The major cities are: the capital Springfield, Bloomington-Normal, Carbondale, Urbana-Champaign, Chicago, Joliet, Nauvoo, and Peoria.
In the south of the state there is one of the largest protected forests of United States - Shawnee National Forest, covering an area of 1,100 square km. Shawnee, founded in 1939 on the order of US President Franklin Roosevelt, is the natural habitat of many deciduous trees and other plants and animals typical for the region. Several thousand years ago, during the melting of glaciers on the territory of national forests formed the gorge Little Grand Canyon, in the deep shadow of which grew arctic relict species of plants, on this territory the woods preserved from ancient times. There is also an artificially created Lake Cedar, formed by the dam of Cedar Creek.
Chicago stretches along the southwestern shore of one of the Great Lakes - Lake Michigan. Chicago is the birthplace of the blues and jazz, as well as the embodiment of the idea of skyscrapers. Chicago is the city of first-class museums, kilometer-long sandy beaches and huge parks, among which stands out the Museum of Science and Industry, Museum Campus with a huge aquarium and planetarium, Millennium Park.
The state capital, the city of Springfield is the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln. There are the Capitol and Presidential Library, as well as the house-museum of the 16th US president and his resting place in the cemetery of Oak Ridge.
In the middle of the sprawling urban agglomeration Urbana-Champaign there is the largest campuses of the University of Illinois. The agglomeration formed by the merger of the two cities attracts with its numerous museums.