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Portal:Illinois

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The Illinois Portal

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Illinois (/ˌɪləˈnɔɪ/ (About this soundlisten) IL-ə-NOY) is a state in the Midwestern and Great Lakes regions of the United States. It has the fifth largest gross domestic product (GDP), the sixth largest population, and the 25th largest land area of all U.S. states. Illinois has been noted as a microcosm of the entire United States. With Chicago in northeastern Illinois, small industrial cities and immense agricultural productivity in the north and center of the state, and natural resources such as coal, timber, and petroleum in the south, Illinois has a diverse economic base, and is a major transportation hub. Chicagoland, Chicago's metropolitan area, encompasses over 65% of the state's population; the Port of Chicago connects the state to international ports via two main routes: from the Great Lakes, via the Saint Lawrence Seaway, to the Atlantic Ocean and from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River, via the Illinois Waterway to the Illinois River. The Mississippi River, the Ohio River, and the Wabash River form parts of the boundaries of Illinois. For decades, Chicago's O'Hare International Airport has been ranked as one of the world's busiest airports. Illinois has long had a reputation as a bellwether both in social and cultural terms and, through the 1980s, in politics.

The capital of Illinois is Springfield, which is located in the central part of the state. Although today's Illinois' largest population center is in its northeast, the state's European population grew first in the west as the French settled lands near the Mississippi River, when the region was known as Illinois Country and was part of New France. Following the American Revolutionary War, American settlers began arriving from Kentucky in the 1780s via the Ohio River, and the population grew from south to north. In 1818, Illinois achieved statehood. Following increased commercial activity in the Great Lakes after the construction of the Erie Canal, Chicago was founded in the 1830s on the banks of the Chicago River at one of the few natural harbors on the southern section of Lake Michigan. John Deere's invention of the self-scouring steel plow turned Illinois's rich prairie into some of the world's most productive and valuable farmland, attracting immigrant farmers from Germany and Sweden; the Illinois and Michigan Canal (1848) made transportation between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River valley faster and cheaper, and new railroads carried immigrants to new homes in the country's west and shipped commodity crops to the nation's east. The state became a transportation hub for the nation.

Selected article

Silver Spring, the park's namesake

Silver Springs State Fish and Wildlife Area is an Illinois state park on 1,350 acres (550 ha) in Kendall County, Illinois, United States. The park was established in the late 1960s and is named for the natural spring within its boundaries; the park has two artificial lakes and the Fox River flows through the northern end of the park. Silver Springs hosts a variety of activities including fishing, hunting, boating and hiking; the park has areas of native prairie restoration, a sledding hill and a seven-mile (11 km) equestrian trail. The prairie restoration areas hold many species of plants, including lead plant and purple coneflower.

The spring is located along a trail on the south end of the park; the spring's name is derived from the effect of sunlight on its surface, which makes the pool appear to shimmer like silver. Even through the winter, the bubbling spring never freezes, and plants often poke through snow surrounding the watercress-bordered pool in the coldest months.

Besides its prairie restorations and bodies of water, Silver Springs has areas of deciduous forests and wetlands, both of which are populated with species of mammals, birds and insects. Bird life observed in the park includes: osprey, great horned owl, eastern screech owl and long-eared owl; bald eagle have been sighted further upstream along the Fox. Reptiles and amphibians are present in the park but are more elusive than other types of animal life. (Read more...)

Selected biography

Barack Obama

Barack Obama (born August 4, 1961) is an American politician who served as the 44th President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Obama is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, he was a community organizer in Chicago before earning his law degree. He worked as a civil rights attorney and taught constitutional law at University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004, he served three terms representing the 13th District in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004, running unsuccessfully for the United States House of Representatives in 2000. He was elected to the United States Senate from Illinois in 2004.

Obama resigned his Senate seat after winning the Presidential election of 2008. Nine months after his election, he was named the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Major domestic initiatives in his first term included the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. In foreign policy, Obama ended U.S. military involvement in the Iraq War, increased U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, signed the New START arms control treaty with Russia, and ordered the military operation that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden. In his second term Obama promoted domestic policies related to gun control and called for full equality for LGBT Americans. In foreign policy, Obama ordered U.S. military involvement in Iraq in response to gains made by the Islamic State in Iraq and took steps to normalize U.S. relations with Cuba. (Read more...)

Did you know...

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Spot-winged Glider - Pantala hymenaea, Bles Park, Ashburn, Virginia - 7680788092.jpg
  • ... that Chicago alderman Dorsey Crowe survived falling 800 feet (240 m) from a plane and being thrown through the roof of a car?
  • ... that the spot-winged glider (pictured) is a migratory dragonfly?



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