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Arkansas is classified as
one of the west south central states. The southwestern section of
the state, with its cattle and oil fields, has the feeling of the
Western Plains. Dairy farms and orchards in the northwest seem more
akin to parts of the Corn Belt, while the cotton plantations in the
east toward the Mississippi River are reminiscent of the Deep South.
resources are abundant water; vast forests of quick-growing pines
and valuable hardwoods; and extensive deposits of oil, natural gas,
bauxite, and many other minerals.
Arkansas entered the Union
on June 15, 1836, as the 25th state. Until the 1950s Arkansas was
primarily an agricultural state. Farming was the chief source of
income, but a meager source for many, particularly in the uplands,
and many people left Arkansas in search of a better livelihood.
Then, Arkansas, aided by coordinated planning and new developments
in transportation and power production, began to industrialize very
rapidly. By the end of the 1950s manufacturing had surpassed farming
as the chief source of income, and in the 1990s Arkansas had an
economy dominated by the manufacturing and service sectors. Tourism
has also become important. The diversified and fairly well-balanced
economy is reflected in the state’s official nickname as The Land
of Opportunity. Arkansas is also called The Natural State by tourism
promoters. The name Arkansas is taken from the Arkansas
River, which is named for the Native Americans of the Arkansa tribe.
The s was added as a plural, though it remains silent in the
pronunciation formally adopted by the state’s legislature. Little
Rock is the capital and largest city of
Arkansas ranks 28th among
the states in size, and it covers 53,182 square miles, including
1,107 square miles of inland water. Its maximum extent north to
south is 3,240 miles, and east to west 276 miles. The mean elevation
is about 650 feet.
Except in the Ozark and
Ouachita uplands, where temperatures vary considerably from ridge to
valley, the climate throughout Arkansas is fairly uniform. Summers
are long and moderately hot, and winters are short and relatively
mild. However, northward and westward from the Coastal Plain, there
is a gradual change from warm winters and hot, humid summers to the
clearer, brisker, drier weather and wider range of temperatures
associated with the Interior Plains. January temperatures in most of
Arkansas average between 38° and 46° F. July averages are between
78° and 82° F throughout most of the state. They are usually in
the middle upper 70°s in the Ozark and Ouachita uplands. Daytime
highs in July are frequently in the middle 90°s and sometimes the
temperature rises to the lower 100°s F.
Arkansas receives about 40
to 50 inches of precipitation a year, and some areas receive even
more. Most of the rain comes during winter and spring and at times
is so heavy as to cause flooding. Snow is rare in the south but
amounts to more than 10 inches a year in the mountains.