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Illinois facts and history plus travel and tourism information.
Illinois became the 21st state on December 13, 1818. Located between Lake Michigan to the northeast and the Mississippi River to the west, Illinois is largely made up of prairies. The state is a leading producer of corn and soybeans as well as other agricultural commodities such as wheat and dairy products. Manufacturers of electronics, machinery, and chemical products also contribute to the state's economy.
While the state capital is Springfield, Chicago is easily the largest and most important city in Illinois. Centrally located in the United States with easy access to Lake Michigan, Chicago is a major transportation hub with numerous railroads and O'Hare International Airport. The city is also a major educational center; the University of Chicago was founded here by John D. Rockefeller and has educated many Nobel Prize winners. The first controlled nuclear reaction was achieved at the university by Italian physicist Enrico Fermi in 1942. Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the United States, was born in Tampico, Illinois on February 6, 1911.
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Illinois History and Geography