Interesting facts about Illinois

illinois flag

Illinois is a state in the Midwestern region of the United States.

It is bordered by Wisconsin to the north, Iowa and Missouri to the west, Kentucky to the south, and Indiana to the east. Illinois also borders Michigan, but only via a northeastern water boundary in Lake Michigan.

As of March 2018, the population of Illinois was estimated to be 12,768,320. It is the 6th most populous state in the United States.

Illinois is the 25th largest state in the United States in terms of total area with 149,967 square kilometers (57,953 square miles).

Springfield is the capital of Illinois and the county seat of Sangamon County.

Chicago is the third most populous city in the United States. With over 2.7 million residents, it is also the most populous city in both the state of Illinois and the Midwestern United States.


Illinois has a maximum north-south distance of 630 kilometers (390 miles) and 340 kilometers (210 miles) east-west.

Bordered by the Mississippi River on the west and the Wabash and Ohio Rivers on the southeast and south, the landscape of Illinois can be grouped into three main regions; the Central Plains, the Shawnee Hills and the Gulf Coastal Plain.

About 90% of Illinois is covered by the Central Plains region. These gently rolling fertile plains were carved and leveled by glaciers during the Ice Age.


The Shawnee Hills region in southern Illinois is a narrow strip of land with higher elevations, rivers, and forests.

The Gulf Coastal Plain is a hilly area at the state’s southern tip.

Charles Mound is a gentle, 376 meter (1,235-foot) high hill in northern Jo Daviess County, near the small town of Scales Mound, and 18 kilometers (11 miles) northeast of Galena. It is the highest natural point in the state.

charles mound

Illinois has a variety of protected areas, including 123 state protected areas – state parks, wildlife areas, recreation areas, nature reserves, and state forests.

Starved Rock State Park on the Illinois River bluff in La Salle County is one of Illinois’​ most beautiful destinations. The park’s 18 canyons feature vertical walls of moss-covered stone formed by glacial meltwater that slice dramatically through tree-covered sandstone bluffs.

starved rock state park

There is one UNESCO World Heritage Site in Illinois, Cahokia.

The Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site is the site of a pre-Columbian Native American city (c. 600–1400 CE) directly across the Mississippi River from modern St. Louis, Missouri. This historic park lies in southern Illinois between East St. Louis and Collinsville. The park covers 890 hectares (2,200 acres), or about 9 square kilometers 3.5 square miles, and contains about 80 mounds, but the ancient city was much larger. In its heyday, Cahokia covered about 16 square kilometers (6 square miles) and included about 120 manmade earthen mounds in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and functions.


Lake Michigan is one of the five Great Lakes of North America and the only one located entirely within the United States. It is the second-largest of the Great Lakes by volume and the third-largest by surface area, after Lake Superior and Lake Huron. Lake Michigan is shared, from west to east, by the U.S. states of Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan.

lake michigan

The Willis Tower is a 110-story, 442-meter (1,450-foot) skyscraper in Chicago, Illinois. At completion in 1973, it surpassed the World Trade Center towers in New York to become the tallest building in the world, a title it held for nearly 25 years and remained the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere until 2014 and the completion of a new building at the World Trade Center site.

willis tower

Millennium Park is a public park located in the Loop community area of Chicago in Illinois and originally intended to celebrate the third millennium. It is a prominent civic center near the city’s Lake Michigan shoreline that covers a 10-hectare (24.5-acre) section of northwestern Grant Park.

millennium park

Cloud Gate is a public sculpture by Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor, that is the centerpiece of the AT&T Plaza in Millennium Park, Chicago, Illinois. Constructed between 2004 and 2006, the sculpture is nicknamed The Bean because of its bean-like shape. It was created by using computer technology to cut into precise shapes 168 giant stainless steel plates, which were pieced together like a puzzle and welded shut; its highly polished exterior has no visible seams.

cloud gate

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum documents the life of the 16th U.S. President, Abraham Lincoln, and the course of the American Civil War. Combining traditional scholarship with 21st-century showmanship techniques, the museum ranks as one of the most visited presidential libraries. Its library, in addition to housing an extensive collection on Lincoln, also houses the collection of the Illinois State Historical Library, founded by the state in 1889. The library and museum is located in the state capital of Springfield, Illinois, and is overseen by as an agency of state government.

abraham lincoln presidential library and museum

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.

The first Europeans to visit Illinois were the French explorers Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette in 1673, but the region was ceded to Britain after the French and Indian War.

After the American Revolution, Illinois became a territory of the United States, and in 1818 it was declared the 21st state.

Illinois was the first state to ratify the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery.

“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.

illinois map

American scholars previously thought the name “Illinois” meant “man” or “men” in the Miami-Illinois language, with the original iliniwek transformed via French into Illinois.

Three U.S. presidents have been elected while living in Illinois: Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and Barack Obama.

Illinois honors Lincoln with its official state slogan, Land of Lincoln, which has been displayed on its license plates since 1954.

illinois plate

Known unofficially as the Prairie State”, a fitting nickname for a state that sets aside the third full week in September each year as Illinois Prairie Week to demonstrate the value of preserving and reestablishing native Illinois prairies.

The city of Chicago, Illinois originally won the bid to host the 1904 Summer Olympics, but the organizers of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis would not accept another international event in the same time frame.

The Home Insurance Building, built in 1885 and located on the corner of Adams and LaSalle Streets in Chicago, Illinois, went down in history as the world’s first modern skyscraper.

Illinois is the largest producer of pumpkins in the United States. It is also the second largest producer of corn in the United States.

Illinois’ official snack food is popcorn.

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