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Illinois ( ), the 21st state admitted to the United States of Americamarker, is the most populous and demographically diverse Midwestern state and the fifth most populous state in the nation. With Chicagomarker in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and western Illinois, and natural resources like coal, timber, and petroleum in the south, Illinois has a broad economic base. Illinois is an important transportation hub; the Port of Chicagomarker connects the Great Lakesmarker to the Mississippi River via the Illinois River. Illinois is often viewed as a microcosm of the United States; an Associated Press analysis of 21 demographic factors found Illinois the "most average state", while Peoriamarker has long been a proverbial social and cultural bellwether.

With a population near 40,000 between 1300 and 1400 AD, the Mississippian city of Cahokiamarker, in what is now southern Illinois, was the largest city within the future United States, until it was surpassed by New York Citymarker between 1790 and 1800. About 2,000 Native American hunters and a small number of French villagers inhabited the Illinois area at the time of the American Revolution. American settlers began arriving from Kentuckymarker in the 1810s; Illinois achieved statehood in 1818. The future metropolis of Chicagomarker was founded in the 1830s on the banks of the Chicago Rivermarker, one of the few natural harbors on southern Lake Michiganmarker. Railroads and John Deere's invention of the self-scouring steel plow made central 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 industry in the northern cities and coal mining in the central and southern areas attracted immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe. Its manufacturing made the state a major arsenal in both World wars. The Great Migration of African Americans from the rural south to Chicago formed a large and important community that created the city's famous jazz and blues cultures.

Approximately 66% of the population of Illinois resides in the northeastern corner of the state, primarily within the city of Chicagomarker and the surrounding areamarker. Three U.S. Presidents have been elected while they were living in Illinois Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and Barack Obama. Ronald Reagan was born in Tampicomarker and grew up in Dixonmarker. Lincoln is interred at Oak Ridge Cemeterymarker in Springfield.


"Illinois" is the modern spelling for the early French missionary/explorers' name for the Illinois people, a name that was spelled endless ways in the early records. One very highly regarded reference book gives this very concise and widely accepted summary of the expressions in question: "Illinois (Ilinwek, from ilini 'man', iw 'is', ek plural termination, changed by the French to ois)". The book lists dozens of spellings for "Illinois" and "Illiniwek" before 1800. Among the earliest are "Alimouek", "Alini8ek", (The French alphabet had no 'w' so '8' was often used for that sound.) "Eriniouai", "Eriniwek", "Ilinioüetz", "Ilinioüek", and "Ilinois".

An 1864 history states that "Erinouai," "Erinouek," "Alimouek," "Ilinimouek," "Liniouek," and "Illinoets" are all synonyms of "Illinois," all mean the men.

The earliest mention of what has come to be "Illinois" was Paul LeJeune's 1640 account that the Eriniouaj were neighbors of the Winnebago.The first European face-to-face meeting with the Illinois on their territory came in 1674 when Marquette followed a beaten prairie path to a village and asked the people who they were. "They replied that they were Ilinois." Father Jacques Marquette, the great Jesuit missionary and explorer, made this oft-quoted observation about that name:
When one speaks the word “Ilinois,” it is as if one said, in their language, “the men".
“As if the other Savages were looked upon by them merely as animals".
In 1697 Father Louis Hennepin, another missionary, offered this observation:
The etymology of this word Illinois comes, as we have said, from the term Illini, which, in the language of that Nation. signifies a man finished or complete.
In the same volume he began a chapter about "...the lake named by the Savages Illinoüack & by us Illinois" with these words:

The Lake of the Illinois signifies in the language of these Barbarians, the Lake of the Men.
The word Illinois signifies a grown man, who is in the prime of his age and vigor.

An 1871 study described the Illinois people's name for themselves as evidence that the "conviction of personal and tribal excellence stamps itself on every savage language."

This entire body of historical contemporary documentation is dismissed by at least one Miamimarker-language theoretical linguist. David Costa maintains that theoretical analysis of modernized, Anglicized spellings reveals that the Illinois component of the Miami-Illinois language is merely folklore and urban legend "which has even crept into anthropological and historical usage," that "neither ‘Ilinioüek’, ‘Illiniwek’, nor, least of all, ‘Illini’ are legitimate names for the Illinois," that the Illinois were not among the people who considered speaking the Illinois language speaking "in the regular way," and that, in short, “virtually all analyses of the name ‘Illinois’ offered over the past 300 years are in fact wrong.”

In 2000 Costa formulated a "reconstructed or hypothetical phonemicized form," Inoka. He came to treat this hypothetical construct as a standard vernacular expression, and developed the point of view that it was this expression that the Illinois people used to refer to themselves rather than any of the "unworkable" urban legend variations of "Illinois" or "Illiniwek." However, a search of the early missionary/explorer records before 1800 for "Inoka" or "*Inoka" does not produce any hits because, of course, the expression first appeared in print in 2000. A search for "Illinois," on the other hand, documents that the name was used by the Illinois people to refer to themselves and by others to refer to the Illinois in hundreds of pages in dozens of volumes published before 1800.

The state is named for the French adaptation of an Algonquian language (perhaps Miami) word apparently meaning "s/he speaks normally" (Miami ilenweewa, Proto-Algonquian *elen-, "ordinary" and -we·, "to speak"). Alternately, the name is often associated with the indigenous Illiniwek people, a consortium of Algonquian-language tribes that once thrived in the area. The name Illiniwek is frequently (incorrectly) said to mean "tribe of superior men"; or "men". Both etymologies are unworkable.



Copper plates found at pre-Columbian burial sites in Illinois.
Indigenous peoples lived along the waterways of the Illinois area for thousands of years. The Koster site has been excavated and demonstrated 7,000 years of continuous habitation. Cahokiamarker, the largest regional chiefdom and urban center of the pre-Columbian Mississippian culture, was located near present-day Collinsville, Illinoismarker. At its peak, the city had 30,000 to 40,000 people, a population not reached again north of Mexico until between 1790 and 1800 in New York. They built more than 100 mounds and a Woodhenge in a planned design expressing the culture's cosmology. The civilization vanished in the 15th century for unknown reasons, but historians and archeologists have speculated that the people depleted the area of resources.

The next major power in the region was the Illinois Confederation or Illini, a political alliance among several tribes. There were about 25,000 Illinois Indians in 1700, but systematic attacks and warfare by the Iroquois reduced their numbers by 90%. Gradually, members of the Potawatomi, Miami, Sauk, and other tribes came in from the east and north. In the American Revolution, the Illinois and Potawatomi supported the American colonists' cause.

European exploration

Frenchmarker 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 Peoriamarker, in 1682 a fort atop Starved Rockmarker in today's Starved Rock State Parkmarker. As a result of this French exploration, Illinois was part of the French empire until 1763, when it passed to the Britishmarker. The small French settlements continued; a few British soldiers were posted in Illinois, but there were no British or American settlers. In 1778 George Rogers Clark claimed the Illinois Country for Virginiamarker. The area was ceded by Virginia to the new United States in 1783 and became part of the Northwest Territory.

19th century

The Illinois-Wabash Company was an early claimant to much of Illinois. The Illinois Territory was created on February 3, 1809, with its capital at Kaskaskiamarker. In 1818, Illinois became the 21st U.S. state. The new state debated slavery, finally rejecting it, as settlers poured into southern Illinois from Kentucky.

Due to the efforts of Nathaniel Pope, the delegate from Illinois, Congress shifted the northern border north to 42° 30' north, which added to the state, including Chicago, Galenamarker and the lead mining region. The capital remained at Kaskaskia, but in 1819 was moved to Vandaliamarker. In 1832 the Black Hawk War was fought in Illinois and current day Wisconsinmarker between the United States and the Sauk, Fox and Kickapoo Indian tribes. The Indians withdrew to Iowa; when they attempted to return, they were defeated by U.S. militia and forced back to Iowa.The winter of 1830–1831 is called the "Winter of the Deep Snow"; a sudden, deep snowfall blanketed the state, making travel impossible for the rest of the winter, and many travelers perished. Several severe winters followed, including the "Winter of the Sudden Freeze". On December 20, 1836, a fast-moving cold front passed through, freezing puddles in minutes and killing many travelers who could not reach shelter. The adverse weather resulted in crop failures in the northern part of the state. The southern part of the state shipped food north and this may have contributed to its name: "Little Egypt", after the Biblical story of Joseph in Egypt supplying grain to his brothers.

By 1839, the Mormon utopian city of Nauvoomarker, located on the Mississippi River, was created, settled, and flourished. In 1844 the Mormon leader Joseph Smith was murdered in the Carthagemarker jail. After close to six years of rapid development, the Mormon city of Nauvoo, which rivaled Chicago as Illinois' largest city, saw a rapid decline after the Mormons left Illinois in 1846 for the West in a mass exodus.

The state has a varied history in relation to slavery and the treatment of African Americans in general. Some slave labor was used before it became a territory, but slavery was banned by the time Illinois became a state in 1818. As the southern part of the state, known as "Little Egypt", was largely settled by migrants from the South, the section was sympathetic to the South and slave labor. For a while the section continued to allow settlers to bring slaves with them for labor, but citizens were opposed to allowing blacks as permanent residents. The Illinois Constitution of 1848 was written with a provision for exclusionary laws to be passed. In 1853 John A. Logan, later a Union general in the American Civil War, introduced such bills. Laws were passed to prohibit all African Americans, including freedmen, from settling in the state.

Chicagomarker gained prominence as a Great Lakesmarker port and then as an Illinois and Michigan Canalmarker 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 Illinois in the 19th century, Illinois played an important role in the formation of labor unions in the United States. The Pullman Strike and Haymarket Riotmarker in particular greatly influenced the development of the American labor movement. From Sunday, October 8 until Tuesday, October 10, 1871, the Great Chicago Fire burned in downtown Chicago, destroying .

In 1847, after lobbying by Dorothea L. Dix, Illinois became one of the first states to establish a system of state-supported treatment of mental illness and disabilities, replacing local almshouses.

Civil War

During the American Civil War, over 250,000 Illinois men served in the Union Army, a figure surpassed by only New Yorkmarker, Pennsylvaniamarker, and Ohiomarker. 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.

Twentieth century

In the 20th century, Illinois emerged as one of the most important states in the union, with a population of nearly 5 million bolstered by continued immigration from southern and eastern Europe, and by African-Americans from Mississippimarker, Louisianamarker, and Arkansasmarker. By the end of the century, the population would reach 12.4 million. The Century of Progressmarker World's Fair was held at Chicago in 1933. Oil strikes in Marion Countymarker and Crawford Countymarker lead to a boom in 1937, and, by 1939, Illinois ranked fourth in U.S. oil production.

Following World War II, Argonne National Laboratorymarker, near Chicago, activated the first experimental nuclear power generating system in the United States in 1957. By 1960, the first privately financed nuclear plant in United States, Dresden 1, was dedicated near Morris. 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 Oceanmarker. In 1960, Ray Kroc opened the first McDonald's franchise in Des Plainesmarker (which still exists today as a museum, with a working McDonald's across the street).

In 1970, the state's sixth constitutional convention authored a new constitution to replace the 1870 version, which was ratified in December. The first Farm Aid concert was held in Champaignmarker to benefit American farmers, in 1985. The worst upper Mississippi River flood of the century, the Great Flood of 1993, inundated many towns and thousands of acres of farmland. It also flooded many homes and streets slowing transportational services.


Illinois, showing major cities and roads

The Northeastern border of Illinois is Lake Michiganmarker. Its eastern border with Indianamarker is the Wabash River and a north-south line above Post Vincennesmarker, 87° 31′ 30″ west longitude. Its northern border with Wisconsinmarker is fixed at 42° 30' north latitude. Its western border with Missourimarker and Iowamarker is the Mississippi River. Its southern border with Kentuckymarker is the Ohio River. Illinois also borders Michiganmarker, but only via a water boundary in Lake Michigan.

Though Illinois lies entirely in the Interior Plains, it has three major geographical divisions. The first is Northern Illinois, dominated by the Chicago metropolitan areamarker, including the city of Chicagomarker, its suburbs, and the adjoining exurban area into which the metropolis is expanding. As defined by the federal government, the Chicago metro area includes a few counties in Indianamarker and Wisconsinmarker and stretches across much of northeastern Illinois. It is a cosmopolitan city, densely populated, industrialized, and settled by a wide variety of ethnic groups. The city of Rockfordmarker, the second largest metropolitan area and the state's third largest city sits along Interstates 39 and 90 some northwest of Chicago.

Southward and westward, the second major division is Central Illinois, an area of mostly prairie. Known as the Heart of Illinois, it is characterized by small towns and mid-sized cities. The western section (west of the Illinois River) was originally part of the Military Tract of 1812 and forms the distinctive western bulge of the state. Agriculture, particularly corn and soybeans, as well as educational institutions and manufacturing centers, figure prominently. Cities include Peoriamarker, the third largest metropolitan area in Illinois at 370,000; Springfieldmarker, the state capital; Quincymarker; Decaturmarker; Bloomington-Normal; and Champaignmarker-Urbanamarker. Though the Illinois Quad Citiesmarker are geographically almost at the same latitude as Chicago, they are often grouped in Central Illinois due to economic, political, and cultural ties to this region.

The third division is Southern Illinois, comprising the area south of U.S. Route 50, and including Little Egypt, near the juncture of the Mississippi River and Ohio River. This region can be distinguished from the other two by its warmer climate, different variety of crops (including some cotton farming in the past), more rugged topography (the southern tip is unglaciated with the remainder glaciated during the Illinoian Stage and earlier ages), as well as small-scale oil deposits and coal mining. The area is a little more populated than the central part of the state with the population centered in two areas. First, the Illinois suburbs of St. Louismarker comprise the second most populous metropolitan area in Illinois with nearly 600,000 inhabitants, and are known collectively as the Metro-East. The second area is Williamson Countymarker, Jackson Countymarker, Franklin Countymarker, Saline Countymarker and Perry Countymarker. It is home to around 210,000 residents.

The region outside of the Chicago Metropolitan area is often described as "downstate Illinois". However, residents of central and southern Illinois view their regions as geographically and culturally distinct, and do not necessarily use this term.

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 Moundmarker, located in this region, has the state's highest elevation above sea level at 1,235 feet (376 m). The highest structure in Illinois is Willis Towermarker with a roof elevation of approximately above sea level. [Chicago elevation (580 ft) + tower height (1454 ft) = 2034.]

The floodplain on the Mississippi River from Altonmarker to the Kaskaskia River is the American Bottom, and is the site of the ancient city of Cahokiamarker. It was a region of early German settlement, as well as the site of the first state capital, at Kaskaskiamarker which is separated from the rest of the state by the Mississippi River.

A portion of southeastern Illinois is part of the extended Evansville, Indianamarker Metro Area, commonly referred to as the Tri-State with Indiana and Kentucky. Seven Illinois counties are in the area.


Because of its nearly length and mid-continental situation, Illinois has a widely varying climate. Most of Illinois has a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfa), with hot, humid summers and cool to cold winters. The southernmost part of the state, from about Carbondalemarker southward, borders on a humid subtropical climate (Koppen Cfa), with more moderate winters. Average yearly precipitation for Illinois varies from just over at the southern tip to around in the northern portion of the state. Normal annual snowfall exceeds in the Chicago area, while the southern portion of the state normally receives less than . The all time high temperature was , recorded on 14 July 1954, at East St. Louis, Illinoismarker, while the all time low temperature was , recorded on 5 January 1999, at Congerville, Illinoismarker.

Illinois averages around 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 annually. The deadliest tornadoes on record in the nation have occurred largely in Illinois. The Tri-State Tornado of 1925 killed 695 people in three states, 613 of whom lived in Illinois. Though this figure can be attributed to the historically higher population of Illinois compared to neighboring states (past to present) as well as modern developments in storm tracking, death tolls due to tornadoes have dramatically declined.

City Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Cairo 41/25 47/29 57/39 69/50 77/58 86/67 90/71 88/69 81/61 71/49 57/39 46/30
Chicago 30/16 36/21 47/30 59/40 71/51 81/61 85/65 83/65 75/57 64/45 48/34 36/22
Edwardsville 36/19 42/24 52/34 64/45 75/55 84/64 89/69 86/66 79/58 68/46 53/35 41/25
Moline 30/12 36/18 48/29 62/39 73/50 83/60 86/64 84/62 76/53 64/42 48/30 34/18
Peoria 31/14 37/20 49/30 62/40 73/51 82/60 86/65 84/63 77/54 64/42 49/31 36/20
Rockford 27/11 33/16 46/27 59/37 71/48 80/58 83/63 81/61 74/52 62/40 46/29 32/17
Springfield 33/17 39/22 51/32 63/42 74/53 83/62 86/66 84/64 78/55 67/44 51/34 38/23


As of 2008, Illinois has an estimated population of 12,901,563, which is an increase of 75,754 from the prior year and an increase of 481,903 or 3.9%, since the year 2000. This includes a natural increase since the last census of 644,967 people; that is, 1,505,709 births minus 860,742 deaths and a decrease due to the net migration of 159,182 people out of the state. International immigration to the state resulted in an increase of 425,893 people and domestic migration produced a loss of 585,075 people.

As of 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 Northern America 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. Additionally, the racial distributions were as follows: 65.0% White American, 15.0% African American, 14.9% Latino American, 4.3% Asian American, 0.3% American Indian and Alaska Natives, and 0.1% Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islander American. In 2007, 6.9% of Illinois' 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, 7.9% had Polish ancestry, 6.7% had English 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, 1.4% had Norwegian ancestry and 1.3% had Scottish ancestry. Also, 21.8% of the population age 5 years and over reported speaking a language other than English, with 12.8% of the population speaking Spanish, 5.6% speaking other Indo-European languages, 2.5% speaking Asian and Austronesian languages, and 0.8% speaking other languages.

At the northern edge of the state on Lake Michigan lies Chicago, the nation's third largest city. In 2000, 23.3% of the population lived in the city of Chicago, 43.3% in Cook County and 65.6% in the counties of the Chicago metropolitan areamarker: 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 , located in Grundy Countymarker, northeast of the village of Mazonmarker.


Catholics and Protestants are the largest religious groups in Illinois. Roman Catholics, who are heavily concentrated in and around Chicago, account for around 30% of the population. Chicago and its suburbs are also home to a large and growing population of Hindu, Jews, Muslims, and Sikhs. The largest denominations by number of adherents in 2000 were the Roman Catholic Church with 3,874,933; the United Methodist Church with 365,182; the Southern Baptist Convention with 305,838 and Judaism with 270,000


The 2007 total gross state product for Illinois was approximately $609 billion USD. The states per capita personal income in 2007 was $41,012 USD.

Illinois's state income tax is calculated by multiplying net income by a flat rate, currently 3%. There are two rates for state sales tax: 6.25% for general merchandise and 1% for qualifying food, drugs and medical appliances. The property tax is the largest single tax in Illinois, and is the major source of tax revenue for local government taxing districts. The property tax is a local not state tax, imposed by local government taxing districts, which include counties, township, municipalities, school districts and special taxation districts. The property tax in Illinois is imposed only on real property.


Illinois's agricultural outputs are corn, soybeans, hog, cattle, dairy products, and wheat. In most years Illinois is the leading state for the production of soybeans, with a harvest of 500 million bushels (14 million metric ton) in 2004. Illinois is ranked second in total corn production. Illinois' universities are actively researching alternative agricultural products as alternative crops.


As of 2003, the leading manufacturing industries in Illinois, based upon value-added, were chemical manufacturing ($16.6 billion), food manufacturing ($14.4 billion), machinery manufacturing ($13.6 billion), fabricated metal products ($10.5 billion), plastics and rubber products ($6.8 billion), transportation equipment ($6.7 billion), and computer and electronic products ($6.4 billion).


By the early 2000s, Illinois's economy had moved toward a dependence on high-value-added services, such as financial trading, higher education, logistics, and medicine. In some cases, these services clustered around institutions that hearkened back to Illinois's earlier economies. For example, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, a trading exchange for global derivatives, had begun its life as an agricultural futures market. Other important non-manufacturing industries include publishing, petroleum and coal.


Illinois is a net importer of fuels for energy, despite large coal resources and some minor oil production. Illinois exports electricity, ranking fifth among states in electricity production and seventh in electricity consumption.


About 68% of Illinois has coal-bearing strata of the Pennsylvanian geologic period. According to the Illinois State Geological Survey, 211 billion tons of bituminous coal are estimated to lie under the surface, having a total heating value greater than the estimated oil deposits in the Arabian Peninsula. However, this coal has a high sulfur content, which causes acid rain unless special equipment is used to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions. Many Illinois power plants are not equipped to burn high-sulfur coal. In 1999, Illinois produced 40.4 million tons of coal, but only 17 million tons (42%) of Illinois coal was consumed in Illinois. Most of the coal produced in Illinois is exported to other states, while much of the coal burned for power in Illinois (21 million tons in 1998) is mined in the Powder River Basinmarker of Wyomingmarker.

Mattoonmarker was recently chosen as the site for the Department of Energy's FutureGenmarker project, a 275 megawatt experimental zero emission coal-burning power plant which just received a second round of funding from the DOE.


Illinois is a leading refiner of petroleum in the American Midwest, with a combined crude oil distillation capacity of nearly . However, Illinois has very limited crude oil proved reserves that account for less than 1% of U.S. crude oil proved reserves. Residential heating is 81% natural gas compared to less than 1% heating oil. Illinois is ranked 14th in oil production among states, with a daily output of approximately in 2005.

Nuclear power

Nuclear power arguably began in Illinois with the Chicago Pile-1marker, the world's first artificial self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction in the world's first nuclear reactor, built on the University of Chicagomarker campus. With six major nuclear power plant (Braidwoodmarker, Byronmarker, Clintonmarker, Dresdenmarker, LaSallemarker, and Quad Citiesmarker) housing eleven reactors, Illinois is ranked first among the 50 states of the US in nuclear generating capacity. In 2005, 48% of Illinois' electricity was generated using nuclear power.

Wind power

Estimated wind power resources at 50m above ground
Illinois has seen growing interest in the use of wind power for electrical generation. Most of Illinois was rated in 2001 as "fair" for wind energy production by the Department of Energy, with some western sections rated "good" and parts of the south rated "poor". These ratings are for wind turbines with 50m hub heights; newer wind turbines are taller, able to reach stronger winds farther from the ground. As a result, more areas of Illinois have become prospective wind farm sites. As of June 2009, Illinois had 915.06 MW of installed wind power nameplate capacity with another 702.9 MW under construction. Illinois ranked tenth among U.S. states in installed wind power capacity, and was on pace to become the tenth state to surpass 1 GW. Large wind farms in Illinois include Cayuga Ridge South, Mendota Hills, Rail Splitter, and Twin Groves.

As of 2006, wind energy represented only a negligible part of Illinois' energy production, and it was estimated that wind power could provide 5-10% of the state's energy needs.In 2007, the Illinois General Assembly mandated that by 2025, 25% of all electricity generated in Illinois is to come from renewable resources.


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, Illinoismarker is the world's leading producer of ethanol from corn.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaignmarker is one of the partners in the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI), a $500 million biofuels research project funded by petroleum giant BP.

Arts and culture


Illinois has numerous museums. The state of the art Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museummarker in Springfield is the largest presidential library in the country; numerous museums in the city of Chicago are considered some of the best in the world. These include the John G.marker Shedd Aquariummarker, the Field Museum of Natural Historymarker, the Art Institute of Chicagomarker and the Museum of Science and Industrymarker. The Museum of Science and Industry is the only building remaining from the 1893 World's Columbian Expositionmarker held in Chicago to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus' discovery of the new world.


Because of its large population, Chicago is the focus of most professional sports in Illinois, though St. Louis sports teams and Indianapolis sports teams are also supported in areas of the state in closer proximity to those cities.

The state houses two Major League Baseball teams. The Chicago Cubs of the National League play in the second-oldest major league stadium (Wrigley Fieldmarker) and are widely known for not winning the World Series, since 1908. The Chicago White Sox of the American League won the World Series in 2005, their first since 1917. The Chicago Bears football team has won nine total NFL Championships, the last occurring in Super Bowl XX in 1986. Coincidentally, the city's Arena Football League team, the Chicago Rush, won ArenaBowl XX in 2006. The Chicago Bulls of the NBA is one of the most recognized basketball teams in the world, due largely to the efforts of Michael Jordan, who led the team to six NBA championships in eight seasons in the 1990s. The Chicago Blackhawks of the NHL began playing in 1926, as a member of the Original Six and have won three Stanley Cups, most recently in 1961 (currently the longest Stanley Cup drought of any NHL team). The Chicago Fire soccer club is a member of MLS and is one of the league's most successful and best-supported, since its founding in 1997, winning one league and four Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cups in that timespan. The Chicago Wolves is an AHL team that is also very popular and has been a winning team since its first season. The Chicago Blaze is another minor league hockey team, playing in the All American Hockey League. In 2006, Chicago became home of the first indoor lacrosse team, called the Chicago Shamrox, who are part of the National Lacrosse League (NLL). The Chicago Sky of the WNBA and the Chicago Bandits of the NPF, who won their first title in 2008, are also located in the city.

The city was formerly home to several other teams, such as the Chicago Cardinals of the NFL, the Chicago Cougars of the WHA, the Chicago Rockers of the CBA, the Chicago Skyliners of the IBL, the Chicago Bruisers of Arena Football, the Chicago Blitz of the USFL, the Chicago Sting of the MISL, the Chicago Power of the NPSL and the Chicago Blaze of the NWBL.

Chicago is not the only place in Illinois where professional sports are played. The Rockford Lightning is one of the oldest CBA teams in the league. The Peoria Chiefs and Kane County Cougars are minor league baseball teams affiliated with MLB. The Schaumburg Flyers and Joliet JackHammers are prominent Independent League baseball teams.

In addition to the Chicago Wolves, the AHL also has two teams in Illinois outside of Chicago: the Rockford IceHogs serves as the AHL affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks, and the Peoria Rivermen is the AHL affiliate of the St. Louis Blues.

Illinois has a long tradition of motor racing. Oval tracks in Jolietmarker, Ciceromarker and Madisonmarker have hosted NASCAR, CART and IRL races, whereas the Sports Car Club of America among other national and regonal road racing clubs ahve visited circuits in Jolietmarker, South Beloitmarker and Carpentersville. Illinois also has several short tracks and dragstrips.

Parks and recreation

The Illinois state parks' system began in 1908 with what is now Fort Massacmarker 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 Corridormarker near Lockportmarker; the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trailmarker; the Lincoln Home National Historic Sitemarker in Springfield; the Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail; the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail; and the American Discovery Trail.


Under its constitution, Illinois has three branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial. Legislative functions are granted to the Illinois General Assembly, composed of the 118-member Illinois House of Representatives and the 59-member Illinois Senate. The executive branch is led by the Governor of Illinois, but four other executive officials are separately elected by the people. The judiciary is composed of the Supreme Court of Illinoismarker and the lower appellate and circuit courts.


Historically, Illinois was a major battleground state between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. In recent elections, it has gradually shifted more Democratic at the national and state level and has become a solid Democratic state in the Midwest. Chicago and most of Cook County votes strongly Democratic. In addition, Democratic voters have moved to the traditionally Republican "collar counties" (the suburbs surrounding Chicago's Cook County, Illinoismarker), which are becoming increasingly diverse. Republicans continue to prevail in rural northern and central Illinois; Democrats usually win in southern Illinois and in the Quad Citiesmarker and East St. Louismarker metropolitan areas. Illinois has voted for Democratic presidential candidates in the last five elections. Barack Obama easily won the state's 21 electoral votes in 2008, by a margin of 25 percentage points with 61.9% of the vote.

Politics in the state, particularly those of the Chicago machine, have been famous for highly visible corruption cases, as well as for crusading reformers, such as governors Adlai Stevenson (D) and James R. Thompson (R). In 2006, former Governor George Ryan (R) was convicted of racketeering and bribery. In 2008, then-Governor Rod Blagojevich (D) was served a criminal complaint on corruption charges, stemming from allegations that he conspired to sell the vacated Senate seat left by President Barack Obama (D) to the highest bidder. In the late 20th century, Congressman Dan Rostenkowski (D) was imprisoned for mail fraud; former governor and federal judge Otto Kerner, Jr. (D) was imprisoned for bribery; and State Auditor of Public Accounts (Comptroller) Orville Hodge (R) was imprisoned for embezzlement. In 1912, William Lorimer, the GOP boss of Chicago, was expelled from the U.S. Senate for bribery and in 1921, Governor Len Small (R) was found to have defrauded the state of a million dollars.

Illinois has the unique distinction of having popularly elected two of the six African Americans who have served in the U.S. Senate: Carol Moseley-Braun and Barack Obama. Roland Burris was appointed to the Senate to replace Barack Obama, who resigned to become president. Illinois has sent more African-Americans to the Senate than any other state, with three in total.

The first Governor was Shadrach Bond, who served from 1818 to 1822.

Two presidents have claimed Illinois as their political base: former Representative of Illinois's 7th congressional district Abraham Lincoln (born in Kentucky) and the current President of the United States, former Illinois U.S. Senator Barack Obama (born in Honolulumarker, Hawaiimarker). President Ronald Reagan was born in Tampico, Illinoismarker, but ran from his political home state of California, where he served as Governor. Former Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson was the Democratic nominee for president in 1952 and 1956.

Law enforcement

In 2000, Illinois was ranked 4th in the U.S. in the number of full-time sworn officers with 321 per 100,000 persons, behind Louisianamarker (415), New Yorkmarker (384), and New Jerseymarker (345). In this ranking, only New York had a higher total population than Illinois. Illinois is also near the top of most law enforcement numbers lists, such as number of agencies per state, number of agencies with special jurisdictions, and number of local police agencies. Even taking into account that Illinois is the fifth most populous state, many of the ratios are higher than more populated states. There is much overlap in jurisdiction amongst the different law enforcement agencies.

At the state level, there are at least eleven law enforcement agencies. At the county level, there are county sheriffs, forest preserve police and many specialized police forces. At the local level, most cities and many villages have municipal police forces, park district police forces, and even local specialized police forces. Many colleges also have their own police or public safety forces that have full police power on campus.


Illinois State Board of Education

The Illinois State Board of Education or ISBE, autonomous of the governor and the state legislature, 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

Education is compulsory from kindergarten through the twelfth grade in Illinois, 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. In some cases, elementary, middle and junior high schools of a single district feed into high schools in another district.

Colleges and universities

Using the criterion established by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, there are eleven "National Universities" in the state. Three of these rank among the top 100 National Universities in the United States, as determined by the U.S. News & World Report rankings: the University of Chicagomarker (8), Northwestern Universitymarker (12) and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaignmarker (40). The other eight National Universities, including two more that rank in the top 120 are: Illinois Institute of Technologymarker (102), Loyola University Chicagomarker (116), DePaul Universitymarker, Illinois State Universitymarker, Southern Illinois University, the University of Illinois at Chicagomarker, Northern Illinois Universitymarker and Trinity International University.

Besides the "National Universities", Illinois has several other major universities and colleges, both public and private, including: Eastern Illinois Universitymarker, Northeastern Illinois Universitymarker, Western Illinois Universitymarker, Columbia College Chicagomarker, Bradley Universitymarker, Roosevelt University, Chicago State Universitymarker and Robert Morris University. There are also dozens of small liberal arts colleges across the state. Additionally, Illinois supports 49 public community colleges in the Illinois Community College System.



Because of its central location and its proximity to the Rust Belt and Grain Beltmarker, Illinois is a national crossroads for air, auto, rail and truck traffic.

Chicago's O'Hare International Airportmarker (ORD) is one of the busiest airports in the world, with 59.3 million domestic passengers annually, along with 11.4 million international passengers in 2008. It is a major hub for United Airlines and American Airlines, and a major airport expansion project is currently underway. Chicago Midway International Airportmarker (MDW) is the secondary airport in the Chicago metropolitan area, serving 17.3 million domestic and international passengers in 2008.

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 which would reduce the trip time by an hour and a half. Nearly every North American railway meets at Chicago, making it one of the largest and most active rail hubs in the world. Extensive commuter rail is provided in the city proper and some immediate suburbs by the Chicago Transit Authority's 'L' system. 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.

Major U.S. Interstate highways crossing the state include:I-24, I-39, I-55, I-57, I-64, I-70, I-72, I-74, I-80, I-88, I-90, and I-94. Illinois carries the distinction of having the most primary (2-digit) Interstates pass through it among the 50 states. In 2007, there were 1,248 traffic fatalities on Illinois roadways, the fewest since 1924.

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 Michiganmarker connects Illinois to all waterways east.

Urban areas

Rank City Population (2008 est.) Image
1 Chicagomarker 2,853,114
2 Auroramarker 171,782
3 Rockfordmarker 157,272
4 Jolietmarker 146,125
5 Napervillemarker 143,117
6 Springfieldmarker 117,352
7 Peoriamarker 114,114
8 Elginmarker 106,330

Chicagomarker is the largest city in the state and the third most populous city in the United Statesmarker, with its 2008 estimated population of 2,853,114. The U.S. Census Bureau currently lists seven other cities with populations of over 100,000 within Illinois. Based upon the Census Bureau's official 2008 population estimates, they are: Auroramarker, a Chicago outlier which at 171,782, eclipsed Rockfordmarker for the title of "Second City" of Illinois in 2006. However, at 157,272, Rockford is not only the number three city, it also remains the largest city in the state not located within the Chicago metropolitan area. Jolietmarker, located southwest of Chicago, is the fourth largest city in the state, with a population of 146,125. It is also one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. Napervillemarker, a suburb of Chicago, is fifth with 143,117, it shares its western border with the state's second largest city, Auroramarker, along Illinois Route 59. Springfieldmarker, the state capital of Illinois, comes in sixth with 117,352. Peoriamarker, which decades ago was the second largest city in the state, comes in seventh with 114,114. The eighth largest and final city in the 100,000 club is Elginmarker, an outlying northwest suburb of Chicago with a 2008 estimated population of 106,330.

Other major urban areas include the Illinois portion of Greater St. Louis (often called the Metro-East area), which has a population of over 691,000 people, the Illinois portion of the Quad Citiesmarker area, which has a population of 215,000, the Champaign-Urbana Metropolitan Area, which has a combined population of 210,000 and the Bloomington-Normal area with a combined population of over 125,000.


See also


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  2. "Chicago's Front Door: Chicago Harbor." A digital exhibit published online by the Chicago Public Library. [1]. Retrieved October 20, 2007.
  3. Hodge, F. W. (1910) Handbook of American Indians north of Mexico, Volume 1 597-599.
  4. Perrot, N. (1864). Mémoire sur les moeurs, coustumes, et relligion des sauvages de l'Amérique Septentrionale, 220.
  5. LeJeune P. (1641). Account of what happened in New France in the year 1640, 132.
  6. Marquette, J. (1674). Travel and discovery of some countries and nations of North America, 15.
  7. Marquette, Travel and discovery, 20.
  8. Hennepin, L. (1697). New Discovery of a Vast Country situated in America, between New Mexico and the Frozen Ocean, 196.
  9. Hennepin, Discovery, 53.
  10. Trumbull, J. Hammod (1871). On Algonkin Names for Man, 2 142.
  11. Costa, D. (2007 January). [ Illinois] in The Society For The Study Of The Indigenous Languages Of The Americas Newsletter, XXV:4, 25 (4).
  12. Costa, David J. 2000. "Miami-Illinois Tribe Names", in Papers of the 31st Algonquian Conference, University of Manitoba Press, p. 46.
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  17. Frederick E. Hoxie, Encyclopedia of North American Indians (1996) 266-7, 506
  18. Duff, Judge Andrew D. Egypt. Republished, Springhouse Magazine, accessed May 1, 2006.
  19. James Pickett Jones, Black Jack: John A. Logan and Southern Illinois in the Civil War Era 1967 ISBN 0-8093-2002-9.
  20. Roland Tweet, Miss Gale's Books: The Beginnings of the Rock Island Public Library, (Rock Island, IL: Rock Island Public Library, 1997), 15.
  21. Illinois in the Civil War. Illinois Infantry, Cavalry, and Artillery Units. Retrieved November 26, 2006.
  22. Illinois State Climatologist Office. Climate Maps for Illinois. Retrieved April 22, 2006.
  23. " Annual average number of tornadoes, 1953–2004", NOAA National Climatic Data Center. Retrieved on October 24, 2006.
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  36. " State Soy Crop Statistics", Soy Stats, The American Soybean Association.
  37. " Ethanol Fact Sheet", Illinois Corn Growers Association.
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  39. " Illinois in the Global Energy Marketplace", Robert Finley, 2001. Illinois State Geological Survey publication.
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  42. United States Department of Energy. Illinois Nuclear Industry. Retrieved April 4, 2006.
  43. "Illinois Wind." Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs, Western Illinois University
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  47. " Ethanol Fact Sheet", Illinois Corn Growers Association.
  48. " BP Pledges $500 Million for Energy Biosciences Institute and Plans New Business to Exploit Research",, June 14, 2006.
  49. " Gov. Blagojevich joins Gov. Schwarzenegger, top BP executives to celebrate launch of $500 million biosciences energy research partnership with University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, UC-Berkeley". Press release, February 1, 2007.
  50. Wikisource. Illinois Constitution of 1818.
  51. U.S. Senate: Art & History Home

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