Why Is Arkansas Political Geography Such a Mess?

Why Is Arkansan Political Geography Such a Mess?

Technically, we live within the city limits of North Little Rock, but we’re surrounded by Maumelle, and also live in the Pulaski County Special School District, not the North Little Rock School District. Telling people we live in NLR causes confusion, so we say “Maumelle” instead, but mail won’t reach us unless it includes “North Little Rock” in the address. What’s more, that’s all in one county, Pulaski, near the center of the state.

The weirdness doesn’t stop there. Nearby is a city named Conway. I went to college there. It isn’t located in Conway County, though; that’s further West.

Head Southwest on I-30 from Little Rock, and you’ll soon encounter Benton (not in Benton County, although at least Bentonville is), and then get a chance to take an exit to go visit Hot Springs — but you won’t find it in Hot Spring County. Van Buren is right next to Oklahoma, and a long drive from Van Buren County. Is the City of Jacksonville to be found in Jackson County? Of course not — not in this state. Boonville, similarly, is not located in Boone County.

We have a Mississippi County here, and it borders two other states. We also have a long border with the state of Mississippi. However, Mississippi County, Arkansas isn’t one of several counties which do border the State of Mississippi. Instead, it borders Tennessee and Missouri.

Even things which seem intuitively obvious about my state’s political geography end up being wrong. Ask someone familiar with a U.S. map which state(s) you can find South of Arkansas, and they’ll almost certainly answer with Louisiana, perhaps including Texas, as well. However, the states of Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennessee, and Mississippi also include land that is South of carefully-chosen points in Arkansas. Here’s visual proof, which you can enlarge with a click:

arinus

Yes, all six states which border Arkansas are technically South of us, in a sense.

Perhaps the strangest thing about Arkansan political geography is that the town of Lonoke is actually in Lonoke County. It’s even their county seat. What are they trying to do there, confuse people?

About RobertLovesPi

I go by RobertLovesPi on-line, and am interested in many things. Welcome to my little slice of the Internet. The viewpoints and opinions expressed on this website are my own. They should not be confused with the views of my employer, nor any other organization, nor institution, of any kind.
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