Tennessee (state), in the East South Central region of the United States, lying between the Mississippi River on the west and the backbone of the Blue Ridge province of the Appalachian Mountains on the east. It is considered one of the border states between the North and the South. Tennessee entered the Union on June 1, 1796, as the 16th state. Although it seceded at the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861, eastern Tennessee remained loyal to the Union. This border character reflects a deep-rooted difference between the upland and lowland areas. The east, with its rugged terrain covered with dense forest and brush, was settled mainly by independent yeoman farmers. It remained largely isolated from the outside world until the early 20th century. In contrast, the west, where cotton plantations once flourished, was linked with other regions through the Mississippi River. Central Tennessee, with its rolling inner core, had good transportation connections with other regions and developed a more diversified economy than that in the east.
These regional differences are reflected in the division of Tennessee into three so-called grand divisions, which are recognized under state law: East Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, and West Tennessee. Each of the divisions has its distinctive regional center, or centers: Chattanooga and Knoxville in East Tennessee; Nashville, the capital and largest metropolitan area, in Middle Tennessee; and Memphis, with the largest city population, in West Tennessee. Tennessee’s population is nearly two-fifths rural, and no single city or group of cities dominates the state. While it is not highly urbanized, Tennessee is now more an industrial than an agricultural state.
This change in emphasis has taken place since the 1930s and is attributable in large part to the planned development of the Tennessee river basin under the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). Through the TVA programs, which attracted a great diversity of industries, including the federal government’s atomic energy research and development center at Oak Ridge, eastern Tennessee has become the most industrialized part of the state. Tennessee is believed to derive its name from Tanasi, the name used by the Cherokee people for a village on the Little Tennessee River. The river was named after the village, and the region named after the river. The state has no official nickname but is frequently called the Volunteer State, used in recognition of the valor displayed by volunteer soldiers from the state during wars in the 18th and 19th centuries. "Tennessee" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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