80 Illinois Facts and Weird Laws

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Illinois is home to some of the most popular people in the world, including Walter Disney and Michelle Obama. 

Over 114 million people visit this state per year.

What’s unique about Illinois State that attracts such a record-setting number of tourists?

Located in the Great Lakes Region, Illinois boasts the best shopping in the Midwest region, extensive cultural attractions, and natural sceneries.

While in Illinois, visit Chicago City and explore the state’s best restaurants, cultural venues, and beautifully-designed buildings. 

Renowned architects Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright produced a masterpiece of buildings in this city.

We have compiled a list of fun Illinois facts, including culture, history, politics, geography, demographics, and wildlife.

You will also find a list of famous people born, raised, or related to this state. 

Here are the interesting facts about Illinois. 

Credits: Unsplash

Best Fun Facts About Illinois 

  1. The capital city of Illinois is Springfield while Chicago is the most populous city in the US.
  2. The original word for Illinois “Illiniwek”  means the best people
  3. Illinois used the hydraulic lift to raise buildings to curb flooding-related issues.
  4. Illinois was the first state to ban the slave trade.
  5. Chicago was nicknamed the windy city because of its politicians and not the wind.
  6. There is an annual superman celebration in Illinois.
  7. The Chicago River flows backward.

Illinois Facts – Politics And Government

  1. Alongside New York and California, Illinois are the big three Democratic Party strongholds. This state has voted Democrats in the past eight presidential elections. 
  2. The Illinois Constitution provides for three branches of government: the executive, legislature, and judiciary.
  3. The bicameral General Assembly consists of 177 members –118 in the House of Representatives and 59 senators.
  4. The Supreme Court is the highest in the state with final appellate jurisdiction. 
  5. Illinois has the highest number of local government units–over 8,000.
  6. Illinois, considered a safe blue state, has 20 electoral votes.

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Illinois Facts – History 

  1. Illinois’ name originated from the native Americans who inhabited this state before the Europeans.
  2. Did you know Illinois was once submerged in the sea? It was part of the sea during the early Paleozoic Era and the late Mesozoic era.
  3. Early inhabitants lived in this area as early as 7,000 years ago.
  4. In 1673, French explorers, Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet, explored the Illinois River, marking European arrivals.
  5. Illinois was formerly part of New France and La Louisiana before the Seven Years War when it came under British control. 
  6. The Illinois-Wabash Company claimed much of Illinois. 
  7. On February 3, 1809, Illinois territory was formed with its territorial capital at Kaskaskia. 
  8. According to the primary provisions of the Northeast Ordinance, Illinois would have no shoreline on Lake Michigan. 
  9. Nicholas Pope proposed a bill that gave Illinois about 50 miles of shoreline on Lake Michigan and the Chicago River. 
  10. The US granted Illinois statehood in 1818. 
  11. Did you know that when joining the Union, Illinois was a small rented building in Kaskaskia? 
  12. Vandalia became the capital city in 1819 and remained so until 1837.
  13. In 1837, the state capital moved to Springfield, where the fifth and current capitol buildings were built. 
  14. This state has experienced dangerous winters such as the ” Winter of the Deep Snow” and ” Winter of the Sudden Freeze.”
  15. The Black Hawk War marked the end of Indian resistance to whites settlement, especially in the Chicago region.
  16. Nauvoo city, founded by the Latter-day Saints, was as large as Chicago, but it declined as most Latter-day Saints relocated to Utah.
  17.  Only Ohio, New York, and the Pennsylvania States contributed more men to the Union’s army during the American Civil War than Illinois –Over 250 000 men.
  18. Illinois is sometimes called the Land of Lincoln, the Inland Empire State, and Prairie State.
  19.  Engineers reversed the flow of the Chicago River between 1892 and 1922, producing one of the most iconic engineering marvels in history.
  20. Illinois was the first state to abolish slavery in 1865 by ratifying the 13th Amendment. 
  21. The Great Chicago fire of 1871 killed nearly 300 people.

Illinois Facts – Geography

Credits: Unsplash
  1.  Illinois lies in the midwestern part of the United States. It’s one of the eight states in the Great Lakes region.
  2. Illinois borders Wisconsin, Lake Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, and Iowa.
  3. Illinois is the 25th largest state in the country, with 57,915 square miles.
  4. Chicago is Illinois State’s largest city by area –606.1 km².
  5. The state has three prominent geographical locations: Northern Illinois, Central Illinois, and southern Illinois.
  6.  Downstate Illinois refers to all the regions outside the influence of the Chicago area.
  7. The highest temperature ever recorded was 117 °F (47 °C), on July 14, 1954, at East St. Louis, and the lowest temperature was −38 °F (−39 °C),  on January 31, 2019.
  8.  This state is vulnerable to adverse weather such as thunderstorms and Tornadoes.
Credits: 9GAG
  1.  Six hundred thirteen of the Tri-State Tornado victims died in this state.
  2.  In Jo Daviess County, Charles Mound is the highest point at 1,235 feet above sea level. 
  3. At 279 feet above sea level, the Mississippi River is Illinois’s lowest point. 
  4. Illinois is home to over 87,000 miles of rivers and streams.
  5.  North America’s longest river, the Mississippi River, flows through Illinois. This river drains two Canadian provinces and 31 US states. 
  6. The Ohio River, one of the largest tributaries of the Mississippi River, also flows through the state. 
  7. Wabash River, in southern Illinois, forms the boundary between Illinois and Indiana. 
  8. The 325-miles long Kaskaskia river is the longest within the state.
  9. Other main Illinois rivers include the Sangamon River, Little Wabash River, Embarras River, etc. 
  10. This state is home to over 2,900 lakes and 84,000 ponds. 
  11. Carlyle Lake has the highest water volume of the lakes in Illinois. 
  12. Rend Lake is the second-largest man-made lake in the state. 
  13. Lake Michigan, which is the largest lake in Michigan, borders Illinois.

Illinois Facts – Animals And Plants

Credits: Unsplash
  1. Illinois has several ecosystems, including rivers, forests, lakes, farmland, wetlands, prairies, and urban areas. Different animals occupy these ecosystems.
  2. Illinois state symbols include the official state animal which is the white-tailed deer. This animal is the largest of any animal living in this state.
  3. Northern Cardinal is one of the Illinois state symbols for birds.
  4. Illinois is home to over 400 bird species. The most common ones include the American Goldfinch, Blue Jay, Black-capped Chickadee, Eastern Wood-Pewee, and House Wren.
  5. Bluegill is the official state fish of Illinois.
  6. Black Crappie, Largemouth Bass, Redear Sunfish, Chinook Salmon, and the Freshwater Drum make up Illinois’ fish.
  7. The state insect is the Monarch Butterfly.
  8. White Oak is Illinois’s official State Tree.
  9. Other trees growing in this area include the Red Baneberry, Northern Maidenhair fern, Sugar Maple, White Maple, white snakeroot, and Lady’s Leek.
  10. The official state flower of this state is Violet.
  11. Big Bluestem is the official state prairie grass.

Illinois Facts – Demographics

Credits: Unsplash
  1. Illinois is the 6th largest state by population in the country—over 12,812,508 people. It is the most populous state in the Midwest region.
  2. Springfield is the capital city of Illinois. 
  3. Chicago is Illinois’s largest city with a population of 2,720,546 people. Joliet is Illinois’s third largest city.
  4. Illinois has 102 counties mostly named after early American leaders.
  5. The whites are the predominant race in this state.
  6. Illinois state was home to the world’s tallest man.
  7. English is the official language in Illinois state.
  8. The single largest religious group in this state is the Roman Catholics.
  9. Chicago has the largest population of Jains, Sikhs, Hindus, and Buddhists of any city in Illinois.
  10. A resident of Illinois is called an Illinoisan.

Illinois Facts – Economy

  1.  One of the tallest buildings in America–the Sears Tower– is in Chicago, Illinois. 
  2. Des Plaines, Illinois, is home to the first MacDonald’s.
  3. Nearly 80% of Illinois is farmland. 
  4. One of the world’s largest public libraries is the Chicago public library.
  5. Agriculture, coal mining, manufacturing, and oil production are some of the top industries in Illinois. 
  6.  Illinois produces the largest amount of pumpkins of any state in the country. It’s sometimes called the “pumpkin capital of the world.”
  7. Chicago’s Willis Tower stands at 1451 feet above the ground, making it the third tallest building in North America.
  8. The Home Insurance building of 1885 is the first modern skyscraper.
  9. Illinois is one of the leading states with the largest number of personalized number plates.
Chicago is the national railroad hub. Credits: Unsplash
  1. John Deere, agricultural and forestry machinery producer, was founded in Moline, Illinois.
  2.  Illinois is the leading popcorn-producing state in the country, with over 333 popcorn farms.

Famous Locations in Illinois

  1. Willis Tower Skydeck in Chicago gives a view of up to four states.
  2. Millennium Park & Cloud Gate in Chicago is the ideal place you want to visit.
  3. Prominent cities such as Chicago.
  4. Magnificent Mile in Chicago offers you the best shopping experience in this state.
  5. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Is the place you visit to learn about Abraham Lincoln and the history of this state. 
Abraham Lincoln Statue. Credits: Unsplash
  1. Navy Pier, in Chicago, has theaters, shopping, restaurants, museums, and movies.
  2. Lincoln Park has the largest tourist attraction site, the Lincoln Park Zoo.
  3. Anderson Japanese Garden in Rockford has amazing waterfalls, streams, ponds, winding lanes, and a tea house.
  4. Starved Rock State Park is best known for its scenic waterfalls and canyons.
  5. Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site is one of the largest prehistoric Indian settlements.
  6. The Art Institute of Chicago is a popular cultural site in this state.

Famous People From Illinois

  • Walt Disney, born in Chicago, was the founder of Disney World. He received over 960 honors and citations. 
  • Ernest Hemingway, born in Oak Park, is an award-winning author.
  • Ronald Wilson Reagan, born in Tampico, is the 40th president of the United States.
  • Michelle Obama was born in Chicago, Illinois.
  • Robert Wadlow was the world’s tallest man.
  • Ludacris, rapper and actor, was in Illinois.
  • Harrison Ford, born in Chicago, is a famous actor.
  • Born in Chicago, Jennifer Morrison is an actress famous for her work in Once Upon A Time.
  • Suze Orman, born in Chicago, is a financial guru.

Common Misconceptions About Illinois 

Learn the truth about some of the most common misconceptions about Illinois and Illinoisans.

Illinoisans hate living in their state

Credits: Pinterest

Although some people leave Illinois, that doesn’t mean others don’t love living here. This notion is funny because Illinois’s population is still larger than most of its neighbors.

Illinoisans live on farms outside of Chicago

Credits: Pinterest

Even some people living in the rural areas don’t live on farms. Illinois has other cities other than Chicago, such as Springfield.

Illinoisans are lazy

No. The people of Illinois are innovative and hardworking, from wind power to nuclear innovators.

Weird Laws in Illinois 

Many of the laws below were passed a long time ago, but they still exist in many Illinois cities, but many of them go unenforced. It is easier to pass laws than to revoke them, so some very strange laws remain on the books. Read the Craziest Laws in the United States, if you want more.

Here are some of our favorites.

  1. You can’t give your pet a cigar because it’s illegal.
  2. You can’t eat in a burning building. It’s illegal. 
  3. You can’t kiss a woman when you have a mustache in Eureka.
  4. No fishing in pajamas in Chicago it’s illegal.
  5. Don’t pronounce Joliet as “Jolly et”. It’s illegal. Joliet is the third-largest city in Illinois.
  6. According to state law, it is illegal to speak English. The officially recognized language is “American”.
  7. Taking a French poodle to the opera is also illegal in Chicago
  8. “Eavesdropping” on your own conversations is a Class 4 felony punishable by up to three years in state prison.
“Eavesdropping” on your own conversations is a Class 4 felony in Illinois. Image: Stocksy

Final Thoughts

Known for the vibrant Chicago city, Illinois is dotted with amazing things you will love, from beautiful rivers, exquisitely designed buildings, nice hotels to friendly people.

As we do every day, we compiled a list of Illinois facts including basic, weird, and interesting ones you didn’t know existed.

Illinois Facts And Stats

Population2020 (12,812,508)
GovernorJ.B. Pritzker ( Democratic Party)
Date Of AdmissionDecember 3, 1818
U.S. SenatorsTammy Duckworth (D)
Dick Durbin (D)
US House of Representatives18 (of 435 Seats) 
State NicknameThe Prairie StateThe Land of Lincoln 
State Motto“State Sovereignty, National Union”
State Song“Illinois” by Archibald Johnson 
State FlowerViolet
State FishBluegill
State BirdNorthern Cardinal
State TreeWhite Oak
State MammalWhite-tailed Deer
State ReptilePainted Turtle
State MineralFluorite
State GemFluorite
State FossilTully Monster
Neighbor StatesIndiana Wisconsin MissouriIowa Kentucky 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the five interesting facts about Illinois? 

  • Illinois has had three capital cities–Kaskaskia, Vandalia, and Springfield.
  • Sears Tower, Chicago, is the nation’s tallest building. 
  • Illinois was the first state to approve the 13th Amendment that abolished slavery.
  • Des Plaines is home to the first MacDonald’s.
  • Illinois produces the largest amount of nuclear energy than any state in the country.

What are the three things Illinois is famous for?

  • Chicago ranks in the top 5 of the largest cities in the country.
  • Even though Illinois is known as the Land of Lincoln, he was born in Kentucky and lived in Indiana.
  • Former US President Ronald Reagan was born in Tampico, Illinois.

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[1] https://www.planetware.com/tourist-attractions/illinois-usil.htm

[2] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_from_Illinois

[3] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illinois

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Sabrina is a former campaign manager who has decided to focus her effort to help people contact senators and get help. She leads our Editorial Team with Ronald and Lawrence to curate content and resources that help us navigate the system.

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