The history of Arkansas began millennia ago when it was populated by indigenous hunter-gatherers whose cultures grew and developed around 500 CE. Over time, it came to be inhabited by various Native American tribes such as the Quapaw, the Osage and the Caddo. The first Europeans started arriving in Arkansas in the 16th century but the first European settlement was only established a century later.
The state got its name from early French explorers who derived it from the Quapaw word akakaze (which means “the land of people who live downstream.)
In 1803, the United States purchased a large piece of land from France – a landmark event known as the Louisiana Purchase. The land of Arkansas was a part of this purchase. In 1836, the Territory of Arkansas was admitted as the 25th state of the Union. It seceded from the Union in 1861 due to its support of slavery but was re-admitted in 1868 after the end of the Civil War.
In the 1950s, Arkansas was at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement and strongly opposed desegregation. President Eisenhower had to send in US Army troops to enable the Little Rock Nine – nine African-American students – attend an all-white high school.
But time has wrought many changes and today Arkansas is a thriving center of industry and a popular tourist destination with many beautiful forests and lakes. It also has a rich and unique culture that distinguishes it from other Southern states. It has a deep and long standing relationship with folk music and traditional arts and crafts. In recent years, the Democrat Governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton was twice elected President of the United States.
Below is a list of interesting and important facts about the state of Arkansas.
Source: United States Postal Service – Abbreviations
Source: Resident Population Data – 2010 Census
|Governor||Mike Bebee (Democrat, to January 2015)|
|Entered the Union||June 15, 1836
as the 25th state
|Motto||Regnat Populus (The People Rule)|
|Nickname||The Natural State, The Land of Opportunity|
|Professional Sports Teams||No NFL, MLB, NBA, WNBA, MLS, or NHL teams.
(sports listing policy)
|Origin of Name||From the Quapaw word meaning “south wind”|
|Historical Sites||Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site, Toltec Mounds National Archeological State Park, Pea Ridge National Military Park|
|Points of Interest||Hot Springs National Park, Buffalo National River, the Ozark Mountains, Clinton Presidential Center and Park|
|Bordering States||Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennessee, and Mississippi.|
Follow these links to read articles about Arkansas from Encyclopedias and Almanacs:
Official State Links
- Arkansas.gov: Your Bridge to State & Local eGovernment
This is the official website for the State of Arkansas.
- Arkansas State Library
Here is the homepage for the Arkansas State Library.
- The Old State House Museum
Here is the homepage for the Old State House Museum, a museum of the Arkansas Department of Heritage.
- Arkansas History Commission: the Arkansas State Archives
Here is the homepage for the Arkansas State Archives.
- Arkansas State Parks
Here is the homepage for Arkansas State Parks.
- Arkansas the Natural State
Here is the official state website for the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism.
- Arkansas.gov Travel and Visitor Information
Here is the official state travel website for Arkansas.
Other State Links
- 50states.com: Arkansas
The site provides a wealth of information about Arkansas. It includes everything from the highest point to county profile to climate.
- Roadside America: Arkansas Attractions
Roadside America describes itself as an online guide to offbeat attractions. This site offers reviews of “weird sites along the highway” in Arkansas.
Did You Know
- The United States’ only active diamond mine is located near Murfreesboro. It is operated as a tourist attraction. Diamonds are also Arkansas’ state gem.
- Arkansas has experienced only one major earthquake. The New Madrid earthquake of 1811-1812 affected the northeastern part of the state.
- Little Rock got its name from a natural stone landmark on the bank of the Arkansas River. There was also a “Big Rock” located further upstream.
- President Bill Clinton was born in Hope, but he grew up in Hot Springs, site of Arkansas’ most popular national park.
Some Famous People from this State
- Maya Angelou, dancer, poet, and author of many books, including I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
- Hattie Caraway, first woman Senator
- Johnny Cash, country-western singer
- William Jefferson Clinton, 42nd President of the U.S. and former Governor of Arkansas
- Douglas MacArthur, Five-Star General in the U.S. Army
- Mary Steenburgen, actress
- Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart