Champaign is a city in Champaign County, Illinois, United States. The city is located south of Chicago, west of Indianapolis, Indiana, and northeast of St. Louis, Missouri. Though surrounded by farm communities, Champaign is notable for sharing the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with its sister city of Urbana. Champaign is also the home of Parkland College which serves about 18,000 students during the academic year. Due to the university and a number of well known technology startup companies, it is often referred to as the hub, or a significant landmark, of the Silicon Prairie. Champaign houses offices for Abbott, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Caterpillar, Deere & Company, Dow Chemical Company, IBM, State Farm, and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), all of which are Fortune 500 companies, and for Sony.
The United States Census Bureau estimates the city was home to 83,424 people as of July 1, 2013. Champaign is the eleventh-most populous city in Illinois, and the fourth-most populous city in the state outside of the Chicago metropolitan area. In 2013, Champaign was rated fifth best place in the United States for a healthy work-life balance.
Champaign was founded in 1855, when the Illinois Central Railroad laid its rail track two miles (3 km) west of downtown Urbana. Originally called "West Urbana", it was renamed Champaign when it acquired a city charter in 1860. Both the city and county name were derived from Champaign County, Ohio.
During February 1969, Carl Perkins joined with Bob Dylan to write the song "Champaign, Illinois", which Perkins released on his album On Top. The band Old 97's took another Bob Dylan song, "Desolation Row", and combined its melody with new lyrics to make a new song "Champaign, Illinois", which they released with Dylan's blessing on their 2010 album The Grand Theatre Volume One. It achieved considerable popularity. The two "Champaign, Illinois" songs are not similar to each other, except that Bob Dylan was involved in both of them.
On September 22, 1985, Champaign hosted the first Farm Aid concert at the University of Illinois' Memorial Stadium. The concert drew a crowd of 80,000 people and raised over $7 million for American family farmers.
In 2005, Champaign-Urbana (specifically the University of Illinois) was the location of the National Science Olympiad Tournament, attracting young scientists from all 50 states. The city also hosts the state Science Olympiad competition every year. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign once again hosted the National competition on May 20–22, 2010.