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Get to know Tennesee

Tennessee is a southern state in the eastern region of the U.S. It has rugged land in the east including the Great Smoky Mountains and Appalachian Mountain Range. However, the majority of the state is flat. In the extreme west of the state is a narrow strip of swamp and flood plain. The biggest city is Memphis, the state capital is Nashville.

Throughout the 19th century, Tennessee experienced rapid expansion. Largely an agricultural state, Tennessee’s vast plantations brought wealth through the work of slaves and freed blacks. Tennessee was a great benefactor of President Roosevelt’s New Deal programs of the 1930’s, an era of nationwide economic depression. The New Deal employed people to work for the state in projects such as environmental and energy conservation. Tennessee was also a hotbed of political unrest during the turbulent racially charged era of civil rights. Today the state is enjoying a great deal of prosperity, due in large part to manufacturing, tourism and telecommunications.

State Capital: Nashville

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More about Tennesee

EF students in Tennessee at once notice the friendliness and hospitality of the people. Don’t be surprised if people say “howdy” when they meet you! Many host families live in small communities and public transportation is not readily available. You may have to rely on your host family or friends for transportation to drive to larger cities such as Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga and Knoxville. Students here are very involved in their school, playing sports or joining special interest clubs. On the weekends many young people like to shop, watch movies, participate in outdoor activities such as hiking, hunting, fishing and swimming in the many lakes. The culture of Tennessee is wonderful, from tasty barbecued foods to the sweet sounds of rhythm and blues, the state is a vibrant mix of its pioneering and plantation past and modernity. A truly sophisticated state with a down home feel, Tennessee is a wonderful place to spend an exchange year.

Nashville, Tennessee is a musical mecca. The hand clapping, banjo strumming and fiddle playing tunes found their way to the Grand Ole Opry, where they were performed and broadcasted out to the nation; western music became centred in Nashville.

Graceland, in Memphis, was the estate of Elvis Presley, the most popular American singer in the history of rock music. It is one of the most visited sites in the U.S. and it houses the Presley mansion, grave site and memorabilia.

The Casey Jones Home and Railroad Museum, in Jackson, is the restored home of the famous railroad hero. The home is maintained as a railroad museum.

At Crossfire Ranch, in College Grove, experience Tennessee’s horse riding tradition by jumping in the saddling and exploring 240 acres of trails and meadowlands on horseback.

Visit Dolly Partons  amusement park, Dollywood, in Pigeon Forge, where the fun and folklore of the Smoky Mountains comes to life.

Lookout Mountain rises 2,146 feet above sea level at the Moccasin bend of the Tennessee River. There, Union forces won an important victory in the “Battle Above the Clouds” in 1863.

Opryland U.S.A., near Nashville, is a musical show theme park. Its Grand Old Opry House features performances of the “Grand Ole Opry,” a famous live country music radio show.

The Tennessee Aquarium, in Chattanooga, is the world’s largest freshwater aquarium. It contains more than 3,500 specimens. 

The Hermitage, the home of President Andrew Jackson, is about 10 miles east of downtown Nashville. Jackson and his wife are buried on the grounds. 

Half of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park lies in Tennessee. The rest of the park is in North Carolina. The park divides the two halves of the Cherokee National Forest, which lie along the eastern coast of Tennessee.

Tennessee’s climate is humid and warm all over, with the warmest weather in the southern part of the state. Winter temperatures range from around freezing into lower 10 degrees Celsius, while spring and fall brings mild weather (from 10º C to above 20’s). The summers are hot and very humid, with temperatures often reaching well above 30 degrees Celsius.

  • Alex Haley - Author of Roots, a famous novel about slave experience
  • Davy Crockett - American folk hero, wartime volunteer, hunter and frontiersman
  • Minnie Pearl - Country music singer and comedian
  • Morgan Freeman – Actor
  • Dolly Parton – Country-western singer and songwriter
  • Tina Turner – Singer
  • Aretha Franklin - Singer