State of Arizona

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   Introduction    Arizona Top of Page
The first Native Americans arrived in Arizona between 16,000 BC and 10,000 BCE, while the history of Arizona as recorded by Europeans began when Marcos de Niza, a Franciscan, explored the area in 1539. Coronado's expedition entered the area in 1540–1542 during its search for Cíbola. Padre Eusebio Francisco 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 present-day Arizona became part of Mexico's northwest frontier upon the Mexican assertion of independence from Spain in 1821. The United States took possession of most of Arizona at the end of the Mexican-American 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. With the encouragement of Brigham Young, Mormons left Utah in the mid-to-late 19th century to settle in the Phoenix valley (known locally as the Valley of the Sun), Mesa, Tempe, Prescott, Snowflake, Heber, and many other Arizona towns. Arizona was admitted into the Union—officially becoming a U.S. state—on February 14, 1912. Phoenix was the site of a German and Italian prisoner of war camp during World War II. The site was purchased after the war by the Maytag family and is currently the Phoenix Zoo. Also located in the state were the War Relocation Authority's second- and third-largest Japanese American internment camps, Poston and Gila River.
   Geography    Arizona Top of Page
Geographic coordinates:
31°20'N to 37°N
109°3'W to 114°50'W
total: 114,006 sq mi
land: 113,642 sq mi
water: 364 sq mi
coastline: 0 miles
shoreline: 0 miles
Bordering States:
California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Colorado River 70 ft
highest point: Humphreys Peak 12,633 ft
Arizona is one of the Four Corners states. It borders New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, California, touches Colorado, and has a 389-mile (626 km) international border with Mexico. Arizona is the sixth largest state in area, after New Mexico and before Nevada. Aside from the Grand Canyon, a number of other National Forests, Parks, Monuments, and Indian reservations are located in the state. Of the state's 118,000 square miles, approximately 15% is privately owned. The remaining area is government forest and park land, recreation areas and Native American reservations. Arizona is best known for its desertic landscape, which is rich in xerophyte plants such as cactus. It is also known for its climate, which presents exceptionally hot summers and mild winters. Less well known is the pine-covered high country of the Colorado Plateau in the north-central portion of the state, which contrasts with the desertic Basin and Range region in the southern portions of the state. 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 2000-foot (600 m) 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. Arizona belongs firmly within the Basin and Range province of North America. The region was shaped by prehistoric volcanism, followed by a cooling-off and related subsidence. The entire region is slowly sinking. 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 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 4 to 18 miles (6 to 29 kilometers) 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 does not observe Daylight Saving Time, except in the Navajo Nation located in the northeastern region of the state.
   People    Arizona Top of Page
5,130,632 (2000)
Largest City:
Phoenix: 3,251,876 (2000)
Age structure:
0-5 years old: 7.8%
<18 years old: 26.9%
65 years and over: 12.7%
Male: 50.0% Female: 50.0%
Population growth rate:
15.8% (2000-2005)
Population density:
45.2 per sq mi
Race(2000 Census):
White: 63.8%
Hispanic: 25.3%
Black: 3.1%
Asian: 1.8%
Native American: 5.0%
Multi-Race: 2.9%
Christian: 80%
Other: 2%
Non-Religious: 18%
   Government    Arizona Top of Page
February 14, 1912 (48th State)
Local and County Government:
Separate legislative buildings for the House of Representatives and Senate were dedicated in 1960, and an Executive Office Building was dedicated in 1974 (the ninth floor of this building is where the Office of the Governor is located). The original Capitol building was converted into a museum. The Capitol complex is fronted and highlighted by the richly landscaped Wesley Bolin Memorial Park, named after Wesley Bolin, a governor who died in office in the 1970's. Numerous monuments and memorials are on the site, including the anchor and signal mast from the USS Arizona (one of the U.S. Navy ships sunk in Pearl Harbor); a granite version of the Ten Commandments; and the Arizona Vietnam Veterans' Memorial. Arizona's legislature is bicameral (like the legislature of every other state except Nebraska) and consists of a thirty-member Senate and a 60-member House of Representatives. Legislators are elected for two-year terms. Each Legislature covers a two-year period. The first session following the general election is known as the first regular session, and the session convening in the second year is known as the second regular session. Each regular session begins on the second Monday in January and adjourns sine die (terminates for the year) no later than Saturday of the week in which the 100th day from the beginning of the regular session falls. The President of the Senate and Speaker of the House, by rule, may extend the session up to seven additional days. Thereafter the session can only be extended by a majority vote of members present of each house.
State Tree:
Palo Verde
State Bird:
Cactus Wren
State Flower:
Saguaro Blossom
   Economy    Arizona Top of Page
Economy - overview:
The 2004 total gross state product was $187 billion. If Arizona (and each of the other US states) were an independent country along with all existing countries (2005), it would have the 61st largest economy in the world (CIA - The World Factbook). This figure gives Arizona a larger economy than such countries as 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, accounting for two-thirds of the nation's output.