Kentucky, officially the Commonwealth of Kentucky, is one of the states of the United States. It joined the Union as the 15th state on June 1, 1792. The name Kentucky probably comes from the language of the Cherokee tribe and means meadow or similar grassy area. It is also connected to the Iroquois word for "Land of Tomorrow". The area is known as a horse area and there are several whiskey distilleries. The most popular sport in Kentucky is basketball. Kentucky's neighbors are West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. The state capital is Frankfort.
Kentucky is bordered by West Virginia to the east, Virginia to the southeast, Tennessee to the south, Missouri to the west, Illinois and Indiana to the northwest, and Ohio to the north and northeast. Most of the northern border of Kentucky is formed by the Ohio River and the western border by the Mississippi River. Kentucky has 120 counties, third most behind Texas (254) and Georgia (159).
The largest cities are Louisville, which had about 557,000 inhabitants in 2008, and Lexington with about 282,000 inhabitants. The hottest time of the year is July-August, when the average maximum temperature in Louisville is about 31.5 degrees. The average minimum is on the freezing side from December to February, the coldest in January being about -3 degrees.
In prehistoric times, Kentucky was inhabited by Native Americans. After explorers and emigrants arrived in the area, infectious diseases spread among the Indians, and in the middle of the 18th century there were no longer any significant Indian settlements left in the area. Instead, the Shawnee from the north and the Cherokee from the south used the area for hunting. Much of present-day Kentucky was purchased from the Indians in the treaties of Fort Stanwix (1768) and Sycamore Shoals (1775). After that, Kentucky began to grow rapidly. The first settlements were established west of the Appalachians, and residents came to the area mainly from Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania. However, the Shawnee Indians did not like the spread of settlement and allied with the British in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783). Kentucky was one of the battlegrounds of the war. The most notable battle fought there was the Battle of Blue Licks.
After the American Revolution, the counties behind the Appalachians in Virginia formed the county of Kentucky. Later, the residents of the county expressed their desire to secede from Virginia. Kentucky delegates accepted Virginia's terms of secession in 1790, and on June 1, 1792, Kentucky became the 15th state of the Union. Isaac Shelby was elected as its first governor. During the American Civil War, Kentucky was one of the border states.
The state is headed by a governor. Since 2019, the task has been handled by Andy Beshear. There have been 61 men and one woman in the position before him. The state's legislative power is exercised by the bicameral state parliament. The upper house, or senate, has 38 members, the lower house, or assembly, has one hundred members. The members of the lower house are each elected from their own constituency of one representative for two-year terms, the term of senators is four years, and half of the senate always changes every two years. The electoral districts of the House of Representatives and the Senate are redrawn every ten years, with the aim of keeping them the same size in terms of population. In 2013, the Senate has 23 Republicans, 13 Democrats and one independent. Of the representatives in the lower house, 54 belong to Democrats, 45 to Republicans. Kentucky is divided into 120 counties.
Kentucky's gross domestic product in 2010 was $163 billion. It was the 28th largest state in the United States. Until the middle of the 20th century, Kentucky was an agricultural state. Even though the share of farming in the national economy and employment has decreased and the number of farms has decreased, t