Arkansas borders the Mississippi River in the southern part of the country. Several parks and wilderness areas include mountains, caves, rivers, and hot springs. The Ozarks region’s northwest region contains limestone caves such as Blanchard Springs Caverns.
Little Rock, its capital, is located at the Clinton Presidential Center, containing Bill Clinton’s presidential archives. In addition, Little Rock, the state’s capital and the most populous city, is a hub for transportation, business, culture, and government.
QUICK FACTS ABOUT ARKANSAS
- Capital City: Little Rock
- Largest City: Little Rock
- Nickname: The Natural State
- Statehood: 1836; 25th state
- Population (as of 2020): 3,013,756
- Abbreviation: AR
- State bird: mockingbird
- State flower: apple blossom
- Total Size Of The State: 53,179 sq mi (137,732 km2)
About 11,650 years ago, people first settled on the now Arkansas land. Around the year 650, Native Americans called the Plum Bayou built a set of mysterious dirt mounds still visible at Toltec Mounds Archaeological State Park. There were also the Caddo, Chickasaw, Osage, Quapaw, and Tunica tribes who lived on the land.
Hernando de Soto was the first European to reach the area in 1541. As part of the Louisiana Territory, which includes most of Central America, the land was claimed by France in 1682. America purchased the territory in 1803. A few decades later, Congress passed the Indian Removal Act, which forced Native Americans to leave the area and move to land west of the Mississippi River. This journey, known as the Trail of Tears, led to the deaths of thousands of Native Americans. Arkansas became the 25th state of the United States in 1836.
Arkansas was a Confederate state at the start of the Civil War in 1861. In other words, it wanted to secede from the United States and form a new nation with nearby states. Despite this, Arkansas’ residents had divided loyalties: Many sided with the Union. However, the Union would remain intact because of the Confederacy’s defeat.
When Army troops escorted nine black students into Little Rock Central High School in 1957, which had previously only allowed white students to attend, history was made. Upon entry, the school became the first public school to admit black students.
Why Does It Have That Name?
- Arkansas got its name from the Quapaw Indians, called “Arkansaws” by the French.
- The state is nicknamed the Natural State for its lakes, rivers, mountains, and wildlife.
Geographic Features and Landforms
Missouri, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma border Arkansas in the north, east, south, and west. The Mississippi River forms nearly the entire eastern border with Arkansas. There are five major geographical regions in Arkansas.
The Ozark Mountains are a forested region dotted with deep valleys and plateaus in northwest Missouri. Among its many attractions is Mammoth Spring State Park. The park is filled with 9 million gallons of water every hour.
South of the Ozarks lies the Arkansas River Valley, home to Arkansas, the state’s largest river. It is also home to Magazine Mountain, the state’s highest point.
Located in western and central Arkansas, the Ouachita Mountains are known for their parallel ridges and valleys. In this region, you will also find Hot Springs National Park, the smallest in the country. The water temperature here reaches 143°F.
The West Gulf Coastal Plain lies south and southwest of the Gulf of Mexico. This lowland is covered in pine forests.
Alluvial deposits in the Mississippi Alluvial Plain follow the Mississippi River from north to south. As a result, the Delta is mainly fertile lowland.
The Natural World
Among Arkansas’ mammals are elk, badgers, and eastern spotted skunks. Birds found in the state include red-tailed hawks, ivory-billed woodpeckers, and indigo buntings. In addition, Arkansas is home to cricket frogs and dusky salamanders, such as the Ouachita dusky salamander. Reptiles that live in the state include western pygmy rattlesnakes and eastern collared lizards.
Common trees include hickory, plum, hawthorn, and pine. The maple-leaf oak tree exists only in Arkansas. Wildflowers are plentiful and include American beautyberry, wild bergamot, and orange coneflower.
Arkansas’ primary natural resources include natural gas, coal, and petroleum. Moreover, it leads the country to mine bauxite, a material for making aluminum. In addition, Bromine is produced in Arkansas and used in pesticides, water purification, medications, and flame retardants.
Some Fun Facts About Arkansas
- Arkansas mines diamonds more than any other state in the U.S.
- More than 500 years ago, Native Americans carved well-preserved rock drawings in Rock House Cave in Petit Jean State Park.
- The state has produced several famous people, including President Bill Clinton, General Douglas MacArthur, and former Surgeon General M. Joycelyn Elders.
- Why are Arkansas and Kansas pronounced differently? In English, Kansas is pronounced KAN-zuhs, while Arkansas is pronounced AHR-Kuhn-saw (the way Native Americans pronounce it).