History of Illinois
The U.S. State of Illinois was admitted as the 21st state of the union on December 3rd, 1818. Not unlike the neighboring state of Indiana, Illinois was home to several indigenous tribes of Native Americans for several thousands of years before European contact was made. Also similar to Indiana, the French were the first Europeans to settle in the region, mainly along the Mississippi River around the same time the Algonquin Native American tribes were living in the region. During the late 1600s, two French explorers named Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet explored the region along the Illinois River. They founded a mission in the Grand Village of Illinois in what was being called Illinois Country.
The French continued to build small settlements, trading posts, and forts in the region throughout the remainder of the 1600s and early 1700’s. However, after the French lost the French and Indian War to the British Colonists, they surrendered much of their territory east of the Mississippi River. This left Illinois Country in the hands of the British.
After changing hands again after the American Revolution, Illinois Country became a part of the Northwest Territory while waiting for its turn to admission into the union. In the years following the American Revolution, the boundaries for the Illinois Territory were being drawn, with it becoming an official territory in 1809 and eventually a state in 1818.
Present – Illinois
Currently, Illinois is the 25th largest state in the union by area and the 6th most populous. The capital of Springfield, as of the 2010 census conducted by the United States Census Bureau, has a population of 117,352. The city of Springfield is dwarfed in comparison to the 3rd most populous city in the nation of Chicago, Illinois. The metropolitan area of Chicago is home to nearly 3 million people. With its prime location along the shores of Lake Michigan, Chicago is a major U.S. shipping port. With routes through the Great Lakes, the port serves as a significant hub for global shipping transportation. In addition, connections to the Mississippi River and the Atlantic Ocean through various seaways have contributed to the massive economic boom and population growth in the region over time.
Illinois has an extremely diverse economy driving its population. Illinois’ unique geographical location situated in the Midwest, bordering Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River, along with the vast differences in terrain between the north and south of the state, Illinois has succeeded in merging many of America’s most crucial industries and markets within its state boundaries.
For example, the Chicago metropolitan area has become a major financial center and a global trading hub. In addition, the northeastern region has helped to turn Illinois into one of the nation’s leaders in manufacturing. The southern region is one of the largest exporters of soybeans, along with wheat, dairy, and corn.
Illinois is also leading a cutting-edge energy program. Currently, there are six operating nuclear power plants within its borders. In recent years, Illinois has also become a strong proponent for Wind generated electric power and Biofuels.
Tourism in Illinois
Throughout the state, Illinois has much to offer tourists. Chicago alone boasts two Major League Baseball teams, the Chicago Cubs and the White Sox, an NFL team in the Chicago Bears, the Chicago Blackhawks of the NHL, and the Chicago Bulls of the NBA. However, aside from the metropolitan area of Chicago, Illinois is full of parks, trails, historic sites, and preserves managed both by the Illinois State Parks system and the National Park Service.