According to the 2000 national census, Tennessee ranked 16th among the states, with a total population of 5,689,283. This figure represented an increase of 16.7 percent over the 1990 census figure of 4,877,185. During the 1980s and 1990s population grew most rapidly in the Nashville Basin. East Tennessee had the second highest rate of growth, and West Tennessee had the slowest growth.
In 2000, 64 percent of the population lived in urban areas, compared with 44 percent in 1950. Among the fastest growing areas are the suburbs of Nashville, Memphis, and Knoxville. The rural population declined during the 1950s and 1960s, but increased during the 1970s and 1980s. The average population density in 2006 was 57 persons per sq km (147 per sq mi).
In 2000 whites constituted 80.2 percent of the population, blacks 16.4 percent, Asians 1 percent, Native Americans 0.3 percent, and those of mixed heritage or not reporting race 2.1 percent. Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders numbered 2,205. Hispanics, who may be of any race, were 2.2 percent of the people.
Tennessee has one or more significant concentrations of urban population within each of its three divisions, but only Nashville (Middle Tennessee) and Memphis (West Tennessee) have metropolitan areas exceeding 1 million.
Reflecting the rapid growth in the Nashville Basin during the 1980s and 1990s, the Nashville metropolitan area emerged in 1994 as the most populous area in the state, and by 2006 the population had grown to 1,455,097. The Memphis metropolitan area, which extends into Arkansas and Mississippi, had 1,274,704 people in 2006. The city of Memphis proper, however, is the larger, with 670,902 people in 2006, while Nashville had 578,698. East Tennessee has three significant urban concentrations, led by Knoxville (667,384 in the metropolitan area), the Johnson City—Kingsport—Bristol (Tri-Cities) region in the northeast (191,136 in the metropolitan area), and Chattanooga (496,704 in the metropolitan area).
Nashville, the state capital, has a diversified economy based on trade, manufacturing, tourism, and governmental administration. It is also a major music recording center, and has a large printing industry. Memphis is a major manufacturing, commercial, and transportation center, and the state’s chief port. Knoxville, the chief city of eastern Tennessee, has the main campus of the University of Tennessee, contains a variety of manufacturing and service industries, and benefits from proximity to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Chattanooga is engaged in a significant transition from a heavy industry orientation toward a more diversified economy based on trade, recreation, tourism, and manufacturing. "Tennessee" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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