Arizona, abbreviated Ariz. or AZ (also referred to as the Grand Canyon State), is a state of the United States and borders south of Mexico, while the Colorado River forms the border with California and Nevada in the west. To the north, Arizona borders Utah, and east to New Mexico. Arizona has a total area of approx. 295,230 km2 and has 7,016,270 residents (US Census, 2017). Arizona was listed as the 48th state of the United States on February 14, 1912. The capital and largest city is Phoenix.
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Arizona can be roughly divided into two main geographical areas: the 1500-2000 meter high wooded Colorado Plateau in the north and the Gila Basin around the Gila River in the south. To the north, the Colorado River has carved one of the world’s most magnificent erosion valleys, the Grand Canyon. The mountains reach over 3000 meters, with Humphreys Peak (3851 meters) as the highest. The landscape in the south is dominated by a desert plain with isolated mountains and highlands.
The population of Arizona grew strongly from approx. 9,700 in 1870 to approx. 88,000 in 1890, partly due to gold and other mining operations and partly because Mormon leader Brigham Young sent missionaries and settlers south from Utah. They founded, among other things, the city of Mesa and large parts of the Valley of the Phoenix (“Valley of the sun”). After World War II. The population of Arizona grew sharply, largely due to the introduction of air conditioning, which made the warm climate of the state more suitable to live in. From 1945 to 1960, the population increased by about 160 percent, from approx. 500,000 to over 1.3 million residents. Between 1980 and 1990, growth was 35 percent, and from 1990 to 2000 a further approx. 40 percent. The main reason for the growth in these decades was the retiree’s escape from colder areas north and east of the United States to Arizona’s warm winter climate. The establishment of special areas such as Sun City and Green Valley contributed to this. In 2017, Arizona was the 6th fastest growing state in the United States (U.S. Census, 2017).
54.9 percent of the population is considered white, 31.4 percent are Hispanic (Hispanic or Latino), and black / African Americans make up five percent of the population. About 21 percent are Hispanic, most of Mexican origin. 5.3 percent are American Indigenous peoples; only California and Oklahoma have a larger indigenous population. The largest tribes are navajo, hopi, apache, papago and pima. Many live in the 17 reserves which cover an area of approx. 80 000 km2. 90 percent of the population lives in densely populated areas. The largest cities are the capital Phoenix with 1,514,000 residents and the university city of Tucson with 526,000 residents (US Census, 2017).
The industry is the most important industry with particular emphasis on the electrotechnical and electronic industry in connection with space research and defense. The mining operation is concentrated on copper, with Arizona accounting for more than half of the US total production. Also extraction of pumice, silver, gold, molybdenum, natural helium, vanadium, uranium and oil. Agriculture relies on artificial irrigation, and the state has two of the world’s largest dam plants, the Hoover and Glen Canyon ponds. The Central Arizona Project (1968) is a large federal water channel that supplies water to cities like Tucson and Phoenix. Since the 1930s, Arizona has been in litigation with California over the Colorado River’s water resources, as Arizona claims California uses more water than they are entitled to. After a series of Supreme Court judgments (including in 1963, 1983 and 2000), the dispute is still under judicial oversight.
The state’s most important agricultural product is cotton, but also fruit and vegetable production. The favorable climate and numerous natural attractions such as Monument Valley (on the Utah border), Petrified Forest and not least the Grand Canyon have made tourist traffic the state’s fourth most important source of income.
Arizona sends two senators and nine representatives to Congress.
Arizona was inhabited by a number of tribal communities, including Navaho and Apache, for thousands of years before the first Europeans arrived. The first, who came from Mexico, was led by the Spanish Franciscan monk Marcos de Niza in 1539. During the period 1692-1711 a number of mission stations were built, and Spaniards built so-called “presidios” in Tubac in 1752 and in Tucson in 1775. When Spain relinquished Arizona to Mexico in 1821, the present Arizona became part of Nueva California, also called Alta California.
After the US-Mexico War 1846-1848, most of Arizona became American in 1848. In 1854, the area south of the Gila River was acquired through the so-called Gadsden acquisition in 1854. During the American Civil War, the area – along with western parts of present-day New Mexico – organized as territory in 1863. The wars between the settlers and the Apaches, led by Geronimo, continued until 1886. The area was established as a state and admitted to the Union in 1912 as the last of the 48 central states of the continental United States.