Map of Kentucky, major cities, states and capitals

Kentucky state flag
Kentucky State Flag

Kentucky state flower

Photo: Kurt Stüber

Goldenrod — Kentucky State Flower


Kentucky is a state that is a part of the Upland South region, and a substantial part of the state is also in the Appalachian region of the United States, as it lies in the southern central part of the nation.
The northern border of Kentucky is the Ohio River, while the western border is compromised of the Mississippi River. However, the borders were formed from the course of the rivers as they were in 1792, when the state was formed.
Date first discovered by Europeans:  It is very unclear who were the first European explorers in the region, due to a lack of records and a poor understanding of the historical expeditions. It is very likely that a French explorer during the 17th century was the first time a European had seen the land that would become Kentucky.
Date admitted to US: 1792
Capital: Frankfort
Largest City: Louisville
The eastern part of the state is in the Appalachian Mountains, and is more rugged then the rest of the state and is home to many coal fields. The western part of Kentucky  is in the Great Plains, a part of the Cumberland Plateau, while the south and southwest are a part of the Pennyroyal (or Pennyrile) plateau. The North central part of the state is home to the Bluegrass region that the state is famous for, with fertile grassland and many rolling hills.
Area: 40,409 square miles
Area rank: 37th
Population: 4.425, 092
Population rank: 26th
Electoral votes: 8
Kentucky is world-famous for its blue-grass pastures, where thoroughbred race horse are bred and raised. The underlying beds of calcium-rich rock and nutritious blue-grass help make the horses healthier and hardier. Many  of these are raced in the annual Kentucky Derby, the most well-known and usually highest attended horse race in the United States.
The Kentucky Derby is also named the 'Run of the Roses' for the rose garland the winning horse receives. Burgoo King, named for the famous Kentucky stew, Burgoo, was the first horse to have received a garland after winning the race in 1932 and photographed. Ever since, the winning horse has been draped with a garland of roses. In some cases, the winner of the race has stepped on, refused or even eaten the prized garland.
Kentucky has the longest cave system in the world, the Mammoth Cave National Park, which is now a World Heritage Site. It is known to be over 390 miles long, but is not completely mapped and might be even longer. Mammoth Cave is very stable as a layer of sandstone-- very impermeable to water-- lies on top of the limestone cave, greatly reducing erosion.
The caves are so large that an entire species of the shrimp resides only in streams in the cave, the Kentucky Cave Shrimp. It has adapted to life underground, and is completely devoid of pigments to protect it from sunlight.  It has no eyes as it lives in total darkness.
There is a small area in the southwestern part of the state, Kentucky Bend, which is unconnected to the rest of the state, being completely surrounded by Missouri and Tennessee. It is due to an old surveying error.
State boundaries were fixed along the course of rivers, as of 1792; in some places the river has changed course away from the original borders.

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