Arkansas is a state located in the Southern regionof the United States. Its name is of Siouan derivation, denoting the QuapawIndians. The state's diverse geography ranges from the mountainous regions of the Ozark and the Ouachita Mountains, which make up the U.S. Interior Highlands, to the densely forested land in the south known as the Arkansas Timberlands, to the eastern lowlands along the Mississippi River and theArkansas Delta. Known as "the Natural State", the diverse regions of Arkansas offer residents and tourists a variety of opportunities for outdoor recreation.
Arkansas is the 29th largest in square miles and the 32nd 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 northwestern corner of the state, including theFayetteville–Springdale–Rogers Metropolitan Area and Fort Smith metropolitan area, is also an important population, education, and economic center. The largest city in the eastern part of the state is Jonesboro.
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 theConfederate States of America during the Civil War. Upon returning to the Union, the state would continue to suffer due to its earlier reliance on slaveryand 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 observable 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 frontiersmen in the early 1800s. Arkansas's enduring image has earned the state "a special place in the American consciousness", but it has in reality produced such prominent figures as politician and educational advocate William Fulbright, former President Bill Clinton, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, General Wesley Clark, Walmart magnate Sam Waltonand singer-songwriter Johnny Cash.
|State of Arkansas|
|Nickname(s): The Natural State (current)
The Land of Opportunity (former)
|Motto(s): Regnat populus (Latin: The People Rule)|
|State song(s): "Arkansas", "Arkansas (You Run Deep in Me)", "Oh, Arkansas" and "The Arkansas Traveler"|
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 toHot 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.
The state has nine 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, Rogers, and Pine Bluff. Of these, only Fort Smith and Jonesboro are outside the two largest metropolitan areas. Other notable cities include Hot Springs,Bentonville, Texarkana, Sherwood, Jacksonville, Russellville, Bella Vista, West Memphis, Paragould, Cabot, Searcy, Van Buren, El Dorado, Blytheville, Harrison, and Mountain Home.
The culture of Arkansas is available to all in various forms, whether it be architecture, literature, or fine and performing arts. The state's culture also includes distinct cuisine, dialect, and traditional festivals. Sports are also very important to the culture of Arkansas, ranging from football, baseball, and basketball to hunting and fishing. Perhaps the best-known piece of Arkansas's culture is the stereotype of its citizens as shiftless hillbillies. The reputation began when the state was characterized by early explorers as a savage wilderness full of outlaws and thieves. The most enduring icon of Arkansas's hillbilly reputation is The Arkansas Traveller, a painted depiction of a folk tale from the 1840s.Although intended to represent the divide between rich southeastern plantation Arkansas planters and the poor northwestern hill country, the meaning was twisted to represent a Northerner lost in the Ozarks on a white horse asking a backwoods Arkansan for directions. The state also suffers from the racial stigma common to former Confederate states, with historical events such as the Little Rock Nine adding to Arkansas's enduring image.
Art and history museums display pieces of cultural value for Arkansans and tourists to enjoy. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville is the most popular with 604,000 visitors in 2012, its first year. The museum includes walking trails and educational opportunities in addition to displaying over 450 works covering five centuries of American art. Several historic town sites have been restored as Arkansas state parks, including Historic Washington State Park, Powhatan Historic State Park, and Davidsonville Historic State Park.
Arkansas features a variety of native music across the state, ranging from the blues heritage of West Memphis and Helena-West Helena to rockabilly, bluegrass, and folk music from the Ozarks. Festivals such as the King Biscuit Blues Festival andBikes, 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.