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Geography of Arkansas

Learn Ten Facts About the U.S. State of Arkansas


Updated June 16, 2010

Capital: Little Rock
Population: 2,855,390 (2008 estimate)
Largest Cities: Little Rock, Fort Smith, Fayetteville, Springdale, Jonesboro, North Little Rock, Pine Bluff
Area: 52,068 square miles (134,856 sq km)
Highest Point: Mount Magazine at 2,753 feet (840 m)
Lowest Point: Ouachita River at 55 feet (17 m)

Arkansas is a state located in the southern United States. It is bordered by Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. Its geography is dominated mainly by the Mississippi River and the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains.

The most populous city in Arkansas is its capital, Little Rock, and much of the rest of its land is rural and forested. As such, the state has a low population density with roughly 54 people per square mile or 21 people per square kilometer. Much of Arkansas' economy is based on agriculture and its largest products are poultry and eggs, soybeans, sorghum, cattle, cotton, rice, hogs, and milk. In addition, the world's largest public company based on revenue, Wal-Mart, has its headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas.

In addition to agriculture and its large companies, Arkansas is also a popular tourist destination within the U.S. due to its being known as the "Natural State" and prevalence of undeveloped natural landscapes. In addition, it is famous for being home to former U.S. President Bill Clinton.

The following are ten more important geographic facts to know about the state of Arkansas.

1) The name Arkansas originated with the Quapaw Native American tribe and has the same route name as the state of Kansas. Arkansas is the French pronunciation of the Quapaw word for people down river. Its pronunciation was made official in 1881 by the state legislature.

2) Arkansas became a part of the United States in the early 1800s with the Louisiana Purchase. On July 4, 1814, the Territory of Arkansas organized and on June 15, 1836 the State of Arkansas officially entered the union as the 34th state. When Arkansas joined the union, it was admitted as the 13th slave state.

3) Prior to the Civil War, Arkansas developed an economy based mainly around cotton produced via slave labor. When the war began in 1860, slaves represented 25% of the population in Arkansas. On May 6, 1861, Arkansas declared its secession from the union.

4) After the Civil War ended in 1865, re-entered the union in 1868 and established suffrage for all males and a public education system.

5) Today the population of Arkansas is predominantly made up of Caucasian people but African Americans make up about 15% of the state's population. Hispanic and Asian Americans also make up a small portion of the state's population.

6) Arkansas is considered very religious with the majority of its people being Protestant. 86% of its population is Christian with 78% of them being Protestant. Baptist also makes up a large portion of the remainder of Arkansas' population.

7) Arkansas's eastern border is formed by the Mississippi River and as such its landscape is dominated by the Mississippi River, various tributaries, and other large rivers. These regions are popular tourist destinations and in June 2010, 20 people were killed when flash flooding events on the Missouri River caused severe flooding in nearby campgrounds.

8) In addition to being dominated by riverine landscapes, Arkansas's topography features rugged mountains, valleys, thick forests and plains. Arkansas also has many caves and a well developed state parks system and various National Parks like Hot Springs National Park and Fort Smith National Historic Site.

9) Arkansas has a humid subtropical climate and has hot, humid summers and cold winters. Little Rock has an average July high temperature of 93°F (33°C) and an average January low of 31°F (-0.5°C).

10) Arkansas has a well-developed public education system and also has a number of large universities. The University of Arkansas and Arkansas State University are the largest in the state.

To learn more about Arkansas visit the state's official website and see maps here.


Infoplease.com. (n.d.). Arkansas: History, Geography, Population and State Facts. Retrieved from: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0108184.html

Wikipedia. (14 June 2010). Arkansas - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arkansas

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