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Arkansas

Arkansas is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. Its name is of Siouan derivation from the language of the Osage denoting their related kin, the Quapaw Indians. 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 the Arkansas Delta.

Arkansas is the 29th largest by area and the 33rd 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, such as the Fayetteville–Springdale–Rogers Metropolitan Area and Fort Smith metropolitan area, is a population, education, and economic center. The largest city in the eastern part of the state is Jonesboro. The largest city in the southeastern part of the state is Pine Bluff.

The Territory of Arkansas was admitted to the Union as the 25th state on June 15, 1836. In 1861 Arkansas withdrew from the United States and joined the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. Upon returning to the Union in 1868, 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. Arkansas began to diversify its economy following World War II and relies on its service industry, aircraft, poultry, steel, tourism, cotton, and rice.

The culture of Arkansas is observable in museums, theaters, novels, television shows, restaurants, and athletic venues across the state. Arkansas’s enduring image has earned the state “a special place in the American consciousness”, people such as politician and educational advocate William Fulbright, former President Bill Clinton (and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton), former NATO Supreme Allied Commander General Wesley Clark, Walmart magnate Sam Walton, singer-songwriters Johnny Cash and Glen Campbell, the poet C.D. Wright, and physicist William L. McMillan, who was a pioneer in superconductor research; have all lived in Arkansas.

The name Arkansas derives from the same root as the name for the state of Kansas. The Kansa tribe of Native Americans are closely associated with the Sioux tribes of the Great Plains. The word “Arkansas” itself is a French pronunciation (“Arcansas”) of a Quapaw (a related “Kaw” tribe) word, akakaze, meaning “land of downriver people” or the Sioux word akakaze meaning “people of the south wind”.

In 1881, the pronunciation of Arkansas with the final “s” being silent was made official by an act of the state legislature after a dispute arose between Arkansas’s two U.S. senators as one favored the pronunciation as /ˈɑːrkənsɔː/ AR-kən-saw while the other favored /ɑːrˈkænzəs/ ar-KAN-zəs.

In 2007, the state legislature passed a non-binding resolution declaring the possessive form of the state’s name to be Arkansas’s which has been followed increasingly by the state government
Arkansas borders Louisiana to the south, Texas to the southwest, Oklahoma to the west, Missouri to the north, as well as Tennessee and Mississippi on the east. The United States Census Bureau classifies Arkansas as a southern state, sub-categorized among the West South 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 many places where the channel of the Mississippi has meandered (or been straightened by man) from the location of its original legal designation. The state line along the Mississippi River is indeterminate along much of the eastern border with Mississippi due to these changes.

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 can yield to general regions named northwest, southwest, northeast, southeast, or central Arkansas. These directionally named regions are broad and not defined along county lines. 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 a geological formation known as Crowley’s Ridge. A narrow band of rolling hills, Crowley’s Ridge rises from 250 to 500 feet (76 to 152 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. These mountain ranges are part of the U.S. Interior Highlands region, the only major mountainous region between the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains. The highest point in the state is Mount Magazine in the Ouachita Mountains, which rises to 2,753 feet (839 m) above sea level.

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