Illinois Facts – 32 Informative Facts about Illinois [The Prairie State]

Last updated on May 17th, 2018

Illinois is the 6th most populous and the 25th most extensive of the United States. It lies in the Midwestern region of the United States. The state attained statehood on December 3, 1818, becoming the 21st state to join the union. On December 3, 2018, the state will celebrate 200 years of statehood. It has six (6) bordering states including Kentucky, Missouri, Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa, and Michigan. See the full list of states and their borders here. Illinois (nicknamed: the Prairie State) has 102 counties. The state’s capital is Springfield. With these facts about Illinois, let us learn more about its geography, history, culture, people, economy and much more.

1. In 1673, French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet arrived in the region. They were exploring the Mississippi River in search of route to the Pacific Ocean.[14]

2. Most of the area of the state was once covered with prairie grass, which earned the state its nickname – “The Prairie State.”[18]

3. After the invention of the self-scouring steel plow by John Deere in 1837, farmers from Germany and Sweden entered the region. The invention hence turned the region into some of the world’s most productive and valuable farmland.[1]

4. After the construction of the Illinois and Michigan Canal in 1848, the transportation between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River valley greatly improved. And thus the state became a transportation hub.[1]

5. Barack Obama, a former U.S. president was elected while he was living in Illinois. Ronald Reagan the only president born in Illinois.[1]

6. The word Illinois comes from the French version of an Indian word which means “men” or “warriors.”[2]

7. Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, located in Illinois, is one of the world’s busiest airports. It was ranked at the 6th spot in 2017 for the most number of passenger arrivals and departures.[3]

8. Willis Tower (renamed Willis Tower in 2009), formerly known as Sears Tower, is a 110 story building in Chicago, Illinois. At the time of its completion in 1973, it held the record for the world’s tallest building after beating the World Trade Centre towers in New York. The tower is 1450 feet high.[4]

9. In 2016, Illinois was the 6th among the top 10 agricultural producing States in terms of cash receipts. California (1st), Iowa (2nd), Nebraska (3rd), Texas (4th) and Minnesota (5th).[5]

10. In 1829, Abraham Lincoln came to Illinois from Indiana. The ex. president of the United States of America, Abraham Lincoln (served as the 16th President of the United States from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865.), spent 24 years of his adult life in Springfield (in the west-central part of the state), Illinois. Interestingly, he started his political career while living in the state. Lincoln’s home and tomb in Springfield are open for visitors.[2]

11. Illinois is considered as a swing state because of its political stance.[6]

12. Chicago (a national railroad hub), one of the country’s most prominent cities, lies in the state of Illinois.[17]

13. Charles Mound is Illinois’ highest point. It is 1,235 feet (376 meters) above sea level.[19]

14. About three-fourths of the state’s area is covered under farms. The rich black soil in the state helps in producing a lot of corn and soybean.[6]

15. Illinois has eleven (11) nuclear power reactors, more than any other state.[6]

16. The last episode of the award-winning the Oprah Winfrey Show was aired in Chicago. the show was the longest-running talk show in television history.[24]

17. Several nicknames of the state include The Land of Lincoln (also the Official State Slogan of Illinois), The Prairie State, The Corn State, The Garden of the West, The Sucker State and Egypt.[18]

18. Interestingly, the state quarter also has an image of resolute Lincoln with a book in his hand. (See the table at the end of the article.)

19. The tallest man in the world was born in Alton, Illinois, on 22 February 1918. When last measured on 27 June 1940, he was found to be 2.72 m (8 ft 11.1 in) tall. The mighty man–ROBERT WADLOW– had an arm span of 2.88 m (9ft 5.75 in). However, he did not live long and died on 15 July 1940 as a result of a septic blister on his right ankle.[7]

20. By population, Chicago, Illinois is the third largest city in the U.S.[8]

21. The Home Insurance Building in Chicago, which rose to 10 stories is the first metal-frame sky scrapper in the world. It was designed by engineer William LeBaron Jenney and was completed in 1885.[23]

22. Illinois is also considered to be one of the most politically corrupt states in the U.S. Six governors of the state have been charged with crimes and four of these were sent to prison.[22]

23. Boeing, the world’s largest commercial aerospace company, is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois.[9]

24. Almost 33% of the population of the state have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

25. On April 15, 1955, the first McDonald’s franchise in Des Plaines, Illinois, was opened.[10]

26. Chicago, Illinois, was the starting point of Route 66, one of the essential icons of America. Route 66 (aka US 66) was opened in 1926 and extended from Chicago to Los Angeles, crossing much of the American Midwest, Great Plains, and Southwest.[11]

27. Among 50 U.S. states and District of Columbia, at 2.32%, Illinois has the second highest property tax rate. The highest property tax rate is in New Jersey (2.40%) while the lowest is in Hawaii at 0.27%.[12]

28. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 Census of Governments, Illinois has 6,963 units of local government. This is the highest number for any state. Pennsylvania (4,897 units) and Texas (5147 units) stand on the second and the third spot respectively.[13]

29. Illinois has the third highest total of Interstate routes and mileage. According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, “Illinois is at the heart of the country’s interstate highway system.”[15]

30. In 1814, The Kaskaskia Illinois Herald was the first newspaper that was printed in Illinois.[21]

31. In 1922, the first radio station broadcast was made in Illinois from Tuscola.[20]

32. Three rivers form the part of the boundary of Illinois – the Mississippi River, the Ohio River and the Wabash River.[1]

Illinois state – Quick facts and state symbols
State AbbreviationIL
State CapitalSpringfield
State SizeTotal (Land + Water): 57,914 sq miles; Land Only: 55,584 sq miles
(Estimate July 1, 2017 from United States Census Bureau)
StatehoodDecember 3, 1818
State Rank by population6th
State rank by date of formation21st
State rank by area25th
Number of Counties102
Bordering StatesIndiana, Iowa, Michigan, Kentucky, Missouri, Wisconsin
Official LanguageEnglish
ReligionProtestant - 43%
Catholic - 28%
None - 22%
Highest PointCharles Mound
1,235 ft (376.4 m)
Lowest pointConfluence of Mississippi River and Ohio River
280 ft (85 m)
Length400 miles (630 km)
Width215 miles (346 km)
GovernorBruce Rauner
Electoral Votes20
State MottoState sovereignty, national union
State NicknamePrairie State
% Water3.99
Nobel Prize WinnersLars Peter Hansen (Economic Sciences, 2013)
Famous PeopleRon Yary (Pro Football Player)
Rickey Henderson (Baseball Player)
Isiah Thomas (Basketball Payer)
Cammi Granato (Hockey Player)
Melissa McCarthy (Actress)
Eddie Vedder (Singer)
U.S. President Born in Illinois1. Ronald Wilson Reagan.
State Slogan
Land of Lincoln
State DanceSquare Dance
State FlagFlag of Illinois

Flag of Illinois.svg

State sealSeal of Illinois

Seal of Illinois.svg

State coat of arms

Illinois state coat of arms (illustrated, 1876).jpg

State quarter

2003 IL Proof.png

FossilTully monster

Tully monster
State AnimalWhite-tailed deer

White-tailed deer.jpg

State AmphibianEastern tiger salamander

Tiger salamander.jpg

State MineralFluorite

Fluorite with Iron Pyrite.jpg

State InsectMonarch butterfly

Monarch In May.jpg

State Prarie GrassBig bluestem

Andropogon gerardii.jpg

State FishBluegill

Lepomis macrochirus UMFS 2014 2.JPG

State FlowerViolet

Viola sororia.jpg

State BirdCardinal


State ReptilePainted turtle

Terrapene sierschildpad Chrysemys picta.jpg

State SoilDrummer Soil

Corn Planted by Western Scrub Jays
State ArtifactPirogue

Dugout canoe
State TreeWhite oak

Quercus alba
State FruitGold Rush Apple


Longitude87° 30′ W to 91° 100′ W
Latitude36° 58′ N to 42° 30′ N
Time ZoneCentral Time Zone
Area Codes217, 224, 309, 312, 331, 447, 464, 618, 630, 708, 730, 773, 779, 815, 847, 872
Data SourceWikipedia, 1Keydata, State Symbol USA
Table Last UpateMarch 31, 2018