Arizona

Cities

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Arizona

Arizona is a state in the Western United States, grouped in the Southwestern and occasionally Mountain subregions. It is the 6th largest and the 14th most populous of the 50 states. Its capital and largest city is Phoenix. Arizona shares the Four Corners region with Utah to the north, Colorado to the northeast, and New Mexico to the east; its other neighboring states are Nevada to the northwest and California to the west and the Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California to the south and southwest.

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”. Initially this term was applied by Spanish colonists only to an area near the silver mining camp of Planchas de Plata, Sonora. To the European settlers, the O’odham 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. A native Mexican of Basque ancestry established the ranchería (village) of Arizona between 1734 and 1736 in the current Mexican state of Sonora. It became notable after a significant discovery of silver there, c. 1737. The misconception that the state’s name purportedly originated from the Spanish term Árida Zona (“Arid Zone”) is considered a case of folk etymology.

Geography

Arizona is in the Southwestern United States as one of the Four Corners states. Arizona is the sixth largest state by area, ranked after New Mexico and before Nevada. Of the state’s 113,998 square miles (295,000 km2), approximately 15% is privately owned. The remaining area is public forest and park land, state trust land and Native American reservations. There are 24 National Park Service maintained sites in Arizona, including the three national parks of Grand Canyon National Park, Saguaro National Park, and the Petrified Forest National Park.

Arizona is well known for its desert Basin and Range region in the state’s southern portions, which is rich in a landscape of xerophyte plants such as the cactus. This region’s topography was shaped by prehistoric volcanism, followed by the cooling-off and related subsidence. Its climate has exceptionally hot summers and mild winters. The state is less well known for its pine-covered north-central portion of the high country of the Colorado Plateau.

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 to 120 °F (32 to 49 °C), with occasional high temperatures exceeding 125 °F (52 °C) 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 °F (−40 °C) was recorded at Hawley Lake on January 7, 1971.

Cities and Towns

Phoenix, in Maricopa County, is Arizona’s capital and largest city. Other prominent cities in the Phoenix metro area include Mesa (Arizona’s third largest city), Chandler (Arizona’s fourth largest city), Glendale, Peoria, 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 4.7 million. The average high temperature in July, 106 °F (41 °C), is 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. Located in Pima County, approximately 110 miles (180 km) southeast of Phoenix, it 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 site of the world’s largest collection of Saguaro cacti.

Demographics

The United States Census Bureau records Arizona’s population as 7,151,502 in the 2020 Census, a 12% increase since the 2010 United States Census. Arizona remained sparsely settled for most of the 19th century. The 1860 census reported the population of “Arizona County” to be 6,482, of whom 4,040 were listed as “Indians”, 21 as “free colored”, and 2,421 as “white”. Arizona’s continued population growth puts an enormous stress on the state’s water supply. As of 2011, 61% of Arizona’s children under age one belonged to racial groups of color.

The population of metropolitan Phoenix increased by 45% from 1991 through 2001, helping to make Arizona the second fastest-growing state in the U.S. in the 1990s (the fastest was Nevada). As of July 2018, the population of the Phoenix area is estimated to be over 4.9 million.

Languages

As of 2010, 73% (4,215,749) of Arizona residents age five and older spoke only English at home, while 21% (1,202,638) spoke Spanish, 2% (85,602) Navajo, <1% (22,592) German, <1% (22,426) Chinese (which includes Mandarin), <1% (19,015) Tagalog, <1% (17,603) Vietnamese, <1% (15,707) Other North American Indigenous Languages (especially indigenous languages of Arizona), and French was spoken as a main language by <1% (15,062) of the population over the age of five. In total, 27% (1,567,548) of Arizona’s population age five and older spoke a mother language other than English.

Religion

In 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).

According to the Association of Religion Data Archives, the fifteen largest denominations by number of adherents in 2010 and 2000 were:

Economy

The 2020 total gross state product was 373 billion. The composition of the state’s economy is moderately diverse; although health care, transportation and the government remain the largest sectors.

The state’s per capita income is $40,828, ranking 39th in the U.S. The state had a median household income of $50,448, making it 22nd in the country and just below the U.S. national mean. Early in its history, Arizona’s economy relied on the “five C’s”: copper, 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.

Public Transportation, Amtrak, and Intercity Bus

The Phoenix and Tucson metropolitan areas are served by public bus transit systems. Yuma and Flagstaff also have public bus systems. Greyhound Lines serves Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff, Yuma, and several smaller communities statewide. A light rail system, called Valley Metro Rail, was completed in December 2008; it connects Central Phoenix with the nearby cities of Mesa and Tempe.

In Tucson, the Sun Link streetcar system travels through the downtown area, connecting the main University of Arizona campus with Mercado San Agustin on the western edge of downtown Tucson. Sun Link, loosely based on the Portland Streetcar, launched in July 2014. Amtrak Southwest Chief route serves the northern part of the state, stopping at Winslow, Flagstaff, Williams and Kingman. The Texas Eagle and Sunset Limited routes serve South-Central Arizona, stopping at Tucson, Maricopa, Yuma and Benson. Phoenix lost Amtrak service in 1996 with the rerouting of the Sunset Limited, and now an Amtrak bus runs between Phoenix and the station in Maricopa. As of 2021, Amtrak has proposed to restore rail service between Phoenix and Tucson.

Art and Culture

Phoenix Art Museum, on the historic Central Avenue Corridor in Phoenix, is the Southwest’s largest collection of visual art from across the world. The museum displays international exhibitions alongside the museum’s collection of more than 18,000 works of American, Asian, European, Latin American, Western American, modern and contemporary art, and fashion design. With a community education mandate since 1951, Phoenix Art Museum holds a year-round program of festivals, live performances, independent art films and educational programs. The museum also has PhxArtKids, an interactive space for children; photography exhibitions through the museum’s partnership with the Center for Creative Photography; the landscaped Sculpture Garden and dining at Arcadia Farms.

Arizona is a recognized center of Native American art, with a number of galleries showcasing historical and contemporary works. The Heard Museum, also in Phoenix, is a major repository of Native American art. Some of the signature exhibits include a full Navajo hogan, the Mareen Allen Nichols Collection containing 260 pieces of contemporary jewelry, the Barry Goldwater Collection of 437 historic Hopi kachina dolls, and an exhibit on the 19th-century boarding school experiences of Native Americans. The Heard Museum has about 250,000 visitors a year.

Music

Arizona is prominently featured in the lyrics of many Country and Western songs, such as Jamie O’Neal’s hit ballad “There Is No Arizona”. George Strait’s “Oceanfront Property” uses “ocean front property in Arizona” as a metaphor for a sucker proposition. The line “see you down in Arizona Bay” is used in a Tool song in reference to the possibility (expressed as a hope by comedian Bill Hicks) that Southern California will one day fall into the ocean. Glen Campbell, a notable resident, popularized the song “By The Time I Get To Phoenix”.

Arizona is prominently featured in the lyrics of many Country and Western songs, such as Jamie O’Neal’s hit ballad “There Is No Arizona”. George Strait’s “Oceanfront Property” uses “ocean front property in Arizona” as a metaphor for a sucker proposition. The line “see you down in Arizona Bay” is used in a Tool song in reference to the possibility (expressed as a hope by comedian Bill Hicks) that Southern California will one day fall into the ocean. Glen Campbell, a notable resident, popularized the song “By The Time I Get To Phoenix”.

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