The State of Tennessee is a landlocked state in the nation’s Southern region. Nashville, its capital city and center of the country-music scene, is home to the Grand Ole Opry, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, and a legendary stretch of honky-tonks and dance halls. Memphis is most famous for Elvis Presley's Graceland, the legendary Sun Studio, and the blues clubs of Beale Street.
|QUICK FACTS ABOUT TENNESSEE
|Capital City: Nashville
|Largest City: Nashville
|Nickname: The Volunteer State
|Statehood: 1796; 16th state
|Population (as of 2020): 6,916,897
|State bird: mockingbird
|State flower: iris
|Total Size Of The State: 42,143 sq mi (109,247 km2)
Recent discoveries in a Tennessee backyard include bones and artifacts over 14,000 years old, among Tennessee's oldest. Indigenous tribes such as the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Creek, and Shawnee didn't appear in the area for thousands of years.
In 1540, Hernando de Soto became the first European known to reach the land now known as Tennessee. In 1754, during the French and Indian War (in which many Native Americans fought alongside the French), the French and English started fighting for control of the land. After winning all land east of the Mississippi in 1763, the British took over Tennessee. Initially, North Carolina controlled the region. However, Tennessee became a state after the American Revolution.
The Indian Removal Act of 1830 forced Native Americans to leave all lands east of the Mississippi River. Tennessee still does not have any state-recognized tribes.
Near the start of the Civil War, Tennessee seceded (withdrew) from the Union. However, it was the first state to rejoin the Union in 1866.
Why Does It Have That Name?
Nobody knows how Tennessee got its name, but two Native American villages were named Tanasi and Tanasqui, which sound similar to "Tennessee."
As a result of some impressive volunteer work, the state earned its nickname. A total of 20,000 Tennesseans enlisted to fight in the War of 1812, and 30,000 enlisted for the Mexican-American War in 1846.
Geographic Features and Landforms
In the north, Tennessee is bordered by Kentucky and Virginia, in the east by North Carolina, in the south by Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, and in the west by Arkansas and Missouri. The Mississippi River forms part of its wavy western border. According to geologists, there are six major geological regions.
It rises along the eastern border of the state and is the most rugged part of the state. Tennessee's highest point, Clingman's Dome, is found in this region. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is also located here.
West of the mountains lies the Valley and Ridge region, which is known for its low, fertile valleys and long, tree-covered ridges. "Folds" are the term used to describe the ridges.
Further west, the Cumberland Plateau stretches north to south. Below flat-topped mountains lie deep valleys and gorges carved out by streams. You can see seven states from Lookout Mountain!
A region of the state called the Highland Rim surrounds the Central Basin, which is in the middle of the state. Erosion formed the basin, most of which is fertile farmland with some hills and ridges.
West of the state, there is the Gulf Coastal Plain. It is located on a fault line, and in 1812 it experienced the largest earthquake in the continental U.S. in 1812.
As a result of the temblor, the land dropped several feet, the Mississippi River flowed backward, and a new lake was created called Reelfoot Lake. There is fertile swampland near the Mississippi river, often referred to as "the Delta."
The Natural World
Tennessee is home to black bears, mountain lions, gray foxes, bobcats, and white-tailed deer. Among the most common birds found here are red-tailed hawks, ospreys, eastern screech-owls, pileated woodpeckers (known for their Woody Woodpecker-like crests), red-winged blackbirds, and summer tanagers, which are distinguished by their bright-red feathers.
Tennessee's reptiles include easter fence lizards, southern painted turtles, pygmy rattlesnakes, and amphibians include red salamanders, lesser sirens, and southern leopard frogs.
Sugar maples, pecans, eastern red cedars, loblolly pines, swamp chestnut oaks, and bald cypresses are native trees to the state. Kentucky is home to wildflowers such as yellow-and-white Tennessee gladecress, purple American beautyberry, bleeding heart, and autumn sneezeweed.
Nearly half of Tennessee is farmland, making it one of the state's top natural resources. Minerals such as fluorite, calcite, pyrite (also called fool's gold), marble, and zinc are also mined in the state.
Some Fun Facts About Tennessee
Frontiersman Davy Crockett as well as singers Aretha Franklin, Dolly Parton, Kenny Chesney, and Justin Timberlake were all born in Tennessee.
The Memphis mansion of Elvis Presley, Graceland, gets more visitors than any other U.S. home except the White House. Elvis' costumes, his pink Cadillac, and even his plane with gold-plated seat belts are on display!
There are costumes, instruments, and artifacts from stars like Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, and Miranda Lambert on display at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.
In 1925, the "Grand Ole Opry" was born as a country-music radio program. Currently, it's broadcast live from Nashville, where bands like Alabama Shakes and Carrie Underwood perform.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the United States. With 30 different salamander species in the park alone, the Great Smoky Mountains are known as the "Salamander Capital of the World."
There are numerous Native American archaeological sites in Tennessee, including the Shiloh Indian Mounds, which were built about 800 years ago as resting places for important individuals.