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Middle Tennessee is a distinct portion of the state of Tennesseemarker, delineated according to state law as the 41 counties in the Middle Grand Division of Tennessee. Cumberland Region Tomorrow, Leadership Middle Tennessee, and the Nashville Chamber of Commerce all consider Middle Tennessee to consist of a smaller area of only ten counties.

According to custom, Middle Tennessee consists of that portion of the state east of the Tennessee River's western crossing of the state (in which it flows northward back into Tennessee after having flowed through northern Alabamamarker) and west of the dividing line between the Eastern and Central time zones. Exceptions to this rule are that Hardin Countymarker, which is located on both sides of the Tennessee River, is considered to be entirely in West Tennessee and that Bledsoemarker, Cumberlandmarker, Marionmarker and Sequatchiemarker counties are generally considered to be in East Tennessee despite being in the Central Time Zone. Also, the current legal definition places Sequatchie County in the middle grand division instead of the eastern division.

Middle Tennessee is known for its rolling hills and fertile stream valleys. It is also known for its major city, Nashvillemarker, which is the state capital. Other major sizeable cities in Middle Tennessee include Clarksvillemarker and Murfreesboromarker. Politically, it has provided the Democratic Party with some of its leading statesmen, and still is largely inclined toward it, although an increasing Republican trend has been seen in the Nashville suburbs. Geographically it is composed predominantly of the Nashville Basin and the Highland Rim, although the western portion of the Cumberland Plateau also extends into Middle Tennessee.

Middle Tennessee also has an abundance of institutions of higher learning--most notably Vanderbiltmarker, Belmontmarker, Lipscombmarker and Tennessee Statemarker universities in Nashville and Tennessee Tech Universitymarker in Cookevillemarker. Other prominent universities are Austin Peay State Universitymarker in Clarksville, the University of the South in Sewaneemarker, Cumberland University in Lebanon, and Middle Tennessee State Universitymarker in Murfreesboro, which is the state's second largest institution of higher learning, just behind the University of Tennesseemarker in Knoxville.

Unlike the geographic designations of regions of most U.S. states, the term Middle Tennessee has legal as well as socioeconomic meaning. Middle Tennessee, West Tennessee and East Tennessee comprise the state's three Grand Divisions. According to the Tennessee State Constitution, no more than two of the state supreme court's five justices can come from any one Grand Division. A similar rule applies to certain other commissions and boards as well, to prevent them from showing a geographic bias.

Middle Tennessee is the largest in area and least densely populated of the three Grand Divisions. At the 2000 census it had 2,069,976 inhabitants living in its 40 counties, which have a combined land area of 44,054.17 km² (17,009.41 sq mi). Its population was 36.38 percent of the state's total, and its land area is 41.27 percent of the state's land area. Its population density was 46.987/km² (121.696/sq mi) at the census.

Notes

  1. Tennessee Code Annotated 4-1-203, Middle grand division. Available from [1]. "The middle division comprises the counties of Bedford, Cannon, Cheatham, Clay, Coffee, Davidson, DeKalb, Dickson, Fentress, Franklin, Giles, Grundy, Hickman, Houston, Humphreys, Jackson, Lawrence, Lewis, Lincoln, Macon, Marshall, Maury, Montgomery, Moore, Overton, Perry, Pickett, Putnam, Robertson, Rutherford, Sequatchie, Smith, Stewart, Sumner, Trousdale, Van Buren, Warren, Wayne, White, Williamson and Wilson."
  2. Burns, Jenny. "What is Middle Tennessee? Depends on who you ask". Nashville Business Journal. September 26, 2008. Retrieved October 1, 2008. "In 2000, three groups — Cumberland Region Tomorrow, Leadership Middle Tennessee and the Nashville Chamber of Commerce’s Partnership 2010 — defined the region as 10 counties: Davidson, Williamson, Rutherford, Maury, Dickson, Wilson, Sumner, Robertson, Cheatham and Montgomery."


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