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Tennessee is a Southern state of the United States.


Origin and history of the name Tennessee

The name Tennessee was first recorded by Captain Juan Pardo, the Spanish explorer, when he and his men passed through a Native American village named "Tanasqui" in 1567 while travelling inland from South Carolina. European settlers later encountered a Cherokee town named "Tanasi" (or "Tanase") in present-day Monroe County, Tennessee. The town was located on a river of the same name (now known as the Little Tennessee River).

The meaning and origin of the word are uncertain. Some accounts suggest it is a Cherokee modification of an earlier Yuchi/Creek word. It has been said to mean "meeting place", "winding river", or "river of the great bend".[1][2]

The modern spelling, Tennessee, is attributed to James Glen , the Governor of South Carolina, who used this spelling in his official correspondence during the 1750s. In 1788, North Carolina named the third county to be established in what is now Middle Tennessee "Tennessee County". When a constitutional convention met in 1796 to organize a new state out of the Southwest Territory, it adopted "Tennessee" as the name of the state.


The area now known as Tennessee was first settled by Paleo-Indians nearly 11,000 years ago. When Spanish explorers, led by Hernando de Soto first visited the area in the 1500s, it was inhabited by tribes of Cherokee, Creek, and Chickasaw Native Americans. As European colonists spread into the area, the native populations were forcibly displaced to the west. From 1838 to 1839, nearly 17,000 Cherokees were forced to march from Eastern Tennessee to Indian Territory west of Arkansas. This came to be known as the Trail of Tears, as an estimated 4,000 Cherokees died along the way.1

Tennessee was admitted to the Union in 1796 as the 16th state, and was created by taking the north and south borders of North Carolina and extending them with only one small deviation to the Mississippi River, Tennessee's western boundary. Tennessee was the last Confederate state to secede from the Union when it did so on June 8, 1861. After the American Civil War, Tennessee adopted a new constitution that abolished slavery (February 22, 1865), ratified the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution on July 18, 1866, and was the first state readmitted to the Union (July 24 of the same year).

Tennessee was the only state that seceded from the Union that did not have a military governor after the American Civil War, mostly due to the influence of President Andrew Johnson, a native of the state, who was Lincoln's vice president and succeeded him as president, due to the assassination.

In 1897, the state celebrated its centennial of statehood (albeit one year late) with a great exposition.

During World War II, Oak Ridge was selected as a US Department of Energy national laboratory, one of the principal sites for the Manhattan Project's production and isolation of weapons-grade fissile material.

Tennessee celebrated its bicentennial in 1996 after a yearlong statewide celebration entitled "Tennessee 200" by opening a new state park (Bicentennial Mall) at the foot of Capitol Hill in Nashville.

Law and Government

Tennessee's governor holds office for a four year term and may serve any number of terms, but not more than two in a row. The speaker of the state Senate has the title of lieutenant governor. See:List of Tennessee Governors.

The General Assembly (the state's legislature) consists of the 33-member Senate and the 99-member House of Representatives. Senators serve four year terms, and House members serve two year terms.

The highest court in Tennessee is the state Supreme Court. It has a chief justice and four associate justices. The Court of Appeals has 12 judges. The Court of Criminal Appeals has nine judges.

Tennessee's current state constitution was adopted in 1870. The state had two earlier constitutions. The first was adopted in 1796, the year Tennessee joined the union, and the second was adopted in 1834.


See also: List of Tennessee counties, List of Tennessee state parks

Tennesee lies adjacent to 8 other states (more than any other U.S. state). It is bordered on the north by Kentucky and Virginia, on the east by North Carolina, on the south by Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, and on the west by Arkansas and Missouri. The state is trisected by the Tennessee River. The highest point in the state is the peak of Clingmans Dome at 6,643 feet (2,025 meters), which lies on Tennesee's eastern border.

The state of Tennessee is traditionally divided by its people into three grand divisions - East, Middle, and West Tennessee. The Tennessee River is generally considered the dividing line between Middle and West Tennessee. The Cumberland Plateau is generally considered the dividing line between East and Middle Tennessee.

Tennessee features six principal geographic regions. Roughly from west to east, these are:


  • State income

According to U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, in 2003 Tennessee's Gross State Product was $199,786,000,000, 1.8% of the total Gross Domestic Product.

In 2003, the per capita personal income was $28,641, 36th in the nation, and only 91% of the national per capita personal income of $31,472. Total earnings were $167,414,793,000.(BEARFACTS)

  • Major industries/products
  • state taxes

State sales tax is 7%, while the counties charge an additional 2.25% for a total of 9.25% across Tennessee. Some cities charge additional taxes, leading to some of the highest sales taxes in the United States.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2003, Tennessee's population was estimated at 5,841,748 people.

The racial makeup of the state is:

The 5 largest ancestry groups in Tennessee are American (17.5%), African American (16.4%), Irish (9.3%), English (9.1%), German (8.3%).

6.6% of Tennessee's population were reported as under 5, 24.6% under 18, and 12.4% were 65 or older. Females made up approximately 51.3% of the population.


The religious affiliations of the citizens of Tennessee are:

  • Protestant – 85%
  • Roman Catholic – 5%
  • Other Christian – 1%
  • Other Religions – 1%
  • Non-Religious – 6%

The three largest Protestant denominations in Tennessee are: Baptist (43% of the total state population), Methodist (11%), Churches of Christ (5%).

Important cities and towns


The capital is Nashville. Memphis has the largest population of any city proper in the state, but Nashville has a slightly larger metropolitan area, comprising over 20% of the state's population. Chattanooga and Knoxville, both in the eastern part of the state near the Great Smoky Mountains, have approximately a third of Memphis or Nashville's population. The three towns of Bristol, Kingsport, and Johnson City make up a fifth significant population center, often called the "Tri-Cities", in the far northeast of the state. As of 2000, the population is 5,689,283.

Tennessee cities' claims to fame are:


Colleges and universities

Professional sports teams

Famous Tennesseans

see List of famous Tennesseans see List of Governors of Tennessee

Miscellaneous information

See: Tennessee State Flag

See: Music of Tennessee


  • 1 Satz, Ronald. Tennessee's Indian Peoples. Knoville, TN: University of Tennessee Press, 1979. ISBN 0870492853

External links

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