Vector Maps of the Arkansas : constituent state of the United States of America. Arkansas ranks 29th among the 50 states in total area, but, except for Louisiana and Hawaii, it is the smallest state west of the Mississippi River. Its neighbours are Missouri to the north, Tennessee and Mississippi to the east, Louisiana to the south, Texas to the southwest, and Oklahoma to the west. The name Arkansas was used by the early French explorers to refer to the Quapaw people—a prominent indigenous group in the area—and to the river along which they settled. The term was likely a corruption of akansea, the word applied to the Quapaw by another local indigenous community, the Illinois. Little Rock, the state capital, is located in the central part of the state.