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Tennessee Travel Guide

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Gibson Guitar showcase, Memphis © Barry M Winiker, Nashville CVB

This relatively small landlocked state is bounded on the west by the Mississippi River and on the east by the Appalachian Mountains, and bordered in total by eight other states. It may have been the combined cultural and historical mix infused from its many southern neighbours that assisted Tennessee in becoming the central melting pot of musical styles, eventually coalescing into modern country, blues and rock 'n roll music, for which the state is now world-renowned.

Since the mid-1950s, Tennessee's main tourist attraction has been the legendary King of Rock 'n Roll, Elvis Presley: he may have died close on 30 years ago, but his soul goes marching on, drawing thousands of fans to his former home in Memphis, the state's largest city.

The State capital, Nashville, has a musical heritage second-to-none as well, being home to the Grand Ole Opry, the worldwide Mecca of country music.

Outside the main cities, long and lean Tennessee, which is only 480 miles (772km) long and 115 miles (185km) wide in total, offers a surprising number of wilderness areas and natural attractions, where the only music is the bubbling of mountain streams or the call of birdsong. In the eastern part of the state, a series of beautiful ridges and valleys rise up to the highest point of Clingman's Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which Tennessee shares with North Carolina. The state is blessed throughout with a vast system of reservoirs, which offer 29 appealing lakes, filled with fish and offering water sports opportunities.

The state also boasts some historic heritage trails, the main one being the scenic 'Trail of Tears', starting just east of Chattanooga in the south and stretching for 260 miles (418km) through Tennessee before heading into Kentucky. Along this route 13,000 displaced Cherokee Indians were marched to Oklahoma. Tennessee, which was the centre of the western theatre of the Civil War and witnessed more battles than any other state except Virginia, also preserves and maintains numerous war sites, like Shiloh and Lookout Mountain.

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