• Population- 12,763,400
  • Capital- Springfield
  • Largest cities– Chicago, Aurora, Rockford
  • Time zone- Central
  • Date of Admission to the Union- December 3, 1818
  • Slogan- “State Sovereignty, National Union.”
  • State website URL-

One of the most influential U.S. Presidents is from Illinois. Abraham Lincoln was a key figure in the emancipation of slaves and is most well known for his legendary honesty, thus his nickname, Honest Abe. In honor of the state’s venerable resident, one of its nicknames is Land of Lincoln. In more mainstream culture McDonald’s restaurants were founded in Illinois. The first was opened in 1959.

Nuclear energy production has been a key feature of the Illinois economy in the 20 th century. The Argonne National Laboratory and Dresden 1 have figured prominently in reactor research. But perhaps the most historically significant nuclear history was made in 1942, when scientist Enrico Fermi, choreographed an artificial nuclear reactor under an abandoned Stagg Stadium at the University of Chicago. The experiment was part of the Manhattan Project, but called, Chicago Pile 1. Six nuclear reactors now produce energy in Illinois. The electricity produced makes Illinois the leader in nuclear electricity.

As much as we might think of Illinois in terms of urban Chicago, much of the state remains largely agricultural. It’s consistently the top producer for soybeans. The contemporary plight of the American family farmer was a hot topic during the 1980s and as a result the Farm Aid Concert of 1985 became as much a movement as it was one of the biggest rock concerts in history. Rockers John Mellencamp and Willie Nelson were key figures in the effort and their goal was to raise money and awareness for the increasing numbers of bankrupt small farmers put out of business by Big Agriculture. Farm Aid concerts have continued to be annual events.

Now that ethanol is a key factor in the bio-fuel movement, Illinois’ corn production is a main attraction for corporations like Archer, Daniels, Midland (ADM), and a leader in biofuel production. Illinois is in the development stages to construct five ethanol/biodiesel plants, a move which may offer some relief for farmers.