Illinois is a mostly flat plains state, with the majority being farmland except for the south, which is hilly and forested. Most of Illinois is sparsely populated except for the northeast corner where Chicago is.
English is the dominant language in the state of Illinois. Spanish is also widely spoken in the Chicago Metropolitan area by its large Hispanic population. Outside of Chicago, Spanish is rarely spoken and not well understood. Polish is also spoken within Chicago.
Illinois is accessed through interstates 90 & 94 through Wisconsin, 80 through Iowa, 55, 57, and 70 through Missouri, 24 through Kentucky, and 70, 74, and 80 through Indiana
Amtrak lines run through all bordering states one way or another to Chicago.
Chicago has two major airports, O'Hare and Midway. Midway is smaller and closer to the downtown. There are many other airports with regional service in the state, including in Springfield, Rockford, Peoria, Bloomington-Normal, and in St. Louis, across the river from Illinois.
Car travel is best for the majority of the state, easily accessed by interstates. Numerous highways closer to Chicago are tollways, but the rest of the highways are free.
In the Loop, Chicago's commercial district with bustling elevated train tracks and great architecture:
In the Near North:
In the Near South, including the Museum Campus:
On the South Chicago Shore:
Areas of Illinois away from Lake Michigan — e.g., places other than Chicago — have a high occurrence of tornadoes. You might want to check the Tornado safety page if you are visiting Illinois. In March of 2006, Springfield was hit with a tornado and the city was apparently affected in every area. East St. Louis is one of the worst crime cities in the country and has little touristic interest except for the casino riverboat. Chicago is generally safe except for certain neighborhoods that are generally along the South and West sides.