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.
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. This eTrail is a chapter excerpted from the book "The Rough Guide to USA." It is packed with information on this state including history, getting there and getting around, major cities and regions, and what to do and where to stay when you get there.
© Samantha Cook, Tim Perry, and Greg Ward/Rough Guides. All Rights Reserved.