Illinois State Vital Facts and Higher Education Information

Illinois is a large state with a major industrial, cultural and economic center. It has a wide variety of colleges and universities, including several nationally ranked schools. Below, read about the state's population, economy and school options.

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Information about Illinois

Illinois, located in the American Midwest, is the nation's fifth-largest state, a major agricultural and industrial producer and home to Chicago, the third-largest city in the U.S. The state's population stood at about 12.9 million, as of 2015 U.S. census estimates, while 2014 census data put the population of Chicago at around 2.7 million people. Illinois is famous for being the home state of President Abraham Lincoln and for its vast fields of corn.

Illinois has a wide variety of state parks and one national forest in its various geographic regions. Shawnee National Forest is located in far southern Illinois, while the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, a collection of ancient Native burial grounds, is in the central part of the state, opposite the Missouri city of Saint Louis. Illinois Beach State Park is in the northern part of the state, within the Chicago metropolitan area, and offers swimming, sunbathing and more on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Chicago has a wealth of urban amenities, including shopping and sightseeing in the Magnificent Mile, the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Field Museum, ethnic neighborhoods such as Greektown and festivals in Millennium Park.

Higher Education

Illinois has approximately 160 public and private non-profit colleges, universities, technical schools and career and specialty schools. The two campuses of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and Chicago, are among the largest schools in the state. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has around 45,000 students and is known for its research programs and school of engineering. Ranked 41st overall among national universities in 2016 by U.S. News & World Report, UIC also had an undergraduate engineering program that's ranked 5th among doctoral-granting institutions, and its graduate engineering program is ranked 7th, according to 2016 rankings from U.S. News.

Northwestern University is located in Evanston and has around 21,500 students. It is the 12th best national university, based on 2016 U.S. News rankings. Also in Illinois, the University of Chicago enrolls around 15,000 students and is ranked 4th among national universities.

Other 4-year schools in the state include Loyola University, Governors State University, Illinois State University and DePaul University. A large number of private liberal arts colleges also call the state home, including Rockford University, Augustana College and Illinois Wesleyan University.

Economy and Employment

According to 2015 rankings from Forbes magazine, the major industries of Chicago were publishing, food processing, engineering, and financial services. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on the state's economy, as of March 2016, and found that the sector of trade, transportation, and utilities had the highest employment with approximately 1.2 million jobs. Professional and business services employed about 920,000 people, while education and health services employed nearly 913,000 people.

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