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Study in Arkansas

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With the Grand Prairie and Mississippi to the east, and the cowboy country of Texas to the west, Arkansas is a paradise for explorers, nature-lovers and those simply seeking a break from the fast pace of urban life.

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Nicknamed ‘The Natural State’, Arkansas is saturated with forests, national parks, prairies, hot springs, mountains, valleys, rivers and lakes. It even contains 610 square km worth of unspoilt wilderness areas, in which no mechanized vehicles are allowed.

Thanks to all these natural attractions, tourism is big business in Arkansas. Agriculture also makes a large contribution to the economy, especially livestock farming, and more than 30% of the state is dedicated to farmland.

After state capital and largest city Little Rock, major cities include Fort Smith, Fayetteville, Jonesboro, Pine Bluff and Springdale.

For those unfamiliar with the state, its name can cause some confusion. The official pronunciation is ‘Ar-ken-saw’, or, as state legislation from 1947 specifies:

It should be pronounced in three syllables, with the final ‘s’ silent, the ‘a’ in each syllable with the Italian sound, and the accent on the first and last syllables. The pronunciation with the accent on the second syllable with the sound of ‘a’ in ‘man’ and the sounding of the terminal ‘s’ is an innovation to be discouraged.

In fact, both the spelling and pronunciation of Arkansas have been a matter of some disagreement throughout history. Early spellings included ‘Akensea’, ‘Acansa’ and ‘Arkansaw’.

The final decision to spell the name one way and pronounce it in another is related to the state’s ethnic heritage. The official pronunciation is intended to retain the sounds used by the native Americans who originally named the land, while the spelling recognizes the legacy of the French explorers who subsequently mapped the region.

However, people from Arkansas (‘Ar-ken-saw’) are still known as Arkansans.

Arkansas: Fast facts

• Located in south of the US; borders with Missouri, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma,

• State capital and largest city is Little Rock,

• The only state name with an official pronunciation set out in state legislation,

• Before adopting ‘The Natural State’ in 1995, Arkansas had as its official nickname ‘Land of Opportunity’,

• Famous musicians from Arkansas include Beth Ditto, Johnny Cash and Al Green,

• Top agricultural products by revenue are broilers (young chickens), rice, soybeans, cattle and calves, and cotton,

• Natural gas is most important mined product, followed by petroleum and bromine.

Top universities in Arkansas

The University of Arkansas System, the main state body for higher education, includes six universities, as well as a number of two-year community colleges, and several specialized schools.

Of the universities, the flagship campus is the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, which has more than 23,000 students enrolled, coming from all 540 US states and also around 100 countries.

The University of Arkansas also has campuses at Little Rock, Monticello, Pine Bluff and Fort Smith.

More states in the south of the US:

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Written by QS Staff Writer

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