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Tennessee (TN) Fast Facts
Location and Geography: Tennessee is located in the Southern United States. It borders eight other states, tying it with Missouri for bordering the highest number of states.
Tennessee borders the following states:
- North Carolina
The Mississippi River follows Tennessee’s western border near Memphis, while the Cumberland flows in the northern part of the state, and the Tennessee River flows across eastern and southern Tennessee. The Appalachian Mountains cover much of East Tennessee, which includes the famous Great Smoky Mountain range. Middle Tennessee contains the Nashville Basin and the Cumberland Plateau, and West Tennessee is made up of hills and plains.
Counties and Regions: Tennessee is divided into three main regions, represented by the three stars on its flag: West Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, and East Tennessee. These regions are separated geographically, culturally, and even constitutionally. Each region has a major city: Memphis in West Tennessee, Nashville in Middle Tennessee, and Knoxville in East Tennessee. The state is further divided into 95 counties.
Population: The population of Tennessee numbers around 6,346,000, ranking Tennessee the 17th largest state in the country by population.
Major Cities: Tennessee’s capital is Nashville, which is centrally located in Middle Tennessee. Nashville Metropolitan area has the largest population in the state, but the city itself is second to Memphis in West Tennessee in terms of population. Knoxville and Chattanooga, both located in East Tennessee, are the 3rd and 4th largest cities respectively. Murfreesboro was once the capital of the state and is the state’s geographic center.
Story Behind the Name: The name Tennessee is derived from a Native American language: either the village called Tanasqui, or the Cherokee (Iroquoian) village called Tanasi, which was located along the Tanasi River. The meaning of the name is not known for certain, but it may be a description of the river. The word was chosen to name the state at the 1796 Constitutional Convention, when the state of Tennessee was first created.
History and Colonization:
Before European contact in the 16th century, the Muskogee and Yuchi indigenous peoples were living in the area that is now Tennessee. Cherokees were forced westward after Europeans took over their territories in Virginia, and they resettled in Tennessee along with the Chickasaw and Choctaw tribes.
Europeans began moving westward to Tennessee in the 18th century, made up primarily of British colonists. Parts of the state along the Appalachian Mountains joined North Carolina, only to break off and form their own state called the State of Franklin, which was denied admission to the Union. The State of Franklin then returned to North Carolina until the U.S government organized the region into what is now Tennessee. The state was accepted into the Union in 1796 as the 16th state to join the United States.
Tennessee joined the Civil War on the side of the Confederacy, though the opinions of Tennesseans were divided. Tennessee’s location between the North and the South made it a prime battleground, and the entire state was the site of many battles of the Civil War. Tennessee became the first Confederate state to rejoin to the Union after the war. Though slavery had been common in Tennessee, the state approved the amendment to the state’s constitution that prohibited slavery in 1865, followed by the ratification of 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution later that year.
The state’s three regions are known for three distinct types of music: blues, bluegrass, and country, which have been influential in the state’s history and culture. Nashville is called “Music City, USA” and is the destination for many aspiring country music stars, while Memphis is the place to go for blues and rock and roll.
Tennessee’s economy is still heavily based on tobacco, cotton, textiles, and agriculture. Tennessee is home to the headquarters of many major corporations in the larger cities, as well as automobile manufacturing.