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Memphis is the largest city in Tennessee, with an estimated population of nearly 700,000 in 2006. Surrounding areas of the major metropolitan area add up to a population of 1.2 million. The per capita income for the Memphis, TN area is slightly above $30,000 per year, rendering Memphis mostly middle-class.

Memphis is not the richest city in the country, with a poverty rate of nearly 20%, but there is no lack of cultural richness. Tennessee, and Memphis in particular, is a historic place for black culture in America, and has remained that way for the 60% of its residents who are African-American. Known as one of the birthplaces of blues music, Memphis has been home to Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, and B.B. King. Sun Studios, the recording offices where Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis all got their starts, is located in Memphis. Another black monument, the National Civil Rights Museum, is also located in this part of Tennessee.

Approximately 20% of the jobs in Memphis are in educational, health, and social services. However, there are several large companies that have major hubs or are based in Memphis including:

  • FedEx corporate headquarters
  • AutoZone Incorporated, a Fortune 500 company
  • Fred's Stores, named one of the fastest-growing chain stores by Forbes magazine
  • Northwest/KLM airlines
  • Morgan Keenan, a premier regional investment firm


In the year 2000, Memphis, TN appeared in the top eight of the 50 best major metro areas in the U.S. for starting and growing a business, according to Inc. magazine.

For more information on colleges and universities in Tennessee, explore our Tennessee state page.

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Memphis, Tennessee (TN) Colleges and Universities

Note: This list also contains online schools that accept students from this state.