Structures built by them include stone forts or "pounds".Visitors can see a stone fort in Giant City State Park near Makanda.At least eight other such structures are known in the region.In about 1673, French explorers from Quebec became the first Europeans to reach Illinois.The French named the area Illinois after the Indians who had welcomed them.The French explored the Mississippi River, establishing outposts and seeking a route to the Pacific Ocean and the Far East.Archeologists say they were not descendants of the earlier inhabitants.
Many areas developed an economy based on coal mining. Louis MSA, much of Southern Illinois is still culturally affiliated with the Mid-South: western Kentucky, southwestern Indiana, West Tennessee, and the Missouri Bootheel, and the people speak with similar accents.
Southern Illinois, the earliest settled and once the wealthiest part of Illinois, is known for its rich history and the abundance of antebellum architecture remaining in its small towns and cities.
Southern Illinois is slowly gaining a cultural identity apart from its neighbors.
It contains the largest prehistoric earthworks in the Americas, and has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The mound builders' culture seems to have collapsed between AD 1400-1500.
The area has a population of 1.2 million people, who live mostly in rural towns and cities separated by extensive farmland and the Shawnee National Forest.