Tennessee, United States

About Tennessee

The state of Tennessee is located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,214,888, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers 42,169 square miles (109,220 km2), making it the 36th-largest by total land area. Tennessee is bordered by Kentucky and Virginia to the north, North Carolina to the east, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi to the south, and Arkansas and Missouri to the west. The Appalachian Mountains dominate the eastern part of the state, and the Mississippi River forms the state's western border. Tennessee's capital and second largest city is Nashville. Memphis is the state's largest city. Nashville has the state's largest metropolitan area. Tennessee's major industries include agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism. Tobacco, cotton, and soybeans are the state's primary agricultural crops, and major manufacturing exports include chemicals, transportation equipment, and electrical equipment. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the nation's most visited national park, is headquartered in the eastern part of the state, and a section of the Appalachian Trail roughly follows the Tennessee-North Carolina border. Other major tourist attractions include Elvis Presley's Graceland in Memphis and the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga.

Tennessee Tourism and Recreation

The natural beauty of Tennessee, combined with the activities of the Department of Tourist Development, has made tourism a major industry in the state. Leading tourist attractions include Fort Loudoun, built by the British in 1757; the American Museum of Science and Energy at Oak Ridge; the William Blount Mansion at Knoxville; the Beale Street Historic District in Memphis, home of W. C. Handy, the father of the blues; Graceland, the Memphis estate of Elvis Presley; and Opryland USA and the Grand Ole Opry at Nashville. There are three presidential homes—Andrew Johnson's at Greeneville, Andrew Jackson's Hermitage near Nashville, and James K. Polk's at Columbia. Pinson Mounds, near Jackson, offers outstanding archaeological treasures and the remains of an Indian city. Reservoirs and lakes attract thousands of anglers and water sports enthusiasts.

There are 33 state parks, almost all of which have camping facilities. Altogether, they cover 88,160 acres. Among the most visited state parks are the Meeman-Shelby Forest in Shelby County, Montgomery Bell in Dickson County, Cedars of Lebanon in Wilson County, and Natchez Trace in Henderson and Carroll counties. Cherokee National Park is the most visited national park in Tennessee. Extending into North Carolina, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park covers 241,207 acres in Tennessee. Other popular national parks include the TVA's Land Between the Lakes National Historic Park, Cumberland Gap National Historic Park, and Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park.

Tennessee Climate

Tennessee experiences a varied climate in its different regions, but generally the best time of year to travel is in early autumn, which is the driest season. The most rain tends to fall in winter and early spring, with March being the wettest and stormiest month of the year. The eastern mountains, including the Smoky Mountains, receive the most rainfall, as well as the most snow in winter. In general, Tennessee is hot and humid in summer and cold and wet in winter; snow can fall in winter, but tends to melt quickly.

The Tennessee climate can vary greatly due to the state's diverse topography, but generally the climate is moderate, with warm summers and mild winters. Spring and fall tend to be the best time of year (early fall is the driest time of year), and therefore this is usually the best time to travel to Tennessee, as the summers can get hot, with high humidity, and the winters, though mild, tend to be wet. The Sequatchie Valley, the Central Basin and the Gulf Coastal Plain are usually the warmest areas, and Memphis (in the southwest) experiences an average temperature of 83°F (28°C) in the height of summer (July). The mountainous region in the east tends to experience the heaviest snowfall in winter, with the lowest temperatures in the state. Snow does fall in the rest of Tennessee, but tends to melt very quickly. The Smoky Mountains receive the highest annual precipitation levels in the state. The highest rainfall occurs in winter and early spring, with March being the wettest month and severe storms can occur, though usually infrequently.

Tennessee Transportaion

Interstate 40 crosses the state in a west-east orientation. Its branch interstate highways include I-240 in Memphis; I-440 in Nashville; and I-140 and I-640 in Knoxville. I-26, although technically an east-west interstate, runs from the North Carolina border below Johnson City to its terminus at Kingsport. I-24 is an east-west interstate that runs cross-state from Chattanooga to Clarksville. In a north-south orientation are highways I-55, I-65, I-75, and I-81. Interstate 65 crosses the state through Nashville, while Interstate 75 serves Chattanooga and Knoxville and Interstate 55 serves Memphis. Interstate 81 enters the state at Bristol and terminates at its junction with I-40 near Dandridge. I-155 is a branch highway from I-55. The only spur highway of I-75 in Tennessee is I-275, which is in Knoxville.

Major airports within the state include Nashville International Airport (BNA), Memphis International Airport (MEM), McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS) in Knoxville, Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport (CHA), Tri-Cities Regional Airport (TRI), and McKellar-Sipes Regional Airport (MKL), in Jackson. Because Memphis International Airport is the major hub for FedEx Corporation, it is the world's largest air cargo operation.

Memphis and Newbern, Tennessee, are served by the Amtrak City of New Orleans line on its run between Chicago, Illinois and New Orleans, Louisiana. Nashville is served by the Music City Star commuter rail service.