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Study in Tennessee

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Tennessee is perhaps best known for its music. After all, this is a state that contains two of the most musically significant cities of the 20th century: Nashville and Memphis.

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The former is the beating heart of the country music scene, lending its name to a subgenre in the mid-20th century, and the latter is the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll, where such luminaries as Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash first made a name for themselves at Sun Studios.

And with recent years producing artists such as Justin Timberlake, Ke$ha, Usher and The Kings of Leon, it seems that the state hasn’t yet lost its magic in this regard.

Outside of these two metropolises, which along with third city Knoxville are home to over the half of Tennessee’s population, the state’s geography falls into three distinct categories, represented by the three stars on the state flag.

These are the Blue Ridge Mountains to the east, the fertile plateau around the Nashville Basin in the middle of the state, and the hot swampy lowlands around Memphis in the state’s west.

This varied landscape means that there’s a lot to see beyond the state’s major urban centres, and, indeed, The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the country’s most visited national park.

Tennessee is tied with Missouri as the state which borders the most others. If you want to explore the southern United States, then, Tennessee could serve as a great base of operations.

Tennessee: Fast facts

•    Total population of 6.4 million

•    Famous Tennesseans include singers Whitney Houston and Dolly Parton, director Quentin Tarantino, and actor Samuel L. Jackson

•    Reelfoot Lake in the state’s northwest is known as the ‘Turtle Capital of the World’

•    Elvis Presley’s house (Graceland) in Memphis is the second most visited house in the US

•    The strongest earthquake in American history happened in Tennessee in the early 19th century

•    The world’s best selling whiskey Jack Daniel’s is made in Lynchburg in Moore County, Tennessee – which is a dry county, meaning that you can’t actually buy any Jack Daniel’s there!

•    Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry is the world’s longest running radio program, having been broadcasted continuously since 1925

•    Driving a car while sleeping is prohibited by law in Tennessee, as is fishing off another person’s hook

Top universities in Tennessee

Tennessee’s top ranking university is the private research institution, Vanderbilt University. Ranking at 131 in the 2011/12 QS World University Rankings, Nashville-based Vanderbilt currently hosts 12,000 students, just over half of which are undergraduates.

The university has one of the largest endowments in the US, with the 2011 figure standing at US$3.4 billion. It has produced a number of notable alumni, including Al Gore (former US vice president), Nobel Prize winner Mohammad Yunus (and six other Nobel Prize winners), and Ann Moore, chair/CEO of Time Inc.

The university’s Institute for Space and Defence Electronics is the world’s largest, and its School of Medicine is considered to be among the country’s best. Vanderbilt also has an institute dedicated to studying coffee.

The state’s flagship public university, the University of Tennessee, also makes the QS World University Rankings, coming in at 391 in the 2011 edition.

Based in Knoxville, towards the east of the state, the institution serves 28,000 students. Among its research specialities are American history, personalized solutions for learning disorders and green energy. The university is home to federal Department of Energy's largest science and energy lab.

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Written by QS Staff Writer

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