Michael Bryan

Michael Bryan

Modified & Updated: 24 Aug 2023

Tennessee facts

The state of Tennessee has been enjoying a great deal of population growth over the last 20 years. In fact, Tennesseans are enjoying low tax rates and living costs, which keep them happy and satisfied. It is known as the Volunteer State since people have a strong tradition of offering time in military service. Patriotism and the fervent love for the country run deep in the minds of the Tennesseans, but other things would also make your jaw drop when visiting Tennessee. How? Well, just read on to find out more Tennessee facts and how it offers a lot of things, from music to history, that will make your stay or visit worth it.

  1. Tennessee became the 16th state of the United States on June 1, 1796.
  2. It is in the Southeastern region of the United States.
  3. The state has 95 counties.
  4. The state’s total land area is 109,247 km² (nearly the same size as Pennsylvania).
  5. Nashville is the state’s capital and also its biggest city.
  1. The state is legally divided into three Grand Division — East, Middle, and West Tennessee.
  2. Its name came from “Tanasi”, which is a name of a Cherokee village.
  3. Due to a strong tradition of military service in its history, the state earned the nickname, “The Volunteer State.”
  4. About 95% of the people here speak English while 3.9% can speak Spanish.
  5. Tennesseans is the term for the people of Tennessee.
  6. This state provided a significant part in the development of many forms of popular music such as country, gospel, blues, and rock and roll.
  7. More than 80% of Tennesseans are Christians.
  8. Since the early 1900s, the state transitioned from a major agricultural community to a more diversified economy.
  9. The state’s traditional abbreviation is Tenn.
  10. Tennessee’s official website is www.tn.gov.
  1. Tennessee is the 36th largest state by area.
  2. It is the 16th most populous of the 50 states.
  3. As of 2021, its population is close to 7 million people.
  4. The state was initially part of North Carolina.
Table of Contents

Tennessee borders 8 other states.

On its north, the Volunteer State is bordered by Kentucky. On the other hand, Virginia lies on its northeast side, while Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi are to the south. Moreover, you can see North Carolina to the east, Arkansas to the southwest, and Missouri to the northwest.

Tennessee facts, border
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The state is rooted in the Watauga Association.

The state’s history is deeply connected to the Watauga Association (a semi-autonomous administration built in the early 1770s by frontier settlers living beside the Watauga River in what is now Elizabethton, Tennessee). Even though that did not last very long, the Watauga Association started a foundation for what later grew to what we know now as Tennessee. It shaped the upcoming governments in the trans-Appalachian region back then.

Slavery was initially legal in the state.

Tennesse is one of the several states that tolerated slavery, which lasted until the end of the American Civil War in 1865. The western and middle areas became politically divided because of the social issue. Some of them supported the Confederacy and the eastern region reinforces the pro-Union sentiment.

Tennessee has unique and diverse terrain and landforms.

Tennessee has unique and diverse terrain and landforms compared to other states. Stretching from east to west, its visitors can appreciate the beauty of the cultural points of Appalachia, the Upland South, and the Deep South. The Blue Ridge Mountains of the state touches some of the highest elevations of North America. Multiple scenic valleys and waterfalls are also waiting to be discovered.

The gross domestic product (GDP) of Tennessee is over 310 billion.

The Volunteer State is focused on different sectors such as health care, finance, automotive, chemical, music, electronics, tourism sectors, and agriculture — mainly on cattle, soybeans, corn, poultry, and cotton. Last 2020, the state’s GDP was around $312.44 billion.

Tennessee’s population is booming.

Tennessee’s population is booming but just like any place on earth, it comes with a cost such as traffic issues along with increasing crime rates. Although the crime rate here in the state is higher than the national average, you can still find some cities and neighborhoods safer and more comfortable than others.

Some Tennesseans use some form of personal protection.

More than 40% of Tennesseans carry some form of personal protection including a stun gun or pepper spray. According to reports, the top 10 safest cities/towns in Tennessee for 2021 include Church Hill, Signal Mountain, Mount Carmel, Oakland, Whiteville, Camden, Pleasant View, Brentwood, Loudon, and Atoka.

Tennessee Waltz became famous in Japan.

The song “Tennessee Waltz” is popular and lovely country music. Due to its popularity, it became one of the official songs of the state of Tennessee, listed in 1965. Furthermore, it grew to a multimillion seller via a 1950 recording, which even reached Japan in the 1970s, making it the biggest-selling song there during that era.

The Tennessee River is 1,049 km long.

The Tennessee River is one of the biggest tributaries in the country. It is roughly 1,049 km or 652 miles long, located in the southeastern United States in the Tennessee Valley. This River is a major part of the Great Loop (a system of waterways that encompasses the eastern portion of the United States and part of Canada). The main channel is open for recreational watercraft at over 200 public access points along the River’s course.

Tennessee River, Tennessee facts
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The first inhabitants here were Paleo-Indians.

The original inhabitants of the State of Tennessee were Paleo-Indians (the first people who entered the Americas during the final glacial episodes of the late Pleistocene period) who arrived more than 10,000 years ago at the end of the Last Glacial Period.

The Archaic people first domesticated dogs and plants here.

Archaeological excavations showed that the lower Tennessee Valley was greatly inhibited by Ice Age hunter-gatherers, while Middle Tennessee was also believed to have been rich with game animals, such as mastodons. As years passed by, the Archaic people first learned how to domesticate dogs and plants including corn, squash, gourds, and sunflowers — these plants were first grown in Tennessee during the Woodland period (1000 BC to 1000 AD).

Spanish conquistadors came around the 16th century.

Spanish conquistadors, who roamed the region during the 16th century, encountered some of the Mississippian peoples, including the Muscogee Creek, Yuchi, and Shawnee. Unfortunately, by the early 18th century, most indigenous people of Tennessee had vanished. According to research, they were most likely wiped out by diseases carried by the Europeans, such as deadly viruses and bacteria like smallpox, measles, typhus, and cholera.

There are at least 6,000 black bears in Tennessee.

Some of the most common mammals in the State of Tennessee are black bears, bobcats, mountain lions, gray foxes, and white-tailed deer. Moreover, several species of birds also fly all over the state such as red-tailed hawks, pileated woodpeckers, ospreys, eastern screech-owls, red-winged blackbirds, and lastly, summer tanagers, which are very notable because of their males’ bright-red feathers.

The Pygmy Rattlesnake is Tennessee’s smallest snake.

The most common reptiles in Tennessee include eastern fence lizards, southern painted turtles, and pygmy rattlesnakes. The Pygmy Rattlesnake or Pigmy is the smallest (15.0 to 20.0 inches in length) amongst the least known venomous snakes here in Tennessee. They are typically found in a variety of habitats, but mostly close to water.

Pygmy rattlesnake
Image source: Pixabay

The mockingbird is the state bird of Tennessee.

Mockingbirds have a deep history in North America. Thus, the state of Tennessee recognizes this bird as a true resident, so they decided to make it their state bird in the year 1933. The Mockingbird is closely comparable to the Brown Thrasher and the Catbird, and its length, inclusive of the long tail, is usually not more than 13 inches.

Milk is the state beverage of Tennessee.

Chosen as Tennesee’s official state beverage in 2009, the state’s dairy industry started to amass over 100 million pounds of milk from that year onwards. Back in 2018, the 110th General Assembly proposed a Tennessee Milk logo. Approved by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, this Tennessee Milk Logo is designed to brandish that these milk products are produced by the state and to provide prominence to its dairy farmers.

Tennessee has produced the 5 largest smallmouth bass in the world.

The smallmouth bass is Tennessee’s official sport fish since 2005. It dethroned the largemouth bass as the official sport fish of the state in that same year due to its popularity. Furthermore, the Volunteer State has already produced more than four of the largest smallmouth bass in the world.

Nearly half of Tennessee is farmland.

One of the state’s best resources is its fertile soil. On top of that, about 40% of Tennessee’s land area is farmland. The Volunteer State is also popular for excavating different minerals like marble, fluorite, calcite, pyrite (fool’s gold), and zinc.

Elvis Presley’s mansion is in Tennessee.

Graceland is a mansion on a 5.6-hectare or 13.8-acre estate in Memphis, Tennessee. This mansion was once owned by the legendary singer and actor Elvis Presley. Elvis’ daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, inherited the mansion after her father’s death in 1977. Today, Lisa Marie Presley retains 100% ownership of Graceland Mansion, making it the most-visited privately owned home in the United States, with over 650,000 visitors each year.

Graceland, Elvis Presley mansion
Image source: Flickr

The Grand Ole Opry is a weekly American country music stage concert.

In Nashville, Tennessee, you can enjoy the Grand Ole Opry (a weekly American country music stage concert). The American radio personality, announcer, and newspaper reporter, George D. Hay founded it on November 28, 1925, as a one-hour radio “barn dance” on WSM (a 50,000-watt clear-channel station located in Nashville, Tennessee). Up to this day, it continues to broadcast live from Nashville, where audiences can see popular artists and groups such as the rock band, Alabama Shakes, perform.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park draws millions and millions of visitors each year.

With over 12 million visitors every year, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park holds the title of the most visited national park in the country. Also known as the “Salamander Capital of the World”, due to the great diversity of this species that is present in this area, you may explore this place at Cocke county in Tennessee, and create an unforgettable experience. Furthermore, there have been hundreds of known species of fish, as well, living in the area and waiting to be seen. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park encompasses over 522,000 acres, making it one of the biggest protected areas in the country.

Jack Daniel’s is from Tennessee.

Tennessee whiskey is straight whiskey made here in the Volunteer State and one of its top ten exports. There are several companies here in the state that creates good whiskey and one of them is Jack Daniel Distillery.

Jack Daniel’s is a brand of Tennessee whiskey and the best-selling whiskey on the planet. Moreover, this amazing product is produced in Lynchburg, Tennessee, by the Jack Daniel Distillery. It has been owned by the Brown–Forman Corporation (who is also the maker of Early Times, Old Forester, Woodford Reserve, GlenDronach, BenRiach, Glenglassaugh, Finlandia, Herradura, Korbel, and Chambord) since 1956.

Jack Daniel's whiskey
Image source: Pixabay

The song Tennessee Whiskey exploded in 1981.

There is another Tennessee Whiskey that is popular here, but this one is a song written by Dean Dillon and Linda Hargrove, the other Tennessee Whiskey peaked at number 77 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart in 1981. Several artists, like Chris Stapleton and Justin Timberlake, have made this song even more popular in this modern-day.

Tennessee has an NBA Team.

One of the basketball teams in the National Basketball Association is Memphis Grizzlies who are based in Memphis, Tennessee. The Team plays in the league’s Western Conference Southwest Division and competes in their home games at FedExForum (a multi-purpose arena, also used by the NCAA Division I men’s basketball program of the University of Memphis) with a seating capacity of over 18,000. Some of the most popular players that have played here are Ja Morant, Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol, Mike Conley, Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay, Mike Miller, and Jonas Valančiūnas.

Tennessee Volunteers football program represents the University of Tennessee.

It’s very sweet to name one of your sports teams after your state nickname. The Tennessee Volunteers football program embodies the University of Tennessee (UT). Also known as “Vols”, they play at Neyland Stadium on the university’s campus in Knoxville, where Tennessee has an all-time winning record of over 460 games. The team holds the highest home-field total in college football records for any school in the country in its homecourt.

The First Horizon Bank opened in 1864.

Initially known as First Tennessee Bank, its founder, Frank S. Davis opened it on March 25, 1864. Better known today as First Horizon Bank, it now offers financial services in more than 250 bank locations across the Southeast with around 6,100 employees. The Bank is now headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee.

Tennessee experienced a huge flash flood in 2021.

On the rainy morning of August 21, 2021, a huge flash flood struck western Middle Tennessee. Because of this event, several counties in the area suffered beyond the usual annual rainfall within just 10 hours. Consequently, it totaled more than 10 inches. The town of Waverly was seriously affected by floodwater, with multiple houses and establishments wrecked and washed away. This incident caused 20 fatalities.

Tennessee has a world-class non-profit public aquarium.

The Tennessee Aquarium located in Chattanooga, Tennessee first opened in the early ’90s on the banks of the Tennessee River in downtown Chattanooga. This non-profit public aquarium (aquatic counterpart of a zoo) is home to more than 10,000 animals representing roughly 700 species. The Tennessee Aquarium offers educational programming that follows the state curriculum standards and freely admits about 30,000 students each year.

Tennessee Aquarium
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Tennessee has the first FM-broadcasting license.

Nashville was the first city in the United States to acquire an FM-broadcasting license. The radio station, W47NV, started to broadcast in Nashville, Tennessee on March 1, 1941. However, World War II prevented the station from growing substantially. Year of unprofitability followed, and soon it aired its last show on March 15, 1951.

Tennessee allows a regulated monopoly in its electric sector.

The state’s electric sector is highly managed by The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). The company owns at least 90% of Tennesee’s generating capacity as a regulated monopoly. Nuclear power nearly produces 50% of Tennessee’s electricity generation. When it comes to oil, however, the Volunteer State has minimal petroleum and natural gas reserves. Nonetheless, it operates one refinery in Memphis.