The Flag Of Arkansas: History, Meaning, And Symbolism

Written by Taiwo Victor
Updated: June 2, 2023
© Suthar
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Arkansas is one of the 50 states in the United States of America. Little Rock is the state’s capital and most populous city. It serves as a major center for commerce, government, culture, and transportation. The state is in the south-central part of the country and is a landlocked area bordered to the west by Tennessee and Mississippi, Texas and Oklahoma to the east, and Louisiana to the south.

At first, it was thought that the state’s name came from the Arkansas River. But additional research revealed that the name came from a French phrase, Arcansas, which was their plural form for transcription of akansa, an Algonquian term for the Quapaw people. The area did not become a state until 1836, and before then, it was a part of French Louisiana and the Louisiana Purchase.

Like most states in the United States, one of Arkansas’ primary symbols of recognition is its flag. In this article, you will learn about the history, meaning, and symbolism of the flag of Arkansas.

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Characteristics of Arkansas

Nimrod Lake
Arkansas sits over a total land area of 53,179 square miles.

©Tonya Stinson / CC BY 2.0 – License

Arkansas is the 34th most populous state in the United States with over three million inhabitants. The state sits over a total land area of 137,733 square kilometers (53,179 square miles), making it the 29th largest by area. One of the most distinctive features of the state is its diverse landscapes. Arkansas contains mountain regions of the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains in the north, densely forested lands otherwise called the Arkansas Timberlands in the south, agricultural lowlands along the Mississippi River, and the Arkansas delta in the east. Almost all of the rivers in the state flow from northwest to the southeast before emptying into the Mississippi, which serves as the main eastern boundary, via the Arkansas and Red rivers.

Before people settled to form what is currently known as North America, the area that is now Arkansas was inhabited by natives for thousands of years. The area did not become recognized as a state until the 19th century. Even after it became a recognized state, during the American civil war, most of the Arkansas population was an influx of people coming into the area from Kentucky and Tennessee. The area was also overflowing with African Americans, many of whom were enslaved to white residents of the area. By the beginning of the 21st century, the population of African Americans had diminished, and they were pushed to the plateau in the northwest and the river valleys.

Currently, the state’s population is split into African Americans who live mainly in the southern and eastern parts of the state, Mexicans, a small percentage of Asians, and an even smaller percentage of Native Americans. The largest percentage of the state’s population belongs to white, non-Hispanic residents. The primary religion practiced in the area is Christianity, and like most southern states, most Christians in Arkansas are Protestants. Apart from the Protestants, the largest denomination in the state is the Roman Catholic. Other religions practiced by the non-Christians in the state include Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. Despite having many immigrants that have affected many parts of life in Arkansas, the primary language spoken in the state is English. However, depending on the area and the dominant culture there, other languages, such as Spanish or some other Asian languages, are also spoken.

Founding Of Arkansas

The Bluff Dwellers were the first people to live in the region that is now Arkansas thousands of years ago. These people lived in caves in the Ozark mountains, and in no time, people from other tribes began to move into the region. Some of these other natives included tribes like the Quapaw, the Osage, the Caddo, etc. After living peacefully for a while, these tribes had to deal with settlers from Europe moving into the area. Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto crossed the Mississippi, marched across central Arkansas, and passed through the Ozark Mountains in 1541 to become the first European to dwell in the region. However, he did not consider the area of much value, and because of native resistance, he left.

The first European settlement wasn’t founded until explorer Henri de Tonti constructed the Arkansas Post in 1686, which was more than a century later, and eventually, more Europeans moved to Arkansas by the beginning of the 18th century. The area that Arkansas occupied was part of what was known as French Louisiana, and it was sold to the United States in 1803 in the Louisiana Purchase. The most significant change that came with this purchase was the introduction of slavery into Arkansas, which became a problem for decades until the area became a state in 1836. Arkansas was admitted as a slave state when it became a state. States, where slavery was lawful, were known as slave states. During this period, the state suffered a lot of damage because of the ongoing civil war and did not experience reconstruction until the end of the war.

History Of The Flag Of Arkansas

Arkansas’ flag was designed by Willie K. Hocker.


Willie K. Hocker designed the current flag of Arkansas, but the state did not have a flag until 1913. The Pine Bluff Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution decided to hold a contest when they realized that the state had no official flag, and the winning flag was adopted by the Arkansas legislature in 1913. At the time of the initial design, there were only three stars within the diamond, but the fourth star was added later on in 1923 by the legislature to represent the Confederate States of America.

Meaning And Symbolism Of the Flag Of Arkansas

Arkansas’ flag’s red, white, and blue colors signify that Arkansas is one of the United States.

© Liskonih

The flag of Arkansas is a red field charged with a large white diamond with blue borders. The flag has 29 five-pointed stars in total – 25 within the blue borders on the diamond and four within the diamond itself. With one star above and three below, the word “ARKANSAS” is written in blue within the white diamond. The star above and the two outer stars below all point upward, while the star below it, the inner star, points downward. The diamond on the flag, according to the state statute that established it in 1987, symbolizes Arkansas’ unique position as “the only diamond-bearing state in the Union.” 

The flag’s colors are red, white, and blue to signify that Arkansas is one of the United States. Arkansas’ status as the 25th state to join the Union is symbolized by the 25 white stars lining the diamond’s border. The three stars within the diamond have different meanings. The first is that it represents the three nations to which Arkansas has belonged – France, Spain, and the United States. These stars also represent the Louisiana Purchase and the fact that Arkansas was the third state formed from the Purchase.

Where Is Arkansas Located On A Map?

Arkansas is located in the south of the United States and is bordered by six other states. Louisiana is to the south, Texas is to the southwest, Oklahoma is to the west, Missouri is to the north, and Tennessee and Mississippi are to the east.

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National flag of Arkansas. Vector illustration
The flag of Arkansas consists of a red field charged with a large blue-bordered white lozenge with 29 five-pointed stars and "Arkansas" written right in the center.
© Suthar

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About the Author

For six years, I have worked as a professional writer and editor for books, blogs, and websites, with a particular focus on animals, tech, and finance. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games with friends.

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