State: Arkansas – AR
The Arkansas pronunciation isn’t difficult: ɑrkənsɔː/ ar-kən-saw). Think of it like AR-CAN-SAW and you’ll pronounce it just fine. This southern state’s name has Siouan origins from the Quapaw Indians. It is known for diverse geography and rich culture that goes far beyond the “hillbilly” stereotype.
Before we delve into the state symbols, geography, and culture of this place, here is some key information to know:
- State capital: Little Rock
- Time Zone: Central UTC -6/-5
- Statehood: June 15, 1836 (the 25th state)
- Abbreviation: AR
- Nickname: “The Natural State”
- Motto: Regnat Populus “The People Rule”
- State flag
- Official website
AR State Symbols and Meanings
These Arkansas state symbols are actually recognized by the law and were chosen by members of legislature. As you probably know, these types of symbols are decided in each of the 50 U.S. states, but each one also has unique reasons for choosing them.
For example, take the motto: Regnat Populus which means”The People Rule” in Latin. This is unique, but shares a similar theme to other motto choices. Looking at the flag, we see a red background with a blue diamond in the center.
There are twenty-five small white stars within the blue border surrounding an inner white diamond. There are four stars within this center area. The design was done by Willie Kavanaugh Hocker whose entry was one of 65 in a 1912 contest.
There’s a heavy amount of symbolism in this design. The diamond shape represents the fact that the this was the location of the only North American diamond mine at the time. The 25 smaller stars in the border represents the fact that this was the 25th territory to be admitted to the Union.
The star above the name represents the Confederate States of America, while the three stars below the name represent the following:
- Three nations to which it once belonged: Spain, France and the U.S.
- The Louisiana Purchase which brought it into the U.S. in 1803.
- The Third territory admitted to the Union after the Louisiana Purchase.
The official seal was adopted 1864 and was modified in 1907 to its current version. The inner portion of the seal has the Angel of Mercy, the Sword of Justice, and the Goddess of Liberty surrounded by a bald eagle. The motto is inscribed on the scroll that the eagle holds in its beak.
In the center is the shield of the seal which contains a steamboat, a plow, a beehive, and a sheaf of wheat. All of these things are symbols of the agricultural and industrial aspects of the economy. Other designations include the following:
- Bird: Mockingbird
- Butterfly: Diana Fritillary Butterfly
- Floral: Apple blossom
- Gem: Diamond
- Insect: Honey Bee
- Battleship: USS Arkansas
Geographical and Climate Features
To the south is the border of Louisiana, Texas to the southwest, Oklahoma to the west, Missouri to the north, and finally Tennessee and Mississippi to the East. The area is usually split into two halves: the highlands in the northwest, and the lowlands in the southeast.
There are seven distinct regions of note:
- Ozark Mountains
- Ouachita Mountains
- Arkansas River Valley
- Gulf Coastal Plain
- Crowley’s Ridge
- Arkansas Delta
- Central Arkansas
The Delta, also known as the Mississippi Alluvial Plain, is a flat area where the soil is rich as a resulted of repeated flooding from the Mississippi river. The highest point of elevation is Mount Magazine which is 2,753 feet of above sea level.
There are a number of rivers, in addition to caves such as the Blanchard Springs Caverns. There are 43,000 Native American living, hunting, and tool making sites. The Crater of Diamonds State Park near Murfreesboro is the world’s only public site where diamond digging is allowed. There are over a dozen Wilderness Areas that combine to cover 158,444 acres.
A notable area is the city of Natural Springs which gets its name from the thermal water that flows from 47 springs on the western slope of the Hot Springs Mountain is the historic downtown district.
The area has a subtropical climate which leans into the humid continental category in the highland regions. It doesn’t border the Gulf of Mexico, but it’s close enough to for the temperature of the water to influence the state.
This comes in the form of severe weather. Any given year will see thunder storms, tornadoes, hail, snow, and ice storms. Roughly, there are 60 days of thunderstorms each year. Some of the most destructive tornadoes have landed here.
AK Cultural Influences
Whether you’re looking at the architecture, literature, performing arts, or the cuisine of this place, there is culture evident everywhere. There is a false stereotype about the people here as being hillbillies. This reputation was started when explorers described the area as a place “full of outlaws and thieves.”
The Museum of American Art of Bentonville is one of the larger cultural centers with 604,000 visitors in it’s first year. There are walking trails, and over 450 works representing five centuries of American art. In addition, several historic towns have been restored and are treated as state parks.
Sports also play a large role in the culture here. Team sports and college football are standout examples. Baseball is another such sport that is incredibly popular. It has been popular before the state hosted the Major League spring training in Hot Springs from 1886 to the 1920s.
Hunting and fishing are alive and well, hearkening back to the frontier beginnings of the state. The Game and Fish Commission was established in 1915 to regulate these practices. A large piece of the population participates in both duck and deer hunting.
In terms of fishing, there are multiple reservoirs that have been created to bring in fishing enthusiasts. All of this has resulted in the state becoming a place rife with tourists. The thermal waters and places like Oaklawn Park, a racing facility have contributed to the rise in tourism interest. Magic Springs and the Crystal Falls theme parks have also contributed to this rise in popularity.
In the end, this is an incredible place, but we’re not done yet. There are still some Arkansas state facts that you should know before you can call yourself an expert in this place. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to share your own experiences in the comments below.