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State ARKANSAS

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Historically, ARKANSAS belongs very much to the American South. It sided firmly with the Confederacy in the Civil War

and its capital, Little Rock, was, in 1957, one of the most notorious flashpoints in the struggle for civil rights. 

Geographically, however, it marks the beginning of the Great Plains. Unlike the other Southern states, on the far side of 
the Mississippi River, Arkansas remained very sparsely populated until almost a century ago. Westward expansion was 
blocked by the existence of the Indian Territory in what's now Oklahoma, and not until the railroads opened up the 
forested interior during the 1880s did settlers stray in any numbers from their small riverside villages. Only once the 
Depression and mechanization had forced thousands of farmers to leave their fields did Arkansas begin to develop any 
significant industrial base. In 1992, local boy Bill Clinton's accession to the presidency catapulted Arkansas into national 
prominence. Four towns lay claim to him: Hope, his birthplace; Hot Springs, his "home town"; Fayetteville, where he and 
Hillary married; and, of course, Little Rock, the state capital. Of the four, only sleepy Little Rock and the nearby spa 
resort of Hot Springs are worth a trip, whatever the tourist brochures may say. 

Though Arkansas encompasses the Mississippi Delta in the east, oil-rich timber lands in the south, and the sweeping 
Ouachita ( Wash-i-taw ) Mountains in the west, the cragged and charismatic Ozark Mountains in the north are its most 
scenic asset, where the main attractions for tourists are the uncrowded parks and unspoiled rivers. 

Incidentally, "Arkansas" is a distorted version of the name of a small Indian tribe; the state legislature declared once and 
for all in 1881 that the correct pronunciation is Arkansaw . 

 
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