Little Rock became the capital of the Arkansas Territory in 1819 and of the state of Arkansas in 1836. The metropolitan area population was 699,757 in 2010. The Combined Statistical area population which includes Pine Bluff had 877,091 in the 2010 census. The city proper had 193,524 in 2010.
Little Rock lies at the center of the state, more-or-less where the Ozark Mountains, the Ouachita Mountains, and the Mississipi Alluvial Plain (the "Delta") come together. Traveling east from Little Rock, you traverse flat land nearly all the way to the Mississippi River; traveling west you quickly enter hilly country.
Little Rock is Arkansas's largest city, as well as the state capital and major economic center (although northwestern Arkansas, with Wal-Mart, Tyson Foods, and major trucking firms, is rapidly gaining). Little Rock is home to the state's only medical school, as well as one of the two branches of the University of Arkansas law school.
Little Rock derives its name from a small rock formation on the south bank of the Arkansas River called La Petite Roche (the "little rock"). The "little rock" was used by early river traffic as a landmark and became a well-known river crossing. The original historic "little rock" was later dynamited and used as a foundation for a railroad bridge, but its location can be visited in downtown's Riverfront Park.
Little Rock is located at the first high that upstream travelers on the Arkansas River came to, and so was a logical place to found a settlement. When it became apparent that the original capital of Arkansas Territory, Arkansas Post, was too subject to flooding, the seat of government was moved to Little Rock in 1819.
Temperatures range can reach above 90°F (32°C) in the summer, peaking in August and September, to below freezing in December and January. The most pleasant times of year to visit are fall and spring; the changing of the leaves in fall is particularly enticing.