Arkansas, nicknamed “the Natural State,” is a landlocked state located in the southern region of the United States. The state has a diverse geography, ranging from the densely forested region in the south known as the Arkansas Timberland to the mountainous region of the Ouachita and Ozark Mountains. As of 2017, Arkansas has a population of about three million people, making it the 33rd most populous state in the US. The state is the 29th largest by area, covering a total land area of approximately 53,180 square miles. Arkansas derived its name from Arkansas River. This landlocked state is surrounded by six other states including Texas, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Louisiana. It was admitted to the Union in 1836 and the 25th state. The state’s boundaries have been the subject of several international treaties including treaties with Native American tribes and the Act of Congress.
Arkansas State Neighbors
Arkansas is bordered to the north by the state of Missouri. Missouri is a Midwestern state and the 18th most populous state in the US with a population of approximately 6 million residents, about twice the population of Arkansas. Both Arkansas and Missouri share a common history. Missouri was admitted to the Union in 1821 as the 24th state while Arkansas was admitted in 1836 as the 25th states. The two states were admitted to the Union as slave states. The first step in creating the Arkansas-Missouri boundary (north boundary) took place in 1813 when the Missouri territorial legislature formed the Arkansas County. The new county comprised of most of the counties of the present-day Arkansas State. Once the movement to make Missouri a state began around 1817, the residents of Arkansas petitioned Congress to form the Arkansas territory and define its north boundary. In 1818, the Kentucky Congressman proposed the Missouri-Arkansas boundary at 36th latitude from the Mississippi west. In 1819, Arkansas Territory was created and its northern boundary defined as beginning from Mississippi River running west to Saint Francis River.
Arkansas is bordered to the west by the state of Oklahoma which is located in the South Central region of the US. Oklahoma is the 20th largest state, covering a total area of approximately 69,899 square miles. It is the 28th most populous state in the Union with 3.9 million residents, just 900,000 more people than Arkansas. From the time of Louisiana Purchase, Arkansas’s western boundary was in dispute and no one was certain where it was. The boundary was established in 1819 following a treaty with Spain. Oklahoma effectively became part of the Arkansas Territory from 1819 to 1828. When Arkansas applied to join the Union, its western border (Oklahoma-Arkansas boundary) was described as 45 miles further west, causing resistance from the Choctaw. The western border was finally described by Congress using the Cherokee treaty. Oklahoma was admitted to the Union in 1907 as the 46th state, almost 70 years after the admission of Arkansas.
The state of Texas is the 2nd largest in the US both by population and area. It is located in the South Central region of the country and borders Arkansas to the southwest. Texas covers an area of approximately 268,581 square miles and has a population of about 28.7 million residents. Texas was admitted to the Union in December 1845 as the 28th state. Before, it was known as the Republic of Texas. Before the admission of Texas into the Union, Arkansas’s border was the international boundary between the US and the Republic of Texas. Despite Texas attaining independence before joining the Union, it was plagued by political battles between those who advocated for continued independence and those who advocated for its annexation into the US. Texas and Arkansas share a metropolitan area known as the Texarkana Metropolitan Statistical Area, formed by the Texarkana City and its twin city of Texarkana, Arkansas. The metropolitan area has a combined population of about 150,000 people.
Tennessee is located in the southeastern region of the US and borders Arkansas to the east with the Mississippi River forming the state border. It is the 16th most populous state in the US. With a population of approximately 6.7 million residents and the 36th largest, covering an area of approximately 42,143 square miles. Tennessee was admitted to the Union in June 1796 as the 16th state. The Mississippi River, which forms the boundary between Arkansas and Tennessee was first established as a boundary between the European colonial powers. The Mississippi River as the boundary between Arkansas, Tennessee, and Mississippi has never been static since the river change with floods. Because of the changes, Arkansas and Tennessee were authorized by Congress to settle the boundary by agreement. The boundary is now in the middle of the main Mississippi channel.
Louisiana is located in the Deep South region of the US. It is the 31st largest state, covering an area of approximately 52,378 square miles, and the 25th most populous, with a population of approximately 4.6 million residents. Louisiana borders Arkansas to the north and Texas and Mississippi to the west and east respectively. Arkansas, Texas, and Louisiana form a socio-economic region known as the Ark-La-Tex region. The region also includes a portion of Oklahoma and covers an area of approximately 46,500 square miles. Arkansas’s southern boundary (border with Louisiana) when the Louisiana Purchase was divided into the Districts of Orleans and Louisiana. Orleans later became the state of Louisiana while the southern portion of the District of Louisiana (Louisiana Territory) became the state of Arkansas.
The state of Mississippi is located in the Southeastern region of the US. It is the 32nd largest state, covering an area of approximately 48,430 square miles and the 34th most populous state with a population of about 2.9 million people, just 100,000 residents less than the neighboring Arkansas state. Arkansas borders Mississippi to the east, with the Mississippi River forming the boundary between the two states. Like most rivers, the Mississippi River keeps shifting the border between the two states. However, the Supreme Court settled the dispute in 1836 by establishing the boundary in the middle of the Mississippi channel when Arkansas was admitted to the Union.