47 Interesting Facts About Arkansas

Last updated on September 23rd, 2022

Arkansas is the 33rd most populous and the 29th most extensive of the 50 states of the United States. It lies in the southeastern region of the United States. The state attained statehood on June 15, 1836, becoming the 25th state to join the union. It shares its border with six states (Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Missouri.) See the full list of the 50 states and their borders here. Arkansas (nicknamed: “the Natural State”, “Land of Opportunity“) has 75 counties. The state’s capital is Little Rock. The postal abbreviation for Arkansas is AR. With these facts about Arkansas, let us learn more about its history, geography, people, economy and more.

Facts about Arkansas

1. Did you know that Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto was the first European to reach Arkansas in 1541?[2]

2. Fur trader Henri de Tonty, the Father of Arkansas, founded the first European Settlement on the Arkansas River.[26]

Arkansas on the U.S. map
Arkansas (in red) on the U.S. map with bordering states.

3. Arkansas got its name from French settlers in the region. The word “Arkansas” is pronounced with a silent “s” at the end. Interestingly, it is against state law to mispronounce the word “Arkansas” while in the state.[6]

4. Arkansas is also the only state in North America where you can find a diamond field. The largest diamond ever discovered in North America was found in Crater of Diamonds State Park in 1924. At 40.23 carats, it was named “Uncle Sam.” More than 33,100 diamonds have been found by park visitors since the Crater of Diamonds became an Arkansas state park in 1972.[15]

5. The diamond mine is the only in the world that allows the public to keep what they find. Interestingly, a 13-year-old girl from Missouri found a 2.93-carat diamond in Crater of Diamonds State Park. Did you know that diamonds are also Arkansas’ state gem?[9,22]

6. Rice production is a billion dollar industry in Arkansas. No doubt, Arkansas is the largest producer of rice among the 50 states. Rice production reportedly began in Arkansas in 1902 with one acre of rice grown in Lonoke County. However, some historical records suggest that rice was grown in some parts of Arkansas prior to the Civil War.[23]

Arkansas on map

7. Arkansas has experienced only one major earthquake (the New Madrid earthquake of 1811-1812).[9]

8. The Caddo, Osage, and Quapaw are the three native tribes that lived in the Arkansas region.[4]

9. Except for Hawaii and Louisiana, Arkansas is the smallest state west of the Mississippi River. The Mississippi River is the second-longest river in the United States.[1]

10. Mount Magazine at 2,753 feet is the highest point in the state. It is situated in the Arkansas River valley.[1]

11. Bill Clinton was the governor of Arkansas before becoming the president of the U.S. He served two terms as the governor of the state.

Arkansas State Flag

flag of Arkansas. Arkansas fact file

12. About half of Arkansas is covered under forest.[1]

13. The state is also home to some 300 native species of birds including bald eagles, blue jays, flycatchers and more.[1]

A white-tailed deer running in a meadow.
A white-tailed deer running in a meadow.

14. Arkansas does not have any federally recognized lands or tribes which existed within the state.[1]

15. Did you know that the first WalMart was opened in 1962 by Sam Walton in Rogers, Arkansas? It is interesting to note here that Walmart employs a staggering 2.3 million associates around the world, out of which 1.5 million are employed in the U.S. alone.[1,13]

16. Rice, soybeans, and wheat are some of the important crops from the region.[1]

Live chicken for meat and egg production inside a storage.
Live chicken for meat and egg production inside a storage.

17. The poultry industry is one of the largest private employers in the state.[1]

18. Arkansas imports a lot of coal from Wyoming and thus uses it for producing energy to meet the demand of its inhabitants. The state also generates its own nuclear and hydroelectric power for the purpose.[1]

19. Tyson Foods, Inc., was one of the most important manufacturing firms in Arkansas. In some years, the company became one of the largest poultry and meat processing firm in the world.[1]

20. The first Arkansas State Highway Commission was appointed in 1913.[11]

21. In 1957, for the first time in the history of the state, nine African Americans were inducted into Little Rock Central High School. The school previously allowed only white students to attend. This event marked an important milestone in the nation’s civil rights movement.

22. Despite the immense resources, Arkansas is one of the poorest states in the union. However, it is also one of the most generous states.[7]

23. Did you know that from 1874 to 1967, every Arkansas governor was a member of the Democratic Party?[5]

24. Did you know that Arkansas was ranked number 8th on the list of the states with most underprivileged children?[8]

25. Did you know that the website of Arkansas Space Observatory is one of the world’s most visited space resources today? The observatory began in 1971 and it was established by P. Clay Sherrod and his brother, Brian Sherrod. P. Clay.[10]

26. Meteorites (the oldest known objects on the planet) weighing a couple of pounds or more fall within Arkansas about every year or two.[10]

27. The land of the Hot Springs National Park was set aside by the federal government for its use as an area for recreation. This was the first time this was done (way before the concept of a national park existed). It is the oldest park maintained by the National Park Service.[12]

28. Did you know that Little Rock (the state’s capital) derives its name from a small rock formation on the south bank of the Arkansas River called the “Little Rock”.[14]

29. Symbolizing the becoming of Arkansas as the 25th state of the union, Arkansas state flag has 25 stars.

30. The state changed its nickname from “Land of Opportunity” to “The Natural State” in 1995. This was done to promote tourism in the state.”

31. Did you know that Arkansas was part of the land acquired in the Louisiana Purchase?

32. Arkansas was nicknamed “The Natural State” because it is famous for its natural scenic beauty, clear lakes and streams, and abundant wildlife.

33. McClellan-Ker Arkansas River Navigation System (approximately 440 miles long) links Oklahoma and Arkansas to the Mississippi River. The project was completed in 1971. The system also serves as a substantial source of hydroelectric power, thanks to the seventeen dams and locks that have been built along the waterway.[16]

34. Arkansas sees long, hot summers and mild winters.[17]

35. At 1,460 miles long, the Arkansas River is the longest tributary in the Mississippi-Missouri River system.

36. The eastern border of Arkansas is marked by Missouri, Tennessee, Mississippi, and the Mississippi River.

Bromine icon.
Periodic table element bromine icon.

37. Arkansas is one of the world’s largest producers of bromine, which is mainly used as a flame retardant. According to the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission, the Arkansas bromine industry extracts more than 40 million cubic meters of brine a year from the so-called Smackover Formation.[18]

38. The state has had several different nicknames in the past including: “The Wonder State”, “The Bear State”, and “The Toothpick State”.[19]

A Northern Mockingbird is perched on a bare branch with an overcast sky.
A Northern Mockingbird is perched on a bare branch with an overcast sky.

39. The Mockingbird, the state bird of Arkansas, is also the state bird of other states including Texas, Florida, Tennessee, and Mississippi.

40. It is a sad fact that nearly 33.5% of the deaths in the state are attributed directly to smoking. Almost 24% of the adults in Arkansas smoke, which is quite high as compared to the U.S. national average of 14% (2017 estimate.)

41. Arkansas has over 600,000 acres of lakes and 9,700 miles of streams and rivers.[20]

42. Arkansas Post was the first territorial capital of Arkansas Territory from 1819 until 1821 when Little Rock was made the capital of the state.

43. The University of Arkansas was founded in 1871. The University had a gathering of eight students and three faculty members during the first year. Today, more than 145 years later, the University is imparting education to students from 120 countries. Interestingly, Bill and Hillary Clinton began their careers by teaching law at the University of Arkansas.

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