According to a survey done in 2006, the population in 2006 was about 2.8 million. The male to female ratio is more or less equal, but the females are slightly less in number than the males – females about 49%, as compared to males at about 51%.
African Americans make up more than 15% of the population of Arkansas. Pacific Islander Americans make up a trace percentage of just 0.1%, while people from other races comprise of about 2.3%. Latinos and Hispanics also have a considerable presence at 5%.
The ten major ancestry groups in Arkansas are as follows:
American people of African origin live in the south and east whereas people of European origin live in the northwest. Those of English, Irish and German roots are to be found in the far northwest along the Missouri border.
Let us then study the different ancestry groups individually.
Irish: Between 1820 and 1840, millions of Irish immigrants left Ireland for the United States looking for opportunities which were not forthcoming in their impoverished homeland and the Potato Famine of 1845. During this period, Arkansas too got its fair share of Irish immigrants. Starting off as tenants, they soon acquired their own land and secured a stronghold in the farming sector.
German: The Germans came to Arkansas between 1820 and 1840 to get away from religious and political persecution. Immigrants at that time generally avoided the prairie, but not the Germans. The early Germans formed entire German settlements with German names.
Americans: This category is further subdivided into African-Americans, European-Americans and Native Americans. The African Americans trace their roots to the slave era. The European Americans are Americans of European origin who got integrated into the American mainstream and then migrated to Arkansas lured by the promise of cheap land. The Native Americans are the people who originally had lived in this area even before recorded history.
English: It is difficult to define English people as a separate entity, as a large portion of the American population actually originates from England, and has been absorbed into U.S. But it is sufficient to say that the people of English origin comprise about 11% of all ancestry groups in Arkansas.
Scottish: Several prisoners and paupers were transported to the U.S. in the 1600s. They became successful in several fields like farming, black smithy, lumbering, and so on. They also contributed much to the local culture. They brought fiddles to the U.S. and contributed to the birth of American Bluegrass music. In Arkansas, the Scots even have their own Tartan.
Dutch: The exact time the Dutch people came to Arkansas is a matter of controversy, but what is well known is their contribution to the Arkansan culture – the “Dutch oven”. It was a basic tool for the early American settlers. The Dutch oven is a unique oven made of cast iron and usually used outdoors as it is fired by coal or wood. In the year 2001, it was officially made the state’s cooking vessel.
Italian: The Italians were recruited in an effort to overcome a labor crisis in 1890. Initially several suffered from Malaria and died, but those who survived, soon adapted to the climate and life in Arkansas. Eventually they worked their way into owning land, farming and running businesses. Today there are several Italian families in Arkansas with their own businesses.
Polish: The Poles are known to have reached Arkansas around the year 1877. They fled political oppression in their own country and were granted asylum in Arkansas. The movement was led by a Polish nobleman by the name of Count Timothy von Choinski. The result of his efforts was the establishment of a community called “Marche” in the Pulaski County of Arkansas. It is one of the most successful attempts at settling of immigrants in the history of the state of Arkansas. Even today there are people of Polish origin to be found in this region.
Swiss: Coming from a land where every square inch is precious, the Swiss soon realized the worth of the land that was being offered in Arkansas in the 1880s. There was soon an exodus of Swiss settlers in Arkansas and they promptly got settled into the business of buying land and setting up farming enterprises. The contribution by the Swiss people to winery has been significant in Arkansas.
Norwegian: The Norwegians came over to Canada as early as the year 1000, and subsequently moved to the U.S. They came to Arkansas around the year 1850. They came in covered wagons filled with their household possessions and slept in the open until they could find land to cultivate and live on. Today the Norwegian population in Arkansas is estimated to be roughly 2.5 million. They are involved in trading in a big way, with an emphasis on the lumber business.
|18 years and over||74.6%||74.3%|
|65 years and over||14.0%||12.4%|
|Average Family Size||2.99||3.14|
|Black or African American||16.0%||12.9%|
|American Indian and Alaska Native||1.4%||1.5%|
|Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander||0.1%||0.3%|
|Hispanic or Latino (of any race)||3.2%||12.5%|
|Housing Characteristics||Arkansas||United States|
|Total Housing Units||1,173,043||115,904,641|
|Median Home Cost||$72,800||$119,600|
|Number of Households||1,042,696||105,480,101|
|Persons per Household||2.49||2.59|
|Economic Characteristics||Arkansas||United States|
|Median Household Income||$32,182||$41,994|
|Per Capita Income||$16,904||$21,587|
|In Labor Force||60.6%||63.9%|
|Families below poverty level||12.0%||9.2%|
|Education Characteristics||Arkansas||United States|
|Elementary School Enrollment||311,515||33,653,641|
|High School Enrollment||154,432||16,380,951|
|College or Graduate School||128,063||17,483,262|
|Educational Attainment Population 25 years and older|
|High School Graduate||34.1%||28.6%|
|Graduate or Professional Degree||5.7%||8.9%|