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Peoria and its surrounding communities may well be best known of its Midwest values and culture. The Peoria Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 369,161 in 2005, making it the third largest metropolitan area in the state after Chicago land and the Metro-East portion of the St. Louis metropolitan area.

Flanked by the bluffs of the Illinois river and miles of rich agricultural farmland, the Peoria metro area is ideally located midway between Chicago and St. Louis. In 2007, Forbes ranked Peoria in the top 50 of the largest 150 metropolitan areas in its annual “Best Places for Business and Careers” based on affordability, income growth and opportunities for entertainment. Caterpillar, Inc. has its World Headquarters in Peoria. Companies like RLI Insurance, Komatsu Mining Systems, and Archer Daniel Midland all have facilities here. Peoria is rapidly becoming world renowned for its extensive medical community.

The city has three major hospitals: OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, Methodist Medical Center of Illinois, and Proctor Hospital. In addition, the Children’s Hospital of Illinois, the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria, and the Midwest Affiliate of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital are located in the city.

While the metropolitan area has something to offer for everyone, there are plenty of opportunities for the outdoor enthusiast. Peoria was ranked as one of the “50 Best Adventure Towns” in the US in the September 2008 issue of National Geographic Adventure magazine. This was mainly based on the extensive mountain biking trails in and around the city and the live entertainment options found on the Riverfront.

Peoria and all the surrounding communities make up the heart of Illinois.