Arizona is a large state in the western United States. It is perhaps best known for its desert landscape, which includes cacti. Arizona is also known for its exceptionally hot summers and mild winters. Perhaps less well known is the pine-covered high country in the north-central portion of the state, which contrasts with the lower deserts of the state.
Arizona is one of the Four Corners states, situated south and east of the Colorado River. It borders New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, California, touches Colorado, and has a long international border with Mexico. Arizona is the sixth largest state in area, after New Mexico and before Nevada.
Phoenix is the largest, primary city and capital of the state. The Phoenix metro area includes Mesa, Glendale, Chandler, Tempe, and Scottsdale. The Phoenix metropolitan area supports a population of nearly 3.5 million.
Historians disagree about the origin of the name "Arizona" and its attachment to the region. Two possible derivations are:
- O'odham words "alĭ ṣon" ("small spring"), actually the name of a town which is called "Arizonac" in English. Arizonac is a small town about eight miles (12 km) south of the United States–Mexican border. Historically, it may have been "alĭ son" or even "alĭ sona". The O'odham "l" is a voiced alveolar lateral fricative, which might sound to a Spanish or English speaker like an "r" sound. Later in the mid 18th century Spanish missionaries changed Father Eusebio Francisco Kino's maps of the area; they renamed the town Arizonac as Arizona. As the maps were republished and circulated in Europe, the name Arizona became attached to the whole northern part of New Spain.
- Spanish words "árida zona" ("arid zone") However, this would be grammatically incorrect because in Spanish, the noun precedes the adjective.
- 1 History
- 2 Law and government
- 3 Geography
- 4 Art
- 5 Climate
- 6 Economy
- 7 Demographics
- 8 Important cities and towns
- 9 Notable people
- 10 Education
- 11 Professional sports teams
- 12 External links
Main article: History of Arizona
Beyond its original native inhabitants, Marcos de Niza, a Franciscan, explored the area in 1539. Coronado's expedition entered the area in 1540–42 during its search for Cibola. Father Kino developed a chain of missions and taught the Indians Christianity in Pimería Alta (now southern Arizona and northern Sonora) in the 1690s and early 1700s. Spain founded fortified towns (presidios) at Tubac in 1752 and Tucson in 1775. All of what is now Arizona became part of Mexico's northwest frontier upon the Mexican assertion of independence from Spain in 1810. The United States took possession of most of Arizona at the end of the Mexican War in 1848. In 1853 the land below the Gila River was acquired from Mexico in the Gadsden Purchase. Arizona was administered as part of the Territory of New Mexico until it was organized into a separate territory on February 24, 1863.
Brigham Young sent Mormons to Arizona in the mid to late 1800s. They founded Mesa, Snowflake, Heber, Safford and other towns. They also settled in the Phoenix Valley (or "Valley of the Sun"), Tempe, Prescott, among other areas.
Arizona was the site of a German and Italian prisoner of war camp during WWII. The site was purchased after the war by the Maytag family, and is currently the Phoenix Zoo. A Japanese internment camp was located on Mount Lemmon, just outside of the southeastern city of Tucson.
Law and government
See: List of Congressmen
Arizona's legislature consists of a thirty-member Senate and a 60-member House of Representatives. The majority party is the Republican Party, which has held power since 1950. The 2002 budget of the Arizona state legislature was $14.3 billion, while the executive budget was $13.8 billion. Besides the money spent on state agencies, money has also been allocated for tax cuts, pay raises for government employees, and health insurance for government employees. The executive budget has allocated money to previously passed legislation. Arizona state senators and representatives are elected for two year terms and there are no terms limits. However, no more than four terms may be served consecutively.
Arizona's executive branch is headed by a governor elected for a four-year term. The governor may serve any number of terms, though no more than two in a row. The current Governor of Arizona is Janet Napolitano, a Democrat. She has been governor since 2003.
Arizona's representatives in the United States House of Representatives are Rick Renzi (R-1), Trent Franks (R-2), John Shadegg (R-3), Ed Pastor (D-4), J.D. Hayworth (R-5), Jeff Flake (R-6), Raul Grijalva (D-7), and Jim Kolbe (R-8). Arizona gained two seats in the House of Representatives due to redistricting based on Census 2000. Jim Kolbe is currently the only openly gay Republican U.S. Congressman.
While the Republican Party has long dominated Arizona, the state did support one recent Democratic candidate, Bill Clinton in 1996. In 2004, George W. Bush easily won the state's ten electoral votes by a margin of 11 percentage points with 54.9% of the vote. Democrats are strongest in Tucson, Yuma, and Santa Cruz and Apache counties.
|See:||List of Arizona counties||List of Arizona rivers||List of Arizona lakes|
|Arizona state parks||List of U.S. National Forests|
Like other states of the Southwest, Arizona has an abundance of topographical characteristics in addition to its desert climes. More than half of the state features mountains and plateaus and contains the largest stand of Ponderosa pine in the United States. The Mogollon Rim, a 600-meter (2000-foot) escarpment, cuts across the central section of the state and marks the southwestern edge of the Colorado Plateau, where the state experienced its worst forest fire ever in 2002.
The Grand Canyon is a colorful, steep-sided gorge, carved by the Colorado River, in northern Arizona. The canyon is one of the seven natural wonders of the world and is largely contained in the Grand Canyon National Park—one of the first national parks in the United States. President Theodore Roosevelt was a major proponent of the Grand Canyon area, visiting on numerous occasions to hunt mountain lion and enjoy the breathtaking scenery.
The canyon, created by the Colorado River cutting a channel over millions of years, is about 277 miles (446 km) long, ranges in width from 6 to 29 kilometers (4 to 18 miles) and attains a depth of more than 1 mile (1.6 km). Nearly 2 billion years of the Earth's history has been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut through layer after layer of sediment as the Colorado Plateaus have uplifted.
Arizona has witnessed a continuous string of dancing and performing groups of many ethnicities. The state is a recognized center of Native American art, with a number of galleries such as the Heard Museum showcasing historical and contemporary works. Sedona and Tubac are known as budding artist colonies, and small arts scenes exist in the larger cities and near the state universities.
Many tourist souvenirs produced in Arizona or by its residents display immediately characteristic images, such as sunsets, coyotes, and desert plants. Several major Hollywood films, such as U-Turn, Waiting to Exhale, and Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure have been made there (as indeed have many Westerns).
Due to its large area and variations in elevation, the state has a wide variety of climates. In the lower elevations, the climate is primarily desert, with mild winters and hot summers. Typically, from late fall to early spring, the weather is mild, averaging a minimum of 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius). November through February are the coldest months with temperatures typically ranging from 40–75 degrees Fahrenheit (4–24 degrees Celsius), although occasional frosts are not uncommon. About midway through February, the temperatures start to rise again with sunny warm days, and cool breezy nights. The summer months of May through August bring a dry heat ranging from 90–100 degrees Fahrenheit (35 to 40 degrees Celsius), with occasional high temperatures exceeding 125 °F (50 °C) having been observed in the desert area. Due to the primarily dry climate, large temperature swings often occur between day and night, with some as large as 50 °F (28 °C) in the summer months.
However, the northern third of Arizona is a plateau at significantly higher altitudes than the lower desert, and has an appreciably cooler climate, with cold winters and mild summers. Extreme cold temperatures are not unknown; cold air systems from the northern states and Canada occasionally push into the state, bringing temperatures below 0 °F (-20 °C) to the higher parts of the state.
Monsoon season in Arizona is from the end of July through August. Monsoon season storms bring lightning, thunderstorms, wind, and torrential, if usually brief, downpours. It is rare for tornadoes to occur in Arizona.
The 2004 total gross state product was $187.27 billion. If Arizona were an independent country, it would have the 61st largest economy in the world (CIA - The World Factbook). This figure gives Arizona a larger economy than most other countries, including Norway, Denmark, Czech Republic, Ireland, Finland, and New Zealand. Arizona currently has the 21st largest economy among states in the U.S..
The state's per capita income is $27,232, 39th in the U.S. Early in its history, Arizona's economy relied on the "Five C's": copper, cotton, cattle, citrus, and climate (tourism). At one point Arizona was the largest producer of cotton in the country. Copper is still extensively mined from many expansive open-pit and underground mines.
The state government is the Arizona's largest employer, while Wal-Mart is the state's largest private employer, with 17,343 employees (2003). Arizona lost much of its comparative advantage as a high-tech industry leader between 1990 and 2001, according to a state Department of Commerce report.
In 2001, 161,166 Arizonans were employed in the high-tech sector, accounting for about 8.3 percent of total private-sector employment of more than 1.9 million. High-tech payroll in 2001 was $2.2 billion, or 14.7 percent of the private-sector total. High-tech employment was led by software and computers, with 34,314; electronics components manufacturing, 30,358; aerospace manufacturing, 25,641; architectural and engineering services, 21,378; telecommunications, 21,224; and instruments manufacturing, 13,056.
As of 2004, Arizona had a population of 5,743,834 according Census Bureau estimates.
The racial breakdown of the state is as follows:
According to 2003 Census estimates, Arizona has the second highest number (and the 6th highest percentage) of Native Americans of any state in the Union. 286,680 reportedly live in Arizona, representing more than 10% of the country's total Indian population of 2,752,158. Only California has more Indians than Arizona, and Arizona has slightly more Indians than Oklahoma .
The largest ancestry groups in Arizona are Mexican (21%), German, British, Irish, and American Indian. The southern and central parts of the state are heavily Mexican-American, especially in Yuma and Santa Cruz County. The north-central and northwestern counties are largely inhabited by residents of British ancestry. The northeastern part of Arizona has many American Indians.
Arizona is likely to become a minority-majority state by the year 2035, if current population growth trends continue. In 2003, for the first time, there were more Hispanic births in the state than white non-Hispanic births.
As of 2000, 74.1% of Arizona residents age 5 and older speak English at home and 19.5% speak Spanish. Navajo is the third most spoken language at 1.9%, followed by Other Native North American languages at 0.6% and German at 0.5%.
49.9% of the population is male, 50.1% is female.
See also the list of Arizona Natives.
Four in five Arizonans are self-described Christians, with large numbers of both Catholics and Protestants living in the state. There is also a significant Mormon population.
Religious affiliations in Arizona:
- Christian – 80%
- Other Religions – 2%
- Non-Religious – 18%
Important cities and towns
Each city named in bold has a population greater than 100,000.
25 Richest Places in Arizona
Ranked by per capita income
|1 Paradise Valley, Arizona||$81,290||14 Sedona, Arizona||$31,350|
|2 Carefree, Arizona||$62,433||15 Green Valley, Arizona||$31,138|
|3 Rio Verde, Arizona||$58,783||16 Oro Valley, Arizona||$31,134|
|4 Tubac, Arizona||$46,643||17 Williamson, Arizona||$30,232|
|5 Catalina Foothills, Arizona||$42,006||18 Big Park, Arizona||$30,026|
|6 Scottsdale, Arizona||$39,158||19 Queen Valley, Arizona||$28,886|
|7 Cave Creek, Arizona||$38,070||20 Corona de Tucson, Arizona||$28,304|
|8 Litchfield Park, Arizona||$37,793||21 Elgin, Arizona||$27,909|
|9 Tanque Verde, Arizona||$36,467||22 Sonoita, Arizona||$27,312|
|10 Gold Camp, Arizona||$35,010||23 Sun City, Arizona||$25,935|
|11 Sun Lakes, Arizona||$33,394||24 New River, Arizona||$25,932|
|12 Fountain Hills, Arizona||$32,230||25 Tortolita, Arizona||$25,550|
|13 Sun City West, Arizona||$32,049||See complete list of Arizona places|
Famous Arizonans also include former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, author Zane Grey, former Governor and Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, architect Frank Lloyd Wright, Presidential candidate (1964) and former Senator Barry Goldwater, Presidential candidate (2000) and Senior Republican Senator John McCain, former senator Carl Hayden and former Solicitor General Rex E. Lee, From the rock and roll world, both Alice Cooper and Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac are from Phoenix; Linda Ronstadt is from Tucson. Film director Steven Spielberg grew up in Scottsdale, as did Wonder Woman star Lynda Carter. Labor leader Cesar Estrada Chavez is from Yuma. For a complete list, see List of people from Arizona.
Colleges and universities
(Ranked by student enrollment)
- Chandler-Gilbert Community College
- Estrella Mountain Community College
- GateWay Community College
- Glendale Community College
- Mesa Community College
- Paradise Valley Community College
- Phoenix College
- Rio Salado Community College
- Scottsdale Community College
- South Mountain Community College
- Pima Community College
- Desert Vista Campus
- Downtown Campus
- East Campus
- Northwest Campus
- West Campus
- Eastern Arizona College
- Yavapai Community College
- Prescott College
- Cochise College
- Mohave Community College
- South Mountain Community College
- Arizona Western College
- Northland Pioneer College
Private colleges and trade schools
- American Indian College of the Assemblies of God
- Art Institute of Phoenix
- Collins College, Tempe
- DeVry University, Phoenix
- Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
- Grand Canyon University
- Prescott College
- Southwestern College
- Thunderbird - The Garvin School of International Management
- University of Phoenix
- Western International University
Professional sports teams
- Arizona Cardinals (National Football League)
- Arizona Diamondbacks (Major League Baseball)
- Arizona Rattlers (Arena Football League)
- Arizona Sting (National Lacrosse League)
- Mesa Miners (Golden Baseball League)
- Phoenix Coyotes (National Hockey League)
- Phoenix Mercury (Women's National Basketball Association)
- Phoenix Roadrunners (East Coast Hockey League)
- Phoenix Suns (National Basketball Association)
- Surprise Fightin' Falcons (Golden Baseball League)
- Tucson Sidewinders (Minor League Baseball)
- Yuma Scorpions (Golden Baseball League)
Arizona is a popular location for Major League Baseball spring training, as it is the site of the Cactus League. The state hosts the following teams:
- Arizona Diamondbacks in Tucson Electric Park
- Chicago Cubs in HoHoKam Park
- Chicago White Sox in Tucson Electric Park
- Colorado Rockies in Hi Corbett Field
- Kansas City Royals in Surprise Stadium
- Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in Tempe Diablo Stadium
- Milwaukee Brewers in Maryvale Baseball Park
- Oakland Athletics in Phoenix Municipal Stadium
- San Diego Padres in Peoria Sports Complex
- San Francisco Giants in Scottsdale Stadium
- Seattle Mariners in Peoria Sports Complex
- Texas Rangers in Surprise Stadium
- Arizona Pictures
- Arizona @ Your Service
- Arizona Regional Accounts Data
- Arizona Demographic Data from FedStats
- Census 2000 Data for Arizona
- Official Arizona Office of Tourism
- Arizona State Parks
- Arizona News
- Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records
- Arizona State Representative, District 7
- Arizona Paths - All-About-Arizona
- Photographic virtual tour of Arizona.
- An Oral History of Irish Dance in Arizona.
- Photos of Arizona - Terra Galleria
- Arizona Newspapers
- Arizona Fly Fishing opportunities
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