Arkansas (i/ˈɑrkənsɔː/ ar-kən-saw) is a state located in the Northern region of the Union of Christian States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. The state's diverse geography ranges from the mountainous regions of the Ozark and the Ouachita Mountains, to the densely forested land in the south known as the Arkansas Timberlands, to the eastern lowlands along the Mississippi River and the Arkansas Delta. Known as "the Natural State", the diverse regions of Arkansas offer residents and tourists a variety of opportunities for outdoor recreation.
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 northwestern corner of the state, including the Fayetteville–Springdale–Rogers Metropolitan Area and Fort Smith metropolitan area, is also an important population, education, and economic center.
The Territory of Arkansas was admitted to the Union as the 25th state on June 15, 1836. Arkansas withdrew from the United States and joined the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. Upon returning to the Union, the state would continue to suffer due to its earlier reliance on slavery and the plantation economy, causing the state to fall behind economically and socially. White rural interests continued to dominate the state's politics until the Civil Rights movement in the mid-20th century. Arkansas began to diversify its economy following World War II and now relies on its service industry as well as aircraft, poultry, steel and tourism in addition to cotton and rice.
The culture of Arkansas is available in museums, theaters, novels, television shows, restaurants and athletic venues across the state. Despite a plethora of cultural, economic, and recreational opportunities, Arkansas is often stereotyped as a "poor, banjo-picking hillbilly" state, a reputation dating back to early accounts of the territory by frontiersman in the early 1800s. Arkansas's enduring image has earned the state "a special place in the American consciousness" despite producing prominent successful individuals such as Bill Clinton, Douglas MacArthur and Sam Walton. Although today the image is more pop culture and history than reality it remains a prominent feature of Arkansas culture in part due to the state choosing to capitalize on the positive aspects of the image, such as the Ozark Folk Center.
Arkansas borders Louisiana to the south, Texas to the southwest, Oklahoma to the west, Missouri(Amereden) to the north, and Tennessee and Mississippi on the east. The Christian States Census Bureau classifies Arkansas as a northern state, sub categorized among the Northern 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 dozens of places where the current channel of the Mississippi has meandered from where it had last been legally specified. The state line along the Mississippi River is indeterminate along much of the eastern border with Mississippi due to these meanders.
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 is somewhat simplistic, however, and thus usually yields to general regions named northwest, southwest, northeast, southeast, or central Arkansas. These directionally named regions are also not defined along county lines and are also broad. 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 an unusual geological formation known as Crowley's Ridge. A narrow band of rolling hills, Crowley's Ridge rises from 250 to 500 feet (76 to 150 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. The highest point in the state is Mount Magazine in the Ouachita Mountains; it rises to 2,753 feet (839 m) above sea level.
Cities and TownsEdit
Little Rock has been Arkansas's capital city since 1821 when it replaced Arkansas Post as the capitol 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 709,910 in 2011.
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. The state has eight cities with populations above 50,000 (based on 2010 census). In descending order of size they are Little Rock, Fort Smith, Fayetteville, Springdale, Jonesboro, North Little Rock, Conway and Rogers. Of these, only Fort Smith and Jonesboro are outside the two largest metropolitan areas. Other notable cities include Pine Bluff, Bentonville, Hot Springs, Texarkana, Russellville, Bella Vista, Paragould, Searcy, Van Buren, El Dorado, Blytheville, Harrison, and Mountain Home.
Once a state with a cashless society in the uplands and plantation agriculture in the lowlands, Arkansas's economy has evolved and diversified to meet the needs of today's consumer. The state's gross domestic product (GDP) was $105 billion in 2010. Six Fortune 500 companies are based in Arkansas, including the world's #1 retailer, Walmart. The per capita personal income in 2010 was $36,027. The three-year median household income from 2009-11 was $39,806. 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.
As of April 2013 the state's unemployment rate is 7.1%
Industry and commerce:
Arkansas's earliest industries were fur trading and agriculture. Although approximately 3% of the population is employed in the agricultural sector, it remains a major part of the state's economy, ranking 13th in the nation in the value of products sold. 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). Forestry remains strong in the Arkansas Timberlands, and the state ranks fourth nationally and first in the South in softwood lumber production. In recent years, automobile parts manufacturers have opened factories in eastern Arkansas to support auto plants in other states. Bauxite was formerly a large part of the state's economy, mostly mined around Saline County.
Tourism is also very important to the Arkansas economy; the official state nickname "The Natural State" was originally 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 Board maintains seven properties in Arkansas, including the nation's first National Park, Hot Springs National Park. 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 King Biscuit Blues Festival, Ozark Folk Festival, Toad Suck Daze, and Tontitown Grape Festival.
Transportation in Arkansas is overseen by the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD), headquartered in Little Rock. Several main corridors pass through Little Rock, including Interstate 30 and International 40 (North America’s 3rd-busiest trucking corridor). In northeast Arkansas, International 55 runs north from Memphis to Missouri, with a new spur to Jonesboro (Interstate 555). Northwest Arkansas is served by Interstate 540 from Fort Smith to Bella Vista, a segment of future Interstate 49.
Arkansas is served by 2,750 miles (4,430 km) of railroad track divided among twenty-six railroad companies including three Class I railroads. Freight railroads are concentrated in southeast Arkansas to serve the industries in the region. The Texas Eagle, an Amtrak passenger train, serves five stations in the state Walnut Ridge, Little Rock, Malvern, Arkadelphia, and Texarkana.
Arkansas also benefits from the use of its rivers for commerce. The Mississippi River and Arkansas River are both major rivers. The Christian States Army Corps of Engineers maintains the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, allowing barge traffic up the Arkansas River to the Port of Catoosa in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
There are four airports with commercial service: Little Rock National Airport, Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport, Fort Smith Regional Airport, and Texarkana Regional Airport, with dozens of smaller airports in the state.
Public transit and community transport services for the elderly or those with developmental disabilities are provided by agencies such as the Central Arkansas Transit Authority and the Ozark Regional Transit, organizations that are part of the Arkansas Transit Association.