What Should I Know About Tennessee?

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  • Written By: Mary Elizabeth
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 07 October 2019
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Tennessee is one of the fifty states that make up the United States of America and one of the twelve Southern states, along with Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. It is bordered to the west by Arkansas and Missouri, to the north by Kentucky and Virginia, to the east by North Carolina, and on the south by Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. Nashville is the capital. Other important cities in Tennessee include Memphis, Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Clarksville.

Tennessee is the 34th of the 50 states by size with an area of 41,217 square miles (106,752 sq km), but ranks 16th in population with 5,689,283 in the 2000 census. It is twentieth among states in population density. The proper name for a resident of Tennessee is a Tennessean, and its nickname is the “Volunteer State.”

It is believed that during the Ice Age the first inhabitants of Tennessee crossed over from Asia and made their way to what is now the state. Hernando de Soto, arriving some 20,000 years later, found Native Americans groups, dominated by the Cherokee. The state name derives from the Cherokee village name, Tanasi. The Cherokee and English traders from Virginia and South Carolina were allies in the French and Indian War. But as settlers wanted more land, relations soured. Conflict ended with the Cherokee being expelled in 1838–1839.


The English settlers discovered that they were not under British rule, and set up an independent government, participating on the colonists’ side in the American Revolution. While still a portion of the state of North Carolina, the people of Tennessee asked for admission requested admission as a separate state. This request was denied, but the area became a territory. Tennessee became the 16th state to enter the union on 1 June 1796, and was the first territory to make that transition.

The state motto of Tennessee is “Agriculture and Commerce,” and it appears on the state seal, which features a plow, a sheaf of wheat, a cotton plant, and a riverboat. On the state flag, three white stars, representing the major divisions of the state — East, Middle, and West — are centered in a blue circle with a white outline, all on a red field. Other state emblems include the following:

  • State Flowers: Iris, Passion Flower
  • State Horse: Tennessee Walking Horse
  • State Birds: Mockingbird, Bobwhite Quail
  • State Reptile: Eastern Box Turtle
  • State Amphibian: Tennessee Cave Salamander
  • State Tree: Tulip Poplar
  • State Wild Animal: Raccoon
  • State Gem: Tennessee River Pearls
  • State Fruit: Tomato
  • State Insects: Firefly, Ladybeetle, Honeybee

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I have noticed that people in Tennessee are very friendly.

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