Kentucky is a state of the United States, west of the Allegheny Mountains. Together with Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi, form the so-called Southeast Central States. Border to Missouri in the west, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio in the north, West Virginia in the east, Virginia in the southeast and Tennessee in the south.
Kentucky has a total area of approximately 104,660 square miles and has 4,454,199 residents (U.S. Census, 2017). Kentucky became the number 15 state in the United States on June 1, 1792. The capital is Frankfort, while Louisville is the largest city in the state.
The name has an uncertain interpretation, may be derived from a Cherokee word, “dark, bloody battlefield,” but is also interpreted as “engmark” and “tomorrow’s land, “abbreviated KY, and often referred to as The Bluegrass State, following a rap genre which is highly prevalent in the area.
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The eastern part of Kentucky belongs to the Cumberland Plateau, which is the southernmost part of the Appalachian mountain range. The plateau is cut by narrow river valleys, including the Cumberland and Kentucky River spring rivers, reaching Big Black Mountain at 1263 feet above sea level. The area has large deposits of coal (Eastern Coalfield), and the mountains are covered by dense deciduous vegetation.
Also in the southwest (Western Coalfield) the landscape is hilly, while the middle part is a quiet hill country. It is called in the North Bluegrass district, and is known for its fertile soil, formed by weathering of limestone, and for its horse breeding. The limestone area is rich in underground streams and caves, including Mammoth-Flint Ridge Cave, the world’s largest cave. The landscape to the west, between the Tennessee, Mississippi and Ohio rivers, is part of the Mississippi River plain. The rivers mostly flow north to the Ohio River.
The climate is temperate with abundant rainfall, which falls fairly evenly throughout the year. The annual average temperature varies between 13 and 16 °C; Louisville has a January temperature of 1 °C, 26 °C in July. The annual rainfall is highest in the south, lowest in the northeast; 1130 millimeters in Louisville. About 40 per cent of the area is wooded (oak, hickory, ash and more).
The colonization of Kentucky began in the late 18th century, and the population passed one million in 1855, two million in 1895, and three million in the mid-1950s. Since the depression in the 1930s, the state has largely had net emigration, but in the period 1970-1980 the population increased by 13.6 per cent, which gave growth slightly above the average for the entire United States. In the decade 1980-1909 the population increased by only 0.7 per cent, while in the 1990s it again increased in line with the national average.
87.8 percent of the population is considered white, including 3.7 percent of Hispanic origin (US Census, 2017). The proportion of blacks in the population has steadily declined since the American Civil War in the 1860s. The Kentucky settlement has traditionally been associated with the countryside, and in the mountains, topography and poor communications have in many places created isolated small communities, hollows. The people in these areas are often called hillbillies. The largest cities in the state are Louisville and Lexington. Part of Cincinnatis (Ohio) suburbs is located in Kentucky, including Covington.
Kentucky sends two senators and six representatives to Congress. The State Senate has 38 members, the House of Representatives 100 members.
Agricultural products still form the basis of the state’s economy, even though the area cultivated is declining. Corn occupies the largest area, but tobacco is the most important commodity. Only North Carolina has greater tobacco production among the states, and Louisville, once the United States’ largest tobacco market, has large cigarette factories. Furthermore, soybeans, wheat and rye are grown. Animal husbandry is of great importance and horse breeding has long traditions.
Next to Wyoming and West Virginia, Kentucky is the largest coal producer in the United States. Production takes place largely in the open pit (“strip mining”), which have contributed to substantial erosion damage and other environmental degradation. Oil and natural gas are also recovered in considerable quantities. Otherwise, the state has the mechanical, electrical and electronic industries, as well as the food and beverage industry. The industry is particularly concentrated on cities along Ohio, which is a major transportation hub, including to Ashland and Louisville. The state has a number of higher education institutions, the best known being the University of Kentucky at Lexington and the University of Louisville.
Kentucky was the first area west of the Allegheny Mountains colonized by Americans from the 13 original colonies that founded the United States. This happened immediately before the North American freedom struggle in the years 1775–1783. The area was initially organized as part of Virginia, but separated and occupied as the 15th state in the union in 1792. Kentucky attempted to remain neutral in the American Civil War, but was invaded by southern state troops in 1862, and residents split between the north – and the southern states. Both Union President Abraham Lincoln and Confederate President Jefferson Davis were born here.