Little Rock is the capital and the most populous city of the U.S. state of Arkansas. It is also the county seat of Pulaski County. It was incorporated on November 7, 1831 on the south bank of the Arkansas River very near the geographic center of the state. The city derives its name from a small rock formation along the river, named "le Petit Rocher" by the French in 1799. The capital of the Arkansas Territory was moved to Little Rock from Arkansas Post in 1821. The city's population was 193,524 at the 2010 census. The five-county Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is ranked 75th in terms of population in the United States with 724,385 residents according to the 2013 estimate by the United States Census Bureau.
Little Rock is a major cultural, economic, government and transportation center within Arkansas, the South and the nation. Amenities such as Arkansas Arts Center, Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Arkansas Symphony Orchestra are available in addition to the hiking, boating, and other outdoor recreational opportunities available to residents and visitors. Little Rock's history is also available to residents and visitors in a variety of ways; history museums, historic districts or neighborhoods like the Quapaw Quarter, and historic sites like Little Rock Central High School. The city is the headquarters of Dillards, Windstream Communications, Acxiom, Stephens Inc., University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Heifer International, the Clinton Foundation, and the Rose Law Firm. Other large corporations, including Dassault Falcon Jet and LM Wind Power have large operations in the city. State government is also a large employer, with most offices being located in downtown Little Rock. Two major Interstate highways, Interstate 30 and Interstate 40 meet in Little Rock, with the Port of Little Rock serving as a major shipping hub.
Archeological artifacts provide evidence of Native Americans inhabiting Central Arkansas for thousands of years before Europeans arrived. The early inhabitants may have included the Folsom people, Bluff Dwellers, and Mississippian culture peoples who built earthwork mounds recorded in 1541 by Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto. Historical tribes of the area included the Caddo, Quapaw, Osage, Choctaw, and Cherokee.
Little Rock was named for a stone outcropping on the bank of the Arkansas River used by early travelers as a landmark. La Petite Roche (French for "the Little Rock"), named in 1722 by French explorer and trader Jean-Baptiste Bénard de la Harpe, marked the transition from the flat Mississippi Delta region to the Ouachita Mountain foothills. Travelers referred to the area as "the Little Rock," and the landmark name stuck.