80 Interesting Facts About Arkansas

Last updated on July 7th, 2023

Arkansas is the 33rd most populous and the 29th most extensive of the 50 states of the United States. It lies in the south-eastern 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. Fur trader Henri de Tonty, the Father of Arkansas, founded the first European Settlement on the Arkansas River.

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.

4. Interestingly, it is against state law to mispronounce the word “Arkansas” while in the state.

5. 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.

6. 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.

Sparkling Diamond resting on a rich earth texture. Arkansas fact file
Facts about Arkansas. Photo © Leon Rafael

7. Did you know that diamonds are also Arkansas’ state gem?

8. Rice production is a billion dollar industry in Arkansas. No doubt, Arkansas is the largest producer of rice among the 50 states. 

9. 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.

10. Milk was named the state beverage of Arkansas in 1985 to not only highlight the benefits of milk consumption, but also pay tribute to the importance of the bustling dairy industry in the state.

11. Arkansas has experienced only one major earthquake (the New Madrid earthquake of 1811-1812).

12. The Caddo, Osage, and Quapaw are the three native tribes that lived in the Arkansas region.

Arkansas on map

13. 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.

14. Mount Magazine at 2,753 feet is the highest point in the state. It is situated in the Arkansas River valley.

15. William Jefferson Clinton, better known to everyone as Bill Clinton, was born in Hope, Arkansas on August 19th, 1946. Bill remained in Arkansas until he moved to Washington, D.C. to attend Georgetown University.

16. 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.

17. Cheese dip is an American favorite. But did you know that it has its roots in Arkansas? Cheese dip was first served at the Mexico Chiquito Restaurant in Hot Springs, Arkansas, in 1935. Arkansas celebrates this glorious discovery by hosting the annual World Cheese Dip Championships each year. The 10th anniversary of the event was held in 2020.

18. Cheese dogs are another American favorite that has its roots in Arkansas when the Finkbeiner Meat Packing Company first introduced the delicious cheese-stuffed sausage in 1956.

Arkansas State Flag

flag of Arkansas. Arkansas fact file

19. The flag of Arkansas was a topic of hot debate for many years until a competition in 1913 saw the design by Willie Hocker being chosen as the state’s flag.

20. Arkansas has not always been on the side of the confederacy, and was once on the side of the Union until it switched sides in 1861.

21. About half of Arkansas is covered under forest.

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

A white-tailed deer running in a meadow.
Facts about Arkansas. A white-tailed deer running in a meadow.

23. The White Tail Deer is a large part of America’s history, and as such is the state animal of Arkansas. The state shares this animal with 11 of the great 50 states of the United States. 

24. Arkansas does not have any federally recognized lands or tribes which existed within the state.

25. Arkansas was once the home of the oldest woman in America. Hester Ford died at the ripe old age of 116 years.

26. 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.

27. Rice, soybeans, and wheat are some of the important crops from the region.

Chicken farm
Photo © Branex

28. The poultry industry is one of the largest private employers in the state.

29. The Apple Blossom has a long history in Arkansas and was named the state flower in 1901 to commemorate the state being one of America’s largest producers of apples.

30. Pre-1965, a poll tax saw many residents of Arkansas unable to vote unless a fee was paid. Once the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965, the state of Arkansas allowed all citizens to vote in their elections.

31. Arkansas is revered for its good weather and has no less than 200 days of sunshine a year. And, if you’re looking for a state with as little rainfall as possible, Arkansas has only 100 days of rain a year.

32. The World Championship Duck Calling Contest has its roots in Arkansas, and was founded in 1936. The event is held in Stuttgart every five years.

Ostriches on the ostrich farm. Arkansas facts
Facts about Arkansas. Photo © Alefbet26

33. Did you know that Arkansas was once known for its ostrich farms? The state’s largest ostrich farm closed in 1953, and at one time was the home of over 300 ostriches.

34. Catfish is a popular dish in Arkansas, with more catfish being eaten here than any other state in America. Catfish were first farmed in Arkansas in 1950.

35. With much of the state covered by forest and greenlands, Arkansas is home to more than 18 billion trees.

36. Republican Ira Gurley became somewhat of a tragic icon in Arkansas when she was crushed by an elevator in the state’s capitol building in 1932.

37. The town of Beebe made headlines in 2011 when 1,000 blackbirds inexplicably fell from the sky. There is still no valid explanation for this phenomena, leaving folks puzzled as to what occurred. In a similar incident, years before, a massive storm in 1973 resulted in 100 ducks being picked up from their nesting ground and dumped a few miles away.

38. The highest speed limit on rural highways in the state of Arkansas is 75 mph. Before this speed limit was raised in 2019, the maximum speed limit was 70 mph.

Pile of spinach
Pile of spinach. Photo © Elena Elisseeva

39. Alma, Arkansas, is known as the spinach capital as more than half of the spinach produced in America is from this small town. To celebrate this, the town of Alma has a statue of Popeye in the town square that was erected in 2007.

40. Mammoth Springs, just one of the incredible sights at the Hot Springs National Park, pushes out a whopping 9 million gallons of water an hour.

41. Arkansas is home to some pretty strange laws. One of our favorites is the law that prohibits owners from letting their dogs bark after 6pm in Little Rock. Another odd one is that you can’t own more than 4 dogs.

42. Arkansas has the second-lowest cost of living among all 50 states in the United States and is very popular among entrepreneurs and business owners.

43. Magnet Cove, just one of many natural glories of Arkansas, is home to 102 varieties of minerals, including calcite, melanite, and sodalite.

44. “Ring of Fire” singer Johnny Cash was born in Kingsland, Arkansas, in 1932. This small town still only has a population of around 450 people. Johnny Cash’s song “Five Feet High and Rising” draws its inspiration from the great flood in 1937 that saw his home town of Dyess Colony being evacuated due to rising waters.

Big watermelon and slice, facts about Arkansas
Facts about Arkansas. Photo © Kkovaleva

45. Hope is unofficially the world’s watermelon capital of America, and is host to an annual Watermelon festival that draws no less than 50,000 people to the town.

46. Ernest Hemingway might not have been born in Arkansas but spent a great deal of time in Piggot, his wife’s hometown in 1929 while he was writing his novel A Call to Arms. Ernest Hemingway’s home in Arkansas is now a museum. It was also the site of a fire in 1932 that saw the novelist throw his manuscripts out of an upstairs window to save them.

47. Meyer’s Bakery created their delicious brown-and-serve rolls in 1930 in Hope, Arkansas. Consumers simply need to place the rolls in the oven until they brown and they’re ready for any thanksgiving dinner or family barbeque.

48. Did you know that Elvis had a televised haircut at a barber in Arkansas before signing up for his military service? The now-famous haircut was performed at a barber in Fort Chaffee in 1958, and has since been turned into a museum.

49. Tyson Foods got their big break in the chicken production industry when they famously sent out a shipment of their chicken products from Arkansas to Chicago in 1935.

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