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List of states
Capital city: Springfield
State motto: State sovereignty, national union
Official language : English
Surface: 149,998 km²
Resident: 12,812,508 (2020 census) (91 units / km²)
Member since: December 3, 1818
Time zone: UTC − 6 ( CST )
UTC − 5 (daylight saving time)
The highest point: 376 m ( Charles Mound )
Average Height: 182 m
Deepest point: 85 m Cairo
Governor : JB Pritzker ( D )
Post  / Office /  ISO IL / / US-IL
Illinois map
Illinois map

Illinois ( English pronunciation  [ ˌɪlɪˈnɔɪ̯ ] ) is a state in the United States of America . It is located in the Midwest and borders Lake Michigan in the northeast . The name comes from the Algonquin language and French and denotes the Indian tribe of the Illinois or Illinois people who inhabited the country at that time and whose name means the people . As the end of the 17th century, the first French settlers arrived, they called the Illini as "[les] Illinois' (the Illini rule, Illinois). From 1712 on, the area was a French colony under this name, which the British took over in 1765 - with the same spelled name, now pronounced in English. It stayed that way in 1818, when Illinois became a state of the United States . Please click to listen!Play

The only metropolis in Illinois is Chicago , the third largest city in the USA after New York City and Los Angeles . The official nickname Illinois' is Land of Lincoln after the 16th US President Abraham Lincoln , who lived in the capital Springfield and was buried there after his assassination .


Geographical location

Typical landscape in central Illinois ( Champaign County )

In the west, the Mississippi forms the border with the states of Iowa (in the northwest) and Missouri (in the southwest). To the southeast, the Ohio River takes on this role to the state of Kentucky . Wisconsin is located to the north of Illinois and Indiana to the east . The state is traversed by the Illinois River and Kaskaskia River , which flow into the Mississippi, and the Embarras River , Chicago River and Sangamon River , which flow into the Wabash and Illinois Rivers. In the northeast, the state shares a border with Michigan in the middle of Lake Michigan . The highest natural elevation in Illinois is the Charles Mound in Jo Daviess County with a height of 376 m. The highest point overall, however, is the antenna top of the Willis Tower in Chicago (708 m above sea level, 527 m above street level). The lowest point (85 m) is at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio, in the metropolitan area of Cairo in Alexander County .

With its flat terrain, Illinois is heavily influenced by the surveying of the Congressional Survey System. The exceptions in the square course of the road and the field boundaries to the regular north-south and east-west pattern are the railways and the trunk roads that run parallel to them.


Illinois is divided into 102 counties. See List of Counties in Illinois .


Population development
Census resident ± in%
1800 2458 -
1810 12,282 399.7%
1820 55.211 349.5%
1830 157,445 185.2%
1840 476.183 202.4%
1850 851.470 78.8%
1860 1,711,951 101.1%
1870 2,539,891 48.4%
1880 3,077,871 21.2%
1890 3,826,352 24.3%
1900 4,821,550 26%
1910 5,638,591 16.9%
1920 6,485,280 15%
1930 7,630,654 17.7%
1940 7,897,241 3.5%
1950 8,712,176 10.3%
1960 10,081,158 15.7%
1970 11,113,976 10.2%
1980 11,426,518 2.8%
1990 11.430.602 0%
2000 12,419,293 8.6%
2010 12,830,632 3.3%
2020 12,812,508 −0.1%
Before 1900

1900–1990 2010 2000

Population density

Illinois has a population of 12,802,023 (as of 2017).

Age and gender structure

The age structure of Illinois is composed as follows:

  • up to 18 years: 3,216,387 (26.8%)
  • 18–64 years: 8,083,210 (63.0%)
  • 65 years and over: 1,532,373 (10.2%)

The median age is 38.7 years. 49.2% of the population are male and 50.8% female.


The ethnic composition of the population is mixed. The data from the American Community Survey from 2014 showed that the population of German origin made up the largest proportion at 18.6%, followed by Hispanics (16.7%), African-Americans (14.7%), Irish - (11th , 6%), Polish - (6.9%), English - (5.7%) and Italians (5.8%). In addition, Asian Americans made up 5.3% and Native Americans 0.6% of the population.

From the 1980s onwards, a large wave of immigrants came into the country, mostly from Asia and Latin America, mostly to Chicago. Around 95% of the state's inhabitants of Polish descent live there, some of whom immigrated themselves, but some of them are the descendants of an earlier wave of immigration.


The religious communities with the largest number of members in 2000 were the Catholic Church with 3,874,933, the United Methodist Church with 365,182 and the Southern Baptist Convention with 305,838 followers.


The largest state colleges include the three locations of the University of Illinois , the two locations of the Southern Illinois University System , Northern Illinois University , Eastern Illinois University , Western Illinois University, and Illinois State University . The best known private colleges in Illinois are the University of Chicago and Northwestern University . Other universities are included in the list of universities in Illinois .

Biggest cities

Cities that form the core of a metropolitan region are marked in red. The remaining cities (except Bloomington) belong to the Chicago metropolitan area .

Bolingbrook Schaumburg (Illinois) Evanston (Illinois) Arlington Heights (Illinois) Decatur (Illinois) Bloomington (Illinois) Champaign (Illinois) Cicero (Illinois) Waukegan Elgin (Illinois) Peoria (Illinois) Springfield (Illinois) Naperville Joliet (Illinois) Rockford (Illinois) Aurora (Illinois) Chicago


The oldest human traces in Illinois were found at the Koster site, excavated from 1968 to 1979, not far from the confluence of the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. They go up to 7500 BC. BC, whereby 26 settlements can be distinguished at the site, which extend into the 21st century.

From the 8th to the 13th century, Illinois was part of the highly developed Mississippi culture , including the settlement of Cahokia . Today barrows can be viewed here, which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites .

In the 17th century the Illinois Confederation existed , which in 1651 took in Tionontati and Hurons who were on the run from the Iroquois. The Illinois refused to hand over the refugees, whereupon the Seneca , an Iroquois tribe , forced them to flee westward across the Mississippi .

In 1673 the French Louis Joliet (researcher) and Jacques Marquette (Jesuit missionary) came to the country and were probably the first Europeans . In 1712 the country became part of the French colony Louisiana , but France had to cede Illinois to Great Britain in 1763 . The French colony dissolved by 1765. In 1783, in the Treaty of Paris, which ended the US War of Independence, the area fell to the USA, which incorporated it into the Northwest Territory in 1787 . From 1800 part of the newly created "Indiana Territory", Illinois became a territory of its own in 1809 and on December 3, 1818 was incorporated into the Union of the United States as the 21st state.

Map of the Illinois Territory (1809-1818)

In 1804, the governor of the Indiana Territory Harrison had signed a treaty with the Sauk and Fox . In this they were, as long as their areas were owned by the federal government, permanent residence permits, to 2234.50 dollars in assets, and 1,000 dollars a year. In 1809 this area became part of the Illinois Territory.

In May 1828 the Indian agent Thomas Forsyth informed the Sauk that they were to move to the west side of the Mississippi. Their chiefs had never ceded land, but were forced to move to what is now Iowa in the fall of 1829 . Only Chief Black Hawk offered resistance, which Governor John Reynolds took as an opportunity to drive the Indians "dead or alive" to the other side of the Mississippi. General Edmund Pendleton Gaines met with the Sauk chiefs east of the Mississippi in June 1831. Despite support from the Kickapoo , Winnebago and other groups, Black Hawk had to give in on June 30, 1831, rose again with Winnebago, but was captured on August 27, 1833. On September 21, 1832, the Sauk ceded their Illinois land for $ 640,000.

The first non-Indian settlements were in the south, along the Mississippi River and Ohio River . Kaskaskia (now a village of just nine people, now on the western bank due to the shifting of the Mississippi riverbed) was the first capital. In 1820, as the settlement of the state progressed, the more centrally located Vandalia became the capital. In 1837 the capital was moved north again, to Springfield , which is only 28 km west of the geographic center of the state. During this time, the fertile prairie soil in the central and northern area of ​​the state (Wisconsin glacier phase) was populated using new developments in drainage and plowing technology.

The expulsion of the Indians and the arrival of the railroad opened up new settlement areas. In 1836 construction began on the Illinois-Michigan Canal , which connected the Mississippi River with the Great Lakes (and via the St. Lawrence River also with the Atlantic Ocean ). The Illinois Central Railroad received a charter from the state assembly in 1851, which transferred every second square mile to the left and right of the planned route of the railroad company, and from the proceeds of which the capital for the construction of the railroad should come. It connected Cairo in the south with Galena and Chicago in the north. The two branch lines came together at Centralia .

Abraham Lincoln was the corporate attorney for the railroad, having previously served a term for the Whig Party in the House of Representatives (1847-1848). After an unsuccessful election campaign against Stephen A. Douglas for the Senate seat of Illinois in 1858, he won the election for president shortly before the outbreak of the Civil War . His home state, in which slavery had been forbidden since the establishment of the Northwest Territory in 1787, remained loyal to the Union.

In the second half of the 19th century, the city of Chicago grew from an insignificant trading post (Fort Dearborn) to an industrial giant, largely thanks to its location on the southern tip of Lake Michigan , where many railroad lines cross. Between 1880 and 1890 the population doubled from 500,000 to one million.

The Haymarket Riot took place here on May 1, 1886, and five years later another well-known strike took place at the Pullman company's wagon factory .

In 1893 the city hosted the Columbian World's Fair on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus on the island of Hispaniola . In the early years of the 20th century, the city passed the 2 million mark, and a few years before the economic crisis of 1929, the city reached a population of 3 million. That was about 40% of the state's population.


Presidential election results
year republican Democrats
2020 40.52% 2,446,891 57.49% 3,471,915
2016 38.76% 2,146,015 55.83% 3,090,729
2012 40.66% 2,135,216 57.50% 3,019,512
2008 36.73% 2,031,179 61.83% 3,419,348
2004 44.48% 2,345,946 54.82% 2,891,550
2000 42.58% 2,019,421 54.60% 2,589,026
1996 36.81% 1,587,021 54.32% 2,341,744
1992 34.34% 1,734,096 48.58% 2,453,350
1988 50.69% 2,310,939 48.60% 2,215,940
1984 56.17% 2,707,103 43.30% 2,086,499
1980 49.65% 2,359,049 41.72% 1,981,413
1976 50.10% 2,364,269 48.13% 2,271,295
1972 59.03% 2,788,179 40.51% 1,913,472
1968 47.08% 2,174,774 44.15% 2,039,814
1964 40.53% 1,905,946 59.47% 2,796,833
1960 49.80% 2,368,988 49.98% 2,377,846

Illinois is said to have high levels of political corruption . After the former Republican Governor George Ryan was convicted of bribery, the Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich was arrested by FBI agents in early 2009 for allegedly trying to get his vacant seat in after the election of Barack Obama as US President in 2008 Senate, which he was able to assign as governor, to sell. On January 29, 2009, Blagojevich was removed from office by the Illinois Senate and sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2013.

In addition, the climate is determined by the rivalries between the metropolitan area of ​​Chicago and the rest of the state, which has a rural or small-town character. The city of Chicago itself (excluding the suburbs) is home to nearly a third of the state's total population. As in almost all major US cities, the Democrats are clearly superior to the Republicans here. On the other hand , in the suburbs of the Chicago metropolitan area , where about another third of the total population is resident, the votes of the Republicans are more numerous, especially in the second largest county, DuPage County . In the rest of the state, there are two-party priorities. In the industrial and university cities such as Decatur and Urbana as well as in the mining area with less fertile soil in the south, the Democrats do better. In rural areas, especially in the central and northern parts of the state, where land prices are very high, the Republicans get a lot of votes.

In the past, Illinois has mostly sided with the winning presidential candidates, regardless of which of the two parties they belonged to. The only exceptions since World War II have been Jimmy Carter , George W. Bush and Donald Trump , who could not win in Illinois. Since 1992, however, Illinois has tended more and more towards the Democrats, who were last able to post their strongest results there in the Midwest , which made Illinois the clear Blue State . Illinois's weight in Electoral College has shrunk similarly to most of the Midwestern states over the past 20 years, as population growth here is slower than the US average. The number of electoral votes fell from 24 (1980 census) through 22 (1990 census) to 21 (2000 census). In the 2012 presidential election the number fell further to 20 and the state will send only 19 voters to the Electoral College in the next election in 2024. Still, Illinois remains the fifth largest state in terms of population after California, New York, Texas, and Florida, with a correspondingly large proportion of congressmen and electorates.

As in the other US states, the Illinois Constitution provides for a separation of powers between the legislature , executive and judiciary .


JB Pritzker , the Governor of Illinois

The state governor has been the Democrat J. B. Pritzker since January 14, 2019 . The governor exercises executive power at the state level, that is, he leads the state government and determines the guidelines of the policy. He has pardons , appoints senior officials and judges in the state constitutional court, and plays a central role in lawmaking by signing or vetoing legislation . He is also commander in chief of the Illinois National Guard and represents the state externally. The governor is elected directly by the people every four years .

Other important members of the executive branch are the lieutenant governor , the attorney general , the secretary of state and the state treasurer (roughly equivalent to a finance minister).

See also:

legislative branch

Illinois State Capitol in the capital, Springfield , where the legislature meets

The legislature consists of a bicameral parliament, the Illinois General Assembly . This consists of the House of Representatives with 118 members elected by the people for two years (MPs) and the Senate with 59 members (senators) who are elected for two to four years in different ways. The Democrats currently have a majority in both houses.


At the head of the judiciary is the Illinois Supreme Court . This court only has jurisdiction in the first instance in rare cases; as a rule, it is responsible for revising the judgments of the appellate courts of the state. The state is divided into five judicial districts, each with their own competent appellate courts. A judge from each district is elected by the general electorate and becomes a member of the Supreme Court; the exception to this is the first district that is responsible for Cook County - due to the large population of this district, three justices are elected to the Supreme Court. The circuit courts are usually responsible for the first instance .


The death penalty was abolished on July 1, 2011, and an enforcement moratorium has been in place since 2000 .

Although by no means the first state to punish male homosexuality , Illinois became the first state in 1827 to deny the right to vote and sit on a jury in court for those convicted of " sodomy ". As part of a general criminal law reform, Illinois was also the first US state to completely repeal the sodomy law.

The possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages by those under the age of 21 is prohibited in Illinois; unlike some states that use state monopolies or special licensees to do so, such drinks are also available over the counter in normal supermarkets . As of January 1, 2008, smoking is banned in public, enclosed spaces, as in 22 other US states.


Members of the 117th Congress

House of Representatives
Surname Member since Party affiliation
Bobby Lee Rush 1993 democrat
Robin Lynne Kelly 2013 democrat
Marie Newman 2021 democrat
Jesús G. "Chuy" García 2019 democrat
Michael Quigley 2009 democrat
Sean Thomas Casten 2019 democrat
Danny K. Davis 1997 democrat
Subramanian Raja Krishnamoorthi 2017 democrat
Janice Danoff Schakowsky 1999 democrat
Bradley Scott Schneider 2017 democrat
George William Foster 2013 democrat
Mike Bost 2015 republican
Rodney Lee Davis 2013 republican
Lauren Ashley Underwood 2019 democrat
Mary E. Miller 2021 republican
Adam Daniel Kinzinger 2013 republican
Cheryl L. "Cheri" Callahan-Bustos 2013 democrat
In it McKay LaHood 2015 republican
Surname Member since Party affiliation
Richard Joseph Durbin 1997 democrat
Ladda Tammy Duckworth 2017 democrat

Culture and sights

Natural monuments

The National Park Service (NPS) has three National Historic Trails for Illinois :

There are also 18 National Natural Landmarks (as of September 30, 2017).

Cultural monuments

The NPS maintains a National Historic Site and a National Monument in Illinois :

Illinois also has 88 National Historic Landmarks and 1,884 structures and sites that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places (as of September 30, 2017).

Economy and Infrastructure

The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in downtown Chicago's financial center

The economic output of Illinois was USD 791 billion in 2016, making it the fifth-highest economic output of any state in the United States and a share of 4.29% of the total American economy. Counted as a separate country, Illinois’s economic output would be roughly the same as that of the Netherlands . The gross domestic product per capita GDP was USD 61,837 in 2016 (national average of the 50 US states: USD 57,118; national ranking: 12th). In May 2017, Illinois had an unemployment rate of 4.6%.


In addition to federal income tax, Illinois income is also taxed. The tax is without tax progression . Since 1990 the tax rate has been 3% until a temporary increase to 5% in 2010, which came into force on January 1, 2011. Since January 1, 2015, the tax for natural persons has dropped to 3.75%, while the rate for corporation tax is 5.25%. The state budget for the 2018 financial year (July 2017 to June 2018) provides for an increase in the rate for natural persons to 4.95%.

In addition, a sales tax is levied with two tariffs. The regular tax is 6.25%; reduced (food, medication) 1%. In addition, municipalities (counties, municipalities) can levy additional sales tax. Property tax is an essential source of income for many local authorities. It is collected at different rates from counties, townships, parishes, school districts and other tax-collecting districts.


Fields near Royal, Illinois
Wheat growing in Illinois in 2012

Illinois has very fertile soils, which are mainly used for soy and corn cultivation ( Corn Belt ). In addition, other products, such as B. wheat , sorghum or fruit , cultivated as well as livestock farming ( pigs , cattle and dairy products ) operated. Illinois and Iowa regularly swap each other for first place for soy production in the US, and Illinois is the state with the second highest corn production after Iowa.


In addition to agriculture, industry also plays an important role. The main focus of the state's industrial economy is Chicago , which is part of the Rust Belt . The poet Carl Sandburg immortalized this in his poem “Chicago”: “Hog Butcher for the World, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler; Stormy, husky, brawling, City of the Big Shoulders ”. Due to the favorable traffic situation, where many railroad routes meet at the southern tip of Lake Michigan, a large slaughter and food processing industry developed here. The waterway connection from here to the Mississippi River and the St. Lawrence Seaway also contribute to its role as a trading seat ( Chicago Board of Trade with commodities and futures transactions, as well as the seat of several retail groups such as Sears ) and a transport hub. In the south of the city (on the Indiana border near Gary ), the iron and steel industry determines the economic focus.

The IT sector is represented, among other things, by the Motorola headquarters in Schaumburg .

There is also industry in the country's smaller centers. This is mostly closely linked to agriculture, such as agricultural machinery ( John Deere is based in Moline and Caterpillar in Peoria ) and the agricultural industry ( Archer Daniels Midland and AE Staley in Decatur produce soybean oil and corn syrup ). In the south of the country there are deposits of coal (rather soft brown coal with little bitumen), as well as smaller reserves of natural gas and crude oil .

The economic share of administration (in the state capital Springfield ), insurance (in Bloomington) and information technology (in the university town of Champaign ) increases with the growing importance of the service sectors.



The I-24 , I-39 , I-55 , I-57 , I-64 , I-70 , I-72 , I-74 , I-80 , I-88 , I-90 , I-94 , I. -155 , I-180 , I-190 , I-255 , I-270 , I-280 , I-290 , I-294 , I-355 and I-474 as well as important federal highways such as: US 6 , US 12 , US US 14 , US 20 , US 24 , US 30 , US 34 , US 36 , US 40 , US 41 , US 45 , US 50 , US 51 , US 52 , US 54 , US 60 , US 62 , and US 67 are all located in Illinois their course.


Chicago, at the southern tip of Lake Michigan, forms a hub for the railway network here, but there are also tangential connections to this spoke system (e.g. Cairo-Galena or St. Louis-Indianapolis). Chicago is the main Amtrak train station between the two coasts. The suburbs of Chicago are also served by a S-Bahn system, METRA , which uses the only electrified route network west of the Appalachians on some lines .

air traffic

The airport O'Hare International Airport northwest of Chicago is one of the largest airports in the world. About 75% of the state's passenger air traffic is handled here. Also in Chicago is Midway Airport with around 22% of the passenger numbers. The remaining 3% of air traffic takes place at the airports of Moline (1%), Bloomington, Peoria ( 12  % each ), Rockford, Champaign ( 14  % each ), as well as four other passenger airports.


  • Richard J. Jensen: Illinois: A History. Paperback edition of the first edition from 1978. University of Illinois, Chicago 2001, ISBN 0-252-07021-6 .
  • John Hoffmann: A Guide to the history of Illinois , Westport: Greenwood Press 1991

Individual evidence

  1. US Census Bureau _ Census of Population and Housing . Retrieved February 28, 2011
  2. Excerpt from . Retrieved February 28, 2011
  3. Annual Estimates of the Population for the United States, Regions, States, and Puerto Rico: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012
  4. American Fact Finder
  5. ^ Illinois Selected Social Characteristics
  6. ^ US Census Bureau
  7. Archived copy ( Memento of May 30, 2012 on WebCite )
  8. Stuart Struever, Felicia Antonelli Holton: Koster: Americans in Search of Their Prehistoric Past , 1st edition 1968, reprinted by Waveland Press 2000.
  9. The French phase in the history of the state has long ceased to be the field of historical research. This is what Clarence Walworth Alvord's work, published in Springfield, is to this day: The Illinois Country. 1673–1881 from the year 1920 decisive.
  10. ^ David Leip: Dave Leip's Atlas of US Presidential Elections. Retrieved January 14, 2021 .
  13. ^ Smoke-free Illinois. In: Retrieved February 28, 2015 .
  14. ^ Illinois. In: Retrieved November 21, 2018.
  15. ^ Illinois. In: Retrieved November 21, 2018.
  16. ^ US Department of Commerce, BEA, Bureau of Economic Analysis: Bureau of Economic Analysis. Retrieved August 27, 2017 (American English).
  18. Karen Pierog: Illinois lawmakers pass big tax hike to aid budget , Reuters. January 12, 2011. Retrieved February 7, 2011. 
  19. ^ Illinois Department of Revenue. Individual Income Tax ( Memento from September 23, 2006 in the Internet Archive ). Retrieved January 30, 2011.
  20. ^ Illinois Department of Revenue. Illinois Sales Tax Reference Manual (PDF) ( Memento dated May 27, 2008 on the Internet Archive ). P. 133. January 1, 2006.
  21. Nelson, Ronald E. (Ed.): Illinois: Land and Life in the Prairie State . Kendall / Hunt, Dubuque, Iowa 1978, ISBN 0-8403-1831-6 .
  22. ^ Roger Biles: Illinois: A History of the Land and its People . Northern Illinois University Press, DeKalb 2005, ISBN 0-87580-349-0 .
  23. ^ A. Doyne Horsley: Illinois: A Geography . Westview Press, Boulder 1986, ISBN 0-86531-522-1 .
  24. ^ Soybean Production by State 2008 . In: Soy Stats . The American Soybean Association. 2009. Archived from the original on May 30, 2012. Retrieved on January 19, 2010.
  25. Ethanol Fact Sheet . Illinois Corn Growers Association. 2010. Archived from the original on July 23, 2011. Retrieved January 18, 2010.

Web links

Commons : Illinois  - collection of pictures, videos, and audio files
Wikivoyage: Illinois  Travel Guide
Wiktionary: Illinois  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Coordinates: 40 ° 10 ′  N , 89 ° 7 ′  W