Welcome to Illinois. The Land of Lincoln. The Prairie State. This midwestern state is famous for a lot of things, especially surrounding the windy city of Chicago, but how much do you actually know about it? Illinois became a state on December 3rd, 1818, celebrating its inclusion as the 21st state in the United States of America. Since then, a lot has changed – but not so much its dimensions. Today, we’ll be learning quite a bit about Illinois, but we’ll be looking to answer one specific question – “How Tall is Illinois?” Once we learn about its total north-to-south distance, we can see how that stacks up against other states. So, let’s get started!
How Tall is Illinois?
From north to south, the great state of Illinois measures 385 miles. The longest trip you can take directly from north to south spans 434 miles and takes you from Cairo – the southernmost Illinois town – to South Beloit. In decent traffic, the transit should only take you six hours and 15 minutes. How does this compare to other states and countries? Let’s take a look! Keep in mind that these measurements are based on the maximum distance across the states. Minnesota, for example, has a widely varied width due to its shape. Some areas are as little as 200 miles across, while its maximum distance is as much as 358 miles from east to west.
(North to South Distance)
(East to West Distance)
|Minnesota||400 miles||358 miles|
|Wisconsin||311 miles||260 miles|
|Alabama||330 miles||190 miles|
|Mississippi||340 miles||170 miles|
|Utah||350 miles||270 miles|
You can see that a few states have similar heights to Illinois. States that are similar to Illinois in overall size are Georgia and Iowa.
Where is Illinois on a Map?
Now, let’s look at the “Land of Lincoln” on a map. This will help us get a better perspective of where it is, how big it is, and what states border it. Even if you know the location and size of a state, an interactive map is a handy tool for getting a better perspective, exploring the area, and understanding the scope of size in comparison to other states. Use the map to zoom in and look around – there’s a lot to take in!
As you can see Illinois is bordered on the north by Wisconsin. To the west, Iowa and Missouri help define the border of the state. This western border is cut by the Mississippi River – the largest watershed in North America. Missouri also cuts part of the southern border as it meets with Kentucky on the southern and southeastern sides. Indiana is to the east, and the northeast corner is the shore of Lake Michigan. This northeastern corner is where Chicago lies – the largest city in Illinois.
Population of Illinois
The overall population of Illinois is 12.67 million, with 2.7 million of these residents living in the municipality of Chicago. Illinois is the sixth-largest state by population. Let’s look at where it stands in population in comparison to other states. We will include every state with a population above 10 million. We will also list each state’s largest city – by population – and the population of that city. All of our population estimates are based on the 2021 census.
|State||Population||Largest City||Population of City|
|California||39.24 million||Los Angeles||3.849 million|
|Texas||29.35 million||Houston||2.288 million|
|New York||19.84 million||New York City||8.468 million|
|Pennsylvania||12.96 million||Philadelphia||1.576 million|
|Illinois||12.67 million||Chicago||2.697 million|
|North Carolina||10.55 million||Charlotte||879,709|
There are 8 cities in Illinois with a population above 100,000. There are 1,300 total municipalities in Illinois, from towns and cities to villages. We’ve already covered Chicago being the largest of these cities, but what about the smallest? The smallest town in Illinois is Valley City, with a population of only 12 residents.
Let’s look at the eight largest cities in Illinois! We are judging this based on how populated the city is, not on its total land area. However, it is interesting to note that Chicago takes the lead for both of these measurements of size.
The difference in population size from Chicago to the next-largest city is pretty stark, isn’t it? It’s crazier when you consider that many of these tailing cities are actually a part of the Greater Chicago Metropolitan Area. In fact, the population of Greater Chicago accounts for three-quarters of the entire population of the state. As of 2019, Greater Chicago – which includes Aurora and Naperville – had a population of 9.459 million!
Illinois has a lot of key industries. In fact, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity claims that the world-class infrastructure of the state has encouraged the creation of 34 Fortune 500 companies. The state has the fifth-highest GDP in the nation and boasts an incredibly diverse economy. According to the site, the six major industries in Illinois are:
- Transportation Distribution and Logistics
- Advanced Manufacturing
- Agribusiness and Food Processing
- Business and Professional Services
- Life Sciences and Biotechnology
The largest employer in the state is Accenture, which is a strategy and consulting company. The business employs 674,000 total employees and provides business, technology, and operations strategies. Other notable large-scale employers include Allegiance Properties (561,720 employees), City Garden Waldorf School (227,925 employees), and Walgreens (210,500 employees).
What is Illinois Famous for?
Illinois was the first state in the nation to do the work to ratify the 13th Amendment and abolish slavery. This is, likely, one of the most important achievements of the state. However, there are plenty of other things people think of when they think of Illinois. Let’s take a look at some very notable attractions that Illinois is famous for.
- Hot dogs originated in Illinois. The first hot dog stand was opened in Chicago in 1893.
- Chicago is famous for its “sauce on top” deep-dish pizzas.
- Illinois is the land of Presidents – eight presidents were born or lived here, including Obama and Reagan.
- Illinois is the birthplace of McDonald’s and the home of the largest McDonald’s in the world.
- This fine state is the land of railroads and is home to the most railroads in the nation.
- Home of the original Ferris Wheel.
- Illinois is home to the Cahokia Mounds – one of the remnants of the oldest civilization in North America.
- The Land of Lincoln is best known for its high level of corruption. In fact, the state ranked third for public corruption criminal convictions from 1976-2012. The corruption spans electoral fraud and much more. Illinois Policy stated in 2022 that government corruption cost Illinois residents 550 million dollars in that year alone. Racketeering, bribery, embezzlement, and domestic abuse are just some of the charges asserted against state senators and other representatives.
Illinois is 385 miles from north to south and contains a lot of cool – and alarming – history. This midwestern state is certainly worth a visit, whether you go for “The Bean” (Cloud Gate) in Chicago or the wildlife in the surrounding areas. Enjoy some local food or check out any of the hundreds of fun and educational attractions that cover the state.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/pabradyphoto
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