While there is plenty more to ILLINOIS than just the Windy City, much of the cultural and social identity of this state revolves around Chicago, the largest and most exciting city in the Great Lakes region. Perched in the state’s northeastern corner, on the shores of Lake Michigan, Chicago has a distinguished skyline, top-rated museums, restaurants, cafés and dozens of nightspots.

Illinois was first explored and settled by the French, though in 1763 the territory was sold to the English. Granted statehood in 1818, Illinois remained a distant frontier until the mid-1830s; only once the native Sauk were subjugated, after a series of uprisings, did settlers arrive in sizeable numbers. One early immigrant was young Abraham Lincoln, who practised law from 1837 onward in Springfield, now the state capital and home to a wide range of Lincolniana, including his monumental tomb.

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