Brief, General Background:

With home to almost 13 million people, Illinois is the most populous state in the Midwest, and the fifth most populous state in the U.S.. It is widely considered the "most American state" which means it has a very American feel. It has both a highly urban and rural feel depending on where you are in the state. Chicago, along the shores of Lake Michigan, is the 3rd largest city in the U.S., while areas downstate are home to flat prairies and the world's richest and most productive farmland.

What is it like to do business in Illinois?

Illinois is highly commercialized, especially in northern Illinois. It is home to many large retailers and corporations such as Sears, Motorola, Boeing, U.S. Cellular, Mc Donald's, and John Deere. In and around Chicago, the business atmosphere is mostly smart casual or formal, usually more formal than west coast cities such as Los Angeles, but less formal than East Coast cities such as New York.

Where to go on a leisure visit...?

It highly depends on what your interests are. If you are a city-lover, be sure to visit Chicago, of course, by far Illinois'  biggest city. Chicago is known for its "big city, small town feel." Chicago has a great setting on Lake Michigan's shore, with a bicycle paths, beaches, a large chain of city parks, and a museum campus lining the shoreline. Be sure to visit, then, the Sears Tower sky-deck or John Hancock Center observatory, and to have a Chicago deep dish pizza elsewhere in the city.

If you are more of an outdoor person, southern Illinois is the best fit. Southern Illinois is home to Shawnee National Forest, which is a very large forest preservation that is great for hiking or fishing with topography similar to that of the Ozarks. Southern Illinois is also home to wooded lake-lands, contrasting to Northern Illinois which has virtually no lakes.

Getting to Illinois and getting around within Illinois:

Getting to Illinois... if you are flying into Illinois, you will almost always arrive in one of Chicago's two airports, O'Hare and Midway, since the rest of Illinois receives very scant or no commercial air service. O'Hare is the busiest airport in Illinois and the 2nd busiest in the U.S. For more tips on O'Hare visit the TripAdvisor articles "Tips for O'Hare travelers" and "Navigating O'Hare."

Illinois also receives generous rail service, primarily from Amtrak, the country's primary passenger rail operator. Amtrak rail links Chicago with cities such as Denver, Kansas City, St. Louis, and Minneapolis, not to mention many others. Within Illinois, Amtrak operates rail services between Chicago and Quincy, St. Louis, and Carbondale, among others along the way.

If traveling by road, there is most likely a major U.S. highway near your Illinois destination, since Illinois offers the most miles of interstate highways besides Texas and California, both states which are far larger in land area than Illinois.

The People of Illinois:

In terms of its population, Illinois is highly diverse. Chicago, perhaps, is responsible for leading Illinois' factual reputation as the most demographically diverse state. Besides having a large mixture of different European races, Chicago has a vibrant community of African-Americans, primarily on the city's south side. A large group of Latin-Americans, spread throughout the entire city, keep the city working. Without any of these races, Chicago wouldn't be the great city it is today, with many diverse ethnic neighborhoods, and cultures. For example, the African Americans have built the city's great jazz and blues music.

Illinois is very diverse in terms of income, also. Many outer suburbs of Chicago are home to some of the lowest poverty rates in the country, while in parts of Chicago, many people live under the poverty rate.