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According to the most recent census data, Arkansas has a population of more than three million people. It is located in the South Central area of the United States. Its name comes from the Osage language, which is a Dhegiha Siouan language, and refers to the Quapaw people, who are distant cousins of the Osage. From the mountainous regions of the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains, which together form the U.S. Interior Highlands, to the densely forested land in the southern part of the state known as the Arkansas Timberlands, to the eastern lowlands along the Mississippi River and the Arkansas Delta, the state's diverse geography has something to offer everyone.

Arkansas is the 29th biggest state in terms of land area and the 33rd most populated state in the United States. Little Rock, the state's capital and most populous city, is located in the state's central region and serves as a transportation, commercial, cultural, and government centre. Population, education, and economic centres may be found in the state's northwestern quadrant, which includes the Fayetteville–Springdale–Rogers Metropolitan Area and the Fort Smith Metropolitan Area, respectively. Jonesboro is the most populous city in the state's eastern portion. Pine Bluff is the state's biggest city, and it is located in the state's southern region.

The Territory of Arkansas, which had previously been a part of French Louisiana and the Louisiana Purchase, was admitted to the Union as the 25th state on June 15, 1836, becoming the 25th state. Much of the Delta had been created for cotton plantations, and landlords in the region relied heavily on the labour of enslaved African Americans to support their operations. Arkansas seceded from the United States in 1861 and became a member of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. As a result of its overreliance on the large-scale plantation economy after rejoining the Union in 1868, Arkansas continued to struggle economically after re-entering the Union. Cotton continued to be the most important commodities crop, but the cotton market was in decline. In part because farmers and business owners did not diversify their operations and because there was little industrial investment, the state lagged behind in terms of economic opportunities In the late nineteenth century, the state passed a slew of Jim Crow laws that were designed to disenfranchise and segregate the African-American community. The state of Arkansas, and in particular the city of Little Rock, served as a significant battlefield for attempts to integrate schools during the civil rights movement of the 1950s.