Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal, timber, and petroleum in the south, Illinois has a broad economic base. Illinois is a major transportation hub. The Port of Chicago connects the state to other global ports from the Great Lakes, via the St. Lawrence Seaway, to the Atlantic Ocean; as well as the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River, via the Illinois River. For decades, O'Hare International Airport has ranked as one of the World's busiest airports.
Chicago was founded in the 1830s on the banks of the Chicago River, one of the few natural harbors on southern Lake Michigan. Railroads and John Deere's invention of the self-scouring steel plow turned Illinois' rich prairie into some of the world's most productive and valuable farmlands, attracting immigrant farmers from Germany and Sweden. Illinois was an important manufacturing center during both world wars. The Great Migration established a large community of African Americans in Chicago that created the city's famous jazz and blues cultures.