The major city in Central Illinois is Peoria. Peoria is a medium-size city in the middle of Illinois on the west bank of the Illinois River, an important tributary that links Chicago and St. Louis, Missouri.
Charles Kuralt of CBS-TV once said Peoria is in the ``middle of Illinois which is in the middle of the country which is in the middle of the world. More than one-fifth of the United States lives within 250 miles of Peoria.''
Long known as a blue-collar town (Caterpillar Inc.'s World Headquarters is located downtown), Peoria has become a majority white-collar city due in a large part to a growing information technology industry. Bradley University and Illinois Central College also reside in the area.
In the Tri-County area (Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford Counties) live 350,958 people, according to the 2000 Census, with 182,495 people in Peoria County alone. The City of Peoria had 112,936 people in 2000.
The city is surrounded by some of the richest farmland on earth. Agribusiness is a major player in the central Illinois economy. Corn and soybeans are the two main products as well as the raising of farm stock. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research is located in Peoria.
Peoria has three sister cities: Friederichshafen, Germany; Benxi, China; and Clonmel, Ireland.