish speakers is present in the Chicago Metropolitan Area.
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.
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, peaches and apples are grown. The German immigrants from agricultural backgrounds who settled in Illinois in the mid- to late 19th century are in part responsible for the profusion of fruit orchards in that area of Illinois.
As of 2011, Illinois is ranked as the 4th most productive manufacturing state in the country, behind California, Texas, and Ohio. About three-quarters of the state's manufacturers are located in the Northeastern Opportunity Return Region, with 38 percent of Illinois's approximately 18,900 manufacturing plants located in Cook County. The leading manufacturing industries in Illinois, were chemical manufacturing, machinery manufacturing, food manufacturing, fabricated metal products, transportation equipment, plastics and rubber products, and computer and electronic products.
Illinois exports electricity, ranking fifth among states in electricity production and seventh in electricity consumption.
The coal industry of Illinois has its origins in the middle 19th century. Most of the coal produced in Illinois is exported to other states and countries. In 2008, Illinois exported 3 million tons of coal and was projected to export 9 million tons in 2011, as demand for energy grows in places such as China, India, and elsewhere in Asia and Europe. As of 2010, Illinois was ranked third in recoverable coal reserves at producing mines in the nation.
Nuclear power began in Illinois with the Chicago Pile-1, the world's first artificial self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction in the world's first nuclear reactor, built on the University of Chicago campus. There are six operating nuclear power plants in Illinois.
Illinois is ranked second in corn production among U.S. states, and Illinois corn is used to produce 40% of the ethanol consumed in the United States. The Archer Daniels Midland corporation in Decatur, Illinois is the world's leading producer of ethanol from corn.
The National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center (NCERC), the world's only facility dedicated to researching the ways and means of converting corn (maize) to ethanol is located on the campus of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
Because of its central location and its proximity to the Rust Belt and Grain Belt, Illinois is a national crossroads for air, auto, rail, and truck traffic.
From 1962 until 1998, Chicago's O'Hare International Airport (ORD) was the busiest airport in the world, measured both in terms of total flights and passengers. While it was surpassed by Atlanta's Hartsfield in 1998, with 59.3 million domestic passengers annually, along with 11.4 million international passengers in 2008, O'Hare remains one of the two or three busiest airports in the world, and some years still ranks number one in total flights.
Illinois has an extensive passenger and freight rail transportation network.
Nearly every North American railway meets at Chicago, making it the largest and most active rail hub in the country.
In addition to the state's rail lines, the Mississippi River and Illinois River provide major transportation routes for the state's agricultural interests. Lake Michigan gives Illinois access to the Atlantic Ocean by way of the Saint Lawrence Seaway.
Interstate highway system
Illinois is among many US states with a well developed interstate highway system. Illinois has the distinction of having the most primary (two-digit) interstates pass through it among all the 50 states with 13 (with the new addition of Interstate 41 near Wisconsin), as well as the 3rd most interstate mileage behind California and Texas.
Arts and culture
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Illinois has numerous museums; the greatest concentration of these is in Chicago. Several 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. The Illinois State Museum boasts a collection of 13.5 million objects that tell the story of Illinois life, land, people, and art. The ISM is among only 5% of the nation's museums that are accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. Other historical museums in the state include the Polish Museum of America in Chicago; Magnolia Manor in Cairo; Easley Pioneer Museum in Ipava; 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.
Vandalia State House State Historic Site in Vandalia
Magnolia Manor is a Victorian period historic house museum in Cairo.
The Polish Museum of America in Chicago
A Railway Post Office preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union
Chicago, in the northeast corner of the state, is a major center for music in the midwestern United States where distinctive forms of blues (greatly responsible for the future creation of rock and roll), and house music, a genre of electronic dance music, were developed.
The Great Migration of poor black workers from the South into the industrial cities brought traditional jazz and blues music to the city, resulting in Chicago blues and "Chicago-style" Dixieland jazz. Notable blues artists included Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, Howlin' Wolf and both Sonny Boy Williamsons; jazz greats included Nat King Cole, Gene Ammons, Benny Goodman and Bud Freeman. Chicago is also well known for its soul music.
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Illinois Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.