The bluegrass region in the central part of the state houses the state's capital, Frankfort, as well as its two largest cities, Louisville and Lexington, the two of which together are home to over 20% of the state's population. Kentucky shares borders with Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio to the north, West Virginia and Virginia to the east, Tennessee to the south, and Missouri to the west.
Kentucky is known as the "Bluegrass State", a nickname based on Kentucky bluegrass, a species of grass found in many of its pastures. Kentucky is home to the world's longest cave system, Mammoth Cave National Park, one of the greatest lengths of navigable waterways and streams in the contiguous United States, and the two largest man-made lakes east of the Mississippi River.
In 1792, Kentucky became the 15th state admitted to the Union, splitting from Virginia in the process.Kentucky is also known for horse racing, bourbon, moonshine, coal, "My Old Kentucky Home" historic state park, automobile manufacturing, tobacco, bluegrass music, college basketball, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and the Kentucky colonel.
In 1776, the counties of Virginia beyond the Appalachian Mountains became known as Kentucky County, named for the Kentucky River. The precise etymology of the name is uncertain, but likely based on an Iroquoian name meaning "(on) the meadow" or "(on) the prairie" (cf. Mohawk kenhtà:ke, Seneca gëdá'geh (phonemic /kẽtaʔkeh/), "at the field").Others have put forth the possibility of Kenta Aki, which would absolutely have come from the Algonquian language and therefore probably derived from Shawnee. Folk etymology states that this translates as "Land of Our Fathers".