State of Arizona
Flag of Arizona State seal of Arizona
Flag Seal
Nickname(s): The Grand Canyon State;
The Copper State
Motto(s): Ditat Deus (God enriches)
State anthem: The Arizona March Song" and "Arizona
Map of the United States with Arizona highlighted
Official language English
Spoken languages

As of 2010

Demonym Arizonan
Capital
(and largest city)
Phoenix
Largest metro Phoenix metropolitan area
Area Ranked 6th
 - Total 113,990 sq mi
(295,234 km2)
 - Width 310 miles (500 km)
 - Length 400 miles (645 km)
 - % water 0.35
 - Latitude 31°  20′ N to 37° N
 - Longitude 109°  03′ W to 114°  49′ W
Number of people Ranked 14th
 - Total 6,828,065 (2015 est)
 - Density 57/sq mi  (22/km2)
Ranked 33rd
 - Average income $52,248 (33rd)
Height above sea level
 - Highest point Humphreys Peak
12,637 ft (3852 m)
 - Average 4,100 ft  (1250 m)
 - Lowest point Colorado River at the Sonora border
72 ft (22 m)
Became part of the U.S. February 14, 1912 (48th)
Governor Doug Ducey (R)
U.S. Senators John McCain (R)
Jeff Flake (R)
U.S. House delegation 5 Republicans and 4 Democrats (list)
Time zones  
 - most of state Mountain: UTC -7 (no DST)
 - Navajo Nation Mountain: UTC -7/-6
Abbreviations AZ, Ariz. US-AZ
Website www.az.gov
Arizona State symbols
Flag of Arizona.svg
The Flag of Arizona.

Seal of Arizona.svg
The Seal of Arizona.

Animate insignia
Amphibian Arizona tree frog
Bird(s) Cactus wren
Butterfly Two-tailed swallowtail
Fish Apache trout
Flower(s) Saguaro cactus blossom
Mammal(s) Ring-tailed cat
Reptile Arizona ridge-nosed rattlesnake
Tree Palo verde

Inanimate insignia
Colors Blue, old gold
Firearm Colt Single Action Army revolver
Fossil Petrified wood
Gemstone Turquoise
Mineral Fire agate
Ship(s) USS Arizona
Slogan(s) The Grand Canyon State
Soil Casa Grande
Song(s) "Arizona March Song"
"Arizona" (alternate)

Route marker(s)
Arizona Route Marker

State Quarter
Quarter of Arizona
Released in 2008

Lists of United States state insignia
Carnegiea gigantea (3)
Saguaro cactus flowers and buds after a wet winter. This is Arizona's official state flower.

Arizona is a state in the United States of America. It is considered part of the Southwestern United States and is bordered by New Mexico to the east, Utah to the north, Nevada to the northwest, California to the west, its northeast corner touches part of Colorado, this area is known as the Four Corners. To the south of Arizona is the country Mexico with which it shares a border of 389 miles (626 km). The state is called the "Grand Canyon State" and the "Copper State" as it is the home of the Grand Canyon and has produced large amounts of copper from its mineral deposits.

Arizona became a state on February 14, 1912 and became the 48th state accepted into the United States. The state capital is Phoenix, which also is the largest city in the state. Phoenix is the largest capital city in the US.

Arizona's climate can be very hot. In Phoenix, the average temperature is about 107 degrees Fahrenheit (42 degrees Celsius) in summer.

Etymology

The state's name appears to originate from an earlier Spanish name, Arizonac, derived from the O'odham name alĭ ṣonak, meaning "small spring," which initially applied only to an area near the silver mining camp of Planchas de Plata, Sonora. To the European settlers, their pronunciation sounded like "Arissona". The area is still known as alĭ ṣonak in the O'odham language. Another possible origin is the Basque phrase haritz ona ("the good oak"), as there were numerous Basque sheepherders in the area.

There is a misconception that the state's name originated from the Spanish term Árida Zona ("Arid Zone").

Geography and geology

Monument Valley 01
West Mitten at Monument Valley
Blue Mesa Painted Desert
Blue Mesa at Petrified Forest National Park
Bellemont Arizona View
San Francisco Peaks seen from Bellemont, Arizona
Saguaro National Park - Flickr - Joe Parks
Sonoran Desert at Saguaro National Park
Cathedral Rock Water-27527-1
Cathedral Rock near Red Rock Crossing in Sedona
See also lists of counties, rivers, lakes

Arizona is the sixth largest state in area, after New Mexico and before Nevada. Of the state's 113,998 square miles (295,000 km2), about 15% is privately owned. The remaining area is public forest and park land, state trust land and Native American reservations.

Arizona is best known for its desert landscape. It has plants such as the cactus. It is also known for its climate, which has very hot summers and mild winters. Less well known is the pine-covered high country of the Colorado Plateau in the north-central part of the state.

Mountains and plateaus are found in more than half of the state. 27% of Arizona is forest. The largest stand of Ponderosa pine trees in the world is in Arizona.

The Grand Canyon is a colorful, steep-sided gorge. It is made by the Colorado River in northern Arizona. The canyon is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Most of the canyon is in the Grand Canyon National Park—one of the first national parks in the United States.

Arizona is home to a well-kept meteorite impact site. The Barringer Crater (better known simply as “Meteor Crater”) is a huge hole in the middle of the high plains of the Colorado Plateau. It is about 25 miles (40 km) west of Winslow. A rim of smashed and jumbled boulders, some of them the size of small houses, rises 150 feet (46 m) above the level of the surrounding plain. The crater is nearly 1 mile (1.6 km) wide, and 570 feet (170 m) deep. Meteor Crater is a popular tourist attraction. It is privately owned by the Barringer family through the Barringer Crater Company. There is an admission fee charged to see the crater.

Arizona is one of two states that does not observe Daylight Saving Time, except in the Navajo Nation in the northeastern part of the state.

Earthquakes

Generally, Arizona is at low risk of earthquakes, except for the southwestern portion which is at moderate risk due to its proximity to Southern California. On the other hand, Northern Arizona is at moderate risk due to numerous faults in the area. The regions near and west of Phoenix have the lowest risk.

The earliest Arizona earthquakes were recorded at Fort Yuma, on the California side of the Colorado River. They were centered near the Imperial Valley, or Mexico, back in the 1800s. Douglas felt the 1887 Sonora earthquake with its epicenter 40 miles to the south in the Mexican state of Sonora. The first damaging earthquake known to be centered within Arizona occurred on January 25, 1906, also including a series of other earthquakes centered near Socorro, New Mexico. The shock was violent in Flagstaff.

In September 1910, a series of fifty-two earthquakes caused a construction crew near Flagstaff to leave the area. In 1912, the year Arizona achieved statehood, on August 18, an earthquake caused a 50-mile crack in the San Francisco Range. In early January 1935, the state experienced a series of earthquakes, in the Yuma area and near the Grand Canyon. Arizona experienced its largest earthquake in 1959, with a tremor of a magnitude 5.6. It was centered near Fredonia, in the state's northwest near the border with Utah. The tremor was felt across the border in Nevada and Utah.

Climate

Due to its large area and variations in elevation, the state has a wide variety of localized climate conditions. In the lower elevations, the climate is primarily desert, with mild winters and extremely hot summers. Typically, from late fall to early spring, the weather is mild, averaging a minimum of 60 °F (16 °C). November through February are the coldest months, with temperatures typically ranging from 40 to 75 °F (4 to 24 °C), with occasional frosts.

About midway through February, the temperatures start to rise, with warm days, and cool, breezy nights. The summer months of June through September bring a dry heat from 90–120 °F (32–49 °C), with occasional high temperatures exceeding 125 °F having been observed in the desert area. Arizona's all-time record high is 128 °F (53 °C) recorded at Lake Havasu City on June 29, 1994, and July 5, 2007; the all-time record low of −40° was recorded at Hawley Lake on January 7, 1971.

Arizona has an average annual rainfall of 12.7 in (323 mm), which comes during two rainy seasons, with cold fronts coming from the Pacific Ocean during the winter and a monsoon in the summer. The monsoon season occurs toward the end of summer.

Arizona's northern third is a plateau at significantly higher altitudes than the lower desert, and has an appreciably cooler climate, with cold winters and mild summers, though the climate remains semiarid to arid. Extremely cold temperatures are not unknown; cold air systems from the northern states and Canada occasionally push into the state, bringing temperatures below 0 °F (−18 °C) to the state's northern parts.

History

North Rim of Grand Canyon, Arizona 2005
The North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

For thousands of years before the modern era, Arizona was home to numerous Native American tribes. Hohokam, Mogollon and Ancestral Puebloan cultures were among the many that flourished throughout the state. Many of their pueblos, cliffside dwellings, rock paintings and other prehistoric treasures have survived, attracting thousands of tourists each year.

The first European contact by native peoples was with Marcos de Niza, a Spanish Franciscan, in 1539. He explored parts of the state and made contact with native inhabitants, probably the Sobaipuri. The expedition of Spanish explorer Coronado entered the area in 1540–1542 during its search for Cíbola.

Father Kino was the next European in the region. A member of the Society of Jesus, he led the development of a chain of missions in the region. He converted many of the Indians to Christianity in the Pimería Alta (now southern Arizona and northern Sonora) in the 1690s and early 18th century. Spain founded presidios ("fortified towns") at Tubac in 1752 and Tucson in 1775.

When Mexico achieved its independence from Spain in 1821, what is now Arizona became part of its Territory of Nueva California, also known as Alta California. Descendants of ethnic Spanish and mestizo settlers from the colonial years still lived in the area, with much deeper roots than later European-American migrants from the United States.

Mexico 1824 (equirectangular projection)
Mexico in 1824. Alta California is the northwestern-most state.

During the Mexican–American War (1847), the U.S. occupied Mexico City and pursued its claim to much of northern Mexico, including what later became Arizona. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848) specified that, in addition to language and cultural rights of the existing inhabitants being considered as inviolable, the sum of US$15 million in compensation (368192307.69.) be paid to the Republic of Mexico. In 1853 the U.S. acquired the land below the Gila River from Mexico in the Gadsden Purchase. Arizona was administered as part of the Territory of New Mexico until southern New Mexico Territory seceded from the Union during the American Civil War as the Confederate Territory of Arizona on March 16, 1861.

Apache chieff Geronimo (right) and his warriors in 1886
Geronimo (far right) and his Apache warriors fought against both Mexican and American settlers

Arizona was recognized as a Confederate Territory by presidential proclamation of Jefferson Davis on February 14, 1862. This is the first official use of the name. Arizona supported the Confederate cause with men, horses, and supplies. Formed in 1862, Arizona Scout Companies fought with the Confederate Army throughout the war. Arizona has the westernmost recorded engagement of the war, the Battle of Picacho Pass.

The federal government declared a new Arizona Territory, consisting of the western half of New Mexico Territory, in Washington, D.C., on February 24, 1863. These new boundaries would later form the basis of the state.

The first territorial capital, Prescott, was founded in 1864 following a gold rush to central Arizona.

Brigham Young sent Mormons to Arizona in the mid- to late 19th century.

DorotheaLangeMigrantWorkersChildren
Children of Depression-era migrant workers, Pinal County, 1937

20th century to present

During the Mexican Revolution from 1910 to 1920, several battles were fought in the Mexican towns just across the border from Arizona settlements. Throughout the revolution, numerous Arizonans enlisted in one of the several armies fighting in Mexico. Only two significant engagements took place on U.S. soil between U.S. and Mexican forces: Pancho Villa's 1916 Columbus Raid in New Mexico, and the Battle of Ambos Nogales in 1918 in Arizona. The Americans won the latter.

After U.S. soldiers were fired on by Mexican federal troops, the American garrison launched an assault into Nogales, Mexico. The Mexicans eventually surrendered after both sides sustained heavy casualties. A few months earlier, just west of Nogales, an Indian War battle had occurred, considered the last engagement in the American Indian Wars, which lasted from 1775 to 1918. U.S. soldiers stationed on the border confronted Yaqui Indians who were using Arizona as a base to raid the nearby Mexican settlements, as part of their wars against Mexico.

Arizona became a U.S. state on February 14, 1912. Arizona was the 48th state admitted to the U.S. and the last of the contiguous states to be admitted.

Eleanor Roosevelt at Gila River, Arizona at Japanese,American Internment Center - NARA - 197094
Eleanor Roosevelt at the Gila River relocation center, April 23, 1943

Cotton farming and copper mining, two of Arizona's most important statewide industries, suffered heavily during the Great Depression. But during the 1920s and even the 1930s, tourism began to develop as the important Arizonan industry it is today. Dude ranches, such as the K L Bar and Remuda in Wickenburg, along with the Flying V and Tanque Verde in Tucson, gave tourists the chance to take part in the flavor and activities of the "Old West". Several upscale hotels and resorts opened during this period, some of which are still top tourist draws. They include the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in central Phoenix (opened 1929) and the Wigwam Resort on the west side of the Phoenix area (opened 1936).

Arizona was the site of German POW camps during World War II and Japanese-American internment camps.

Arizona was also home to the Phoenix Indian School, one of several federal Indian boarding schools designed to assimilate Native American children into mainstream European-American culture. Children were often enrolled into these schools against the wishes of their parents and families. Attempts to suppress native identities included forcing the children to cut their hair, to take and use English names, to speak only English, and to practice Christianity rather than their native religions.

Numerous Native Americans from Arizona fought for the United States during World War II.

Arizona's population grew tremendously with residential and business development after World War II, aided by the widespread use of air conditioning, which made the intensely hot summers more comfortable.

Three ships named USS Arizona have been christened in honor of the state, although only USS Arizona (BB-39) was so named after statehood was achieved.

Demographics

The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Arizona was 6,828,065 on July 1, 2015, a 6.82% increase since the 2010 United States Census.

Arizona remained sparsely settled for most of the 19th century.

Race and ethnicity

In 1980, the Census Bureau reported Arizona's population as 16.2% Hispanic, 5.6% Native American, and 74.5% non-Hispanic white. In 2010, the racial makeup of the state was:

  • 73.0% White
  • 4.6% Native American and Alaska Native
  • 4.1% Black or African American
  • 2.8% Asian
  • 0.2% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander
  • 11.9% from some other race
  • 3.4% from two or more races.

Arizona's five largest ancestry groups, as of 2009, were:

  1. Mexican (27.4%);
  2. German (16.0%);
  3. Irish (10.8%);
  4. English (10.1%);
  5. Italian (4.6%).

Languages

As of 2010, 72.90% (4,215,749) of Arizona residents age 5 and older spoke English at home as a primary language, while 20.80% (1,202,638) spoke Spanish, 1.48% (85,602) Navajo, 0.39% (22,592) German, 0.39% (22,426) Chinese (which includes Mandarin), 0.33% (19,015) Tagalog, 0.30% (17,603) Vietnamese, 0.27% (15,707) Other North American Indigenous Languages (especially indigenous languages of Arizona), and French was spoken as a main language by 0.26% (15,062) of the population over the age of five. In total, 27.10% (1,567,548) of Arizona's population age 5 and older spoke a mother language other than English.

Arizona is home to the largest number of speakers of Native American languages in the 48 contiguous states.

Cities and towns

Scottsdale cityscape4
View of suburban development in Scottsdale, 2006
Cochise County Courthouse Bisbee Arizona ArtDecoDoors
Art Deco doors, Cochise County Courthouse, Bisbee, AZ
See also: List of localities in Arizona

Phoenix, located in Maricopa County, is the capital and the largest city in Arizona. Other prominent cities in the Phoenix metro area include Mesa (the third largest city in Arizona), Glendale, Peoria, Chandler, Buckeye, Sun City, Sun City West, Fountain Hills, Surprise, Gilbert, El Mirage, Avondale, Tempe, Tolleson and Scottsdale, with a total metropolitan population of just over 4.3 million. It has an average July high temperature of 106 °F (41 °C), one of the highest of any metropolitan area in the United States, offset by an average January high temperature of 67 °F (19 °C), the basis of its winter appeal.

Tucson, with a metro population of just over one million, is the state's second-largest city. It is located in Pima County, approximately 110 miles (180 km) southeast of Phoenix. Tucson was incorporated in 1877, making it the oldest incorporated city in Arizona. It is home to the University of Arizona. Major incorporated suburbs of Tucson include Oro Valley and Marana northwest of the city, Sahuarita south of the city, and South Tucson in an enclave south of downtown. It has an average July temperature of 100 °F (38 °C) and winter temperatures averaging 65 °F (18 °C). Saguaro National Park, just west of the city in the Tucson Mountains, is the locale of the largest collection of Saguaro cacti in the world.

The Prescott metropolitan area includes the cities of Prescott, Cottonwood, Camp Verde and numerous other towns spread out over the 8,123 square miles (21,000 km2) of Yavapai County area. With 212,635 residents, this cluster of towns forms the third largest metropolitan area in the state. The city of Prescott (population 41,528) lies approximately 100 miles (160 km) northwest of the Phoenix metropolitan area. Situated in pine tree forests at an elevation of about 5,500 feet (1,700 m), Prescott enjoys a much cooler climate than Phoenix, with average summer highs around 88 °F (31 °C) and winter temperatures averaging 50 °F (10 °C).

Yuma is center of the fourth-largest metropolitan area in Arizona. Located in Yuma County, it is near the borders of California and Mexico. It is one of the hottest cities in the United States, with an average July high of 107 °F (42 °C). (The same month's average in Death Valley is 115 °F (46 °C).) The city features sunny days about 90% of the year. The Yuma Metropolitan Statistical Area has a population of 160,000. Yuma attracts many winter visitors from all over the United States.

Flagstaff, in Coconino County, is the largest city in northern Arizona, and is at an elevation of nearly 7,000 feet (2,100 m). With its large Ponderosa pine forests, snowy winter weather and picturesque mountains, it is a stark contrast to the desert regions typically associated with Arizona. It is sited at the base of the San Francisco Peaks, the highest mountain range in the state of Arizona, which contain Humphreys Peak, the highest point in Arizona at 12,633 feet (3,851 m). Flagstaff has a strong tourism sector, due to its proximity to numerous tourist attractions including: Grand Canyon National Park, Sedona, and Oak Creek Canyon. Historic U.S. Route 66 is the main east-west street in the town. The Flagstaff metropolitan area is home to 134,421 residents and the main campus of Northern Arizona University.

Lake Havasu City, in Mohave County, known as "Arizona's playground," was developed on the Colorado River and is named after Lake Havasu. Lake Havasu City has a population of about 53,000 people. It is famous for huge spring break parties, sunsets and the London Bridge, relocated from London, England. Lake Havasu City was founded by real estate developer Robert P. McCulloch in 1963. It has two colleges, Mohave Community College and ASU Colleges in Lake Havasu City.

Religion

Exterior of the Mission Xavier del Bac
The Spanish mission of San Xavier del Bac, founded in 1700.

As of the year 2010, the Association of Religion Data Archives reported that the three largest denominational groups in Arizona were the Catholic Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and non-denominational Evangelical Protestants. The Catholic Church has the highest number of adherents in Arizona (at 930,001), followed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with 410,263 members reported and then non-denominational Evangelical Protestants, reporting 281,105 adherents. The religious body with the largest number of congregations is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (with 836 congregations) followed by the Southern Baptist Convention (with 323 congregations).

Economy

Barringer Crater aerial photo by USGS
Arizona's Meteor Crater is a tourist attraction.

The 2011 total gross state product was $259 billion. This figure gives Arizona a larger economy than such countries as Ireland, Finland, and New Zealand. The composition of the state's economy is moderately diverse; although health care, transportation and the government remain the largest sectors.

Early in its history, Arizona's economy relied on the "five C's": copper (see Copper mining in Arizona), cotton, cattle, citrus, and climate (tourism). Copper is still extensively mined from many expansive open-pit and underground mines, accounting for two-thirds of the nation's output.

Law and government

Counties

Arizona is divided into political jurisdictions designated as counties. As of 1983 there were 15 counties in the state, ranging in size from 1,238 square miles (3,210 km2) to 18,661 square miles (48,330 km2).

Arizona counties
County name County seat Year founded 2010 population Percent of total Area (sq. mi.) Percent of total
Apache St. Johns 1879 71,518 1.12 % 11,218 9.84 %
Cochise Bisbee 1881 131,346 2.05 % 6,219 5.46 %
Coconino Flagstaff 1891 134,421 2.10 % 18,661 16.37 %
Gila Globe 1881 53,597 0.84 % 4,796 4.21 %
Graham Safford 1881 37,220 0.58 % 4,641 4.07 %
Greenlee Clifton 1909 8,437 0.13 % 1,848 1.62 %
La Paz Parker 1983 20,489 0.32 % 4,513 3.96 %
Maricopa Phoenix 1871 3,817,117 59.72 % 9,224 8.09 %
Mohave Kingman 1864 200,186 3.13 % 13,470 11.82 %
Navajo Holbrook 1895 107,449 1.68 % 9,959 8.74 %
Pima Tucson 1864 980,263 15.34 % 9,189 8.06 %
Pinal Florence 1875 375,770 5.88 % 5,374 4.71 %
Santa Cruz Nogales 1899 47,420 0.74 % 1,238 1.09 %
Yavapai Prescott 1864 211,033 3.30 % 8,128 7.13 %
Yuma Yuma 1864 195,751 3.06 % 5,519 4.84 %
Totals: 15 6,392,017 113,997

Federal representation

Arizona's two United States Senators are John McCain (R), the 2008 Republican Presidential Nominee, and Jeff Flake (R).

As of the start of the 115th Congress, Arizona's representatives in the United States House of Representatives are Tom O'Halleran (D-1), Martha McSally (R-2), Raul Grijalva (D-3), Paul Gosar (R-4), Andy Biggs (R-5), David Schweikert (R-6), Ruben Gallego (D-7), Trent Franks (R-8), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-9). Arizona gained a ninth seat in the House of Representatives due to redistricting based on Census 2010.

Baseball

Arizona is a popular location for Major League Baseball spring training, as it is the site of the Cactus League. Spring training was first started in Arizona in 1947, when Brewers owner Veeck sold them in 1945 but went onto purchase the Cleveland Indians in 1946. He decided to train the Cleveland Indians in Tucson and convinced the New York Giants to give Phoenix a try. Thus the Cactus League was born.

On March 9, 1995, Arizona was awarded a franchise to begin play for the 1998 season. A $130 million franchise fee was paid to Major League Baseball and on January 16, 1997, the Diamondbacks were officially voted into the National League.

Since their debut, the Diamondbacks have won five National League West titles, one National League Championship pennant, and the 2001 World Series.

State symbols

Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus 20061226
Cactus wren, the Arizona state bird
  • Arizona state amphibian: Arizona treefrog (Hyla eximia)
  • Arizona state bird: cactus wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus)
  • Arizona state butterfly: two-tailed swallowtail (Papilio multicaudata)
  • Arizona state colors: federal blue and old gold
  • Arizona state fish: Apache trout (Oncorhynchus apache)
  • Arizona state flag: Flag of the State of Arizona
  • Arizona state flower: saguaro blossom (Carnegiea gigantea)
  • Arizona state fossil: petrified wood
  • Arizona state gemstone: turquoise
  • Arizona state mammal: ring-tailed cat (Bassariscus astutus)
  • Arizona state motto: Ditat Deus (Latin God enriches)
  • Arizona state neckwear: bolo tie
  • Arizona state reptile: Arizona ridge-nosed rattlesnake (Crotalus willardi)
  • Arizona state seal: Great Seal of the State of Arizona
  • Arizona state slogan: Grand Canyon State
  • Arizona state songs: "Arizona March Song" (by Margaret Rowe Clifford) and "Arizona" (by Rex Allen, Jr.)
  • Arizona state tree: palo verde (Parkinsonia)
  • Arizona state gun: Colt Single Action Army revolver

Arizona Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.