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In 1796, Tennessee became the sixteenth state to join the Union. It was created by taking the north and south borders
of North Carolina and extending them to the Mississippi River.
The word "Tennessee" comes from the Cherokee town Tanasi, which along with its neighbor town Chota was
one of the most important Cherokee towns and often referred to as the capital city of the Overhill Cherokee.
Tennessee is known as the "Volunteer State", a nickname it earned during the War of 1812, in which volunteer
soldiers from Tennessee played a prominent role, especially during the Battle of New Orleans.
The capital is Nashville and the largest city is Memphis.
The state of Tennessee is geographically and constitutionally divided into three Grand Divisions:
East Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, and West Tennessee.
The Blue Ridge area lies on the eastern edge of Tennessee, bordering North Carolina. This region of Tennessee is
characterized by high mountains, including the Great Smoky Mountains, the Chilhowee Mountains, the Unicoi Range,
and the Iron Mountains range.
To the west of East Tennessee lies the Cumberland Plateau. This area is covered with flat-topped mountains separated
by sharp valleys. To the west of the Cumberland Plateau is the Highland Rim, an elevated plain that surrounds the
Nashville Basin. The northern section of the Highland Rim, known for its high tobacco production, is sometimes
called the Pennyroyal Plateau and is located in primarily in Southwestern Kentucky. The Nashville Basin is characterized
by rich, fertile farm country and high natural wildlife diversity.
West of the Highland Rim and Nashville Basin is the Gulf Coastal Plain, which includes the Mississippi embayment.
Most of West Tennessee remained Indian land until the Chickasaw Cession of 1818, when the Chickasaw ceded their
land between the Tennessee River and the Mississippi River. The portion of the Chickasaw Cession that lies in Kentucky
is known as the Jackson Purchase.
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