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Cairo, Illinois

Cairo is a city located in Alexander County, Illinois. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 3,632. It is the county seat of Alexander County6.

Cairo (pronounced "Care-oh" locally) is located by the juncture of the Mississippi River and the Ohio River; it is the southernmost point in the state of Illinois. Cairo was founded as a town in 1818 and incorporated as a city in 1858. Cairo was an important steamboat port in the 19th century. The town has a number of fine examples of prosperous 19th century and early 20th century architecture, much of it abandoned and in a bad state of decay. The population of Cairo has been in decline every decade since the 1920s. Population in 1920: 15,203; in 1940: 14,407; 1950: 12,123. At the Cairo High School graduation in 1990, the school principal advised the graduating class to leave town, as Cairo had nothing to offer them.


Cairo is located at 37°0'47" North, 89°10'49" West (37.013144, -89.180345)1. The elevation above sea level is 315 feet.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 23.6 km² (9.1 mi²). 18.3 km² (7.1 mi²) of it is land and 5.4 km² (2.1 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 22.78% water.


As of the census of 2000, there are 3,632 people, 1,561 households, and 900 families residing in the city. The population density is 198.9/km² (515.1/mi²). There are 1,885 housing units at an average density of 103.2/km² (267.3/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 35.93% White, 61.70% African American, 0.08% Native American, 0.72% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.36% from other races, and 1.18% from two or more races. 0.74% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 1,561 households out of which 30.4% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 29.3% are married couples living together, 25.2% have a female householder with no husband present, and 42.3% are non-families. 39.7% of all households are made up of individuals and 17.6% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.26 and the average family size is 3.08.

In the city the population is spread out with 30.4% under the age of 18, 8.1% from 18 to 24, 22.0% from 25 to 44, 21.6% from 45 to 64, and 17.9% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 36 years. For every 100 females there are 79.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 70.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $21,607, and the median income for a family is $28,242. Males have a median income of $28,798 versus $18,125 for females. The per capita income for the city is $16,220. 33.5% of the population and 27.1% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 47.0% are under the age of 18 and 20.9% are 65 or older.