Arizona is considered to be one of the Western states and is the sixth-largest state in the U.S. by area.
While Arizona began slowly, with most of its population in the cities, this has started to change around the middle of the twentieth century when both suburban and cities were starting to grow quickly.
Quick Facts about Arizona
- Arizona is added as the 48th state of the United States on February 14, 1912
- As of the 2019 Census, Arizona has a population of 7.279 million people.
- The capital city of Arizona is Phoenix
- Arizona’s size is 113,998 square miles.
- The highest point in Arizona is Humphreys Peak, which is the remains of a stratovolcano.
The state’s name is thought to originate from the Spanish Basque phrase that roughly translates to “place of oaks.” However, there are other experts that give credit to the Native American Papago phrase of “place of the young (or little) spring.” Arizona was added as the 48th state of the United States in 1912.
Many call Arizona the place of contradictions because it has extremes on a variety of scales. In some areas, it is desert, low-elevation, and very hot, with the type of plant and animal life expected in the desert region.
Other areas in the state are at an elevation of 4,000 feet above sea level and have some of the largest standing evergreen ponderosa pine trees that exist in the world. The state has many areas of the desert that are waterless, but it also now has a lot of large man-made lakes.
The most spectacular of its features are the Grand Canyon and the Painted desert which have become international symbols of the wild west of America.
The ecosystem and environment of Arizona is very delicate and could be altered quickly by any massive pollution sources. The reputation of Arizona has always been one of simplicity and very down-to-earth.
Arizona is bordered by Nevada, California, Utah, New Mexico, and Mexico’s Sonora, and is in the southwestern part of the United States. For all of its desert, it brags the Colorado River that winds through and within the boundary of Nevada and California. The topography of Arizona is incredible and is due to the thin sections of the earth’s crust moving and shifting in plate tectonics. As the plates move they stretch, crunch, and wrinkle to form Arizona’s basins, plateaus, and mountain ranges.
The Gulf of California and the eastern Pacific Ocean brings moisture-rich air in July to Arizona so that the state has over two months of intermittent rain. The rain often appears as thunderstorms and is called the “summer monsoon.” If any rain happens in the winter it comes from the Pacific.
Meteor Crater was once called Canyon Diablo Crater and is the result of a meteorite impact (not a meteor). It’s around 35 miles east of Flagstaff, Arizona and not far from Winslow. Meteor crater is 2.4 miles in circumference, 1 mile across and over 550 feet deep. The site has been used in a variety of movies and television shows.
The Painted Desert is a breathtaking landscape in Northern Arizona. Named for the gorgeous bands of color that span a variety of rock types. The colors are layers that have been exposed due to erosion.
Grand Canyon National Park is known around the world. Created by 6 million of years of the Colorado River slicing a channel through the surrounding hills and plateaus. Scientists that study the canyon have identified and dated many of the layers that are exposed to show the changes in the area.
The Petrified Forest National Park has the world’s largest amount of petrified wood in incredible colors. The park is very large, covering 218,533 acres and is one of the only places in the world for the many types and varieties of petrified wood.
London Bridge is in Lake Havasu, Arizona and is the original 1830s bridge from London that spanned the River Thames. In 1967 is was dismantled and moved to Lake Havasu.
Hoover Dam’s original name was Boulder Dam and it’s an arch-gravity dam made of concrete on the border of Nevada and Arizona, covering the Black Canyon of the Colorado River. Its construction took five years, from 1931 through 1936.
The Lowell Observatory is in Flagstaff, Arizona and was named after the famous astronomer, Percival Lowell. Founded in 1894, this observatory is one of the oldest in the U.S. and still has the original 24-inch Alvan Clark Telescope that is used today for the education of the public.
Biosphere 2 is in Oracle, Arizona and was one of two biospheres originally created as an experiment in creating a true ecosystem. It is used as a science research facility with a mission to act as a center for research, teaching, outreach, and learning about Earth as well as its place in the universe.
The Agua Fria National Monument is in Cleator, Arizona and is a 71,100 acre monument that includes over 450 distinct Native American structures. The selection is incredible, with some of these pueblo style structures containing over one hundred rooms each.
Canyon de Chelly National Monument, in Chinle, Arizona is 131 square miles and includes the rims and floors over three of Arizona’s major canyons: de Chelly, del Muerto, and Monument. Originally cut by streams from the Chuska Mountain headwaters, the monument is a pride of Arizona.
Casa Grande National Monument is in Coolidge, Arizona and is made up of ruins from a number of structures that are surrounded by a compound wall made by the Hohokam. The indigenous tribe were farmers in the early 1200s in the Gila Valley.
SP Crater in Coconino County, Arizona is the remnants of a cinder cone volcano. The base of the cone is 820 feet tall and 3,900 feet across. It has the remainders of its lava flow that goes out four miles.
Saguaro National Park was established in 1933 as Saguaro National Monument and was changed in 1994 to a national park. The park has is 143 square miles.
Sunset Crater is also in Coconino Arizona and has been named for the beautifully colored scoria deposits in the cone. It is an old volcano that erupted between 1080 and 1150 AD. Sunset Crater is thought to be the youngest of over 550 vents of the huge San Francisco volcanic field.
Important Moments in History
- The western and southwestern states were added to the union much later than other states. As the 48th state, Arizona earned its statehood in 1912. Most of the early years Arizona was part of the Spanish territories known as New Mexico until it ceded to the U.S. in 1848. At that time Arizona became its own separate territory by 1863.
- The 1500s brought exploration to the New World by many European countries. Spain made claim to much of what is now the western United States, including the land that is known as Arizona.
- By the 1800s Mexico took control from Spain of the western territories, however, in 1848 the United States won the Mexican war and they ceded much of the land to the U.S. including areas of Arizona north of the Gila River. The Gasden Purchase claimed the rest of what is now Arizona.
- As with much of the west and southwest, the Europeans and settlers were trying to take over land that had belong to the Natives for thousands of years, so early history involved many battles with the tribes as they fought to protect their land.
- These battles with the Native tribes continued through the 1800s and slowly the settlers expanded so that by the mid-1800s they had the first stagecoach and then gold was discovered in Arizona. During this time period the Apaches fought the soldiers and settlers for ten years.
- In 1863 the U.S. Congress established Arizona as a territory and named Prescott as the capital. It took until 1889 before the capital was moved to Phoenix.
- 1864 was a sad year for the Native Americans in Arizona. Kit Carson captured around 7,000 Navajo Native American in Canyon de Chelly, which ultimately forced them to leave Arizona.
- 1881 brought about the railroad through Arizona which allowed expansion and growth of many of the southwestern areas.
- 1881 was also the year of one of the most famous gunfights in American history. On October 26, 1881 Wyatt Earp, together with his brothers and Doc Holliday had a gunfight at the O.K. Corral that killed some of the men that had been suspected of being cattle rustlers.
- On Valentine’s Day in 1912, Arizona became the official 48th state of the U.S. with Phoenix listed as the capital. Arizona became the sixth largest state in the union by area.
- In 1919 the Grand Canyon National Park was officially founded.
- In 1930, astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, discovered the planet Pluto at Flagstaff’s Lowell Observatory.
- In 1936, the Hoover Dam was finally completed, having taken 5 years for the process.
- It took until 1948 for Native Americans to earn the right to vote.
- One of the biggest problems in the west and southwest is access to water. In 1963, the U.S. Supreme Court made the decision that Arizona had the right to maintain large amounts of water from the Colorado River.
- 1968 brought about an oddity in that the London Bridge in England was really falling down and the decision was made to deconstruct it and move it to Lake Havasu Arizona.
- Many of the Native Americans were now delegated to living on reservations. In 1974 the U.S. Congress divided the Hopi Reservation between the Navajo and Hopi Native Americans.
- Addressing the continued water problems and claims, the Central Arizona Project piped additional water from the Colorado River to Phoenix in 1985 and by 1991 to Tucson, Arizona.
Arizona’s state bird is the cactus wren
The nickname for Arizona is Grand Canyon State
The Arizona state flower is the flower of the saguaro cactus
Land area of Arizona: 113,595 square miles
Arizona has 24 National Park Service units in Arizona including three national parks (Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest, Saguaro), and another four national monuments administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
As one of the later states to be incorporated into the union, Arizona’s expansion was delayed longer than some of the original states. However, Arizona has been focused on not only catching up but exceeding all expectations. The state has become one of the most dynamic and fastest-growing in the United States. The city of Phoenix is now the fifth most populated in the U.S. and as more start-up and Fortune 500 companies look to Arizona for relocation, this expansion doesn’t seem to be slowing down. The key aspects that attract businesses are the competitive tax condition combined with beautiful weather, cultural diversity, and of course, the scenery.
The original economy was based on mining and agriculture, and while these are still maintained, they are maintained in the state’s rural areas. Arizona currently boasts growth in electronics, aerospace, tourism, manufacturing of semi-conductors, back-office operations, and business services. Arizona has escalated their exports to including mining and agriculture. One of the more recent successes in Arizona has been in their rental industry which includes business rentals. Thanks to Arizona’s size and expansion in cities, real estate has been another area that has brought a positive economy.
As of 2016, the Arizona GDP was $267,472,000,000, which is around 1.64% of the GDP of the United States. It makes the Arizona 21st in state economies.