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Summary Article: Arizona
From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

State in southwestern USA, bordered to the east by New Mexico, to the south by the Mexican state of Sonora, to the west by the Mexican state of Baja California and the US states of California and Nevada, and to the north by Utah and, at the ‘Four Corners’ to the northeast, Colorado; area 294,313 sq km/113,635 sq mi; population (2010) 6,392,017; capital and largest city Phoenix. A desert state of mountains, plateaux, and dry basins, Arizona is renowned for its natural wonders, such as Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon. The Colorado River marks the state's boundary between Nevada and California. Service industries, including tourism, provide the main source of revenue, but copper, molybdenum, silver, and gold mining, and aeronautics, high technology (computers), optics and photonics, bioscience, and renewable energy development are also important activities. Cotton is grown under irrigation, and ranching is widespread. Tucson is the second largest city; other major conurbations include Mesa, Tempe, Chandler, Scottsdale, Glendale, and Flagstaff in the north, and Yuma on the Californian border. Arizona has the third largest (behind California and Oklahoma) American Indian population in the USA, with 21 federally-recognized peoples (including the Navajo, Apache, and Hopi) occupying over 5.8 million ha/14.7 million acres, or 28%, of Arizona's land. Arizona was admitted to the Union on 14 February 1912 as the 48th US state.

Physical Arizona is a desert state, improved by irrigation in relatively recent times to produce areas capable of supporting crops. The state has very little rainfall and relies heavily on its dams and reservoirs. At Flagstaff the annual average precipitation is 46.51 cm/18.31 in, while Phoenix averages 19.41cm/7.64 in and Yuma's annual average is 8.31 cm/3.27 in.

Arizona consists of three main desert land areas: the Colorado Plateau to the north and east, the transition zone, and the Basin and Range region to the south and southwest. The Colorado Plateau has large desert basins in the north. Its main feature is the Grand Canyon, a vast rock gorge 350 km/217 mi long, 6–29 km/4–18 mi wide, and in places over 1.7 km/1.1 mi deep, with the Colorado River flowing through its centre. Also in northern Arizona is the Painted Desert, in which light, coloured rocks, and dust combine to produce colourful effects. The Petrified Forest National Park, in the same region, has the highest concentration of petrified forests in the world.

Cholla, creosote bushes, prickly pear cacti, yucca plants, and wild flowers, including geranium, paintbrush, phlox, pink, poppy, and sand verbena, grow widely in Arizona. Giant, blossoming saguaro cacti harbour Arizona's tiny cactus wren, which nests in thorny desert plants. Many different kinds of lizard, rattlesnake, scorpion, and tarantula thrive in the desert conditions.

The highest mountain in the state is Humphreys Peak (3,850 m/12,634 ft), north of Flagstaff. The Colorado Plateau ends in the Mogollon Rim, an escarpment across the centre of the state that separates the plateau from the transition zone, and features the Mazatzal, Santa Maria, Sierra Ancha, and White Mountain ranges. This part of the state is the most densely forested, with aspen, blue spruce, juniper, pinon, and walnut trees. Larger animals, such as mountain sheep, bobcats, mountain lions, ringtails, ocelots, and wild pigs, are found in this region.

The southern part of the state is a Basin and Range region, and includes the mountain ranges Hiricahua, Gila, Huachuca, Hualapai, Pinaleno, Santa Catalina, Santa Rosa, and Superstition. To the southwest lies the Sonoran Desert. In the west the main source of irrigation is the Colorado River, allowing crops to be grown. Other rivers include the Little Colorado, Gila, and Bill Williams, tributaries of the Colorado. Arizona has a unique kind of trout known as the Arizona trout. All lakes of any significance in the state, such as Roosevelt Lake and San Carlos Lake, are artificially created by dams.

Features Arizona's main attractions are the Grand Canyon, a World Heritage Site, and the state's American Indian lands, communities, and archaeological sites.

Canyon de Chelly National Monument, part of the Navajo Indian Reservation in northeastern Arizona, contains evidence of over 15,000 years of human occupation, including the remains of rock paintings and cliff dwellings created by the ancient Anasazi people. Walnut Canyon National Monument contains cave-dwellings built by American Indian Sinagua peoples in the 11th and 12th centuries. The Hopi Indian Reservation includes Hopi mesa-top villages that have been inhabited for over 800 years, making them the oldest continuously-inhabited settlements in the USA. The Navajo National Monument, in the northwest portion of the Navajo reservation, is the largest archaeological site in Arizona, and contains three separate Anasazi ruins. The Apache Trail (Highway 88) runs through the Superstition Mountains to the forested Tonto National Monument, which contains the remains of mid-14th-century cliff pueblos (villages) built by the American Indian Salado people; the ruins now overlook Roosevelt Lake. Spanish and Mexican architecture is widely found, including colonial estates, haciendas, and 17th-century missions, such as the Mission San Xavier del Bac.

The Grand Canyon National Park includes 443 km/277 mi of the Colorado River and Grand Canyon Caverns, and receives about 5 million visitors a year. The entire canyon contains towering buttes, mesas, and valleys within its main gorge. Among Arizona's many other outstanding natural features are the Red Rock Country around Sedona; the Coconino National Forest, which adjoins the Wupatki National Monument; Monument Valley, the Petrified Forest National Park, and the Painted Desert in the northeast; the Black Mesa, from which the mesas of the Hopi rise; Havasu Canyon on the California border, which contains the Havasupai Indian Reservation; Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument in the San Francisco Volcanic Field near Flagstaff; the rugged Mogollon Rim; Oak Creek Canyon near Sedona; Salt River Canyon Wilderness; Picacho Peak State Park in the Sonoran Desert, northwest of Flagstaff; Saguaro National Monument near Tucson, with the Santa Catalina Mountains; the wilderness area of the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and neighbouring Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge in the southwest; the forested Superstition Mountains near Phoenix; the Apache and Sitgreaves national forests along the Mogollon Rim and White Mountains; and the Colorado River. Barringer Crater near Winslow is a 1.2 km-/0.7 mi-wide impact crater caused by a meteorite about 50,000 years ago.

Evidence of the old American West includes early Mexican missions and ghost towns. Tombstone, a former silver-mining town, was the site of the gunfight at the OK Corral, commemorated in Tombstone Courthouse state historic park. The ghost towns of Ruby, Gillette, and Gunsight are also popular tourist destinations. Bisbee, located in Tombstone Canyon, was a major copper-mining centre and was once the largest city between St Louis, Missouri, and San Francisco, California. Scottsdale contains Taliesin West, designed by the US architect Frank Lloyd Wright to be his Arizona home. The world's largest solar telescope is located at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in the Quinlan Mountains near Tucson; the Lowell Observatory, established by Percival Lowell in 1896, is sited at Flagstaff. London Bridge, which was moved stone by stone from the UK in 1971, now spans part of the Colorado River at Lake Havasu City. BioSphere 2, a giant sealed glass bubble that housed a sealed ecological test project 1991–93, is located just north of Tucson.

Culture Arizona's culture has a unique American Indian dimension. There were 296,529 American Indians in Arizona in the 2010 census, 4.6% of the state's total population. The best known are the Navajo and Hopi peoples in the northeast; other peoples include the Mojave on the Colorado River Reservation, the Tohono O'odham (Papago) on the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation, the Pima, and the Apache. American Indian lands are distributed throughout the state and are considered among the state's major tourist attractions.

Arizona's American Indian peoples emphasize traditional tribal culture. The Navajo Indian Reservation is the largest tract of American Indian land in the USA; many Navajo live on farms on the reservation. The Navajo and Mojave are known for their weaving, jewellery, sand paintings, and other crafts, while the Hopi in northern Arizona are renowned for their pottery and ceremonial dances. Many American Indians run resorts, craft centres, and casinos on the reservations. The annual Navajo Nation Fair is held in September at Window Rock. American Indian history and heritage can be seen at the Arizona State Museum and the Fort Lowell Museum in Tucson. Other museums and centres specializing in American Indian culture and crafts include the Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park, the Deer Valley Rock Art Center, and Mesa Southwest Museum, all in Phoenix; and Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff; the Navajo Nation Museum at Window Rock; the San Carlos Apache Cultural Center in Peridot; and the Smoki Museum and Sharlot Hall Museum in Prescott.

Mexican culture, such as the spring national festival Cinco de Mayo, is widely celebrated. Nogales, on the Mexican border, has many Mexican handicrafts and authentic Sonoran food. Arizona has a thriving culture of art appreciation and practice, especially in the visual arts. Phoenix and Tucson are home to the state opera company, and Phoenix has a ballet company. The state's art collections include the Phoenix Art Museum and the Heard Museum, Phoenix. The geology and natural history of the southwest can be explored at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Other centres of learning include the University of Arizona at Tucson and Arizona State University with campuses at Tempe, Phoenix, and Mesa.

Arizona's climate attracts golfers from all over the world, and Phoenix has professional teams in all major sports: baseball, American football, hockey, men's and women's basketball, and soccer. Arizona is a major winter tourist centre and retirement destination. It has more national parks and monuments than any other state and attracts millions of outdoor enthusiasts and spa-goers every year.

GovernmentArizona's state constitution Arizona is governed under its original constitution, adopted in 1911, and heavily amended since. Amendments are proposed by a majority of both houses of the state legislature, or by petition from the voters, or by a constitutional convention. Amendments are then approved by a majority of the voters in an election.

Structure of state government The legislature has a 30-member Senate and a 60-member House of Representatives. Arizona's 30 legislative districts elect one senator and two representatives, each to two-year terms. There is a limit of four consecutive terms, but no limit to the total number of terms. The dominant political party in Arizona is the Republican party, which has controlled both houses of the legislature since 1993.

The governor of Arizona is not limited to a specific number of terms, but may not serve more than two terms in a row and is elected to a four-year term. Republican Janice K Brewer took the governorship in January 2009. Arizona has no lieutenant governor. The secretary of state, attorney general, state treasurer, and superintendent of public instruction all serve four-year terms and no more than two in a row.

The state sends nine representatives and two senators to the US Congress and has 11 electoral votes in presidential elections. Since 1948, only once (in 1996, with Bill Clinton) has a Democrat presidential election nominee attracted more votes in Arizona than the Republican.

The Supreme Court has five justices appointed to six-year terms by the governor. Voters decide whether a judge should be retained. The justices elect a chief justice for a five-year term. The state court of appeals is divided between 16 judges in Phoenix and six judges in Tucson, serving six-year terms.

Arizona has 15 counties and over 80 incorporated cities and towns, governed by boards of supervisors serving four-year terms, and a county-manager or an administrator. Most of Arizona's cities are governed by city-managers.

Economy Service industries provide the state's main revenue, tourism being particularly important. Arizona is a leading state for mining, producing more than half of the USA's annual output of copper. Extraction of silver and molybdenum (used for hardening steel and in other alloys) is also significant. Cotton farming, under irrigation, and livestock ranching are the main agricultural activities. Important industries include aeronautics, high technology (computers), optics and photonics, bioscience, and renewable energy development.

HistoryIndigenous peoples Arizona's first inhabitants were the Hohokam, Anasazi, and Sinagua people. The Pima, Tohono O'odham (Papago), Yuman, Maricopa, and others lived in the south, and had developed irrigated agriculture in what became the Phoenix area by the time Europeans arrived. The Havasupai and Hualapai lived in the Grand Canyon area. Shortly before Europeans entered the region, the nomadic Navajo and Apache migrated from the northern Great Plains into northern Arizona and ousted the sedentary Hopi.

First Europeans The first European to visit the Arizona region was probably the Spanish Franciscan monk Marcos de Niza in 1539. Spanish gold seekers also explored the area, including the Coronado expedition of 1540. Missionaries attempted to spread Christian culture to the American Indians throughout the 1600s. Arizona became part of New Spain from 1752 and, after the Indians attempted to drive out the Spaniards, Spanish troops established forts at Tubac and Tucson in 1775.

Expansion of Arizona territory Spain was forced to retreat from Arizona after Mexico won its independence in 1821, and Arizona became part of the Mexican state of Nueva California. Following the Mexican War (1846–48) between the USA and Mexico over land disputed in Texas, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848) gave the USA clear title to Texas, California, and New Mexico, including parts of what is now southern Arizona, in exchange for $15 million. The Gadsden Purchase in 1853 added more land to the south, forming the present-day border with Mexico. Arizona was administered as part of the territory of New Mexico.

American-Indian wars After 1848 Arizona developed rapidly as a result of the California gold rush, as prospectors and settlers crossed the region to reach the gold fields in the West, although the Navajo and Apache fought back against those who attempted to settle. During the Civil War (1861–65), Confederate troops were sent to occupy Arizona and New Mexico, but the area saw no major Civil War action. In 1863 Arizona received territory status, although American Indian hostilities continued to trouble the settlers. The Navajo were defeated in 1864 by Kit Carson, a frontier settler and guide, but the Apache leaders Cochise, Geronimo, and Mangas Coloradas continued to lead raids until 1886 when Geronimo finally surrendered.

Statehood Copper-mining developed into a flourishing industry in the 1870s and 1880s, and Arizonans pressed for statehood. A constitution drawn up in 1910 advocated the right to remove judges from office by recall, but the constitution was not approved until 14 February 1912, when the recall clause had been removed (one of the first acts of the Arizona state legislature was to reinstate this clause). Arizona's first governor was George W P Hunt, a Democrat. A major figure in Arizona's early statehood, Hunt served as governor 1912–19, 1923–29, and 1931–33, and was noted for policies that promoted labour and prison reform.

From the 1920s irrigation began to be carried out on a colossal scale. The Roosevelt Dam (1911) on Salt River and Hoover Dam (1936) on the Colorado River provided the state with both hydroelectric power and irrigation water, and the copper industry continued its rapid growth, even employing new workers during the Great Depression. Many air bases were built in Arizona during World War II (1939–45) and the state was temporarily the site of German and Japanese prisoner-of-war and internment camps during the war. As air conditioning technology was introduced in the 1950s for domestic use, making bearable its hot summers, Americans moved into the state in increasing numbers and the population has since grown rapidly.

In 1965 Lorna Lockwood was elected chief justice of the Arizona Supreme Court, becoming the first woman in the USA to head a state supreme court.

Contemporary Arizona In 1974 land disputes between the Hopi and Navajo were resolved when Congress gave each tribe half of a 720,000 ha-/1,800,000-acre reservation area in northeastern Arizona. The American Indian reservations developed rapidly in the last quarter of the 20th century, and many now operate factories and recreational sites. Arizona has seen a sharp rise in tourism and become a popular retirement destination. During the early 21st century the population of Arizona rose by more than three times the national average. Manufacturing has diversified to include electrical goods and computers. In 1987 Rose Mofford became Arizona's first woman state governor, and in 1999 Arizona became the first state in history to have its top five elected political posts filled by women.

Famous peoplethe arts Linda Ronstadt, singer (1946– ); Steven Spielberg, film director (1946– ); Alice Cooper, singer (1948– ); Stevie Nicks, singer (1948– ); Lynda Carter, actor (1951– )

science Percival Lowell (1855–1916), astronomer

politics and lawCochise (c. 1815–1874), Apache leader; Geronimo (1829–1909), Apache leader; Wyatt Earp (1848–1929), frontier law officer; George Hunt (1859–1934), Democrat governor; Barry Goldwater (1909–1998), Republican senator; Sandra Day O'Connor (1930– ), Supreme Court Justice; John McCain, Republican senator (1936– )


American states


Grand Canyon


Arizona – flag

Arizona desert

copper mining


desert outpost

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

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