Illinois: Land of Lincoln

Illinois is one of the Northern states of the Mid-West. The name is derived from the Algonquin language and from French, and stands for the native Illiniwek, who used to live in the region. The state’s official nickname is “Land of Lincoln.” Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, moved to Illinois in 1830 and lived there until he was elected president. After his death, he was buried in the state.

The state became one of the leading industrial regions during at the end of the 19th century, but at the same time remained one of the most important producers of agricultural products. The state’s capital is Springfield, a lot of sights honoring Abraham Lincoln are in that area. Among them are, for example, the Lincoln Home National Historic Site (with the only house Lincoln ever owned), the Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site (where the town in which Lincoln lived between 1831 and 1837 has been rebuilt), and the law firm and the federal court in which Lincoln worked. The city is a center of finance and trade and is located in one of the most fertile grain and livestock regions in the US. However, Springfield is clearly being outstripped by Chicago as the great metropolis on the shore of Lake Michigan and the most important economic and cultural center. Due to its convenient location at the southern tip of Lake Michigan where many railway lines meet, a great meatpacking and food processing industry developed here. The waterway connection to the Mississippi River and the St Lawrence seaway also contribute to Chicago’s role as a center of trade and important traffic hub (Chicago board of trade with commodities and futures, and head offices of several retail companies such as Sears).

Other historically interesting places in Illinois are the Fort Creve Coeur Sate Park near Peoria, where the French explorer Robert Cavalier built a fort in 1680 that no longer exists today. The state borders as they are today were drawn on

December 3, 1818, when Illinois became the 21st state of the USA. What was left of the former Illinois territory became part of the state of Michigan. Many settlers who came to Illinois were originally from the South, which is the reason a large part of the population shared a pro-slavery attitude. In 1832, about 500 Native Americans, under the leadership of Sac Chief Black Hawk waged war against the white settlers in the North of Illinois in a bitter but futile attempt. After they were defeated, the Natives were expelled from their land. Waves of settlers from New England and the Mid-Atlantic states at the East Coast started to arrive in Illinois and helped advancing the state’s economic development.

Real GDP per capita was $39,514 in 2006, placing Illinois in 13th position in the national ranking.