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Garden of the Gods, Shawnee National Forest, IllinoisGarden of the Gods, Shawnee National Forest, Illinois
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authorshipDaniel Schwen
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Illinois is a state in the Midwestern region of the United States. Its name comes from the French spelling of the Illinois tribe of Native American. The word is derived from Iliniwek, which is said to mean "men" in the Miami-Illinois language, or rather, "tribe of superior men". The Illinois tribe however refered to themselves as the Inoka.

Sunset at Champaign, IllinoisSunset at Champaign, Illinois
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authorshipShakil Mustafa

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The state of Illinois covers an area of 57,918 sq miles (140,998 sq km) and has a population of 12.9 million people. It is the most populous Midwestern state and the fifth most populous in the country. It borders on Lake Michigan to the northeast. The 42°30' north latitude forms its northern border with Wisconsin. The Mississippi River forms its western border across from Missouri and Iowa. To the east, the 87°31'30" west longtitude forms the eastern border with Indiana until Post Vincennes, thereafter the border follows the Wabash River. The northern shore of the Ohio River forms the border with Kentucky.

Illinois comprises three major geographical divisions: Northern Illinois is dominated by the Chicago metropolitan area; Central Illinois, also called the Heart of Illinois, characterized by small towns and mid-sized cities; and Southern Illinois, characterized by its warmer climate and different types of crops.

Piney Creek Ravine, IllinoisPiney Creek Ravine, Illinois
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Travel to Illinois

The most convenient way to reach Illinois is by road. From Wisconsin, you can take Interstate-39, 90 and 94; from Iowa, take I-74 and I-80; from Missouri, take I-55, I-57, I-64, I-70 and I-72; from Kentucky, take I-24; and from Indiana, take I-64, I-70, I-74, I-80, I-90 or I-94.

You can also take the Amtrak trains terminating in Chicago from Washington, D.C., New York City and Boston. By flight, the two main airports for Chicago are O'Hare and Midway. Smaller airports are located in Springfield, Rockford, Peoria, and Bloomington-Normal.

Travel within Illinois

If you intend to explore the state extensively, the best way is to do it by car. Many of the highways around Chicago are tollways (if you are from northeastern United States, you can use your E-ZPass and pay half the cash price).

Chicago, IllinoisChicago, Illinois
authorshipJ. Crocker

Cities in Illinois

  1. Chicago (2,853,000)
    Largest city and 3rd most populous in the United States.

  2. Aurora (172,000)
    A satellite city to Chicago.

  3. Rockford (157,000)
    City on the banks of the Rock River in northern Illinois.

  4. Joliet (146,000)
    The fastest growing city in Illinois and one of the fastest growing in the United States.

  5. Naperville (143,000)
    City voted by Money Magazine as the second best place to live in the United States, in 2006.

  6. Springfield (117,000)
    Capital of Illinois.

Places of Interest in Illinois

  1. Cahokia Mounds
    Prehistoric Native American mounds.

  2. Galena
    Popular tourist destination known for its history and historical architecture.

  3. Shawnee National Forest
    Federally managed forested land in the Ozark and Shawnee hills in Southern Illinois.

World Heritage Sites in Illinois

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