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Illinois
State of Illinois
Flag of Illinois Official seal of Illinois
Nickname(s): 
Land of Lincoln, Prairie State
Motto(s): 
State Sovereignty, National Union
Anthem: "Illinois"
Map of the United States with Illinois highlighted
Map of the United States with Illinois highlighted
Country United States
Before statehood Illinois Territory
Admitted to the Union December 3, 1818 (21st)
Capital Springfield
Largest city Chicago
Largest metro Chicago
Legislature Illinois General Assembly
 • Upper house Senate
 • Lower house House of Representatives
Area
 • Total 57,915 sq mi (149,997 km2)
 • Land 55,593 sq mi (143,969 km2)
 • Water 2,320 sq mi (5,981 km2)  3.99%
Area rank 25th
Dimensions
 • Length 390 mi (628 km)
 • Width 210 mi (338 km)
Elevation
600 ft (180 m)
Highest elevation 1,235 ft (376.4 m)
Lowest elevation
(Confluence of Mississippi River and Ohio River)
280 ft (85 m)
Population
 (2020)
 • Total 12,812,508
 • Rank 6th
 • Density 232/sq mi (89.4/km2)
 • Density rank 12th
 • Median household income
$65,030
 • Income rank
16th
Demonym(s) Illinoisan
Language
 • Official language English
 • Spoken language English (80.8%)
Spanish (14.9%)
Other (5.1%)
Time zone UTC−06:00 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−05:00 (CDT)
USPS abbreviation
IL
ISO 3166 code US-IL
Trad. abbreviation Ill.
Latitude 36° 58′ N to 42° 30′ N
Longitude 87° 30′ W to 91° 31′ W
Illinois state symbols
Flag of Illinois.svg
Seal of Illinois.svg
The Seal of Illinois
Living insignia
Amphibian Eastern tiger salamander
Bird Northern cardinal
Butterfly Monarch butterfly
Fish Bluegill
Flower Violet
Grass Big bluestem
Mammal White-tailed deer
Reptile Painted turtle
Tree White oak
Inanimate insignia
Dance Square dance
Food Gold Rush Apple, popcorn
Fossil Tully monster
Mineral Fluorite
Slogan "Land of Lincoln"
Soil Drummer silty clay loam
State route marker
Illinois state route marker
State quarter
Illinois quarter dollar coin
Released in 2003
Lists of United States state symbols

Illinois ( IL-ə-NOY) is a state in the Midwestern region of the United States. It has the fifth largest gross domestic product (GDP), the sixth largest population, and the 25th largest land area of all U.S. states. Illinois has been noted as a microcosm of the entire United States. With Chicago in northeastern Illinois, small industrial cities and immense agricultural productivity in the north and center of the state, and natural resources such as 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 international ports via two main routes: from the Great Lakes, via the Saint Lawrence Seaway, to the Atlantic Ocean and from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River, via the Illinois River, through the Illinois Waterway. The Mississippi River, the Ohio River, and the Wabash River form parts of the boundaries of Illinois. For decades, Chicago's 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 in social and cultural terms and, through the 1980s, in politics.

The capital of Illinois is Springfield, which is located in the central part of the state. Although today Illinois's largest population center is in its northeast, the state's European population grew first in the west as the French settled lands near the Mississippi River, when the region was known as Illinois Country and was part of New France. Following the American Revolutionary War, American settlers began arriving from Kentucky in the 1780s via the Ohio River, and the population grew from south to north. In 1818, Illinois achieved statehood. Following increased commercial activity in the Great Lakes after the construction of the Erie Canal, Chicago was incorporated in the 1830s on the banks of the Chicago River at one of the few natural harbors on the southern section of Lake Michigan. John Deere's invention of the self-scouring steel plow turned Illinois's rich prairie into some of the world's most productive and valuable farmland, attracting immigrant farmers from Germany and Sweden. The Illinois and Michigan Canal (1848) made transportation between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River valley faster and cheaper, and new railroads carried immigrants to new homes in the country's west and shipped commodity crops to the nation's east. The state became a transportation hub for the nation.

By 1900, the growth of industrial jobs in the northern cities and coal mining in the central and southern areas attracted immigrants from Eastern 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 the state, including Chicago, who founded the city's famous jazz and blues cultures. Chicago, the center of the Chicago Metropolitan Area, is recognized as a global city. Chicagoland, Chicago's metropolitan area, encompasses about 65% of the state's population. The most populous metropolitan areas outside the Chicago area include, Metro East (of Greater St. Louis), Peoria and Rockford.

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 born and raised in the state. Today, Illinois honors Lincoln with its official state slogan Land of Lincoln, which has been displayed on its license plates since 1954. The state is the site of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield and the future home of the Barack Obama Presidential Center in Chicago.

Etymology

"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.

History

Pre-European

Upper Bluff Lake Dancing Figures plate HRoe 2012
Mississippian copper plate found at the Saddle Site in Union County, Illinois

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

Illinois 1718
Illinois in 1718, approximate modern state area highlighted, from Carte de la Louisiane et du cours du Mississipi by Guillaume de L'Isle.

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.

19th century

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

Embarkation of General McClernand's Brigade at Cairo
Embarkation of Union troops from Cairo on January 10, 1862

During the American Civil War, Illinois ranked fourth in men who served (more than 250,000) in the Union Army, a figure surpassed by only New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

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.

20th century

McDonalds Museum
McDonald's Museum, the first McDonald's franchise in Des Plaines

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.

In 1960, Ray Kroc opened the first McDonald's franchise in Des Plaines (which still exists as a museum, with a working McDonald's across the street).

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.

Geography

National-atlas-illinois
Illinois, showing major cities and roads

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.

Topography

Charles Mound, Illinois
Charles Mound, the highest natural point in Illinois at 1235 feet, is located in the northwestern part of the state.

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.

Divisions

Chicago downtown view from Sears
Chicago on Lake Michigan is the third largest city in the United States.

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.

Climate

Cairo Ohio River Bridge at sunset
The lowest elevation in the State is near Cairo and the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers

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.

Demographics

Population Density of Illinois 2010 Wikipediamap
Density map displaying the population of Illinois
Historical population
Census Pop.
1800 2,458
1810 12,282 399.7%
1820 55,211 349.5%
1830 157,445 185.2%
1840 476,183 202.4%
1850 851,470 78.8%
1860 1,711,951 101.1%
1870 2,539,891 48.4%
1880 3,077,871 21.2%
1890 3,826,352 24.3%
1900 4,821,550 26.0%
1910 5,638,591 16.9%
1920 6,485,280 15.0%
1930 7,630,654 17.7%
1940 7,897,241 3.5%
1950 8,712,176 10.3%
1960 10,081,158 15.7%
1970 11,113,976 10.2%
1980 11,426,518 2.8%
1990 11,430,602 0.0%
2000 12,419,293 8.6%
2010 12,830,632 3.3%
2020 12,812,508 −0.1%
Source:
1910–2020

The United States Census Bureau found that the population of Illinois was 12,812,508 in the 2020 United States census, moving from the fifth-largest state to the sixth-largest state (losing out to Pennsylvania). Illinois' population slightly declined in 2020 from the 2010 United States census by just over 18,000 residents and the overall population was quite higher than recent census estimates.

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 or Chicagoland, as this area is nicknamed. Although Chicagoland comprises only 9% of the land area of the state, it contains 65% of the state's residents. The losses of population anticipated from the 2020 census results do not arise from the Chicago metro area; rather the declines are from the Downstate counties.

According to the 2010 census, the racial composition of the state was:

In the same year 15.8% of the total population was of Hispanic or Latino origin (they may be of any race).

Illinois Racial Breakdown of Population
Racial composition 1990 2000 2010
White 78.3% 73.5% 71.5%
Black 14.8% 15.1% 14.5%
Asian 2.5% 3.4% 4.6%
Native 0.2% 0.2% 0.3%
Native Hawaiian and
other Pacific Islander
Other race 4.2% 5.8% 6.7%
Two or more races 1.9% 2.3%

2019 American Community Survey

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Racial Makeup of Illinois (2019)      White alone (71.37%)     Black alone (14.13%)     Native American alone (0.26%)     Asian Alone (5.67%)     Pacific Islander Alone (0.04%)     Some other race alone (5.76%)     Two or more races (2.78%)

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Racial/Ethnic Makeup of Illinois excluding Hispanics from racial categories (2019)
NH=Non-Hispanic      White NH (60.69%)     Black NH (13.88%)     Native American NH (0.10%)     Asian NH (5.60%)     Pacific Islander NH (0.02%)     Other NH (0.17%)     Two or more races NH (2.03%)     Hispanic Any Race (17.49%)

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Racial Makeup of Hispanics in Illinois (2019)      White alone (61.05%)     Black alone (1.40%)     Native American alone (0.89%)     Asian Alone (0.36%)     Pacific Islander Alone (0.07%)     Other race alone (31.96%)     Two or more races (4.28%)

According to 2019 U.S. Census Bureau estimates, Illinois's population was 71.4% White (60.7% Non-Hispanic White), 5.6% Asian, 0.2% Some Other Race, 13.9% Black or African American, 0.1% Native Americans and Alaskan Native, 0.1% Pacific Islander and 2.0% from two or more races. The White population continues to remain the largest racial category in Illinois as Hispanics primarily identify as White (61.1%) with others identifying as Some Other Race (32.0%), Multiracial (4.3%), Black (1.4%), American Indian and Alaskan Native (0.2%), Asian (0.1%), and Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (0.1%). By ethnicity, 17.5% of the total population is Hispanic-Latino (of any race) and 82.5% is Non-Hispanic (of any race). If treated as a separate category, Hispanics are the largest minority group in Illinois.

The state's most populous ethnic group, non-Hispanic white, has declined from 83.5% in 1970 to 60.90% in 2018. As of 2011, 49.4% of Illinois's population younger than age 1 were minorities (Note: Children born to white Hispanics or to a sole full or partial minority parent are counted as minorities).

At the 2007 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 1,768,518 foreign-born inhabitants of the state or 13.8% of the population, with 48.4% from Latin America, 24.6% from Asia, 22.8% from Europe, 2.9% from Africa, 1.2% from Canada, and 0.2% from Oceania. Of the foreign-born population, 43.7% were naturalized U.S. citizens, and 56.3% were not U.S. citizens. In 2007, 6.9% of Illinois's population was reported as being under age 5, 24.9% under age 18 and 12.1% were age 65 and over. Females made up approximately 50.7% of the population.

According to the 2007 estimates, 21.1% of the population had German ancestry, 13.3% had Irish ancestry, 8% had British ancestry, 7.9% had Polish ancestry, 6.4% had Italian ancestry, 4.6% listed themselves as American, 2.4% had Swedish ancestry, 2.2% had French ancestry, other than Basque, 1.6% had Dutch ancestry, and 1.4% had Norwegian ancestry. Illinois also has large numbers of African Americans and Latinos (mostly Mexicans and Puerto Ricans).

Chicago, along the shores of Lake Michigan, is the nation's third largest city. In 2000, 23.3% of Illinois's 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. The remaining population lives in the smaller cities and rural areas that dot the state's plains. As of 2000, the state's center of population was at 41°16′42″N 88°22′49″W / 41.278216°N 88.380238°W / 41.278216; -88.380238, located in Grundy County, northeast of the village of Mazon.

Urban areas

See also: Illinois statistical areas and List of municipalities in Illinois

Chicago is the largest city in the state and the third-most populous city in the United States, with its 2010 population of 2,695,598. The U.S. Census Bureau currently lists seven other cities with populations of over 100,000 within Illinois. Based upon the U.S. Census Bureau's official 2010 population: Aurora, a Chicago satellite town that eclipsed Rockford for the title of second-most populous city in Illinois; its 2010 population was 197,899. Rockford, at 152,871, is the third-largest city in the state, and is the largest city in the state not located within the Chicago suburbs. Joliet, located in metropolitan Chicago, is the fourth-largest city in the state, with a population of 147,433. Naperville, a suburb of Chicago, is fifth with 141,853. Naperville and Aurora share a boundary along Illinois Route 59. Springfield, the state's capital, comes in as sixth-most populous with 117,352 residents. Peoria, which decades ago was the second-most populous city in the state, is seventh with 115,007. The eighth-largest and final city in the 100,000 club is Elgin, a northwest suburb of Chicago, with a 2010 population of 108,188.

The most populated city in the state south of Springfield is Belleville, with 44,478 people at the 2010 census. It is located in the Illinois portion of Greater St. Louis (often called the Metro-East area), which has a rapidly growing population of over 700,000.

Other major urban areas include the Champaign-Urbana Metropolitan Area, which has a combined population of almost 230,000 people, the Illinois portion of the Quad Cities area with about 215,000 people, and the Bloomington-Normal area with a combined population of over 165,000.

Largest cities or towns in Illinois
2019 U.S. Census Bureau Estimate
Rank Name Pop.
1 Chicago 2,693,976
2 Aurora 197,757
3 Naperville 148,449
4 Joliet 147,344
5 Rockford 145,609
6 Springfield 114,230
7 Elgin 110,849
8 Peoria 110,417
9 Champaign 88,909
10 Waukegan 86,075

Languages

The official language of Illinois is English, although between 1923 and 1969, state law gave official status to "the American language". 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 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 Country French has mostly gone extinct in Illinois, although it is still celebrated in the French Colonial Historic District.

Religion

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Religion in Illinois (2014)      Protestantism (43%)     Roman Catholicism (28%)     No religion (22%)     Judaism (2%)     Islam (1%)     Buddhism (1%)     Hinduism (1%)     Other religion (1%)     No response given/Unknown (1%)

Christianity

Roman Catholics constitute the single largest religious denomination in Illinois; they are heavily concentrated in and around Chicago, and account for nearly 30% of the state's population. However, taken together as a group, the various Protestant denominations comprise a greater percentage of the state's population than do Catholics. In 2010 Catholics in Illinois numbered 3,648,907. The largest Protestant denominations were the United Methodist Church with 314,461, and the Southern Baptist Convention, with 283,519 members. Illinois has one of the largest concentrations of Missouri Synod Lutherans in the United States.

Illinois played an important role in the early Latter Day Saint movement, with Nauvoo, Illinois, becoming a gathering place for Mormons in the early 1840s. Nauvoo was the location of the succession crisis, which led to the separation of the Mormon movement into several Latter Day Saint sects. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the largest of the sects to emerge from the Mormon schism, has more than 55,000 adherents in Illinois today.

Other Abrahamic religious communities

A significant number of adherents of other Abrahamic faiths can be found in Illinois. Largely concentrated in the Chicago metropolitan area, followers of the Muslim, Baháʼí, and Jewish religions all call the state home. Muslims constituted the largest non-Christian group, with 359,264 adherents. Illinois has the largest concentration of Muslims by state in the country, with 2,800 Muslims per 100,000 citizens.

The largest and oldest surviving Baháʼí House of Worship in the world is located on the shores of Lake Michigan in Wilmette, Illinois, one of eight continental Baháʼí House of Worship. It serves as a space for people of all backgrounds and religions to gather, meditate, reflect, and pray, expressing the Baháʼí principle of the oneness of religions. The Chicago area has a very large Jewish community, particularly in the suburbs of Skokie, Buffalo Grove, Highland Park, and surrounding suburbs. Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is the Windy City's first Jewish mayor.

Other religions

Chicago is also home to a very large population of Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists.

Economy

Agriculture

Corn and soybean fields near Royal, Illinois
Corn and soybean fields near Royal, Illinois
Clayton Township farmstead with soybeans
Clayton Township farmstead with soybeans

Illinois's 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.

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.

Manufacturing

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.

Energy

Illinois wind resource map 50m 800
Average annual wind power distribution for Illinois, 50 m (160 ft) height above ground (2009)

Illinois exports electricity, ranking fifth among states in electricity production and seventh in electricity consumption.

Coal

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

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.

Biofuels

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.

Transportation

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.

Airports

United Airlines corridor, Chicago OHare Airport (6196116901)
An underground pedestrian walkway at O'Hare International Airport illuminated by a neon light show

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.

Rail

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

1987-Illinois-license-plate
Illinois license plate design used throughout the 1980s and 1990s, displaying the Land of Lincoln slogan that has been featured on the state's plates since 1954

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

Museums

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.

Music

Riders Accordian
Joey Miskulin, an inductee of the International Polka Association's Hall of Fame, performing as "Joey the Cowpolka King"

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.

Education

Illinois State Board of education

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) is autonomous of the governor and the state legislature, and administers public education in the state. Local municipalities and their respective school districts operate individual public schools, but the ISBE audits performance of public schools with the Illinois School Report Card. The ISBE also makes recommendations to state leaders concerning education spending and policies.

Primary and secondary schools

See also: List of school districts in Illinois and List of high schools in Illinois

Education is compulsory for ages 7–17 in Illinois. Schools are commonly, but not exclusively, divided into three tiers of primary and secondary education: elementary school, middle school or junior high school, and high school. District territories are often complex in structure. Many areas in the state are actually located in two school districts—one for high school, the other for elementary and middle schools. And such districts do not necessarily share boundaries. A given high school may have several elementary districts that feed into it, yet some of those feeder districts may themselves feed into multiple high school districts.

Colleges and universities

Using the criterion established by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, there are eleven "National Universities" in the state.

The University of Chicago is continuously ranked as one of the world's top ten universities on various independent university rankings, and its Booth School of Business, along with Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management consistently rank within the top five graduate business schools in the country and top ten globally. The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is often ranked among the best engineering schools in the world and in United States.

As of 19 August  2010 (2010 -08-19), six of these rank in the "first tier" among the top 500 National Universities in the nation, as determined by the U.S. News & World Report rankings: the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Loyola University Chicago, the Illinois Institute of Technology, DePaul University, University of Illinois Chicago, Illinois State University, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and Northern Illinois University.

Illinois also has more than twenty additional accredited four-year universities, both public and private, and dozens of small liberal arts colleges across the state. Additionally, Illinois supports 49 public community colleges in the Illinois Community College System.

School financing

Schools in Illinois are funded primarily by property taxes, based on state assessment of property values, rather than direct state contributions. Scholar Tracy Steffes has described Illinois public education as historically “inequitable,” a system where one of “the wealthiest of states” is “the stingiest in its support for education.” There have been several attempts to reform school funding in Illinois. The most notable attempt came in 1973 with the adoption of the Illinois Resource Equalizer Formula, a measure through which it was hoped funding could be collected and distributed to Illinois schools more equitably. However, opposition from affluent Illinois communities who objected to having to pay for the less well-off school districts (many of them Black majority communities, produced by redlining, white flight, and other “soft” segregation methods) resulted in the formula’s abolition in the late 1980s.

Infrastructure

Transportation

Champaign Airport
University of Illinois Willard Airport
See also: List of airports in Illinois, List of Illinois Routes, List of Illinois railroads, and Category:Illinois waterways

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.

Airports

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 (as Chicago splits its air traffic between O'Hare and Midway airports, while Atlanta uses only one airport), with 59.3 million domestic passengers annually, along with 11.4 million international passengers in 2008, O'Hare consistently remains one of the two or three busiest airports globally, and in some years still ranks number one in total flights. It is a major hub for both United Airlines and American Airlines, and a major airport expansion project is currently underway. Midway Airport (MDW), which had been the busiest airport in the world at one point until it was supplanted by O'Hare as the busiest airport in 1962, is now the secondary airport in the Chicago metropolitan area and still ranks as one of the nation's busiest airports. Midway is a major hub for Southwest Airlines and services many other carriers as well. Midway served 17.3 million domestic and international passengers in 2008.

Rail

Illinois has an extensive passenger and freight rail transportation network. Chicago is a national Amtrak hub and in-state passengers are served by Amtrak's Illinois Service, featuring the Chicago to Carbondale Illini and Saluki, the Chicago to Quincy Carl Sandburg and Illinois Zephyr, and the Chicago to St. Louis Lincoln Service. Currently there is trackwork on the Chicago–St. Louis line to bring the maximum speed up to 110 mph (180 km/h), which would reduce the trip time by an hour and a half. Nearly every North American railway meets at Chicago, making it the largest and most active rail hub in the country. Extensive commuter rail is provided in the city proper and some immediate suburbs by the Chicago Transit Authority's 'L' system. One of the largest suburban commuter rail system in the United States, operated by Metra, uses existing rail lines to provide direct commuter rail access for hundreds of suburbs to the city and beyond.

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

The Interstate Highways in Illinois are all segments of the Interstate Highway System that are owned and maintained by the state.

Illinois has the distinction of having the most primary (two-digit) interstates pass through it among all the 50 states with 13. Illinois also ranks third among the fifty states with the most interstate mileage, coming in after California and Texas, which are much bigger states in area.

Major U.S. Interstate highways crossing the state include: Interstate 24 (I-24), I-39, I-41, I-55, I-57, I-64, I-70, I-72, I-74, I-80, I-88, I-90, and I-94.

U.S. highway system

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is responsible for maintaining the U.S Highways in Illinois. The system in Illinois consists of 21 primary highways.

Among the U.S. highways that pass through the state, the primary ones are: US 6, US 12, US 14, US 20, US 24, US 30, US 34, US 36, US 40, US 41, US 45, US 50, US 51, US 52, US 54, US 60, US 62, and US 67.

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