Kentucky is a state of the United States of America. The state's name is of Shawnese or Iroquoian origin, possibly Wyandotic, meaning "meadow,"  "field". In Seneca, also an Iroquois language, the word geda'geh means "in the field". Kentucky has the nickname Bluegrass State, which means the blue-green flowering grass pastures from March to April, as a common description.

Kentucky was initially a part of Virginia and joined the United States in 1792 as the 15th state. In the Civil War, Kentucky initially tried to remain neutral, then residents of the state stood on both sides, such as B. Abraham Lincoln as President of the Union and Jefferson Davis as President of the Confederacy. However, the United States Census Bureau now clearly counts Kentucky among the southern states.

In addition to the states of Virginia, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, Kentucky bears the official name "Commonwealth of Kentucky" in contrast to the usual designation of the member states as "state".


Previously, the origin of the state's name was believed to come from an Amerindian word meaning "dark and bloody hunting ground," because the native tribes living in the region hunted within the state's dense forests, and because these Tribes fought among themselves in these forests. However, it is currently believed that the word Kentucky can be attributed to numerous indigenous languages, with several possible meanings. Some of these meanings are "land of tomorrow", "land of cane and turkeys" and "prairie". The region where Kentucky is currently located was originally settled by settlers from the British colony of Pennsylvania in 1774, but became controlled by Virginia during the Revolutionary War of 1776, and became the fifteenth American state to form part of the Union. on June 1, 1792.

Kentucky is a land of diverse environments and abundant resources. It has the longest cave system in the world, the longest length of navigable streams and channels in the continental United States (excluding Alaska and Hawaii), the two largest artificial lakes east of the Mississippi River, and the most productive coal field in the world. country. Kentucky is world-known for its thoroughbred horses, horse racing (especially the Kentucky Derby), bourbon distilleries, bluegrass music, tobacco, and its college basketball teams.



1 Frankfort is the capital of Kentucky.
2 Lexington
3 Louisville
4 Owensboro
5 Renfro Valley


Other destinations

Impressive Lost River Cave is located in Kentucky state. Its walls preserved many graffiti from the Civil War era.

Mammoth Cave National Park is the longest cave system known in the world situated in central Kentucky. This protected park covers an area of 52,830 acres in Barren, Edmonson and Hart counties.

Waverly Hills Sanatorium with colorful and dark history is one of the largest and most famous haunted destinations in the United States.



Location and demarcation

Kentucky is between 36°30′ and 39°9′ north latitude and between 81°58′ and 89°34′ west longitude. The national territory extends over 225 km north-south and 610 km east-west and covers 104,659 km².

Kentucky borders the Midwest and Southern United States. It lies between West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. It is bordered on the north by the Ohio River. It is the only US state with an exclave that is only surrounded by other states: in western Kentucky in Fulton County, the small strip of land formed by the New Madrid earthquake of 1811 is the Kentucky Bend on the Mississippi, bounded by the state Missouri and only accessible via Tennessee.



There are five main regions: the Cumberland Mountains, the Cumberland Plateau in the southeast, the "Bluegrass Region" in the north, the Pennyroyal Plateau aka "Pennyrile" in the south and west, the coalfields in the west, and the "Jackson Purchase" in the west extreme west.

The Eastern Coal Fields, a rugged, mountainous region heavily forested and dissected by rivers, features the highest elevations and lies in the River Valley. The highest mountain is Black Mountain in Harlan County at 1292 m. The western portion of the region includes much of the Daniel Boone National Forest.

The "busy" heart of Kentucky, the Bluegrass Region, is in the north of the state. Geologically, it belongs to the oldest part of the state. The calcareous soil forms the basis for grain cultivation and pastures.

The Mississippi Plateau is only separated from it by a series of smaller low mountain range hills, the Knobs.

The Western Coal Fields, bounded by the Ohio River to the north and northwest, are already part of the Illinois Basin.

The southwestern portion of the state is a low-lying plain called the Jackson Purchase. Here is also the lowest point of Kentucky in Fulton County in the course of the Mississippi, around 78 m above sea level. i.e. M. It was named after the later President Andrew Jackson, who in 1818 had initiated the purchase of the land from the Chickasaw as the official agent. The huge alluvial land forms one of the most productive agricultural areas in the country.


Rivers and lakes

Large rivers such as the Ohio or the Mississippi, which also characterize the neighboring states, determine the landscape and the borders of Kentucky, with the entire river network covering around 140,000 km. Other major rivers include the Red and Green Rivers, Tennessee River, Cumberland River and Rough River, Big Sandy River, Licking and Kentucky River. Kentucky is also the only state bordered on three sides by rivers: the Mississippi River to the west, the Ohio River to the north, and the Big Sandy River and Tug Fork to the east. Although the state itself has only three major natural lakes, it has a few reservoirs, some of which were dam-created as job creation measures during Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal policy, such as: B. Lake Barkley on the Cumberland River, named after Vice President Alben W. Barkley, or Dewey Lake on the Big Sandy. The Red River supposedly owes its name to the large amount of blood spilled during fierce Indian fighting in the late 18th century.


Natural reserve

Kentucky has an extensive park system. This includes one national park, Mammoth Cave National Park, two national recreation areas, two national historical parks, two national forest facilities, 52 state parks, 153 km² of state forest and 82 wildlife management areas.

The state is also part of two of the most successful biological reintroduction projects in United States history. In the winter of 1997, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources began reintroducing elk into eastern counties that had been extinct in that area for over 150 years. In 2009, the project reached its goal of 10,000 animals, making it the largest population east of the Mississippi.

Kentucky had successfully reintroduced wild turkeys, which were also extinct here, back in the 1950s. Today it has more turkeys than any other eastern state.



Because Kentucky is located in the southeastern interior of North America, it has a temperate, humid, subtropical climate with cool winters and warm summers. Average temperatures vary between 30.9 °C in summer and -4.9 °C in winter with 1168.4 mm of precipitation. The annual mean is around 14 °C in most of the country. Temperature extremes range from −36.7 °C in Cynthiana in 1963 to +45.6 °C in Greensburg in the summer of 1930. In contrast, winter snowpacks of more than 60 cm are common in the Appalachian foothills. Kentucky is in the transit area of various storm systems, some of which occur as tornadoes between March and September. The most violent storm disasters occurred in the 1890 Louisville tornado with at least 76 fatalities and in the 1974 "Super Outbreak" with 72 fatalities. More recently, a 1997 flood killed 18 people, the multistate Super Tuesday tornado outbreak, killing 17 in Kentucky alone, and a January 2009 national ice storm that killed at least 24 people.


Fauna and Flora

Until the arrival of European settlers, the plains and forests of Kentucky were home to migratory large mammals such as bison, elk, and elk. Today, only smaller mammals such as muskrats, foxes, squirrels, rabbits, marmots, opossums and raccoons live here, but also deer.

There is a much wider range of bird species: from bald eagles to wrens, almost everything is there. Typical birds are the red cardinal, the "state bird", the mockingbird, the sap licker, the kingfisher and various species of woodpecker. One of the country's most important migratory bird routes stretches from the west of the state to the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.

The Cumberland Mountains, the western foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in the Virginia border, are among the most biodiverse mesophytic forests in the temperate zone of the northern hemisphere. Around 30 species occur in the up to 35 m high tree layers. Today, forests cover around 40% of the national territory. Mostly there are deciduous trees like maple, birch, oak, horse chestnut and walnut. But conifers such as hemlock, pine, Virginian juniper and cypress are also common. Typical plants of the area are rhododendrons, laurel rose, blueberry, tulip tree, goldenrod and mint. The lower tree layers are also very species-rich. Such forests (cove forests) in humid depressions on concave slopes are characterized by tall growth and straight trunks. The core regions of the mesophytic forests are considered to be geologically important genetic reservoirs for the distribution of many forest species.



Prehistory - 1792

Different tribes of Native Americans lived in the region where Kentucky is currently located about ten thousand years before the arrival of the first European explorers. These tribes were mainly Cherokee, Delaware and Shawnee, as well as the Iroquois. The latter constantly attacked other indigenous settlements.

According to a royal charter signed by James I in 1609, the territory that would later become Kentucky was attributed to the colony of Virginia. However, in 1750 it was still largely unknown territory when it was proposed to explore it and search for suitable lands there. to colonization. Throughout the end of the 17th century and the first decades of the 18th century, various British and French explorers explored the region.

Much of what is now Kentucky was purchased from Native Americans by the treaties of Fort Stanwix (1768) and Sycamore Shoals (1775). Kentucky later grew rapidly as the first settlements were founded west of the Appalachian Mountains, with settlers (especially from Virginia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania) who entered the region through a passage between the Appalachian Mountains called Cumberland Gap and the Ohio River. The most famous of these early explorers and settlers was Daniel Boone, traditionally considered one of the founders of the state. In 1775 the American War of Independence began. Because the Shawnee north of the Ohio River were dissatisfied with settlement in Kentucky, they allied themselves with the British during the war. Kentucky was a battlefield during the war; The Battle of Blue Licks, one of the last major battles of the Revolution, took place in Kentucky.

In 1776, Kentucky became officially controlled by the United States and the region became one of the counties of Virginia, attracting inhabitants from other regions of Virginia. However, the Iroquois continued to attack American settlements. These indigenous people were equipped with firearms supplied by the British. They controlled a small region in the northwest of the current state of Kentucky. A militant force, controlled by George Rogers Clark, conquered the three British settlements that were located in the northwest of the region. Such settlements supplied the Iroquois with modern weapons. With the capture of these settlements, Iroquois attacks decreased.

Virginia never showed much interest in taking over Kentucky; In fact, the incorporation of the region as a county of Virginia had been made only as a declaration of claim to United States possession of the region of Kentucky (which prior to the start of the war was not part of any of the Thirteen Colonies). . The American Revolutionary War ended in 1783. Nine years later, on June 1, 1792, Kentucky officially became the fifteenth American state, and Isaac Shelby, a soldier hero of the Revolutionary War, was elected the first (and later fifth) governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.​

At the end of the war against Great Britain, the United States found itself with a huge problem: paying the debts it owed to France and Spain. This problem was so great that Kentucky even planned to leave the Union and adhere to the Spanish crown. However, the payment was never made; Otherwise, the new nation would have been ruined.​


1792 - 1865

During the first decades of the 19th century, Kentucky prospered economically. The rich pastures of central Kentucky made it an ideal place for raising horses. Tobacco began to be grown on a large scale in Kentucky beginning in the 1830s. Nearly 30 years later, Kentucky was already the largest tobacco producer in the country. Other important crops were corn and wheat. Kentucky also became one of the largest producers of alcoholic beverages (mainly bourbon whiskey) beginning in the 1840s. The variety of rivers that flow through the state helped Kentucky farmers and merchants prosper. These estates used a large amount of slave labor.

In 1818, President Jackson secured possession of the present western portion of Kentucky—until then disputed with the natives—through the formal purchase and sale of this region to the Indians.

During the 1850s, the United States Government considered moving its capital, the District of Columbia, westward to what was then called the Western District of Columbia. This capital would be between Capitol City (located in Kentucky) and Metropolis (Illinois). However, these plans never went beyond paper.

The American Civil War began in 1861. Kentucky initially declared its neutrality in the war, demonstrating no interest in actively participating on the side of the Union (the United States itself) or the Confederate States of America. Officially, however, Kentucky was still part of the Union, so Confederate troops invaded Kentucky in January 1862, being expelled by Union forces in October of the same year.

During the war, Kentucky's population was divided. Many were pro-abolitionists, especially those living in the state's major urban centers. Others, mainly farmers, were in favor of the use of slave labor. Pro-abolitionists wanted the state to join the Union, and those who supported the use of slave labor wanted Kentucky to join the Confederacy. Even entire families were divided. About 75 thousand people of the state fought on the side of the Union, and about 30 thousand people fought on the side of the Confederacy.

At the end of the war, Kentucky was still part of the Union. However, the United States government made decisions that displeased the vast majority of the state's residents. The slaves were freed without compensation for their owners, the economy of Kentucky, at that time mainly agrarian, was in rags. On top of that, Union troops occupied the state, despite having actively participated on the Union side. These troops remained in the state until 1870, composed primarily of African Americans and occupying areas that had supported the southerners. The morale of Kentuckians declined drastically. For a decade the state would enter a major economic recession, mainly caused by a drastic drop in foreign tobacco sales.


Civil War

Slavery was legal in Kentucky. However, it did not have the same economic importance as in other southern states. In the run-up to the Civil War, Kentucky played an important role in helping black African slaves to escape from the neighboring countries due to its open border over 1126 km to the south. Numerous subterranean hiding places of the "Underground Railroad" that led to Canada have been preserved to this day.

On May 20, 1861, Kentucky attempted to maintain its neutrality in the Civil War through a proclamation (see Kentucky Declaration of Neutrality). However, when Confederate troops invaded and burned numerous cities on September 3, 1861, the Union side was sided with.

General propaganda included the printing of political slogans on business cards and the mail. In a cartoon circulated on an envelope from Illinois at the time, the Secession wolf in tails kneels before Little Red Riding Hood, who shoulders a Union banner. He offers to take Kentucky out of the Union - or any other state, that would be the crucial question. ("The Secession Wolf" offering to lead Kentucky, "Or any other State," out of the Union. "That's what's the matter.")

Despite attempts to maintain neutrality, relatives on both sides often fought. Approximately 100,000 Kentuckians sided with the Union, while around 40,000 men championed the cause of the Confederacy. Both armies had recognized the strategic potential of the state, so that various skirmishes and numerous guerrilla raids took place on national territory. The Battle of Perryville is considered the fiercest confrontation, ultimately killing 7,600 soldiers and wounding 5,400 when Northern General Don Carlos Buell missed an acoustic shadow to confront the outnumbered troops of Braxton Bragg.

Until the end of the war, the civilian population suffered from raids by bushwhacker gangs from the south. Nevertheless, later, during the reconstruction phase (1865-1877), they demonstratively sided with the South. Since the 1880s in particular, the Ku Klux Klan has pursued a policy of intimidation against the colored and liberal population.


Agricultural and industrial boom, monopolies

After the demise of the hemp industry, which had previously produced most of the sacks in the States, the cultivation of "Burley Tobacco" changed the agricultural landscape significantly. New sales markets could be opened up with this high-quality product.

When the Kentucky Railway Company opened up the Powell County rail line in 1886, the country's cedar timber industry also expanded. The Red River Lumber Mills corporation, founded six years earlier, was considered the largest steam-powered sawmill in the state. Around 1890, a literal "run" began on America's largest cedar plantation near Clay City. However, the boom in the region came to an unexpected end in 1906 when a devastating fire ravaged the mills and plantations.

The "Black Patch Tobacco War" between 1904 and 1909 expressed the dissatisfaction of small and medium-sized suppliers, who ultimately fought successfully against the tobacco monopoly of a few large suppliers.

The greatest upheaval was expressed in the change from an agrarian to an industrial state, which was almost completed during the Second World War. In addition to textiles, it was above all the coal-mining and tobacco-processing industry that paved the way for other branches of production. Due to the Great Depression in 1930, many farmers and miners were forced to seek work in the cities. However, it was not until 1970 that more workers were employed in the cities than in the countryside.

In 1936, the US Treasury and its gold reserves were established at Fort Knox.

The winters of 1936-37 saw catastrophic flooding in many parts of the state, forcing thousands to evacuate. In Louisville and Mayfield entire streets were submerged when the Ohio River burst its banks.


World Wars and Korean War

Citizens of a state proud of its fighting frontier tradition, many a Kentuckian fell in Europe during World War I. At Godman Field near Fort Knox, an airfield was created for the first time with the stationing of the 29th Aero Squadron, the squadron remained at this location with the 31st Ballon Corps from 1918 to 1921. After this anachronism ended, the base remained deserted until 1937, when it housed the 12th Reconnaissance Squadron. During World War II, the base housed various bomber squadrons, all armed with the twin-engined Martin B-26 "Marauder" model, used primarily in Italy and the Pacific War.

Robert H. Brooks became the first African American to enlist in the previously all-white National Guard before the start of the war. Officially, he was the first armed American soldier to be killed in a Japanese bombardment of the Philippines on December 8, 1941 after the Japanese declaration of war. Two weeks later, the parade ground in Fort Knox was renamed Brooks Field in his honor. However, this ambivalent signal towards the emancipation of the colored people in the south was initially limited to the army, in which social advancement was possible, but still associated with obstacles.

Another relic of the war can be found at Camp Breckinridge, in Union County near Morganfield, where from 1943 to 1946 a prisoner of war camp for around 3,000 soldiers of the German Wehrmacht was set up in additional barracks on the site of the original training camp for recruits. As everywhere in the States, the prisoners of war were soon part of economic life as cheap labor in agriculture and in handicrafts in view of the shortage of workers with around 9000 fallen, after initial distrust, which also ensured them a good livelihood given the circumstances.

Only five years after the end of the war, soldiers from Kentucky died again in the Korean War, with the posthumously highly decorated field chaplain Herman Felhoelter being declared a "national hero" for both the Catholic Church and the state because of his selfless actions.


Civil rights movement

In the 1950s, the educational landscape gradually changed. As part of the University of Louisville's integration policy, parts of the rest of the campus as well as neighboring institutions were incorporated. As a result, African-American professor Charles H. Parrish Jr., a renowned sociologist and lifelong civil rights advocate, came from Louisville Municipal College, which previously enrolled only blacks, as the first black professor to attend a “white” Southern college. There he chaired the chair of sociology from 1959 and openly cultivated his relationships with the civil rights movement.

From the Reconstruction phase until the 1990s, Kentucky was a stronghold of the Democrats. They were succeeded by the Republicans, who promised a more favorable economic climate. Over the course of this decade, the government managed to curb hard coal production, strengthen tourism as an important service sector by establishing nature parks, compensate for job losses and expand social welfare. In this area in particular, however, Governor Ernie Fletcher took a lot back, even cutting social security for government employees against widespread protest.


Administration and politics

The current Kentucky Constitution was adopted in 1891. Older Constitutions were adopted in 1792, 1799, and 1850. Amendments to the Constitution may be proposed by the Kentucky Legislature. To be approved, amendments created by one of the chambers of the Legislative Branch must receive at least three-quarters of the votes of the Senate and the House of Representatives of the State, and two-thirds of the votes of the electoral population of Kentucky, in a referendum.

At the head of the Executive Branch in Kentucky are the Governor and Lieutenant Governor. The Governor is elected for terms of up to 4 years. A person can hold office for a maximum of two periods.

The Legislative Branch of Kentucky is made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Senate has a total of 38 members, while the House of Representatives has a total of 100 members. Kentucky is divided into 38 senatorial districts and 100 representative districts. The voters of each district elect a senator/representative, who will represent that district in the Senate/House of Representatives. Senators are elected for four years and representatives for two years.

The highest court in the Kentucky Judiciary is the Kentucky Supreme Court, composed of seven justices, one of whom is chosen by the group to serve as chief justice. Other courts of law are the Court of Appeals of Kentucky, composed of 14 judges, and 56 District Courts, with the number of judges varying in each district. All judges of the Kentucky Judicial Branch are elected by the population of the state, for terms of up to 8 years, with district court judges elected by the population of their respective districts.

Kentucky is divided into 120 counties. County government, under the Kentucky Constitution of 1891, is established with a County Judge/Executive (formerly called County Judge) who heads the executive branch, and with a legislature called the Tax Court. Despite the name, the Tax Court no longer has judicial functions. Fayette and Jefferson Counties are administered by a Mayor and City Council. Kentucky does not have villages or secondary cities (towns). Every urban community with a town hall is a primary city (city). However, the state government divides the state's cities into six classes, which vary according to the population of the city in question. First-class cities have more than 100 thousand inhabitants, second-class cities have 20 to 100 thousand inhabitants, third-class cities have 8 to 20 thousand, fourth-class cities have 3 to 8 thousand, and fifth-class cities have one thousand to three thousand. , and those of the sixth class, less than a thousand inhabitants. Cities of higher class have greater powers and responsibilities than those of lower classes. The counties are responsible for providing most government services to lower-tier cities, which, in higher-tier cities, would be the responsibility of the city.

More than half of Kentucky's government budget is generated by state taxes. The rest comes from funds received from the federal government and loans. In 2002, the state government spent 18.4 billion dollars, having generated 16.1 billion. Kentucky's government debt is $9 billion. The debt per capita is $2,210, the value of state taxes per capita is $1,950, and the value of government expenditures per capita is $4,500.

For nearly a century after the end of the American Civil War, Kentucky was dominated by the Democratic Party. However, the Republican Party has grown in the state since the 1930s. Since the 1960s, both Democrats and Republicans have elected an equal number of governors and other executive officials and members of the state Legislature. Nationally, however, Republicans currently dominate Kentucky, and the majority of state representatives in the United States Congress are Republicans. Kentucky voted Republican in five of the last seven presidential elections, although it supported Democratic candidates from the South. He voted for Democrat Jimmy Carter in 1976 and Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996, and for Republican George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004. Bush won the state's 8 electoral votes in a landslide in 2004 by a margin of 20 percentage points and the 59 .6% of the votes.

Kentucky is one of four American states that uses the term Commonwealth in its name, the other three being Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The Kentucky government decided to use this term based on Virginia (which also uses this definition). When the state of Kentucky entered the Union in 1792, the vast majority of the population of Kentucky was native to Virginia, which entered the Union in 1788, already with the term Commonwealth. Kentucky is also one of only five states that elects its state government in odd-numbered years (the others are Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia). Kentucky holds state elections every 4 years in the years preceding Presidential election years. Thus, since Kentucky elected governor in 2015, the next gubernatorial election will occur in 2019.



According to the 2000 national census of the United States Census Bureau, the population of Kentucky in that year was 4,041,769, a growth of 10% relative to the state's population in 1990. An estimate made In 2005, the state's population was estimated at 4,173,405 inhabitants, a growth of 12.8% in relation to the population in 1990, 3.2% in relation to the population in 2000, and 0.8% in relation to with the estimated population in 2004.

Kentucky's natural population growth between 2000 and 2005 was 77,156 inhabitants (287,222 births, 210,066 deaths), growth caused by immigration was 27,435 inhabitants, and interstate migration increased by 32,169 inhabitants. Between 2000 and 2005, Kentucky's population increased by 131,120 inhabitants, and between 2004 and 2005, by 31,570 inhabitants. 2.3% of the state's population (95,000 inhabitants) were not born in the United States.

About 48% of Kentucky's population lives in metropolitan regions. The metropolitan centers of Kentucky are Louisville, Lexington, Cincinnati (located in Ohio, part of the metropolitan region located in Kentucky), Hopkinsville-Clarksville (the last located in Tennessee), Henderson-Evansville (the last located in Indiana), Ashland- Huntington (the latter located in West Virginia) and Owensboro.

Kentucky's total population has grown during every decade since data records exist. However, during most decades of the 20th century, net emigration from Kentucky has also increased. Since 1900, rural Kentucky counties have experienced a net loss of more than 1 million people to outmigration, while urban areas have experienced a slight net gain.


Races and ethnicities

According to a 2006 census the racial composition of Kentucky's population:
89.5% white
7.4% African Americans
0.9% Asian
0.2% Native Americans
1.2% two or more races
0.8% other races
Hispanic or Latino origin of any race: 2.0%
Only whites, without Hispanic or Latino origin: 88.3%

The average age of the population is 37.3 years.

The five largest groups in Kentucky by ancestry are: Americans, who make up 20.9% of the population (the vast majority are of English and Scottish descent), German (12.7%), Irish (10.5%), English (9.7%) and African Americans (7.3%).



Kentucky's first public school was founded in 1775 in Harrodsburg. Later other cities founded some schools in their urban areas. These schools, initially, were entirely managed and financed by the cities. In 1837 the state government decided to create a state system of public education, providing funds for the creation and operation of these schools.

Many educational reforms have been developed in Kentucky over the past two decades. In June 1989, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that the state's education system was unconstitutional. The General Assembly responded by passing the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) to next year. A few years later, Kentucky has shown progress, but most agree that additional reform is necessary.

Currently, all educational institutions in Kentucky need to follow the rules and standards dictated by the Kentucky State Board of Education. This board directly controls the state's public school system, which is divided into different school districts. The Council is made up of seven members chosen by the governor and approved by the Senate, for terms of up to four years. In cities with more than eight thousand inhabitants, the responsibility for the administration of the public school system falls to the municipal districts, while in less densely populated regions, this responsibility falls to the school districts, which operate throughout the county. Kentucky allows the existence of “charter schools” — independent public schools, which are not managed by school districts, but depend on public budgets. School attendance is mandatory for all children and adolescents over six years of age, until the completion of secondary education, or until the age of sixteen.

In 1999, the state's public schools served about 648,000 students, employing approximately 42,000 teachers. Private schools served nearly 75,000 students, employing approximately 5,500 thousand teachers. The state's public school system consumed about $3.646 million, and public school spending was approximately $6,400 per student. Nearly 80% of the state's residents over twenty-five years of age have a high school diploma.

Kentucky's first public library was founded in 1795, in Lexington, although library users had to pay a monthly fee for the right to borrow library materials. Currently, all cities with more than 8,000 inhabitants manage at least one public library, while counties manage libraries located in several cities with fewer than 8,000 inhabitants.

Kentucky's first institution of higher education was Transylvania University, founded in 1780, in Lexington, the first university established west of the Allegheny Mountains and only the 16th in the United States. Another university in the state, the Berea College was the first non-segregated, co-educational college in the South. Kentucky is home to 8 public universities. Additionally, the state has 16 technical colleges and more than 30 private colleges and universities. The largest and most recognized university is the University of Kentucky, located in Lexington. The state's main centers of higher education are Louisville and Lexington.



In 2000, the Association of Religion Data Archives conducted a report in which, of the 4,041,769 residents of Kentucky:
33.68% were members of Evangelical Churches
Southern Baptist Convention (979,994 members, 24.25%)
Independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ (106,638 members, 2.64%)
Church of Christ (58,602 members, 1.45%)
10.05% were Catholic
8.77% belonged to Protestant churches
United Methodist Church (208,720 members, 5.16%)
Disciples of Christ (67,611 members, 1.67%)
0.05% were members of Eastern Churches
0.88% were affiliated with other theologies
46.57% were not affiliated with any Church.


Main cities

Kentucky's most populous cities, as well as most of its fastest-growing counties, are concentrated in an area known as the Golden Triangle, in the Bluegrass region in the north-central part of the state. The exceptions are Hardin, LaRue and Meade counties, located in the southwest of the state.

The most populous city in Kentucky is Louisville. The portion of the Louisville metropolitan region located within Kentucky (another portion is in Indiana) has a population of 1,120,039. The second is Lexington, which had, with its metropolitan region, a population of 635,547 inhabitants in 2005. The seven counties located in the far north, in the region called Northern Kentucky, which is part of the metropolitan region of Cincinnati (a city located in the neighboring state of Ohio) together had 403,727 inhabitants in 2005. The metropolitan regions Louisville and Lexington, plus Northern Kentucky, had a combined population of 2,159,313 inhabitants in 2005, which represents 51.7% of the population of the state. Only three states in the United States have capitals with a smaller population than the capital of Kentucky, Frankfort, and they are Augusta (Maine), with 18,560 inhabitants, Pierre (South Dakota), with 13,876, and Montpelier (Vermont), with 8,035 inhabitants.

The other two rapidly growing urban areas are Bowling Green and the metropolitan region centered on the cities of Somerset, London and Corbin. Although Somerset is the only city in this metropolitan region with more than ten thousand inhabitants, the region has experienced large population growth, along with a large increase in the number of jobs in the area, and is considered by many geographers as Kentucky's next major urbanized area.



Despite ranking thirty-seventh in size among the 50 states that make up the country, Kentucky is the third state in terms of number of counties, behind Texas' 254 and Georgia's 159.​ The original motivation to have so many counties was to ensure that residents, in the days when there were bad roads and horse travel, could make a round trip from their home to the county seat and back in a single day.​ Later However, politics also began to play a role in the motivation, with citizens who, due to disagreements with the county government, simply submitted a request to the state to create a new county. The Kentucky Constitution of 1891 set stricter limits on county creation, making it very difficult to create a new county today, and only McCreary County has been created since the 1891 constitution.



Kentucky's gross domestic product, in 2006, was $146 billion, 26th in the United States. Likewise, per capita income was $29,719, one of the lowest in the country (47th out of 50 states). Kentucky's unemployment rate is 5.7%, also one of the highest in the US (46th).​

The primary sector accounts for 2% of Kentucky's GDP. Agriculture and livestock together account for 2% of the GDP. Despite being the 14th smallest state in terms of area in the United States, Kentucky is the 5th in total number of farms, with more farms per square mile than any other American state.​ The average farm size in the state it is only 0.6 km². The state's main agricultural products are horses, cattle, tobacco, dairy products, pigs, soybeans and corn. Kentucky ranks 8th and 12th nationally in beef and beef production, respectively, and 14th in corn production.

The secondary sector accounts for 34% of GDP. The total value of products manufactured in the state is 34 billion dollars. The main industrialized products manufactured in Kentucky are vehicles, transportation equipment, chemicals (mainly fertilizers), machinery, and industrially processed foods. The raw materials transformation industry represents 27% of the state's GDP, employing approximately 335 thousand people. The construction industry accounts for 5% of the GDP and employs approximately 137 thousand people. Mining accounts for 2% of Kentucky's GDP, employing about 23 thousand people. The main natural mining resource in the state is coal. Kentucky ranks 4th among U.S. states in automobile and truck assembly.

The tertiary sector accounts for 64% of Kentucky's GDP. Community and personal services account for 16% of the state's GDP, and employs more than 615 thousand people, with tourism as the main one. Financial and real estate services account for close to 12% of the GDP, employing approximately 132 thousand people. Wholesale and retail trade accounts for 15% of GDP, and employs approximately 500 thousand people. Government services account for 13% of GDP, employing about 350 thousand people. Transportation, telecommunications and public services employ about 128 thousand people, which means 8% of Kentucky's GDP. With six national areas, 49 state parks, and hundreds of recreational, natural, historical, and cultural attractions, Kentucky is full of opportunities for travelers. Tourism and travel is Kentucky's third largest revenue-producing industry, contributing $8.8 billion to the state's economy in 2001.​

About 97% of the electricity generated in the state is produced by coal-fired thermoelectric plants, and the rest is mostly produced by natural gas-fired thermoelectric plants.




Initially, many Kentucky roads were private, and users had to pay tolls to use them. Kentucky subsequently purchased all highways located within the region, expanded the state's highway system, and liberalized these highways. With the exception of certain minor roads, which are private, no state road is toll. In 2003, Kentucky had 123,937 kilometers of public roads, of which 1,228 kilometers were interstate highways, considered part of the United States federal highway system.

Kentucky initially developed thanks to its rivers, which allowed the transportation of its agricultural products to other regions of the country. Later the railroad took the place of the state's small river ports. Currently, the only port of relative importance is the port of Louisville.

Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides passenger transportation service between major cities in the state. Coal is the most common cargo on freight trains, with 79% of freight loaded and 64% of freight unloaded. Kentucky has approximately 4,250 kilometers of railroad tracks.

Kentucky's busiest airport is Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport, located in northern Kentucky, but primarily serves Cincinnati, Ohio. Another important airport is Louisville International Airport, one of the most important in the world for freight transportation as it is the world headquarters of UPS.



The first newspaper published in Kentucky was The Kentucky Gazette, first published in Lexington, in 1787. The oldest Kentucky newspaper still in circulation is The Advertiser, first published in 1818, in Louisville. Currently about 160 newspapers are published, of which about 20 are daily newspapers. Kentucky's first radio station was founded in 1922, in Louisville, and the state's first television station was founded in 1948, also in Louisville. Currently, Kentucky has nearly 200 radio stations and approximately 30 television stations.



Although Kentucky culture is generally considered to be Southern, it is also influenced by the Midwest and southern Appalachia. The state is known for its bourbon whiskey distilleries, horse racing, and gambling. Kentucky is more culturally similar to the Upper South in terms of ancestry, which is predominantly American. However, during the 19th century, the state of Kentucky received a considerable number of German and Irish immigrants, who settled primarily in the Midwest. Only Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, and Oklahoma have higher percentages of German ancestry than Kentucky among states defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as Southern. Kentucky was a slave state, and blacks accounted for more than a quarter of its population. However, the state lacked a cotton plantation system and never had the same high percentage of African Americans as most other slave states. With less than 8% black population, Kentucky is rarely included in current definitions of the so-called "Black Belt" of the United States, despite having a relatively significant rural African-American population in the central and western areas of the state. Kentucky adopted the Jim Crow system of racial segregation in most public spheres after the Civil War, but the state never disenfranchised African American citizens at the level of the Deep South states, and peacefully integrated its schools. After the famous Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, subsequently adopting the first state civil rights laws in the South in 1966.

Louisville also hosts the Kentucky State Fair,53 the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, and the prominent National Convention of Southern Gospel Quartets festival.

Owensboro, Kentucky's third largest city, lends credence to its self-proclaimed "Barbecue Capital of the World" nickname by hosting the International Bar-B-Q Festival each year. Bowling Green, Kentucky's fifth largest city and home to the only assembly plant in the world that manufactures the Chevrolet Corvette, opened the National Corvette Museum in 1994.

The small town of Hodgenville, birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, hosts the annual Lincoln Day celebration, and also celebrated the launch of the National Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration in February 2008, a commemoration that will be celebrated throughout from all over the country for two years.​



The Kentucky Derby is the most famous thoroughbred horse race in the country. It has been held since 1875 at the Churchill Downs racetrack in the city of Louisville. It's part of the two-week Kentucky Derby Festival, which includes the largest fireworks display in the United States, a steamboat race and a beauty pageant.

The Kentucky Colonels played in the American Basketball Association from 1967 to 1976, but did not participate in the merger with the NBA. Louisville also had National Baseball League teams in the 1870s and 1890s, and the National Football League in the 1920s.

Kentucky's two most prominent college sports teams are the Kentucky Wildcats and the Louisville Cardinals, which have achieved multiple NCAA men's basketball national championships.

Valhalla Golf Club has hosted the 1996, 2000 and 2014 PGA Championship, as well as the 2008 Ryder Cup. Additionally, Kentucky Speedway has hosted NASCAR Cup Series and IndyCar Series motorsports races. .

The Ironman Louisville, a long-duration triathlon, is held in Louisville.