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US State
NicknameLand of Lincoln; The Prairie State
MottoState sovereignty, national union
Official languagesEnglish
Spoken languagesEnglish (80.8%)
Spanish (10.9%)
Polish (1.6%)
Other (6.7%)
Largest cityChicago
Largest metro areaChicago metropolitan area
Area Ranked25th
Total57914 sq mi 149998 km2
Width210 mi 340 km
Length395 mi 629 km
% water4.0/ Negligible
Pop. Rank5th
Total12,830,632 (2010)
Density223.4 /sq mi 86.27 /km2
Median income$54,124 (17)
Highest pointCharles Mound
1235 ft 377 m
Mean600 ft 182 m
Lowest pointMississippi River
279 ft 85 m
Other information
Admission to UnionDecember 3, 1818 (21st)
GovernorPat Quinn (D)
Lieutenant GovernorSheila Simon (D)
LegislatureGeneral Assembly
Upper houseSenate
Lower houseHouse of Representatives
U.S. SenatorsDick Durbin (D)
Mark Kirk (R)
U.S. House delegation11 Republicans, 8 Democrats
Time zoneCentral: UTC-6/-5

     Home | State | Illinois

Illinois (c-enaudio=en-us-Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. 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 broad economic base. Illinois is a major transportation hub. The Port of Chicago connects the state to other global ports from the Great Lakes, via the St. 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 ranked as one of the world's busiest airports. As the "most average state", Illinois has long had a reputation as a bellwether both in social and cultural terms and politics.

In the 1810s, settlers began arriving from Kentucky. In 1818 Illinois achieved statehood. The state's population originally grew from south to north. Chicago was founded in the 1830s on the banks of the Chicago River, one of the few natural harbors on southern Lake Michigan. Railroads and 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. 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 established a large community of African Americans in Chicago that 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, President Ronald Reagan, whose political career was based in California, was the only US President actually 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.

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