A melting pot of agriculture, industry, and services, Illinois is one of the most important states of the United States of America.
Meandering rivers and landscape, fickle climate, immersive culture makes Illinois a magnet for wanderlust.
Incredible Illinois Facts here offers a sneak peek into the abundance of this lovely state and its industrious and warm people.
Illinois Facts: Quick info | 1-4
1. Illinois became a state on December 3, 1818. Illinois was the 21st state to enter the Union.
2. The original Illinois people called themselves Inoca, The French are said to have modified it to Illinois subsequently.
3. In 1967, Theodore and Mary Koster discovered a prehistoric site south of Eldred, Illinois. The Koster site establishes more than 7000 years of continuous habitation specialized in ceramics, fine ornaments, engraved mica and copper.
4. In the pre-European era, due to constant warfare among the indigenous tribes in the Illinois valley, a third of men died.
Illinois Facts: History | 5-11
5. For 90 years since Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet traversed the Illinois River in 1673, the French settled there.
6. In 1763, British won the Seven Years’ war and started ruling the areas around Illinois.
7. Since becoming the twenty-first state of USA in 1818, the capital has moved multiple times. After Kaskaskia in 1818 and Vandalia in 1819, under Abraham Lincoln, the capital finally moved to Springfield since 1867.
8. Kentucky, Missouri, Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa, and Michigan are Illinois’ bordering states. The Mississippi River, the Ohio River, and the Wabash River border Illinois.
9. Southern Illinois first obtained the name of “Egypt” between 1830- 1836. Winter of 1830-31, called the “Winter of the Deep Snow”, was followed by several winters.
10. Crop failures in the adverse winters resulted in the great “corn famine” in 1832. To meet the food needs of north, South Illinois sent wagons of corn to the northern parts. Because of familiarity to Jacob’s story in the Bible, Southern Illinois got the name “Egypt”.
11. Around the same time, US militia attacked and defeated the Kickapoo, Sauk, Meskwaki tribes in the Black Hawk War. The survivors settled in Iowa later.
Illinois Facts: History | 12-18
12. As a Great Lakes Port and a rail-road hub, by 1857, Chicago became the largest city of Illinois. Mines and factories boomed.
13. With a large blue collared workforce, Illinois formed the bedrock of labor unions. The US labor movement further gathered momentum with the Pullman strike and Haymarket Riot.
14. Ever growing employment opportunities attracted immigrants from all over USA and even from eastern and southern Europe.
15. In 1937, Illinois struck oil in Marion County and Crawford County.
16. Illinois has a major contribution to America’s nuclear military might. The first sustained nuclear chain reaction was conducted by the University of Chicago in 1942.
17. In generation of electricity from eleven nuclear power plants, Illinois is ahead of all other states in the USA.
18. On December 2, 1942, Enrico Fermi demonstrated that a simple construction of graphite bricks and uranium lumps could produce controlled heat. The location of the first nuclear fission reactor was a squash court under the football stadium at the University of Chicago.
Illinois Facts: Geography and Demography | 19-25
19. Illinois is spread across 57,914 square miles and is divided into Northern, Central, and Southern Illinois.
20. 900 streams empty into the Mississippi River system through Illinois.
21. There are 102 counties. Cook County is the most populated followed by DuPage County and Lake County. Hardin County is the least populated.
22. Chicago is the most populated city followed by Aurora, Naperville, Joliet, and Rockford.
23. As per 2010 US Census, White Americans form more than 70% of the state population.
24. As per the US Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey, the median household income in 2017 is $61,229 inflation-adjusted dollars.
25. As per the US Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey, Illinois has 5,334,847 housing units.
Illinois Facts: Geography and Demography | 26-32
26. Highest point in Illinois is Charles Mound. Its height is 1,235 feet above sea level.
27. Illinois River cuts across the state. Northern and Central Illinois is blessed with deep black soil suitable for agriculture.
28. With tallgrass prairie of northern and central and the Oak forests of the western and southern regions, Illinois’ length gives it an unusual variation in vegetation. Other primary varieties of trees are white pines, tamaracks, walnuts, cypresses, and tupelos.
29. With humid summers and cold winters, Illinois faces more than 50 days of thunderstorms. Average annual rainfall in North Illinois is about 864 mm and in the south, 1,170 mm.
30. Around 35 tornadoes rip through Illinois annually. The Tri-State Tornado of 1925 had been the deadliest tornado killing 613 people in Illinois.
31. English is the official language.
32. Roman Catholics are the largest religious group.
Illinois Facts: Economy | 33- 37
33. Corn, wheat, hogs, soybeans, and cattle and dairy products are Illinois’ main agricultural focus.
34. Illinois has a diversified industry with technology, finance, mining, manufacturing, agriculture, transportation, and services.
35. In manufacturing, Illinois is among the top four states alongside California, Texas, and Ohio in USA.
36. Chemicals, machinery, and food manufacturing are the top manufacturing entities. Fabricated metal, transportation equipment, plastics & rubber, and computer and electronic products follow closely.
37. From agriculture and manufacturing, Illinois is transitioning to value-added services.
Illinois Facts: Economy | 38-42
38. Financial trading, medicine, law, logistics, and higher education are few focus areas.
39. Government is also boosting tourism, publishing, and energy production and distribution.
40. In agricultural futures market, Chicago Mercantile Exchange is a strong trading exchange for global derivatives. This building was built entirely on its thick walls to keep itself up and has no internal steel skeleton
41. In Illinois, Dresden, Byron, Braidwood, Clinton, LaSalle, and Quad Cities are the six operating nuclear power plants.
42. Illinois also leverages Wind power, solar power, and bio fuels to a large extent.
Illinois Facts: Culture | 43- 49
43. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield is the largest presidential library in USA.
44. The world’s largest public library, the Chicago Public Library holds over 2 million books.
45. Illinois boasts of the John G. Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum of Natural History, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Adler Planetarium.
46. With a collection of 13.5 million artefacts, the Illinois State Museum sketches Illinois life, land, people, and art.
47. Ronald Wilson Reagan is the U.S. President born in Illinois. The State slogan, however, is the Land of Lincoln.
48. In Chicago, Brookfield Zoo has more than 2,300 animals in 216 acres.
49. Over 35 acres within Lincoln Park, the Lincoln Park Zoo is located in North Chicago in Illinois. On June 1, 1874, for $10, a bear cub was the first animal purchased for the zoo.
Illinois Facts: Culture | 50-56
50. One of the best professional music educators’ organizations, Illinois Music Educators Association is in Illinois.
51. Chicago is the womb of blues, soul music, and house music.
52. In 1914, Benny Goodman and Gene Krupa coined “jazz” in Chicago, Illinois.
53. When the African-American workers migrated to Illinois for work, they brought traditional jazz and blues music with them.
54. Chicago blues and “Chicago-style” Dixieland jazz are notable forms.
55. Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, and both Sonny Boy Williamsons are great Illinois Blues players. Nat King Cole, Benny Goodman, Gene Ammons, and Bud Freeman are great Illinois Jazz players.
56. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Sinfonietta, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago are great Illinois orchestras.
Illinois Facts: Culture | 57-65
57. Through the 90s, hip hop, heavy rock, and punk music started catching steam among youngsters.
58. In Baseball, Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox are Illinois’ pride.
59. In Basketball, Chicago Bulls and Chicago Sky always pull in the crowds with great performance.
60. Chicago Bears in Football and Chicago Blackhawks in Ice hockey are professional sports teams.
61. In Soccer, Chicago Fire and Chicago Red Stars are equal to the best in the league.
62. Chicago Bandits are a professional Fast pitch softball players.
63. Among several, Olympia Fields, Midlothian, Medinah, and Conway Farms in Illinois are the best golf courses.
64. They have hosted the BMW Golf Championship, Western Open Golf Championship, and Women’s Western Open.
65. Illinois has also hosted the U.S. Open, PGA Championship, U.S. Women’s Open, the Solheim Cup, and the Ryder Cup.
Illinois Facts: Official |66- 74
66. C.H. Chamberlain has written the Official Illinois State song. Archibald Johnston has composed the music.
67. Illinois state motto is “State Sovereignty, National Union.”
68. The Secretary of State is the keeper of the Great Seal of the State of Illinois.
69. Popcorn the official snack food of the State of Illinois.
70. The Eastern Tiger Salamander is the state amphibian of Illinois.
71. The painted turtle is the Illinois state reptile.
72. The Violet is the state flower of Illinois.
73. The Native Oak was the state tree.
74. However, in 1973, 900,000 schoolchildren voted to change the Illinois state tree from Native Oak to the White Oak.
Illinois Facts: Official | 75-83
75. The cardinal is the State Bird of Illinois.
76. A Decatur third-grader recommended monarch butterfly as the Illinois state insect. It was made official in 1975.
77. As one of the best fighting game fish, Bluegill is the Illinois state fish.
78. The white-tailed deer is the Illinois state animal.
79. Illinois, being the largest producer of Fluorite in the US, has chosen Fluorite as the state mineral in 1965.
80. The Tully Monster, a soft-bodied marine creature which lived 280 to 340 million years ago, is the Illinois state fossil. Also known as Tullimonstrum Gregarium, the carnivorous invertebrate looked like a cuttlefish.
81. In 1990, the Square Dance became the official state dance.
82. The Big Bluestem is the Illinois state prairie grass.
83. Illinois has more than 6000 units of government. This is the highest in US.
Illinois Facts: Fun Facts | 84- 92
84. Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina created the first popular web browser Mosaic. They were graduate students at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
85. The Chicago Water Tower and the Pumping Station are the only two buildings which survived the Great Chicago Fire.
86. The Ice Cream Sundae originated in Evanston, IL.
87. One can drive through the Chicago Post Office at 433 West Van Buren, Illinois. This is world’s only such post office.
88. With an area of 1,800,000 square feet, the Nabisco factory in Chicago, Illinois is the world’s largest bakery.
89. Elzie Crisler Segar, the creator of Popeye the Sailorman cartoon, was born in Chester, Illinois.
90. The Chicago River used to run north into Lake Michigan. But, in 1900, new construction ensured it flows from Lake Michigan south into the Mississippi River watershed.
91. This ensured Chicago River is the only river in the world which runs backwards. The Chicago River is dyed green on St. Patrick’s Day.
92. A Twinkie is an American snack cake. James Dewar invented it in 1930 as “golden sponge cake with a creamy filling” in River Forest, Illinois
Illinois Facts: Fun Facts | 93- 101
93. More than 85% of packaged pumpkin sales makes Morton, Illinois the Pumpkin capital of the world.
94. In New Salem, Illinois, Abraham Lincoln’s first public office was as postmaster.
95. Channel 5 was the first all-colour TV station to start in Chicago, Illinois.
96. Constructed in 1926, the historic Route 66 starts in Chicago, Illinois.
97. William LeBaron Jenney designed the Home Insurance Building in Chicago, Illinois. It is the first metal-frame sky scrapper in the world. It rose to 10 stories and was completed in 1885.
98. The world’s largest commercial aerospace company, Boeing is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois.
99. O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois is one of the world’s busiest airports. The airport was renamed in honor of Lieutenant Commander Edward H. “Butch” O’Hare.
100. The last episode of the award-winning and the longest-running talk show “The Oprah Winfrey Show” was aired in Chicago, Illinois.
101. Illinois has many names. “The Land of Lincoln” is the Official State Slogan of Illinois. The State of Illinois has a copyright for the exclusive use of the slogan. “The Prairie State”, “The Corn State”, “The Garden of the West”, “The Sucker State and Egypt” are the others.
Illinois Facts: Fun Facts | 102-110
102. Peoria is the oldest European settlement in Illinois.
103. Illinois has 20 electoral votes.
104. ‘Alton Giant’, the world’s tallest man born in 1918 was from Alton, Illinois. His real name was Robert Pershing Wadlow.
105. At 9 feet high, 8’11 to be exact, he weighed almost five hundred pounds and wore size 37 shoes. There is a charming life-sized statue located on College Avenue in Alton, Illinois.
106. Eulalia Pointe du Sable is the first birth on record in Chicago. She is the daughter of Jean-Baptiste Pointe du Sable and his Potawatomi Native American wife. She was born in 1796.
107. Chicago’s Mercy Hospital was the first hospital in Illinois.
108. Ottawa, Freeport, Jonesboro, Charleston, Galesburg, Quincy, and Alton, Illinois hosted the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates. These debates stirred interest in the slavery issue all over the country.
109. In 1865, Illinois became the first state to ratify the 13th Amendment to the Constitution abolishing slavery.
110. Illinois has the most sophisticated prehistoric native civilization north of Mexico, Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site.
1. Callary, Edward (2008). Place Names of Illinois. University of Illinois Press. p. 169. ISBN 978-0-252-03356-8
2. Skele, Mike (1988). The Great Knob. Studies in Illinois Archaeology. ISBN 978-0-942579-03-1
3. Biles, Roger (2005). Illinois: A History of the Land and its People. DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press. ISBN 978-0-87580-349-4
4. “Abraham Lincoln and Springfield – Abraham Lincoln’s Classroom”. Abrahamlincolnsclassroom.org. Retrieved February 7, 2011
5. Duff, Judge Andrew D. Egypt – Republished, Springhouse Magazine, accessed May 1, 2006
6. Lewis, James. “The Black Hawk War of 1832”. Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project. Retrieved August 10, 2012
7. “Kaskaskia: Where Illinois’ History”) Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), December 26, 2017