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Illinois State Flag Illinois

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The Geography of Illinois

Click here  for a few definitions.

Longitude / Latitude Longitude: 87° 30' W to 91° 30' W
Latitude: 36° 58' N to 42° 30' N
Illinois map
Illinois base and elevation maps
Length x Width Illinois is 390 miles long and 210 miles wide.  
Geographic Center
Explanation
Near the geographic center of Illinois is a small village in Logan County called Chestnut. Chestnut is located between Lincoln and Decatur about 28 miles northeast of Springfield.
Longitude: 89° 18.4'W
Latitude: 40° 0.8'N
 
Borders Illinois is bordered by Wisconsin on the north and Kentucky in the south. On the east, Illinois is bordered by Lake Michigan and Indiana. Illinois borders Iowa and Missouri on the west.
Total Area Illinois covers 57,918 square miles, making it the 25th largest of the 50 states.
Land Area 55,593 square miles of Illinois are land areas.
Water Area 2,325 square miles of Illinois are covered by water.
Highest Point The highest point in Illinois is Charles Mound at 1,235 feet above sea level.
Lowest Point The lowest point in Illinois is on the Mississippi River; 279 feet above sea level.
Mean Elevation The Mean Elevation of the state of Illinois is 600 feet above sea level.
Major Rivers Illinois River, Mississippi River, Ohio River, Wabash River
Major Lakes Lake Michigan, Rend Lake

The Land

Bordered by the Mississippi River on the west and the Wabash and Ohio Rivers on the southeast and south, the landscape of Illinois can be grouped into three main regions; the Central Plains, the Shawnee Hills and the Gulf Coastal Plain.

The Central Plains: About 90% of Illinois is covered by the Central Plains region. These gently rolling fertile plains were carved and leveled by glaciers during the Ice Age. The Central Plains run from Lake Michigan west and south to cover most of the state and can be divided into three sections; the Great Lakes Plain, the Driftless Plains and the Till Plains.

  • The Great Lakes Plains This low flat stretch of land along Lake Michigan develops some small hills north and west of Chicago.
  • The Driftless Plains In the northwest corner of Illinois, the Driftless Plains offer the highest elevations in the state. Large hills and valleys are present in this small area of Driftless Plains. This is where Charles Mound, the highest point in Illinois, is located.
  • The Till Plains By far the largest section of the Central Plains, the Till Plains offers Illinois' contribution to the Corn Belt. This area of fertile soil typifies the landscape that helped make Illinois one of the top five corn producing states, one of the leading agricultural states in the nation and gave Illinois one of its nicknames; The Prairie State. Some call the Till Plains section of Illinois the Garden Spot of the Nation.

The Shawnee Hills: The Shawnee Hills region stretches across the southern part of Illinois south of the Central Plains. This small strip of land, ranging from five to 40 miles wide and about 70 miles long is characterized by higher elevations (300 to 1,065 feet). The landscape of the Shawnee Hills consists of rivers, valleys and woodland.

The Gulf Coastal: The extreme southern tip of Illinois is covered by the northern reach of the Gulf Coastal Plain that stretches north from the Gulf of Mexico. This is the land between the Ohio River on the east and the Mississippi River on the west and sometimes referred to as "Egypt" because of its resemblance to the Nile Delta. Just south of the Shawnee Hills, the Gulf Coastal Plain tends to be hilly but flattens significantly toward the Illinois border with Kentucky.

( Illinois Close-up )

Climate (All temperatures Fahrenheit)
Highest Temperature The highest temperature recorded in Illinois is 117°, Fahrenheit. This record high was recorded on July 14, 1954 at East St. Louis.
Lowest Temperature The lowest temperature in Illinois, -36°, was recorded on January 5, 1999 at Congerville.
Average Temperature Monthly average temperatures range from a high of 87.1 degrees to a low of 9.8 degrees.
Climate Average yearly precipitation for Illinois, from 1971 to 2000, is shown on this chart from Oregon State University.
Sources:
The World Almanac of the U.S.A. by Allan Carpenter and Carl Provorse, Copyright © 1998
Robert McColley and William D. Walters, Jr., "Illinois," World Book Online Americas Edition, http://www.worldbookonline.com/wbol/wbPage/na/ar/co/272380, August 14, 2001.
The United States Geological Survey Website
Maps.com http://www.maps.com
To Idaho geography. To Indiana geography.

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