Southern Illinois

region of Illinois in the United States

Southern Illinois, also called Little Egypt, refers to the southern third of Illinois. There is controversy over where the southern region of the state officially begins.[1] Lots of people say Southern Illinois starts from Springfield and southward. A number of others Carbondale north to Springfield don't lay claim to that region of Illinois as being that of Southern Illinois, though.[2] Illinois is in the Midwestern United States. But Southern Illinois has been called far more typical for the Upland South, similar to nearby Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee, rather than the Midwest.[3] Locals (Illinois' people) from certain small towns have been part of a movement to completely expel/remove Chicago from the state so a commonwealth can be set up with similar politics to Missouri, Kentucky and Indiana. These small Illinois towns include Athens, Mount Vernon, Urbana and Effingham. The movement is called New Illinois. Under the movement, Southern and Downstate Illinois would be entirely separated from Chicago. The large city would become the 51st state in the United States.[4]

There are lots of cities or towns with a large number of people in Southern Illinois. These include, dependent on references and views of the population of the area and those outside: Springfield,[5] Alton, O'Fallon, Collinsville, Carbondale, Cairo and Mount Vernon. The region also involves St. Louis and Cape Girardeau (both in Missouri), Memphis and Nashville (both in Tennessee), and Evansville, Indiana.

Southern Illinois was covered by the Shawnee National Forest. The area also contains hilly landscape.[6]

The Southern Illinois area has almost 1.2 million people. Most of them live near/in rural settings that are in farm areas. Others, however, live in/near Carbondale–Marion, the Illinois region of the St. Louis metro area, in the Urbana–Champaign region and in/near the Springfield area.[7]

Metro East

Granite City downtown and city hall, population 29,849.

The area of Southern Illinois with the most of all people is the Illinois side of Greater St. Louis. Noted areas are Cahokia Mounds, the American Bottom and East St. Louis. The last mentioned area has had a very rough history involving industrialization, labor, immigration and the struggle for equal rights.

Edwardsville, Illinois, Population 24,457.
  • Population: 702,579

East-Central Southern Illinois

Grand Rapids Hotel Mount Carmel, Illinois on opening day in 1922

Located on the Wabash River, East-Central Southern Illinois is noted by the town of Salem, the birthplace of William Jennings Bryan, the G. I. Bill of Rights and Miracle Whip salad dressing.

  • Population: 155,988

West-Central Southern Illinois

Catholic Church in Kaskaskia.
Bald Knob Cross rises 111 feet above the Shawnee National Forest west of Alto Pass, Illinois.

Chester, Illinois, over West-Central and Southern Illinois is usually called the "Home of Popeye". Several of the influences for the characters were seen there. Kaskaskia, the first state capital of Illinois is set located near the Mississippi River. This area also has the ending point of the Kaskaskia River near the Fort Kaskaskia State Historic Site. Rend Lake is in this area.

  • Population: 148,930

Southwest Illinois

A statue in Carbondale.

Set in the western area of the Cache River, Southwest Illinois has the second most people across the region. This area's best-known higher education setting is the main campus of the Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. The university won the 1971 All-America City Award. It was later a finalist in the 2009 contest,[8][9] and the fastest growing city in Southern Illinois outside the Metro East, Marion, Illinois. Both cities are in the Carbondale-Marion-Herrin, Illinois Combined Statistical Area, home to 123,272 local people. In the southern area of the region Alto Pass and Bald Knob Cross are right near the orchards. The large Crab Orchard lake is the largest in the region. Historic Cairo sits at the far southern end near the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.

  • Population: 158,782



Southern Illinois happens being on the border between humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfa) and humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa). The area doesn't have any large mountains or large bodies of water to moderate its temperature. That means Southern Illinois areas are prone to both cold Arctic air and hot, humid tropical air from the Gulf of Mexico. Along with the rest of the Midwestern United States, such areas are home to some of the largest temperature extremes in the world. The Southern Illinois area has four distinct seasons. Spring is the wettest season. It has uneven severe weather. This involves severe thunderstorms, tornadoes or winter storms. Summers are hot and humid. This season only has occasional and brief rest. Humidity often makes the heat index rise to temperatures feeling well above 100 °F (38 °C). Fall is mild with lower humidity. It can, however, make irregular bouts of heavy rainfall with the first snow flurries. This usually happens during late November. Winters are cold with periodic snow. During this season, temperatures often below freezing. Thaws are usually frequent. Winter storm systems, in particular the Alberta clippers and Panhandle hooks, often bring days of heavy freezing rain, ice pellets and snowfall.

The normal high temperature in July is 90 °F (32 °C). The normal low temperature in January is 21 °F (−6 °C). This, though, varies between one year and another. Both 100 °F (37.8 °C) and 0 °F (−17.8 °C) temperatures can be seen on an average 2 or 3 days per year. The official record low is −23 °F (−31 °C) on February 2, 1884 in Harrisburg. The region's record high is 117 °F (47 °C) on July 14, 1954 in East St. Louis.

Southern Illinois has thunderstorms about 50 days a year on average. Thunderstorms add to just over half of the area's overall precipitation. Mainly in the spring, these storms will often be severe, with high winds, large hail and tornadoes. Southern Illinois has been affected on more than one occasion by Southern Illinois tornado history|very damaging tornadoes.

A period of warm weather late in autumn known as the Indian summer will sometimes occur. Roses may still bloom as late as November or early December during some years.

Colleges and universities



Politics of Southern Illinois


Southern Illinois was historically a conservative and Democratic region. Though the political parties have changed, Southern Illinois has almost always voted for Democratic candidates more times than not since 1818. Democratic roots in Southern Illinois relate to the area's shared cultures with the South. The latter United States area was where the Democratic Party, before the American Civil War and after Reconstruction, was the ruling party before the 1960s. Democratic affiliations were tightened in the Great Depression and Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration.[11] There are, however, some long-time Republican counties in the region. The most well-known is Edwards County.

But in the last few decades, Southern Illinois has trended GOP due to the national support for them across rural areas. Northern Illinois has trended towards Democrats due to lots of that area's people leaving from in and near the Democratic-leaning Cook County and nearby counties. Democratic candidates were fierce in the counties across Southern Illinois until around 1996. Beginning from the presidential election of 2000 on, Democratic officials weren't doing well like expected across Southern Illinois even if they had won almost very constantly.

In the early months of the Civil War, several local people in Williamson County voted for secession from the Union. On April 15, 1861, the citizens of Marion made a promise calling for the division of Illinois and the secession of Southern Illinois. The promise was soon rescinded meaning canceled). The General Benjamin Prentiss, however, left a company of men near Marion for defense as he passed by on his way to a garrison in Cairo. Despite some southern sympathizers, most young men in the region joined the Union Army.[12]


  1. "How Do You Define Southern Illinois". Southern Illinoisan. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  2. "Downstate". Encyclopedia of Chicago. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  3. "What's it Mean to Be an Illinoisan Anyway". Chicago's Magazine. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  4. "If Downstate Illinois Seceded". Chicago's Magazine. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  5. "Illinois' South-Culture and Identity in Southern Illinois" (PDF). The Western Illinois University Historical Review Studies. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 4, 2021. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  6. "Illinois-The History, Facts, Capital, People and Cities". Britannica. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  7. "The Census Shows Downstate Illinois' Population Decline, Sets a Stage for Redistricting". Pantagraph News Illinois. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  8. "National Civic League". Archived from the original on April 4, 2009. Retrieved March 28, 2018.
  9. "All-America City: Past Winners". Archived from the original on July 8, 2010. Retrieved March 28, 2018.
  10. Southern Illinois Colleges search
  11. "Illinois Politics During the Civil War". March 14, 2011. Retrieved March 28, 2018.
  12. "The Civil War and Late 19th Century" Archived February 23, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, The History of Southern Illinois, Egyptian Area on Aging, Inc., 1996–2009, accessed May 15, 2009