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Welcome to Arizona

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Arizona State Flag
Arizona State Flag
Arizona State Seal
Arizona State Seal
Arizona Location
Arizona Location


Arizona was the 48th state admitted to the United States and is part of the Southwest United States. It is one of the Four Corners states, south and east of the Colorado River, bordering New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, California and Mexico.

Its major cities are Phoenix, Tucson, Yuma and Flagstaff. Besides the Grand Canyon, a number of other National Forests, Parks, Monuments and Indian reservations are located in the state.

Historians disagree about the origin of the name "Arizona" and its attachment to the region. Three possible derivations are:

  • Spanish derivative, "arizonac", of the Pima or Papago word "al shon" or "aleh zon" meaning little or young spring.
  • Spanish words "árida zona" meaning arid zone
  • Aztec word "arizuma" meaning silver bearing

Arizonac is a small town about eight miles south of the United States-Mexican border. Its name was probably derived from the Pima or Papago name for the place. In 1736 a small silver-mining camp called "Real Arissona" by the Spanish was established near the town. 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.

USS Arizona was named in honor of this state.

State nicknames "The Grand Canyon State" or "The Copper State"
State motto Ditat Deus (God Enriches)
Capital Phoenix
Largest City Phoenix
Governor (2004) Janet Napolitano
- Total
- Land
- Water
- % water
Ranked 6th
295,254 km²
294,312 km²
942 km²
- Total (2000)
- Density
Ranked 20th
Admittance into Union
- Order
- Date

February 14, 1912
Time zone Mountain: UTC-7 (Arizona doesn't observe DST except in the Navajo Nation)
31°20'N to 37°N
109°3'W to 114°50'W
- Highest
- Mean
- Lowest
500 km
645 km

3,851 meters
1,250 meters
21 meters
FIPS Code 04
ISO 3166-2 US-AZ
The Grand Canyon State
State Bird Cactus Wren
State Mammal Ringtail Cat
State Capital Phoenix
State Flower Saguaro Blossom
State Songs "Arizona March Song" and "Arizona"
State Tree Palo Verde
State Fossil Petrified wood
State Gem Turquoise
State Neakwear Bola Tie


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 1690's and early 1700's. 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 1821. 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.

At the direction of Brigham Young, Mormons came from Utah in the mid to late 1800s to the Phoenix Valley (or "Valley of the Sun"), Mesa, Tempe, Prescott, Snowflake, Heber and many other Arizona towns to settle there. One of the first Latter-day Saint temples built in the Southwest was the Mesa temple, finished in 1927.

Arizona was admitted into the Union on February 14, 1912.

Law and Government

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. Napolitano was born in New York City, moving to Arizona after graduating from law school in 1983, whereupon she clerked for a U.S. Appeals Court judge before joining a Phoenix law firm. She became a partner in 1989. She was appointed United States Attorney for the District of Arizona by President Bill Clinton in 1993. In 1998, Napolitano was elected as the first female Attorney General by Arizona voters. During this time, she prosecuted a number of cases -- many backlogged -- and established herself in the eyes of many voters as a guardian of children, the elderly, women, and the environment.

The two Arizona US Senators are Senator John McCain (Republican) and Senator Jon Kyl (Republican). 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 (R-7), and Jim Kolbe (R-8). Arizona gained two seats in the House of Representatives due to redistricting based on Census 2000.


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 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.


  • Largest City: Phoenix
  • Highest Point: Humphreys Peak - 12,633 ft. near Flagstaff
  • Lowest Point: Colorado River - 70 ft.


Early in its history, Arizona's economy relied on the "five C's": copper, cotton, cattle, citrus and climate (i.e., tourism). At one point Arizona was the largest producer of cotton in the country. Copper is still found in abundance from many of its small mining towns. (See, for instance, Bisbee, Ajo or Globe.) While the state government itself is the state's largest employer, Wal-Mart is the state's largest private employer with 17,343 employees in 2003. Arizona lost much of its advantage as a high-technology 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.


Population Breakdown:

  • White: 75.5% (Not of Hispanic Origin: 63.8)
  • Native: 5.0
  • African American: 3.1
  • Asian: 1.8
  • Hawaiian or Pacific Islander: 0.1
  • Other Race: 11.6
  • Persons reporting two or more races: 2.9%

According to 2003 Census esimates, Arizona has the second highest number of the 2,752,158 Native Americans in the country with over 10% of the country's total at 286,680. It is preceded by California at 410,501 and followed by Oklahoma at 278,124

Important cities and towns


Towns > 100,000 population
Towns < 100.000 population

Notable People

Famous Arizonans also include 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 and former Senator Barry Goldwater 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.

Colleges and Universities

State universities
Community colleges
Private colleges and trade schools
Arizona State University
Phoenix Community College
American Graduate School of International Management
University of Arizona
Glendale Community College
American Indian College of the Assemblies of God
Northern Arizona University
Mesa Community College
DeVry University, Phoenix
Scottsdale Community College
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Pima Community College
Grand Canyon University
Eastern Arizona College
Prescott College
Yavapai Community College
Southwestern College
Rio Salado Community College
University of Phoenix
Prescott College
Western International University
Education associations
Cochise College
Arizona Music Educators Association
South Mountain Community College
Arizona Western College

Professional sports teams

  • Arizona Diamondbacks (Major League Baseball)
  • Arizona Cardinals (National Football League)
  • Phoenix Suns (National Basketball Association)
  • Phoenix Mercury (Women's National Basketball Association)
  • Phoenix Coyotes (National Hockey League)
  • Tucson Sidewinders (minor league baseball)

Spring training

Arizona is a popular location for Major League Baseball spring training. The state hosts the following major league teams (called the Cactus league) for spring training:

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