Arkansas is called the Natural State for its many lakes, rivers, and hot springs. It’s also home to the world’s only public diamond mine.
It’s “finders keepers” at the Crater of Diamonds State Park, the only diamond mine open to the public. Visitors have found more than 33,100 diamonds at the park, located in Murfreesboro, since it became a state park in 1972. It includes walking trails, campsites, picnic sites, and a gift shop. The Hot Springs National Park, in the Ouachita Mountains, covers over 5,000 acres of land. For more than 100 years now, the park has been attracting visitors seeking relaxation at Buckstaff Baths or at the Quapaw Bathhouse’s pools. The Bathhouse Row features an extensive bathhouse collection.
Arkansas likely got its name from akansea, the name the Illinois people had for the Quapaw tribe. Early French explorers used the name Arkansas to refer to the Quapaw people and the river close to their settlement. Arkansas was part of the land acquired by the government in the Louisiana Purchase. It achieved statehood in 1836. The pivotal 1954 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in Brown vs. Board of Education stated that school segregation was unconstitutional. It put Little Rock, the capital of Arkansas, on the map. In September 1957, the National Guard escorted nine African American students into Little Rock Central High School, officially ending school segregation.
Hands down, President Bill Clinton is the Natural State’s favorite native son. Clinton was born in Hope, Arkansas. He served as attorney general and then governor before he became U.S. president. The William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum is located in Little Rock. Other popular Arkansans include Gen. Douglas MacArthur of World War II fame, born in a U.S. Army barracks in Little Rock. Sam Walton built giant retailer Walmart in Bentonville, Arkansas. He was a lifelong resident of the state.
The climate in Arkansas is mainly humid subtropical – hot and humid summers and mild winters. Thunderstorms are common, with an average of 60 annually, especially in June and July. Arkansas is not part of Tornado Alley, but it has suffered devastating twisters. The deadliest tornado by far occurred on March 21, 1952. It killed 112 people in the state.
Arkansas is one of the most affordable states in America, with some of the lowest housing, food, utilities, and other living expenses. The not-so-good news: the state’s 6.50% to 11.625% sales tax is among the highest in the country.