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Chicago (city), Illinois, United States. Chicago is the third-largest city in the United States and one of the countrys leading industrial, commercial, financial, and transport centres. It extends some 47 km (29 mi) along the south-western shore of Lake Michigan, occupying flatland traversed by two short rivers: the Chicago River and the Calumet River. Both rivers have been linked by canals with the Illinois and Mississippi rivers, establishing Chicago as the connecting point in the waterway route between the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes-St Lawrence Seaway. The citys rapid growth was due in large part to its location, with ready access to markets and raw materials; it has the worlds busiest airport, Chicago-OHare International Airport. The population of Chicago in 1992 was estimated to be 2, 768, 483 (3, 005, 072 in 1980). The immigrant heritage of Chicagos population remains very strong, and there is hardly an ethnic group in America not represented there. In 1990, German ancestry was claimed by more people in Chicago (270, 334) and in the metropolitan area (1, 429, 336), than any other, and this was followed by Polish (261, 899) and Irish (237, 113) ancestry in the city. Among the major minority groups, blacks account for almost one in five in the metropolitan region as a whole, while Hispanics represent approximately one in nine residents. Black presence in the suburban zone has hardly altered in the recent past, whereas Hispanic proportions outside the central city are growing.

II INDUSTRY AND LEISURE Aided by an excellent distribution network, Chicago is Americas most important rail and haulage centre and is a significant port handling both domestic and international trade. Great Lakes freighters and river barges deliver bulk commodities such as iron ore, limestone, coal, chemicals, oil, and grain. Some of this freight is destined for processing plants in the heavily industrialized Calumet River area. Foreign vessels arrive via the St Lawrence Seaway, bringing such products as cars, steel, fish, and alcoholic beverages and carrying away machinery, farm equipment, hides, and timber, as well as a variety of food products.

The Chicago metropolitan area has the highest number of manufacturing employees in the United States. Chicagos largest employer is the electrical goods industry, followed by the steel, machinery, fabricated metals, foods, printing and publishing, chemicals, and transport equipment industries. It is one of the nations leading producers of steel, metal goods, confectionery, surgical appliances, rail equipment, soap, paint, cosmetics, cans, industrial machinery, printed materials, and sporting goods. Chicago houses the headquarters of numerous corporations and is a major wholesale market for grain, machine tools, food produce, fish, and flowers. The Chicago Board of Trade and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange are among the worlds largest commodity markets. The city is a leading convention centre, with extensive ...

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