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Introduction

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Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians.

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Geography

Arkansas borders Louisiana to the south, Texas to the southwest, Oklahoma to the west, Missouri to the north, and Tennessee and Mississippi on the east. Arkansas can generally be split into two halves, the highlands in the northwest half and the lowlands of the southeastern half. The highlands are part of the Southern Interior Highlands, including The Ozarks and the Ouachita Mountains. The southern lowlands include the Gulf Coastal Plain and the Arkansas Delta. This dual split is somewhat simplistic, however, and thus usually yields to general regions named northwest, southwest, northeast, southeast, or central Arkansas. These directionally named regions are also not defined along county lines and are also broad. Arkansas has seven distinct natural regions: the Ozark Mountains, Ouachita Mountains, Arkansas River Valley, Gulf Coastal Plain, Crowley's Ridge, and the Arkansas Delta, with Central Arkansas sometimes included as a blend of multiple regions.
Northwest Arkansas is part of the Ozark Plateau including the Ozark 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. These mountain 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 Ouachita Mountains; it rises to 839 metres above sea level. Arkansas has many rivers, lakes, and reservoirs within or along its borders. Major tributaries of the Mississippi River include the Arkansas River, White River, and St. Francis River. The Arkansas is fed by the Mulberry River, and Fourche LaFave River in the Arkansas River Valley, which is also home to Lake Dardanelle.

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Regions

  • Central - The center of the state includes the state capital Little Rock and Conway
  • Delta - The eastern section of the state along the Mississippi River Delta includes Jonesboro and West Memphis
  • Ozarks - The northwest and north central areas of the state that includes Fayetteville, Bentonville and the historic town of Eureka Springs. Also home to the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.
  • Ouachitas - West central part of the state that is home to the Ouachita mountains (including the state's highest peak, Mt. Magazine) and Ouachita National Forest
  • River Valley - The area in northwest Arkansas along the Arkansas river and includes Fort Smith and Russellville
  • Timberlands - The southern section of the state and includes El Dorado, Magnolia, Pine Bluff, Hope, and Texarkana (a city that is in both Arkansas and Texas)

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Cities

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Sights and Activities

Hot Springs National Park

Hot Springs National Park is a United States National Park in central Garland County, Arkansas, adjacent to the city of Hot Springs, the county seat. Hot Springs Reservation was initially created by an act of the United States Congress on April 20, 1832 to be preserved for future recreation. Established before the concept of a national park existed, it was the first time that a piece of land had been set aside by the federal government to preserve its use as an area for recreation. It is the smallest national park by area in the United States. Since Hot Springs National Park is the oldest park maintained by the National Park Service, it was rightfully the first to receive its own US quarter in April 2010 as part of the America the Beautiful Quarters coin series.

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Weather

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 influence the weather in the state. Generally, Arkansas has hot, humid summers and cold, slightly drier winters. In Little Rock, the daily high temperatures average around 34 °C with lows around 23 °C in July. In January highs average around 11 °C and lows around 0 °C. In Siloam Springs in the northwest part of the state, the average high and low temperatures in July are 32 °C and 19 °C and in January the average high and lows are 7 °C and -5 °C. Annual precipitation throughout the state averages between about 1,000 and 1,500 mm; somewhat wetter in the south and drier in the northern part of the state. Snowfall is common, more so in the north half of the state, which usually gets several snowfalls each winter. This is not only due to its proximity to the plains states, but also to the higher elevations found throughout the Ozark and Ouachita mountains. The half of the state south of Little Rock gets less snow, and is more apt to see ice storms, however, sleet and freezing rain are expected throughout the state during the winter months, and can significantly impact travel and day to day life. Arkansas' all time record high is 49 °C at Ozark on August 10, 1936; the all time record low is -34 °C at Round Pond, on February 13, 1905. Arkansas is known for extreme weather. A typical year will see thunderstorms, tornadoes, hail, snow and ice storms. Between both the Great Plains and the Gulf States, Arkansas receives around 60 days of thunderstorms. 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.

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Getting There

By Plane

Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport (LIT) is the main airport in Arkansas and is located near Little Rock. Flights include those to/from Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit, Atlanta, Memphis, Baltimore, Houston, Las Vegas, Phoenix, St. Louis, Orlando, Denver, Charlotte and Washington, D.C..

By Train

The Texas Eagle, operated by Amtrak, travels between Chicago and San Antonio, Texas on a daily basis, continuing to Los Angeles 3 times a week. The train also stops in a number of places in Arkansas.

By Bus

Check Greyhound for options.

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Getting Around

By Car

Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.

For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.

Arkansas has a number of National Scenic Byways which offer a great way to explore the state crossing beautiful landscapes. Mostly, there are lots of national parks, state parks or monuments along the way and it's generally a better alternative than the faster but boring Interstate Highways.

By Bus

Check Greyhound for options.

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Eat

Arkansas' food resembles that of its southern neighbors. Much truly authentic and worthwhile southern cuisine is made in private homes, cookouts, or church functions, rather than actual restaurants. One exception is barbecue, particularly pork barbecue, which is widespread, and available in restaurants, roadside stands, and even trucks. Another regional staple is fried catfish, often it is served with hushpuppies, cole slaw, and french fries or a baked potato. Catfish is especially prevalent in the lowland and Delta regions of the south and east.

Traditional African-American cooking, or "soul food" is generally very similar to the traditional cooking of white southerners in terms if ingredients or basic dishes. It tends to be spicier, and may make more extensive use of ingredients more affluent whites or blacks shun. Likewise, it is rarely presented in formal restaurants, but at cookouts and church gatherings.

One unusual highlight of the Delta region is "tamales." These are very distinct from Latin American tamales, even though they were originally introduced by Mexican farm workers in the early 20th century. In the northwestern part of the state, recent growth in Mexican immigration has brought more authentic Mexican cooking to the state.

There is plenty of cosmopolitan dining in the state. Little Rock, Eureka Springs, Fort Smith, Northwest Arkansas, all have excellent options in certain cuisines due to large immigrant/foreign populations.

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Drink

Iced tea and lemonade are stereotypically southern beverages and are prevalent in the state along with bottled soft drinks. Both are generally served very sweet, though most restaurants will offer an unsweetened version.

Keep in mind many Arkansas counties are "dry" and do not have retail alcohol sales. However bringing alcohol for private use into a dry county is legal for those over 21 years of age.

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Sleep

Hotel and Motel Chains

There are dozens of hotel and motel chains, ranging from budget to top end. Allthough they are not the most charming accommodations, they usually have a very decent midrange service with good rooms and are generally good value. At least you know what to expect and in some cases they are either the only or the best option in the area. Some of them include:

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References

  1. 1 Mid-2008 estimate, U.S. Census Bureau

Quick Facts

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Capital
Little Rock
Population
2,855,390[1]

Contributors

as well as Peter (6%), NuMexiKan (3%)

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This is version 14. Last edited at 7:53 on Apr 22, 16 by Utrecht. 24 articles link to this page.

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