State of Arkansas
Flag of Arkansas State seal of Arkansas
Flag Great Seal
Nickname(s): The Natural State (current)
The Land of Opportunity (former)
Motto(s): 'Regnat populus (Latin: The People Rule)
State anthem: Arkansas", "Arkansas (You Run Deep in Me)", "Oh, Arkansas", and "The Arkansas Traveler
Map of the United States with Arkansas highlighted
Official language English
Demonym Arkansan
Arkansawyer
Arkanite
Capital
(and largest city)
Little Rock
Largest metro Little Rock Metropolitan Area
Area Ranked 29th
 - Total 53,179 sq mi
(137,733 km2)
 - Width 270 miles (435 km)
 - Length 240 miles (386 km)
 - % water 2.09
 - Latitude 33° 00′ N to 36° 30′ N
 - Longitude 89° 39′ W to 94° 37′ W
Number of people Ranked 33rd
 - Total 2,978,204 (2015 est)
 - Density 56.4/sq mi  (21.8/km2)
Ranked 34th
 - Average income $40,531 (48th)
Height above sea level
 - Highest point Mount Magazine
2,753 ft (839 m)
 - Average 650 ft  (200 m)
 - Lowest point Ouachita River at Louisiana border
55 ft (17 m)
Became part of the U.S. June 15, 1836 (25th)
Governor Asa Hutchinson (R)
U.S. Senators John Boozman (R)
Tom Cotton (R)
U.S. House delegation 4 Republicans (list)
Time zone Central: UTC −6/−5
Abbreviations AR, Ark. US-AR
Website www.arkansas.gov
Arkansas State symbols
Flag of Arkansas.svg
The Flag of Arkansas.

Animate insignia
Bird(s) Northern mockingbird
Butterfly Diana fritillary
Flower(s) Apple blossom
Insect Western honey bee
Mammal(s) White-tailed deer
Tree Loblolly pine

Inanimate insignia
Beverage Milk
Dance Square dance
Food South Arkansas vine ripe pink tomato
Gemstone Diamond
Instrument Fiddle
Mineral Quartz
Soil Stuttgart
Song(s) "Arkansas",
"Arkansas (You Run Deep In Me)",
"Oh, Arkansas",
"The Arkansas Traveler"
Tartan Arkansas Traveler Tartan

Route marker(s)
Arkansas Route Marker

State Quarter
Quarter of Arkansas
Released in 2003

Lists of United States state insignia

Arkansas, nicknamed the Land of Opportunity or The Natural State, is a state in the United States of America. Its capital and largest city is Little Rock. It has been estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2015 that around 2,978,204 people live in Arkansas.

Arkansas is the 29th largest by area and the 33rd most populous of the 50 United States.

The capital and most populous city is Little Rock, located in the central portion of the state, a hub for transportation, business, culture, and government.

The Territory of Arkansas was admitted to the Union as the 25th state on June 15, 1836.

Arkansas began to diversify its economy following World War II and relies on its service industry, aircraft, poultry, steel, tourism, cotton, and rice.

Etymology

The name Arkansas derives from the same root as the name for the state of Kansas. The Kansa tribe of Native Americans are closely associated with the Sioux tribes of the Great Plains. The word "Arkansas" itself is a French pronunciation ("Arcansas") of a Quapaw (a related "Kaw" tribe) word, akakaze, meaning "land of downriver people" or the Sioux word akakaze meaning "people of the south wind".

Geography

Boxley Valley 001
View from the Ozark Highlands Scenic Byway in Boxley Valley
Buffalo national river steel creek overlook
The Ozarks: bend in the Buffalo River from an overlook on the Buffalo River Trail near Steel Creek
Arkansas Delta, Desha County, AR
The flat terrain and rich soils of the Arkansas Delta near Arkansas City are in stark contrast to the northwestern part of the state.
Cedar Falls Trail, Petit Jean State Park 010
Cedar Falls in Petit Jean State Park

Boundaries

Arkansas borders Louisiana to the south, Texas to the southwest, Oklahoma to the west, Missouri to the north, as well as Tennessee and Mississippi on the east. The United States Census Bureau classifies Arkansas as a southern state, sub-categorized among the West South Central States. The Mississippi River forms most of Arkansas's eastern border, except in Clay and Greene, counties where the St. Francis River forms the western boundary of the Missouri Bootheel, and in many places where the channel of the Mississippi has meandered (or been straightened by man) from the location of its original legal designation. The state line along the Mississippi River is indeterminate along much of the eastern border with Mississippi due to these changes.

Terrain

Arkansas can generally be split into two halves, the highlands in the northwest half and the lowlands of the southeastern half. The highlands are part of the Southern Interior Highlands, including The Ozarks and the Ouachita Mountains. The southern lowlands include the Gulf Coastal Plain and the Arkansas Delta. This dual split can yield to general regions named northwest, southwest, northeast, southeast, or central Arkansas. These directionally named regions are broad and not defined along county lines. Arkansas has seven distinct natural regions: the Ozark Mountains, Ouachita Mountains, Arkansas River Valley, Gulf Coastal Plain, Crowley's Ridge, and the Arkansas Delta, with Central Arkansas sometimes included as a blend of multiple regions.

The southeastern part of Arkansas along the Mississippi Alluvial Plain is sometimes called the Arkansas Delta. This region is a flat landscape of rich alluvial soils formed by repeated flooding of the adjacent Mississippi. Farther away from the river, in the southeast portion of the state, the Grand Prairie consists of a more undulating landscape. Both are fertile agricultural areas. The Delta region is bisected by a geological formation known as Crowley's Ridge. A narrow band of rolling hills, Crowley's Ridge rises from 250 to 500 feet (76 to 152 m) above the surrounding alluvial plain and underlies many of the major towns of eastern Arkansas.

Northwest Arkansas is part of the Ozark Plateau including the Ozark Mountains, to the south are the Ouachita Mountains, and these regions are divided by the Arkansas River; the southern and eastern parts of Arkansas are called the Lowlands. These mountain ranges are part of the U.S. Interior Highlands region, the only major mountainous region between the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains. The highest point in the state is Mount Magazine in the Ouachita Mountains, which rises to 2,753 feet (839 m) above sea level.

Hydrology

Buffalo National River
The Buffalo National River is one of many attractions that give the state its nickname, The Natural State.

Arkansas has many rivers, lakes, and reservoirs within or along its borders. Major tributaries of the Mississippi River include the Arkansas River, the White River, and the St. Francis River. The Arkansas is fed by the Mulberry River and the Fourche LaFave River in the Arkansas River Valley, which is also home to Lake Dardanelle. The Buffalo River, Little Red River, Black River and Cache River all serve as tributaries to the White River, which also empties into the Mississippi. The Saline River, Little Missouri River, Bayou Bartholomew, and the Caddo River all serve as tributaries to the Ouachita River in south Arkansas, which eventually empties into the Mississippi in Louisiana. The Red River briefly serves as the state's boundary with Texas. Arkansas has few natural lakes and many reservoirs,[quantify] such as Bull Shoals Lake, Lake Ouachita, Greers Ferry Lake, Millwood Lake, Beaver Lake, Norfork Lake, DeGray Lake, and Lake Conway.

Arkansas is home to many caves, such as Blanchard Springs Caverns. More than 43,000 Native American living, hunting and tool making sites, many of them Pre-Columbian burial mounds and rock shelters, have been cataloged by the State Archeologist. Crater of Diamonds State Park near Murfreesboro is the world's only diamond-bearing site accessible to the public for digging. Arkansas is home to a dozen Wilderness Areas totaling 158,444 acres (641.20 km2). These areas are set aside for outdoor recreation and are open to hunting, fishing, hiking, and primitive camping. No mechanized vehicles nor developed campgrounds are allowed in these areas.

Flora and fauna

White River, Arkansas
The White River in eastern Arkansas

Arkansas is divided into three broad ecoregions, the Ozark, Ouachita-Appalachian Forests, Mississippi Alluvial and Southeast USA Coastal Plains, and the Southeastern USA Plainsand two biomes, the subtropical coniferous forest and the temperate deciduous forest. The state is further divided into seven subregions: the Arkansas Valley, Boston Mountains, Mississippi Alluvial Plain, Mississippi Valley Loess Plain, Ozark Highlands, Ouachita Mountains, and the South Central Plains. A 2010 United States Forest Service survey determined 18,720,000 acres (7,580,000 ha) of Arkansas's land is forestland, or 56% of the state's total area. Dominant species in Arkansas's forests include Quercus (oak), Carya (hickory), Pinus echinata (shortleaf pine) and Pinus taeda (loblolly pine).

Arkansas's plant life varies with its climate and elevation. The pine belt stretching from the Arkansas delta to Texas consists of dense oak-hickory-pine growth. Lumbering and paper milling activity is active throughout the region. In eastern Arkansas, one can find Taxodium (cypress), Quercus nigra (water oaks), and hickories with their roots submerged in the Mississippi Valley bayous indicative of the deep south. Nearby Crowley's Ridge is only home of the tulip tree in the state, and generally hosts more northeastern plant life such as the beech tree. The northwestern highlands are covered in an oak-hickory mixture, with Ozark white cedars, cornus (dogwoods), and Cercis canadensis (redbuds) also present. The higher peaks in the Arkansas River Valley play host to scores of ferns, including the Woodsia scopulina and Adiantum (maidenhair fern) on Mount Magazine.

Climate

Devil's Den bridge
Devil's Den State Park is a state park in Washington County for enjoying autumn foliage.
SnowstormPics1-9-2011 (14)
Winter at Historic Washington State Park, Arkansas

Arkansas generally has a humid subtropical climate. While not bordering the Gulf of Mexico, Arkansas is still close enough to this warm, large body of water for it to influence the weather in the state. Generally, Arkansas has hot, humid summers and slightly drier, mild to cool winters.

Arkansas is known for extreme weather and many storms. A typical year will see thunderstorms, tornadoes, hail, snow and ice storms.

History

Chromesun toltec mounds photo01
Burial mounds, such as this one at Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park near Scott, were constructed more frequently during the Woodland Period.

Before European settlement of North America, Arkansas was inhabited by indigenous peoples for thousands of years.

The early French explorers of the state gave it its name, which is probably a phonetic spelling for the French word for "downriver" people, a reference to the Quapaw people and the river along which they settled. Other Native American nations living in present-day Arkansas were Caddo, Cherokee and Osage Nations.

Settlers, such as fur trappers, moved to Arkansas in the early 18th century.

On June 15, 1836, Arkansas became the 25th state of the United States as a slave state. Arkansas refused to join the Confederate States of America until after Abraham Lincoln called for troops to invade South Carolina. It seceded from the Union on May 6, 1861. The state was the scene of numerous small-scale battles during the American Civil War. Under the Military Reconstruction Act, Congress readmitted Arkansas in June 1868.

Lakeport Plantation, Lake Village, Chicot County, Arkansas
Lakeport Plantation, c. 1859 and built south of Lake Village, is the only remaining antebellum plantation house on the Mississippi River in Arkansas. Many planters became wealthy from the cotton industry in southern Arkansas.

In 1874, the Brooks-Baxter War, a political struggle between factions of the Republican Party shook Little Rock and the state governorship. It was settled only when President Ulysses S. Grant ordered Joseph Brooks to disperse his militant supporters.

Between 1905 and 1911, Arkansas began to receive a small immigration of German, Slovak, and Scots-Irish from Europe. The German and Slovak peoples settled in the eastern part of the state known as the Prairie, and the Irish founded small communities in the southeast part of the state. The Germans were mostly Lutheran and the Slovaks were primarily Catholic. The Irish were mostly Protestant from Ulster, of Scots and Northern Borders descent.

Bill Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States, was born in Hope, Arkansas. Before his presidency, Clinton served as the 40th and 42nd Governor of Arkansas, a total of nearly 12 years.

Cities and towns

Cleveland County Arkansas Courthouse
Cleveland County Courthouse in Rison
See also: List of cities and towns in Arkansas and List of townships in Arkansas

Little Rock has been Arkansas's capital city since 1821 when it replaced Arkansas Post as the capital of the Territory of Arkansas. The state capitol was moved to Hot Springs and later Washington during the Civil War when the Union armies threatened the city in 1862, and state government did not return to Little Rock until after the war ended. Today, the Little Rock–North Little Rock–Conway metropolitan area is the largest in the state, with a population of 724,385 in 2013.

The Fayetteville–Springdale–Rogers Metropolitan Area is the second-largest metropolitan area in Arkansas, growing at the fastest rate due to the influx of businesses and the growth of the University of Arkansas and Walmart.

Demographics

Population

The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Arkansas was 2,978,204 on July 1, 2015, a 2.14% increase since the 2010 United States Census.

Race and ancestry

In terms of race and ethnicity, the state was 80.1% white (74.2% non-Hispanic white), 15.6% black or African American, 0.9% American Indian and Alaska Native, 1.3% Asian, and 1.8% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race made up 6.6% of the population.

Most of the people identifying as American are of English descent and/or Scots-Irish descent. Their families have been in the state so long, in many cases since before statehood, that they choose to identify simply as having American ancestry or do not in fact know their own ancestry. Their ancestry primarily goes back to the original 13 colonies and for this reason many of them today simply claim American ancestry. Many people who identify themselves as Irish descent are in fact of Scots-Irish descent.

Religion

Arkansas, like most other Southern states, is part of the Bible Belt and is predominantly Protestant.

Economy

Metropolitan Bank Tower
The Simmons Tower is the state's tallest building.
See also: Economy of Arkansas

The state's agriculture outputs are poultry and eggs, soybeans, sorghum, cattle, cotton, rice, hogs, and milk. Its industrial outputs are food processing, electric equipment, fabricated metal products, machinery, and paper products. Mines in Arkansas produce natural gas, oil, crushed stone, bromine, and vanadium.

Industry and commerce

Arkansas's earliest industries were fur trading and agriculture, with development of cotton plantations in the areas near the Mississippi River. They were dependent on slave labor through the American Civil War.

Today only approximately 3% of the population is employed in the agricultural sector, it remains a major part of the state's economy.

The state is the U.S.'s largest producer of rice, broilers, and turkeys, and ranks in the top three for cotton, pullets, and aquaculture (catfish).

Tourism is also very important to the Arkansas economy; the official state nickname "The Natural State" was created for state tourism advertising in the 1970s, and is still used to this day.

The state maintains 52 state parks and the National Park Service maintains seven properties in Arkansas. The completion of the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock has drawn many visitors to the city and revitalized the nearby River Market District. Many cities also hold festivals which draw tourists to the culture of Arkansas, such as The Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival in Warren, King Biscuit Blues Festival, Ozark Folk Festival, Toad Suck Daze, and Tontitown Grape Festival.

Culture

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art--2012-04-12
One of the bridge pavilions over Crystal Spring at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville

The culture of Arkansas is available to all in various forms, whether it be architecture, literature, or fine and performing arts.

Art and history museums display pieces of cultural value for Arkansans and tourists to enjoy.

Arkansas features a variety of native music across the state, ranging from the blues heritage of West Memphis, Pine Bluff, Helena-West Helena to rockabilly, bluegrass, and folk music from the Ozarks. Festivals such as the King Biscuit Blues Festival and Bikes, Blues, and BBQ pay homage to the history of blues in the state. The Ozark Folk Festival in Mountain View is a celebration of Ozark culture and often features folk and bluegrass musicians. Literature set in Arkansas such as I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou and A Painted House by John Grisham describe the culture at various time periods.

Attractions

Blanchard Springs II
Blanchard Springs Caverns in Stone County is a tourist destination.

Arkansas is home to many areas protected by the National Park System. These include:

  • Arkansas Post National Memorial at Gillett
  • Blanchard Springs Caverns
  • Buffalo National River
  • Fort Smith National Historic Site
  • Hot Springs National Park
  • Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
  • Pea Ridge National Military Park
  • President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site
  • Arkansas State Capitol Building
  • List of Arkansas state parks

Arkansas Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.