Arkansas

Arkansas

[ahr-kuhn-saw; also, for 2 ar-kan-zuhs]
Arkansas, Native North Americans: see Quapaw.
Arkansas, state in the south-central United States. It is bordered by Tennessee and Mississippi, across the Mississippi R. (E), Louisiana (S), Texas and Oklahoma (W), and Missouri (N).

Facts and Figures

Area, 53,104 sq mi (137,539 sq km). Pop. (2000) 2,673,400, a 13.7% increase since the 1990 census. Capital and largest city, Little Rock. Statehood, June 15, 1836 (25th state). Highest pt., Magazine Mt., 2,753 ft (840 m); lowest pt., Ouachita River, 55 ft (17 m). Nickname, Land of Opportunity. Motto, Regnat Populus [The People Rule]. State bird, mockingbird. State flower, apple blossom. State tree, pine. Abbr., Ark.; AK

Geography

The Arkansas River flows southeast across the state between the Ozark plateau and the Ouachita Mountains and runs down to the southern and eastern plains to empty into the Mississippi River. The other rivers of the state also flow generally SE or S to the Mississippi; these include the Saint Francis (which forms part of the E Missouri line), the White River, the Ouachita, and the Red River (which forms part of the Texas line). The state's transportation network is based on rivers as well as roads, railroads, and air travel. The 440 mi (708 km) Arkansas River Navigation System links Oklahoma and Arkansas to the Mississippi River.

The capital and largest city is Little Rock; other important cities are Fort Smith, North Little Rock, Pine Bluff, Hot Springs, and West Memphis.

The climate of Arkansas is marked by long, hot summers and mild winters. The state's many lakes and streams and its abundant wildlife provide excellent hunting and fishing. The mineral springs at Hot Springs also attract many visitors to Arkansas, where tourism is an important industry.

Economy

A major cotton-producing state in the 19th cent., Arkansas has since diversified its agricultural production and overall economy. Cotton is still an important crop, but ranks below soybeans and rice. Arkansas has become a leading producer of poultry, raising over one billion broiler chickens a year; turkeys, dairy goods, and catfish are also important. The state's most important mineral products are petroleum, bromine and bromine compounds, and natural gas, and it is the nation's leading bauxite producer. Principal manufactures are food products, chemicals, lumber and paper goods, electrical equipment, furniture, automobile and airplane parts, and machinery. The Pine Bluff Arsenal is among military installations contributing to the Arkansas economy.

Government and Higher Education

The state constitution (1874) provides for an elected governor and bicameral legislature, with a 35-member senate and a 100-member house of representatives. Arkansas sends two senators and four representatives to the U.S. Congress and has six electoral votes.

Bill Clinton was elected governor five times between 1978 and 1990. Jim Guy Tucker, a Democrat, succeeded Clinton but resigned in 1996 when he was convicted of fraud in a Whitewater-related scheme; Republican Mike Huckabee, the lieutenant governor, became governor, and was reelected in 1998 and 2002. In 2006, Mike Beebe, a Democrat, was elected to the post. The state legislature has long been heavily Democratic, but Arkansas's congressional delegation is more bipartisan.

Among the institutions of higher education in the state are the Univ. of Arkansas, at Fayetteville; Arkansas State Univ., at Jonesboro; Hendrix College and the State College of Arkansas, at Conway; Ouachita Baptist College and Henderson State College, at Arkadelphia; the College of the Ozarks, at Clarksville; Arkansas College, at Batesville; and Harding College, at Searcy.

History

Early History to Statehood

A people known as the Bluff Dwellers, who inhabited caves, probably lived in the Arkansas area before 500. They were followed by the Mound Builders, who received their name from the mounds they constructed, apparently for ceremonial purposes. The first Europeans to arrive in Arkansas (1541-42) were probably members of the Spanish expedition under Hernando De Soto. Later the French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet came S along the Mississippi to the mouth of the Arkansas River. A number of Native American groups, such as the Osage, Quapaw, and Caddo, lived in the vicinity.

In 1682, Robert La Salle's lieutenant, Henri de Tonti, established Arkansas Post, the first white settlement in the Arkansas area. La Salle claimed the Mississippi valley for France, and the region became part of the French territory of Louisiana. The French ceded the Louisiana territory to Spain in 1762 but regained it before it passed to the United States under the Louisiana Purchase (1803).

Arkansas became part of the Territory of Missouri in 1812. The cotton boom of 1818 brought the first large wave of settlers, and the Southern plantation system, moving west, fixed itself in the alluvial plains of S and E Arkansas. In 1819 the area was made a separate entity, and the first territorial legislature met at Arkansas Post. The capital was moved to Little Rock in 1821. Arkansas achieved statehood in 1836.

The Civil War

As the Civil War began, poorer farmers were generally indifferent to questions of slavery and states' rights. The slaveholding planters held the most political power, however, and after some hesitation, Arkansas seceded (1861) from the Union. In the Civil War, Confederate defeats at Pea Ridge (Mar., 1862), Prairie Grove (Dec., 1862), and Arkansas Post (Jan., 1863) led to Union occupation of N Arkansas, and General Grant's Vicksburg campaign separated states W of the Mississippi from the rest of the Confederacy. In Sept., 1863, federal troops entered Little Rock, where a Unionist convention in Jan., 1864, set up a government that repudiated secession and abolished slavery. Because the state refused at first to enfranchise former slaves, Arkansas was not readmitted to the Union until 1868, when a new constitution gave African Americans the right to vote and hold office.

Reconstruction

Reconstruction in Arkansas reached a turbulent climax in the struggle (1874) of two Republican claimants to the governorship, Elisha Baxter and Joseph Brooks. Baxter's apparent success in the election was not accepted by Brooks, and followers of the two men resorted to violence in what became known as the Brooks-Baxter War. After President Ulysses S. Grant declared Baxter to be governor, Baxter called a constituent assembly dominated by Democrats to frame a new state constitution. The convention adopted (1874) the constitution that, in amended form, still remains in force.

During Reconstruction the so-called carpetbaggers and scalawags were detested by most Arkansas whites, but their administrations brought advances in education and (at exorbitant costs caused by corruption) railroad construction. Because of high cotton prices and the failure to give the freed slaves any economic status, the broken plantation system was replaced by sharecropping and farm tenancy. The lives of the people of the Ozarks remained largely unchanged; they retained the customs, skills, and superstitions that have given the hill folk their distinctive regional characteristics. In the late 19th cent., as railroad construction proceeded, Arkansas's population grew substantially, and bauxite and lumbering industries developed. Oil was discovered in Arkansas, near El Dorado, in 1921.

Hard Times

Disaster struck in 1927 when the Mississippi River overflowed, flooding one fifth of the state. With the fortunes of the state pegged to the price of cotton, the depression of the early 1930s (see Great Depression) struck hard. Dispossessed tenants, black and white, formed (1939) the Southern Tenant Farmers Union; after trouble with the authorities, it moved its headquarters to Memphis, Tenn. A strike called in 1936 spread to other regions before its strength waned. Other impoverished farmers migrated west to California as "Arkies"—like the "Okies" from neighboring Oklahoma. After World War I, African Americans left the state in a steady stream to the industrial North. World War II brought further loss of population as workers left Arkansas for war factories elsewhere. The war, however, created a boom for new industries in the state, notably the processing of bauxite into aluminum.

The Postwar Era

The decline of industrial output after the war was offset by the vigorous efforts of a state development commission formed in 1955 to attract new industry to Arkansas. Governor Orval Faubus of Arkansas became a center of national and world attention in 1957 when he resisted the desegregation of public schools in Little Rock (see integration). Arkansas has long been dominated by the Democratic party, but in 1966 Winthrop Rockefeller (see under Rockefeller, John Davison was elected the state's first Republican governor since Reconstruction. Although reelected in 1968, Rockefeller lost the governorship to a Democrat, Dale Bumpers, in 1970.

In 1971, Arkansas and Oklahoma joined in the Arkansas River Navigation System, a project that developed the Arkansas River basin to provide water transportation to the Mississippi. In the early 1990s, the Arkansas-based Wal-Mart merchandise chain, founded by Arkansan Sam Walton in 1962 as a small-town discount store, became the largest retailer in the United States. Bill Clinton, the governor of Arkansas (1979-81, 1983-92), was elected president of the United States in 1992. In the mid- to late 1990s national attention focused on Arkansas as Clinton associates, including Jim Guy Tucker, his successor as governor, were embroiled in Whitewater and other scandals.

Bibliography

See L. J. White, Politics on the Southwestern Frontier: Arkansas Territory, 1819-1836 (1964); H. S. Ashmore, Arkansas (1984); I. J. Spitzberg, Racial Politics in Little Rock, 1954-1964 (1987); G. T. Hanson and C. H. Moneyhon, Historical Atlas of Arkansas (1989).

Arkansas, river, c.1,450 mi (2,330 km) long, rising in the Rocky Mts., central Colo., and flowing generally SE across the plains to the Mississippi River, SE Ark.; drains 160,500 sq mi (415,700 sq km). The Canadian and Cimarron rivers are its main tributaries. It is the chief waterway for the state of Arkansas, where it drains a broad valley. The upper course of the Arkansas River has many rapids and flows through Royal Gorge, one of the deepest canyons in the United States. More than 25 dams on the river provide flood control, power, and irrigation. During the warm months, because of its extensive use for irrigation, the middle course of the Arkansas is reduced to a trickle. The John Martin dam and reservoir in Colorado is one of the largest water-storage and flood-control units in the river basin. The Arkansas River Navigation System, opened in 1971, makes the river navigable to Tulsa, Okla., 440 mi (708 km) upstream. The Spanish explorers Coronado and De Soto probably traveled along portions of the river in the 1540s. In 1806, Zebulon Pike, an American army officer, explored the river's upper reaches in Colorado. The Arkansas River was an important trade and travel route in the 19th cent.
Arkansas, University of, mainly at Fayetteville; land-grant and state supported; coeducational; chartered 1871, opened 1872; called Arkansas Industrial Univ. until 1899. The Univ. of Arkansas for Medical Sciences is at Little Rock. Additional campuses are located at Monticello and Pine Bluff.

State (pop., 2000: 2,673,400), south-central U.S. Bordered by Missouri, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma, it covers 53,178 sq mi (137,730 sq km). Its capital is Little Rock, and its highest point is Mount Magazine, at 2,753 ft (839 m). The earliest inhabitants were Indian bluff dwellers along the Mississippi River circa AD 500. Mound-building cultures later left burial mounds along the river. Spanish and French explorers traversed the region in the 16th–17th centuries; the first permanent European settlement was founded at Arkansas Post in 1686. Acquired by the U.S. as part of the Louisiana Purchase, Arkansas Territory was established in 1819; the state's current boundaries were fixed in 1828. Arkansas became the 25th state in 1836. It seceded in 1861 to join the Confederacy in the American Civil War; it was readmitted to the Union in 1868. Following Reconstruction, a rigid policy of segregation lasted until 1957, when court-ordered desegregation of the schools was implemented. Once dominated by agriculture, the state's economy now also includes mining and manufacturing. Tourism is promoted, especially by the mineral springs at Hot Springs National Park and resorts in the Ozark Mountains.

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Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Arkansas shares a border with six states, with its eastern border largely defined by the Mississippi River. Its diverse geography ranges from the mountainous regions of the Ozarks and the Ouachita Mountains, which make up the U.S. Interior Highlands, to the eastern lowlands along the Mississippi River. The capital and most populous city is Little Rock, located in the central portion of the state.

The name Arkansas derives from the same root as the name for the State of Kansas. The Kansas tribe of American Indians are closely associated with the Sioux tribes. The word is a French pronunciation of a Quapaw (a related "Kaw" tribe) word meaning "land of downriver people" or "people of the south wind". The pronunciation of Arkansas (ar-kan-saw) was made official by an act of the state legislature in 1881 after a dispute between the two U.S. Senators from Arkansas. One wanted to pronounce the name ar-kán-sas and the other wanted ár-kan-saw.

Geography

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 dozens of places where the current channel of the Mississippi has meandered from where it had last been legally specified. Arkansas shares its southern border with Louisiana, its northern border with Missouri, its eastern border with Tennessee and Mississippi, and its western border with Texas and Oklahoma.

Arkansas is a land of mountains and valleys, thick forests and fertile plains. The so-called Lowlands are better known by names of their two regions, the Delta and the Grand Prairie. The Arkansas Delta is a flat landscape of rich alluvial soils formed by repeated flooding of the adjacent Mississippi. Further 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 an unusual geological formation known as Crowley's Ridge. A narrow band of rolling hills, Crowley's Ridge rises from 250 to 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 Boston 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. All of these mountains 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 Ozark Mountains; it rises to above sea level.

Arkansas is home to many caves, such as Blanchard Springs Caverns. It is also the first U.S. state in which diamonds were found (near Murfreesboro). Arkansas has the only operating diamond mine in the United States.

Arkansas is home to many areas protected by the National Park System. These include:

The Trail of Tears National Historic Trail also runs through Arkansas.

Climate

Arkansas generally has a humid subtropical climate, which borders on humid continental in some northern highland areas. While not bordering the Gulf of Mexico, Arkansas is still close enough to this warm, large body of water for it to be the main weather influence in the state. Generally, Arkansas has very hot, humid summers and mild, slightly drier winters. In Little Rock, the daily high temperatures average around 90 °F (32 °C) in the summer and close to 50 °F (10 °C) in winter. Annual precipitation throughout the state averages between about 40 and 60 inches (1,000 to 1,500 mm); somewhat wetter in the south and drier in the northern part of the state. Snowfall is not uncommon, but certainly not excessive in most years as the average snowfall is around 5 inches (13 cm).

Despite its subtropical climate, Arkansas is known for occasional extreme weather. Between both the Great Plains and the Gulf States, Arkansas receives around 60 days of thunderstorms. As a part of Tornado Alley, tornadoes are not an uncommon occurrence in Arkansas, and a few of the most destructive tornadoes in U.S. history have struck the state. While being sufficiently away from the coast to be safe from a direct hit from a hurricane, Arkansas can often get the remnants of a tropical system which dumps tremendous amounts of rain in a short time and often spawns smaller tornadoes.

High water pouring down the White River caused historic flooding in cities along its path in eastern Arkansas. The river could top levels recorded in a devastating flood in 1982. Arkansas emergency management told early estimates for statewide damage to homes, businesses and infrastructure was at $2 million, though that figure was expected to grow.

Monthly Normal High and Low Temperatures For Various Arkansas Cities
City Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Fort Smith 48/28 55/33 64/41 73/49 80/59 88/67 93/71 93/70 85/63 75/50 61/40 51/31
Little Rock 50/31 56/35 64/43 73/50 81/59 89/68 93/72 92/70 85/64 75/52 62/42 52/34

History

The first European to reach Arkansas was the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto at the end of the 16th century. Arkansas is one of several U.S. states formed from the territory purchased from Napoleon Bonaparte in the Louisiana Purchase. The early Spanish or French explorers of the state gave it its name, which is probably a phonetic spelling for the Illinois word for the Quapaw people, who lived downriver from them. Other Native American nations that lived in Arkansas prior to westward movement were the Quapaw, Caddo, and Osage nations. In their forced move westward (under U.S. Indian removal policies), the Five Civilized Tribes inhabited Arkansas during its territorial period.

The Territory of Arkansaw was organized on July 4, 1819, and on June 15, 1836, the State of Arkansas was admitted to the Union as the 25th state and the 13th slave state. Planters settled in the Delta to cultivate cotton, and this was the area of the state where most enslaved African Americans were held. Other areas had more subsistence farmers and mixed farming.

Arkansas played a key role in aiding Texas in its war for independence with Mexico, sending troops and materials to Texas to help fight the war. The proximity of the city of Washington to the Texas border involved the town in the Texas Revolution of 1835-36. Some evidence suggests Sam Houston and his compatriots planned the revolt in a tavern at Washington in 1834. When the fighting began, a stream of volunteers from Arkansas and the southeastern states flowed through the town toward the Texas battle fields. When the Mexican-American War began in 1846, Washington became a rendezvous for volunteer troops. Governor Thomas S. Drew issued a proclamation calling on the state to furnish one regiment of cavalry and one battalion of infantry to join the United States Army. Ten companies of men assembled here where they were formed into the first Regiment of Arkansas Cavalry.

The state developed a cotton culture in the east in lands of the Mississippi Delta. This was where enslaved labor was used most extensively, as planters brought with them or imported slaves from the Upper South. On the eve of the Civil War in 1860, enslaved African Americans numbered 111,115 people, just over 25% of the state's population.

Arkansas refused to join the Confederate States of America until after United States President Abraham Lincoln called for troops to respond to the attack on Fort Sumter, South Carolina, by Confederate forces. The State of Arkansas seceded from the Union on May 6, 1861. While not often cited in historical accounts, the state was the scene of numerous small-scale battles during the American Civil War. Arkansans of note during the Civil War included Confederate Major General Patrick Cleburne. Considered by many to be one of the most brilliant Confederate division commanders of the war, Cleburne was often referred to as "The Stonewall of the West." Also of note was Major General Thomas C. Hindman. A former United States Representative, Hindman commanded Confederate forces at the Battle of Cane Hill and Battle of Prairie Grove.

Under the Military Reconstruction Act, Congress readmitted Arkansas in June 1868. The Reconstruction legislature established universal male suffrage, a public education system, and other general issues to improve the state and help more of the population. Years later, as conservative Democrats began to regain political power, the legislature passed a new constitution in 1874.

In 1874, the Brooks-Baxter War, a political struggle between factions of the Republican Party shook Little Rock and the state governorship. It was settled only when President Ulysses S. Grant ordered Joseph Brooks to disperse his militant supporters.

In 1881, the Arkansas state legislature enacted a bill that adopted an official pronunciation, to combat a controversy then raging around the proper pronunciation of the state's name. (See Law and Government below).

After Reconstruction the state began to receive more immigrants and migrants. Some were originally recruited to work as farm labor in the developing Delta region. Some immigration continued into the early decades of the 20th century. The state witnessed numbers of Chinese, Italian, Syrian and immigrants from eastern Europe who made the Delta more diverse than the rest of the state. In addition, some black migrants moved into the area because of opportunities to develop the bottomlands and own their own property. The Chinese and Italians moved quickly out of positions as farm labor. Many Chinese became such successful merchants in small towns that they were able to educate their children at college.

Construction of railroads enabled more farmers to get their products to market. It also brought new development into different parts of the state, including the Ozarks. In a few years at the end of the 19th century, for instance, Eureka Springs in Carroll County grew to 10,000 people, having become a tourist destination and the fourth largest city of the state. It featured newly constructed, elegant resort hotels and spas planned around its springs. The town's attractions included horse racing and other entertainment. It appealed to a wide variety of classes, becoming almost as popular as Hot Springs.

In the late 1880s, the worsening agricultural depression catalyzed Populist and third party movements, leading to interracial coalitions. Struggling to stay in power, in the 1890s the Democrats in Arkansas followed other Southern states in passing legislation and constitutional amendments that disfranchised blacks and poor whites. Democrats wanted to prevent their alliance. In 1891 state legislators passed a requirement for a literacy test, knowing that many blacks and whites would be excluded, at a time when more than 25% of the population could neither read nor write. In 1892 the state constitution was amended to include a poll tax and related residency requirements, which adversely affected poor people and forced them from electoral rolls. By 1900 the Democratic Party expanded use of the white primary in county and state elections, further denying blacks a part in the political process, as only in the primary was there any competition. The state was one-party for decades.

Between 1905 and 1911, Arkansas began to receive a small migration of German, Slovak, and Irish immigrants. The German and Slovak peoples settled in the eastern part of the state known as the Prairie, and the Irish founded small communities in the southeast part of the state. The Germans were mostly Catholic and the Slovaks were Lutheran. The Irish were mostly Protestant from Ulster, northern Ireland.

After the case of Brown v. Topeka Board of Education in 1954, the Little Rock Nine brought Arkansas to national attention when the Federal government intervened to protect African-American students trying to integrate a high school in the Arkansas capital. Governor Orval Faubus ordered the Arkansas National Guard to aid segregationists in preventing nine African-American students from enrolling at Little Rock's Central High School. After attempting three times to contact Faubus, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent 1000 paratroops to escort and protect the African-American students as they entered school on September 25, 1957. In defiance of federal court orders to integrate, the governor and city of Little Rock decided to close the high schools for the remainder of the school year. By the fall of 1959, the Little Rock high schools were completely integrated.

Bill Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States, was born in Hope, Arkansas. Before his presidency, Clinton served nearly twelve years as the 40th and 42nd Governor of Arkansas.

Demographics

As of 2006, Arkansas has an estimated population of 2,810,872, which is an increase of 29,154, or 1.1%, from the prior year and an increase of 105,756, or 4.0%, since the year 2000. This includes a natural increase since the last census of 52,214 people (that is 198,800 births minus 146,586 deaths) and an increase due to net migration of 57,611 people into the state. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 21,947 people, and migration within the country produced a net increase of 35,664 people. It is estimated that about 48.8% is male, and 51.2% is female. From 2000 through 2006 Arkansas has had a population growth of 5.1% or 137,472. The population density of the state is 51.3 people per square mile.

The center of population of Arkansas is located in the far northeast corner of Perry County. The racial background of Arkansas is made up of:

People of Irish, German, and English background comprised the majority of Arkansas' European descendant residents.

People of European ancestry have a strong presence in the northwestern Ozarks and the central part of the state. African Americans live mainly in the fertile southern and eastern parts of the state. Arkansans of Irish, English and German ancestry are mostly found in the far northwestern Ozarks near the Missouri border. Ancestors of Irish in the Ozarks were chiefly Scots-Irish, Protestants from Northern Ireland and the Scottish lowlands, part of the largest group of immigrants from Great Britain and Ireland before the American Revolution. Scots-Irish settled throughout the backcountry of the South and in the more mountainous areas.

As of 2000, 95.07% of Arkansas residents age 5 and older speak English at home and 3.31% speak Spanish. German is the third most spoken language at 0.299%, followed by French at 0.291% and Vietnamese at 0.13%.

In 2006, Arkansas has a larger percentage of tobacco smokers than the national average, with 24% of adults smoking.

Religion

Arkansas, like most other Southern states, is part of the Bible Belt and is predominantly Protestant. The religious affiliations of the people are as follows:

The largest denominations by number of adherents in 2000 were the Southern Baptist Convention with 665,307; the United Methodist Church with 179,383; the Roman Catholic Church with 115,967; and the American Baptist Association with 115,916.

Economy

The state's gross domestic product for 2005 was $87 billion. Its per capita household median income (in current dollars) for 2004 was $35,295, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The state's agriculture outputs are poultry and eggs, soybeans, sorghum, cattle, cotton, rice, hogs, and milk. Its industrial outputs are food processing, electric equipment, fabricated metal products, machinery, paper products, bromine, and vanadium.

Several global companies are headquartered in the northwest corner of Arkansas, including Wal-Mart (the world's largest public corporation by revenue in 2007), J.B. Hunt and Tyson Foods. This area of the state has experienced an economic boom since the 1970s as a result.

In recent years, automobile parts manufacturers have opened factories in eastern Arkansas to support auto plants in other states. Additionally, the city of Conway is the site of a school bus factory.

Tourism is also very important to the Arkansas economy; the official state nickname "The Natural State" was originally created (as "Arkansas Is A Natural") for state tourism advertising in the 1970s, and is still regularly used to this day.

According to Forbes.com Arkansas currently ranks 21st for The Best States for Business, 9th for Business Cost, 40th for Labor, 22nd for Regulatory Environment, 17th for Economic Climate, 9th for Growth Prospects, 34th in Gross Domestic Product, and positive economic change of 3.8% or ranked 22nd.

Taxation

Arkansas imposes a state income tax with six brackets, ranging from 1.0% to 7.0%. The first $9,000 of military pay of enlisted personnel is exempt from Arkansas tax; officers do not have to pay state income tax on the first $6,000 of their military pay. Retirees pay no tax on Social Security, or on the first $6,000 in gain on their pensions (in addition to recovery of cost basis). Residents of Texarkana, Arkansas are exempt from Arkansas income tax; wages and business income earned there by residents of Texarkana, Texas are also exempt. Arkansas's gross receipts (sales) tax and compensating (use) tax rate is currently 6%. The state has also mandated that various services be subject to sales tax collection. They include wrecker and towing services; dry cleaning and laundry; body piercing, tattooing and electrolysis; pest control; security and alarm monitoring; self-storage facilities; boat storage and docking; and pet grooming and kennel services.

In addition to the state sales tax, there are more than 300 local taxes in Arkansas. Cities and counties have the authority to enact additional local sales and use taxes if they are passed by the voters in their area. These local taxes have a ceiling or cap; they cannot exceed $25 for each 1% of tax assessed. These additional taxes are collected by the state, which distributes the money back to the local jurisdictions monthly. Low-income taxpayers with a total annual household income of less than $12,000 are permitted a sales tax exemption for electricity usage.

Sales of alcoholic beverages account for added taxes. A 10% supplemental mixed drink tax is imposed on the sale of alcoholic beverages (excluding beer) at restaurants. A 4% tax is due on the sale of all mixed drinks (except beer and wine) sold for "on-premises" consumption. And a 3% tax is due on beer sold for off-premises consumption.

Property taxes are assessed on real and personal property; only 20% of the value is used as the tax base.

Transportation

Highways

Interstate Highways

U.S. Routes

Airports

Little Rock National Airport (Adams Field) and Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport in Highfill in Benton County are Arkansas's main air terminals. Passenger service is also available at Fort Smith, as well as limited service at Texarkana, Pine Bluff, Harrison, Ozark Regional Airport Mountain Home, Hot Springs, El Dorado and Jonesboro. Many air travelers in eastern Arkansas use Memphis International Airport.

Rail

Amtrak's Texas Eagle makes several stops in Arkansas daily on its run from Chicago to San Antonio and Los Angeles.

Law and government

The current Governor of Arkansas is Mike Beebe, a Democrat. He was elected on November 7, 2006.

Both of Arkansas's U.S. Senators are Democrats: Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor. The state has four seats in U.S. House of Representatives. Three seats are held by Democrats—Marion Berry (map), Vic Snyder (map), and Mike Ross (map). The state's lone Republican congressman is John Boozman (map).

Presidential elections results
Year Republican Democratic
2004 54.31% 572,898 44.55% 469,953
2000 51.31% 472,940 45.86% 422,768
1996 36.80% 325,416 53.74% 475,171
1992 35.48% 337,324 53.21% 505,823
1988 56.37% 466,578 42.19% 349,237
1984 60.47% 534,774 38.29% 338,646
1980 48.13% 403,164 47.52% 398,041
1976 34.93% 268,753 64.94% 499,614
1972 68.82% 445,751 30.71% 198,899
1968* 31.01% 189,062 30.33% 184,901
1964 43.41% 243,264 56.06% 314,197
1960 43.06% 184,508 50.19% 215,049
*State won by George Wallace
of the American Independent Party,
at 38.65%, or 235,627 votes

The Democratic Party holds super-majority status in the Arkansas General Assembly. A majority of local and statewide offices are also held by Democrats. This is rare in the modern South, where a majority of statewide offices are held by Republicans. Arkansas had the distinction in 1992 of being the only state in the country to give the majority of its vote to a single candidate in the presidential election—native son Bill Clinton—while every other state's electoral votes were won by pluralities of the vote among the three candidates. In 2004, George W. Bush won the state of Arkansas by 9 points, leading some to speculate that the state was shifting toward the Republicans. In 2006, however, Democrats were elected to all statewide offices by the voters in a Democratic sweep that included the Arkansas Democratic Party regaining the governorship.

Most Republican strength lies mainly in northwest Arkansas in the areas around Fort Smith and Bentonville, and especially in North Central Arkansas around the Mountain Home area where voters have often voted 90 percent Republican. The rest of the state is strongly Democratic, especially Little Rock and the areas along the Mississippi River. Arkansas has only elected one Republican to the U.S. Senate since Reconstruction, Tim Hutchinson, who was defeated after one term by Mark Pryor. The General Assembly has not been controlled by the Republican Party since Reconstruction and is the fourth most heavily Democratic Legislature in the country, after Massachusetts, Hawaii, and Connecticut. Arkansas is also the only state among the states of the former Confederacy that sends two Democrats to the U.S. Senate and the overwhelming majority of registered voters in the state are Democrats.

However, the Democratic Party of Arkansas is more conservative than the national entity. Two of Arkansas' three Democratic Representatives are members of the Blue Dog Coalition, which tends to be more pro-business, pro-military, and socially conservative than the center-left Democratic mainstream. The state is socially conservative its voters passed a ban on gay marriage with 74% voting yes, the Arkansas Constitution protects right to work, and the state is one of a handful that has legislation on its books banning abortion in the event Roe vs. Wade is ever overturned.

In Arkansas, the lieutenant governor is elected separately from the governor and thus can be from a different political party.

Each officer's term is four years long. Office holders are term-limited to two full terms plus any partial terms prior to the first full term. Arkansas gubernatorial terms became four years with the 1986 general election; before this, the terms were two years long.

Some of Arkansas's counties have two county seats, as opposed to the usual one seat. The arrangement dates back to when travel was extremely difficult in the state. The seats are usually on opposite sides of the county. Though travel is no longer the difficulty it once was, there are few efforts to eliminate the two seat arrangement where it exists, since the county seat is a source of pride (and jobs) to the city involved.

Arkansas is the only state to specify the pronunciation of its name by law (AR-kan-saw). This is in response to residents of Kansas who used to pronounce the state's name as ar-KANSAS.

Article 19 (Miscellaneous Provisions), Item 1 in the Arkansas Constitution is entitled "Atheists disqualified from holding office or testifying as witness," and states that "No person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any Court," despite unanimous decision by the United States Supreme Court in Torcaso v. Watkins (1961) that a similar requirement in Maryland violated protections under First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution.

Metropolitan areas

The Little Rock-North Little Rock-Pine Bluff Combined Statistical Area had 841,326 people in the 2007 census estimates and is the largest in Arkansas.

The Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers metropolitan area is increasingly important to the state and its economy. The US Census estimated the population of the MSA to be 435,714 in 2007, up from 347,045 in 2000, making it one of the fastest growing in the nation.

See also Arkansas Metropolitan Areas.

Largest Cities Above 10,000 as of 2007

Rank City 2007-2008 Pop. Region Pop. +/- since '06
1. Little Rock 187,452 Central + 2,952
2. Fort Smith 84,375 Northwest + 4,107
3. Fayetteville 72,208 Northwest + 5,050
4. Springdale 66,881 Northwest + 6,791
5. Jonesboro 63,190 Northeast + 3,751
6. North Little Rock 59,400 Central + 504
7. Conway 57,006 Central + 1,672
8. Rogers 54,959 Northwest + 2,772
9. Pine Bluff 50,667 Southeast - 1,091
10. Hot Springs 39,064 Southwest + 1,217
11. Bentonville 33,744 Northwest + 1,895
12. Jacksonville 31,190 Central + 684
13. Texarkana 30,006 Southwest + 382
14. Benton 28,352 Central + 635
15. West Memphis 27,400 Northeast - 1,692
16. Russellville 26,700 Northwest + 686
17. Bella Vista 25,219 Northwest + 1,219
18. Paragould 24,248 Northeast + 257
19. Sherwood 24,152 Central + 730
20. Cabot 23,171 Central + 985
21. Van Buren 22,001 Northwest + 1,193
22. Searcy 21,749 Central + 736
23. El Dorado 19,891 Southeast - 440
24. Blytheville 16,076 Northeast - 573
25. Maumelle 15,867 Central + 752
26. Bryant 14,678 Central + 1,065
27. Siloam Springs 14,480 Northwest + 490
28. Forrest City 13,831 Northeast - 381
29. Harrison 13,108 Northwest + 122
30. Mountain Home 12,457 Northwest + 242
31. Helena-West Helena 12,246 Southeast - 751
32. Magnolia 11,766 Southwest + 1,288
33. Camden 11,657 Southeast - 309
34. Marion 11,058 Northeast + 539
35. Arkadelphia 10,833 Southwest - 15
36. Hope 10,478 Southwest + 3
Population Numbers are According to US Census of July 2007 and Current City Population Numbers.

Biggest Population Gainers 1. Springdale + 6,791 2. Fayetteville + 5,050 3. Fort Smith + 4,107 4. Jonesboro + 3,751 5. Little Rock + 2,952 6. Rogers + 2,772 7. Bentonville + 1,895 8. Conway + 1,672 9. Magnolia + 1,288 10.Bella Vista + 1,219

Biggest Population Losers 1. West Memphis - 1,692 2. Pine Bluff - 1,091 3. Helena-W.Helena - 751 4. Blytheville - 573 5. El Dorado - 440 6. Forest City - 381 7. Camden - 309 8. Arkadelphia - 15

Important cities and towns

Names in bold have populations greater than 20,000.

Education

Public school districts

Centers of research

Colleges and universities

Notable residents

Mike Huckabee, Beth Ditto, Maya Angelou, Daisy Bates, Dee Brown, Paul "Bear" Bryant, Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash, Hattie Caraway, Wesley Clark, Bill Clinton, "Dizzy" Dean, Orval Faubus, James W. Fulbright, John Grisham, Amy Lee, John H. Johnson, Scott Joplin, Douglas MacArthur, John L. McClellan, James S. McDonnell, Scottie Pippen, Dick Powell, Brooks Robinson, Billy Bob Thornton, Winthrop Rockefeller, Mary Steenburgen, Edward Durell Stone, Sam Walton and Archibald Yell. (World Almanac & Book of Facts, Reader's Digest Publishing, 2008)

See also

References

Further reading

  • Blair, Diane D. & Jay Barth Arkansas Politics & Government: Do the People Rule? (2005)
  • Deblack, Thomas A. With Fire and Sword: Arkansas, 1861-1874 (2003)
  • Donovan, Timothy P. and Willard B. Gatewood Jr., eds. The Governors of Arkansas (1981)
  • Dougan, Michael B. Confederate Arkansas (1982),
  • Duvall, Leland. ed., Arkansas: Colony and State (1973)
  • Fletcher, John Gould. Arkansas (1947)
  • Hamilton, Peter Joseph. The Reconstruction Period (1906), full length history of era; Dunning School approach; 570 pp; ch 13 on Arkansas
  • Hanson, Gerald T. and Carl H. Moneyhon. Historical Atlas of Arkansas (1992)
  • Key, V. O. Southern Politics (1949)
  • Kirk, John A., Redefining the Color Line: Black Activism in Little Rock, Arkansas, 1940-1970 (2002).
  • McMath, Sidney S. Promises Kept (2003)
  • Moore, Waddy W. ed., Arkansas in the Gilded Age, 1874-1900 (1976).
  • Peirce, Neal R. The Deep South States of America: People, Politics, and Power in the Seven Deep South States (1974)
  • Thompson, George H. Arkansas and Reconstruction (1976)
  • Whayne, Jeannie M. et al. Arkansas: A Narrative History (2002)
  • Whayne, Jeannie M. Arkansas Biography: A Collection of Notable Lives (2000)
  • White, Lonnie J. Politics on the Southwestern Frontier: Arkansas Territory, 1819-1836 (1964)
  • Williams, C. Fred. ed. A Documentary History Of Arkansas (2005)
  • WPA., Arkansas: A Guide to the State (1941)

External links

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