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State Guide

The State of Arizona is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. The capital and largest city is Phoenix. The five next largest cities are Tucson, Mesa, Chandler, Glendale, and Scottsdale. Arizona was the 48th and last of the contiguous states admitted to the Union on February 14, 1912. Arizona is noted for its desert climate, exceptionally hot summers, and mild winters, but the high country in the north features pine forests and mountain ranges with cooler weather than the lower deserts. New population figures for the year ending July 1, 2006 indicate that Arizona was at that time the fastest growing state in the United States, exceeding the growth of the previous leader, Nevada.

Arizona is one of the Four Corners states. It borders New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, California, touches Colorado, and has a 389-mile (626 km) international border with the states of Sonora and Baja California in Mexico. In addition to the Grand Canyon, many other national forests, parks, monuments, and Indian reservations are located in the state.


Arizona is located in the Western United States as one of the Four Corners states. Arizona is the sixth largest state in area, after New Mexico and before Nevada. Of the state's 118,000 square miles (3.06×105 km²), approximately 15% is privately owned. The remaining area is public forest and park land, recreation areas and Native American reservations.

Arizona is best known for its desert landscape, which is rich in xerophyte plants such as cactus. It is also known for its climate, which presents exceptionally hot summers and mild winters. Less well known is the pine-covered high country of the Colorado Plateau in the north-central portion of the state, which contrasts with the desert Basin and Range region in the southern portions of the state.

Like other states of the Southwest, Arizona has an abundance of topographical characteristics in addition to its desert climate. More than half of the state features mountains and plateaus and contains the largest stand of Ponderosa pine in the world. The Mogollon Rim, a 2,000-foot (610 m) 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. Arizona belongs firmly within the Basin and Range region of North America. The region was shaped by prehistoric volcanism, followed by a cooling-off and related subsidence. The entire region is slowly sinking.

The Grand Canyon is a colorful, steep-sided gorge, carved by the Colorado River, in northern Arizona. The canyon is one of the seven natural wonders of the world and is largely contained in the Grand Canyon National Park—one of the first national parks in the United States. President Theodore Roosevelt was a major proponent of designating the Grand Canyon area, visiting on numerous occasions to hunt mountain lion and enjoy the scenery.

The Canyon was created by the Colorado River cutting a channel over millions of years, and is about 277 miles (446 km) long, ranges in width from 4 to 18 miles (6 to 29 kilometers) and attains a depth of more than 1 mile (1.6 km). Nearly 2 billion years of the Earth's history has been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut through layer after layer of sediment as the Colorado Plateaus have uplifted.

Arizona is home to one of the largest and most well-preserved meteorite impact sites in the world. The Barringer Meteorite Crater (better known simply as "Meteor Crater") is a gigantic hole in the middle of the high plains of the Colorado Plateau, about 25 miles (40 km) west of Winslow. A rim of smashed and jumbled boulders, some of them the size of small houses, rises 150 feet (46 m) above the level of the surrounding plain. The crater itself is nearly a mile wide, and 570 feet (174 m) deep.

Arizona does not observe Daylight Saving Time, except in the Navajo Nation, located in the northeastern region of the state.


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 hot summers. Typically, from late fall to early spring, the weather is mild, averaging a minimum of 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 °C). November through February are the coldest months with temperatures typically ranging from 40–75 °F (4–24 °C), although occasional frosts are not uncommon. About midway through February, the temperatures start to rise again with warm days, and cool breezy nights. The summer months of May through July bring a dry heat ranging from 90–120 °F (32–48 °C), with occasional high temperatures exceeding 125 °F (52 °C) having been observed in the desert area.

Due to the primarily dry climate, large temperature swings often occur between day and night in less developed areas of the desert. The swings can be as large as 50 °F (28 °C) in the summer months. In the state's urban centers, the effects of local warming result in much higher measured nighttime lows than in the recent past.

Arizona has an average annual rainfall of 12.7 inches (323 mm), which comes during two rainy seasons, with cold fronts coming from the Pacific Ocean during the winter and a monsoon in the summer. The monsoon season occurs towards the end of summer. In July or August, the dewpoint rises dramatically for a brief period. During this time, the air contains large amounts of water vapor. Dewpoints as high as 81°F (27 °C) have been recorded during the Phoenix monsoon season. This hot moisture brings lightning, thunderstorms, wind, and torrential, if usually brief, downpours. It is rare for tornadoes and hurricanes to occur in Arizona, but there are records of both occurring.

However, the northern third of Arizona is a plateau at significantly higher altitudes than the lower desert, and has an appreciably cooler climate, with cold winters and mild summers. Extreme cold temperatures are not unknown; cold air systems from the northern states and Canada occasionally push into the state, bringing temperatures below 0 °F (−18 °C) to the higher parts of the state.

Indicative of the variation in climate, Arizona is the state which has both the metropolitan area with the most days over 100 °F (37.8 °C) (Phoenix), and the metropolitan area in the lower 48 states with nearly the most days with a low temperature below freezing (Flagstaff).


There is some disagreement over the proper etymology of the name "Arizona." Some scholars believe the name is simply an abbreviation of the Spanish phrase arida zona, "dry region", although the phrasing is atypical for Spanish. Others reject this derivation as capricious favoring explanations such as the Basque phrase aritz onak, "good oaks," or the O'odham phrase alĭ ṣonak, "small spring". The Basque etymology is the one preferred by Arizona state historian Marshall Trimble, among other specialists. The name Arizonac was initially applied to the silver mining camp, and later (shortened to Arizona) to the entire territory.

Marcos de Niza, a Spanish Franciscan, explored the area in 1539 and met its original native inhabitants, probably the Sobaipuri. The expedition of Spanish explorer Coronado entered the area in 1540–42 during its search for Cíbola. Society of Jesus Father Kino developed a chain of missions and taught the Indians Christianity in Pimería Alta (now southern Arizona and northern Sonora) in the 1690s and early 1700s. Spain founded presidios (fortified towns) at Tubac in 1752 and Tucson in 1775. When Mexico achieved its independence from Spain in 1821, what is now Arizona became part of the Mexican State Nueva California, also known as Alta California. In the Mexican–American War (1847), the U.S. occupied Mexico City and forced the newly founded Mexican Republic to give up its northern territories, including what later became Arizona. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848), a mutually agreed-upon document, specified that the sum of $15 million US dollars in compensation (an extraordinarily large sum at the time) be paid to the newly formed Republic of Mexico, The purchase of the area formerly known as Spain, then briefly Mexico, almost bankrupted the United States. As a result, the land was offered back to the new Mexican Republic. Because of the large sum of money already paid and later payments still outstanding, the leaders of Mexico declined the offer from the United States. 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 southern New Mexico seceded from the Union as the Confederate Territory of Arizona on March 16, 1861. Arizona was recognized as a Confederate Territory by presidential proclamation of Jefferson Davis on February 12, 1862. This is the first official use of the name. A new Arizona Territory, consisting of the western half of New Mexico Territory was declared in Washington, D.C. on February 24, 1863. The new boundaries would later form the basis of the state.

Other names including "Gadsonia", "Pimeria", "Montezuma", "Arizuma", and "Arizonia" had been considered for the territory, however when President Lincoln signed the final bill, it read "Arizona", and the name became permanent. (Montezuma was not the Mexican Emperor, but the sacred name of a divine hero to the Pueblo people of the Gila valley, and was probably considered — and rejected — for its sentimental value before the name "Arizona" was settled upon.)

Brigham Young sent Mormons to Arizona in the mid-to-late 19th century. They founded Mesa, Snowflake, Heber, Safford and other towns. They also settled in the Phoenix Valley (or "Valley of the Sun"), Tempe, Prescott, among other areas. The Mormons settled what became known as Northern Arizona and northern New Mexico, but these areas were located in a part of the former New Mexico Territory. The largest ancestry of these settlers is German.

Arizona became a U.S. state on February 14, 1912. Arizona was the 48th state admitted into the U.S. and the last of the contiguous states to be admitted.

Cotton farming and copper mining, two of Arizona's most important statewide industries, suffered heavily during the Great Depression, but it was during the 1920s and 1930s that tourism began to be the important Arizona industry it is today. Dude ranches such as the K L Bar and Remuda in Wickenburg, along with the Flying V and Tanque Verde in Tucson, gave tourists the chance to experience the flavor and life of the "old West." Several upscale hotels and resorts opened during this period, some of which are still top tourist draws to this day; they include the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in central Phoenix (opened 1929) and the Wigwam Resort on the west side of the Phoenix area (opened 1936).

Arizona was the site of German and Italian POW camps during World War II and Japanese US-resident internment camps. The camps were abolished after World War II. The Phoenix area site was purchased after the war by the Maytag family (of major home appliance fame), and is currently utilized as the Phoenix Zoo. A Japanese American internment camp was located on Mount Lemmon, just outside of the state's southeastern city of Tucson. Another POW camp was located near the Gila River in eastern Yuma County. Because of California's proximity to Japan, a line was drawn somewhat parallel to the California border, and all Japanese residents west of that line were required to reside in the war camps. Grand Avenue, a major thoroughfare in the Phoenix area and part of U.S. 60, (perhaps because of it mirrored the California border) was chosen as part of that boundary. This resulted in many extended Japanese families becoming separated; some were interned, some free--and some free families, in an odd bid for family unity, requested to be interned in order to be with their families at a camp built by the original Del Webb Co., a modern manufacturer of large housing developments.

Arizona was also home to the Phoenix Indian School, one of several federal institutions designed to assimilate native children into mainstream culture. Children were often enrolled into these schools against the wishes of their parents and families. Attempts to suppress native identities included forcing the children to cut their hair and take on western names.

Arizona's population grew tremendously after World War II, in part because of the development of air conditioning, which made the intense summers more comfortable. According to the Arizona Blue Book (published by the Secretary of State's office each year), the state population in 1910 was 294,353. By 1970, it was 1,752,122. The percentage growth each decade averaged about 20% in the earlier decades and about 60% each decade thereafter.

The 1960s saw the establishment of retirement communities, special age-restricted subdivisions catering exclusively to the needs of senior citizens who wanted to escape the harsh winters of the Midwest and the Northeast. Sun City, established by developer Del Webb and opened in 1960, was one of the first such communities. Green Valley, south of Tucson, was another such community and was designed to be a retirement subdivision for Arizona's teachers. (Many senior citizens arrive in Arizona each winter and stay only during the winter months; they are referred to as snowbirds.)

Three ships named USS Arizona have been christened in honor of the state, although only USS Arizona (BB-39) was so named after statehood was achieved.


As of 2006, Arizona had an estimated population of 6,166,318, which is an increase of 213,311, or 3.6%, from the prior year and an increase of 1,035,686, or 20.2%, since the year 2000. This includes a natural increase since the last census of 297,928 people (that is 564,062 births minus 266,134 deaths) and an increase due to net migration of 745,944 people into the state. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 204,661 people, and migration within the country produced a net increase of 541,283 people. New population figures for the year ending July 1, 2006, indicate that Arizona is the fastest growing state in the United States, with 3.6% population growth since 2005, exceeding the growth of the previous leader, Nevada. More than half (around 58%) of the population of Arizona live in cities of 100,000 or more inhabitants, the highest proportion of any of the 50 states. The center of population of Arizona is located in Maricopa County, in the town of Gilbert.

According to 2006 U.S. Census estimates, Arizona's population is: 59.7% White American, 3.8% African American, 2.4% Asian American, 1.7% mixed, and 29.2% are Hispanics or Latino (of any race). The state has the third highest number (and the sixth highest percentage) of Native Americans of any state in the Union. 286,680 were estimated to live in Arizona, representing more than 10% of the country's total Native American population of 2,752,158. Only California and Oklahoma have more Native Americans. The perimeters of Phoenix, Tucson, Prescott, and Yuma border on Native American reservations.

The largest ancestry groups in Arizona are Mexican (21%), German, English, Irish, and Native American. The southern and central parts of the state are heavily Mexican American, especially in Santa Cruz County and Yuma County near the Mexican border. The north-central and northwestern counties are largely inhabited by residents of English ancestry. The northeastern part of Arizona has many American Indians. African Americans have had a relatively small presence in Arizona, but their numbers are increasing due to in-migration from other states, especially California, the Midwest and the Northeast. The African American population of the Phoenix metropolitan area doubled between 1990 and 2005. Asian Americans also made major contributions to the development of Arizona, such as the many Chinese who arrived in the state's mines and railroads, and the fact that over 20,000 Japanese Americans, mostly residing in the Grand Avenue section of Phoenix and farming areas of southern Arizona and the Colorado River valley, were interned during World War II.

Arizona is projected to become a minority-majority state by the year 2035, if current population growth trends continue. In 2003, for the first time, there were more Hispanic births in the state than white (non-Hispanic) births.

As of 2000, 74.16% of Arizona residents age 5 and older speak only English at home and 19.52% speak Spanish. Navajo is the third most spoken language at 1.89%.


According to a 2008 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, the most common self-reported religious affiliation of Arizona residents are:

  • Roman Catholic - 25%
  • Evangelical Christian - 23%
  • Non-Religious / Unaffiliated - 22%
  • Mainline Protestant - 15%
  • Latter-Day Saint / Mormon - 4%
  • Others - 12%

L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, lived in Phoenix during Scientology's formative years. Arizona has been labeled the "Birthplace of Scientology."


The 2006 total gross state product was $232 billion. If Arizona (and each of the other US states) were an independent country along with all existing countries (2005), it would have the 61st largest economy in the world (CIA - The World Factbook). This figure gives Arizona a larger economy than such countries as Ireland, Finland, and New Zealand. Arizona currently has the 21st largest economy among states in the United States. As a percentage of its overall budget, Arizona's projected 1.7 billion deficit for '09 is the largest in the country.

The state's per capita income is $27,232, 39th in the U.S. Arizona had a median household income of $46,693 making it 27th in the country and just shy of the US national median. Early in its history, Arizona's economy relied on the "Five C's": copper (see Copper mining in Arizona), cotton, cattle, citrus, and climate (tourism). At one point Arizona was the largest producer of cotton in the country. Copper is still extensively mined from many expansive open-pit and underground mines, accounting for two-thirds of the nation's output.


The state government is Arizona's largest employer, while Wal-Mart is the state's largest private employer, with 17,343 employees (2008).


Arizona collects personal income taxes in five brackets: 2.87%, 3.20%, 3.74%, 4.72% and 5.04%. The 'sales tax' is generally around 6.3%.

The state rate on transient lodging (hotel/motel) is 7.27%. The state of Arizona does not levy a state tax on food for home consumption or on drugs prescribed by a licensed physician or dentist. However, some cities in Arizona do levy a tax on food for home consumption.

All fifteen Arizona counties levy a tax. Incorporated municipalities also levy transaction privilege taxes which, with the exception of their hotel/motel tax, are generally in the range of 1-to-3%. These added assessments could push the combined sales tax rate to as high as 10.7%.



Main interstate routes include Interstate 17, and Interstate 19 running north-south, Interstate 40, Interstate 8, and Interstate 10 running east-west, and a short stretch of Interstate 15 running northeast/southwest through the extreme northwestern corner of the state. In addition, the various urban areas are served by complex networks of state routes and highways, such as the Loop 101, which is part of Phoenix's vast freeway system.

Public transportation 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 is currently being built in Phoenix. When completed, it will connect Central Phoenix with the nearby cities of Mesa and Tempe. The system is projected to be operational by December 2008.

In May 2006, voters in Tucson approved a Regional Transportation Plan (a comprehensive bus transit/streetcar/roadway improvement program), and its funding via a new half-cent sales tax increment. The centerpiece of the plan is a light rail streetcar system (possibly similar to the Portland Streetcar in Oregon) that will travel through the downtown area, connecting the main University of Arizona campus with the Rio Nuevo master plan area on the western edge of downtown.


Airports with regularly scheduled commercial flights include: Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (IATA: PHX, ICAO: KPHX) in Phoenix (the largest airport and the major international airport in the state); Tucson International Airport (IATA: TUS, ICAO: KTUS) in Tucson; Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport (IATA: AZA, ICAO: KIWA) in Mesa; Yuma International Airport (IATA: YUM, ICAO: KYUM) in Yuma; Prescott Municipal Airport (PRC) in Prescott; Flagstaff Pulliam Airport (IATA: FLG, ICAO: KFLG) in Flagstaff, and Grand Canyon National Park Airport (GCP), a small, but busy, single-runway facility providing tourist flights, mostly from Las Vegas. Phoenix Sky Harbor is the 7th busiest airport in the world in terms of aircraft movements, and regularly in the top 15 for passengers.

Other significant airports without regularly scheduled commercial flights include Scottsdale Municipal Airport (IATA: SCF, ICAO: KSDL) in Scottsdale.

Law and government

Capitol complex

The state capital of Arizona is Phoenix. The original Capitol building, with its distinctive copper dome, was dedicated in 1901 (construction was completed for $136,000 in 1900), when the area was still a territory. Phoenix became the official state capital with Arizona's admission to the union in 1912.

The House of Representatives and Senate were dedicated in 1960, and an Executive Office Building was dedicated in 1974 (the ninth floor of this building is where the Office of the Governor is located). The original Capitol building was converted into a museum.

The Capitol complex is fronted and highlighted by the richly landscaped Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza, named after Wesley Bolin, a governor who died in office in the 1970s. Numerous monuments and memorials are on the site, including the anchor and signal mast from the USS Arizona (one of the U.S. Navy ships sunk in Pearl Harbor), a granite version of the Ten Commandments, and the Arizona Vietnam Veterans' Memorial.

State legislature

The Arizona Legislature is bicameral (like the legislature of every other state except Nebraska) and consists of a thirty-member Senate and a 60-member House of Representatives. Each of the thirty legislative districts has one senator and two representatives. Legislators are elected for two-year terms.

Each Legislature covers a two-year period. The first session following the general election is known as the first regular session, and the session convening in the second year is known as the second regular session. Each regular session begins on the second Monday in January and adjourns sine die (terminates for the year) no later than Saturday of the week in which the 100th day from the beginning of the regular session falls. The President of the Senate and Speaker of the House, by rule, may extend the session up to seven additional days. Thereafter, the session can only be extended by a majority vote of members present of each house.

The current majority party is the Republican Party, which has held power in both houses since 1993.

Arizona state senators and representatives are elected for two year terms and are limited to four consecutive terms in a chamber, though there is no limit on the total number of terms. When a lawmaker is term-limited from office, it is not uncommon for him or her to run for election in the other chamber.

The fiscal year 2006-07 general fund budget, approved by the Arizona Legislature in June 2006, is slightly less than $10 billion. Besides the money spent on state agencies, it also includes more than $500 million in income- and property tax cuts, pay raises for government employees, and additional funding for the K-12 education system.

State executive branch

Arizona Constitution, Article 5
The executive department shall consist of the governor, secretary of state, state treasurer, attorney general, and superintendent of public instruction, each of whom shall hold office for a term of four years beginning on the first Monday of January, 1971 next after the regular general election in 1970

Governor's Office
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 was first elected in 2002 and again in 2006 (she was officially sworn in on her second term on January 4, 2007).

Due to the state of Arizona not having a governor's mansion, the governors reside within their private places of residence during their terms in office.

Department of State: Secretary of State's Office
The Secretary serves as acting governor when the governor is absent from the state; the secretary of state, if holding office by election, is first in line to succeed the governor in the event of death, resignation, removal from office, or permanent disability to discharge the duties of the office. The Secretary of State is Janice K. Brewer, a Republican.

Lieutenant Governor
There is no office of Lieutenant Governor in the state of Arizona. The Secretary of State serves in this capacity, that is, first in line to succeed the governor. (See office of Secretary of State)

Attorney General's Office
The Attorney General is Terry Goddard,(D)

The State Treasurer's Office
The State Treasurer is Dean Martin, (R)

The Department of Education
The Superintendent of Public Instruction is Tom Horne, (R)

Office of the State Mine Inspector
The State Mine Inspector is Joe Hart, (R)

Federal representation

The two U.S. Senators from Arizona 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), Harry Mitchell (D-5), Jeff Flake (R-6), Raul Grijalva (D-7), and Gabrielle Giffords (D-8). Jim Kolbe announced his retirement from Congress in 2006, creating one of the few open seats in the nation in Arizona's Congressional District 8. Arizona gained two seats in the House of Representatives due to redistricting based on Census 2000.

Political culture

From territorial days until the late 1940s, Arizona was a virtual one-party state dominated by the Democrats. From statehood until 1948, the Democratic candidate carried the state in every presidential election.

In recent years, the Republican Party has dominated Arizona politics. Many "Pinto Democrats," or conservative Democrats from rural areas, became increasingly willing to support Republicans at the state and national level. However, the current Governor of Arizona, Janet Napolitano is a Democrat; she was handily reelected in 2006. At the federal level, Arizona narrowly voted for Bill Clinton in 1996--the first time it supported a Democrat for president since Harry Truman in 1948.

On March 4, 2008, John McCain effectively clinched the Republican nomination for 2008, becoming the first presidential nominee from the state since Barry Goldwater in 1964.

Maricopa County, the fourth-largest county in the country and home of Phoenix, dominates Arizona's politics. It is home to almost 60 percent of the state's population, and most of the state's elected officials live there. It has voted Republican in every presidential election since 1948. This includes the 1964 run of native son Barry Goldwater; he wouldn't have even carried his own state had it not been for Maricopa County.

In contrast, Pima County, home to Tucson, and most of southern Arizona has historically been more Democratic. While Tucson's suburbs lean Republican, they hold to a somewhat more moderate brand of Republicanism than is common in the Phoenix area. Between them, Maricopa and Pima counties cast almost three-fourths of Arizona's total vote, and account for a substantial majority in the state legislature.

Arizona rejected an anti-gay amendment in the 2006 midterm elections. Gay marriage was already illegal in Arizona, but this amendment would have denied any legal or financial benefits to unmarried homosexual or heterosexual couples.

Important cities and towns

Phoenix, the largest city in the state, and the capital. The Phoenix metro area includes Mesa (the third largest city in Arizona and the most populous suburban city in the United States), Glendale, Peoria, Chandler, Sun City, Sun City West, Fountain Hills, Surprise, Gilbert, El Mirage, Avondale, Tempe and Scottsdale, with a total metropolitan population of just over 4 million.

Tucson is the state's second largest city, and is located in Pima County, approximately 110 miles (180 km) southeast of the Phoenix metropolitan area. The Tucson metropolitan area crossed the one-million-resident threshold in early 2007. It is home to the University of Arizona, one of only three public universities in Arizona.

The Prescott metropolitan area includes the cities of Prescott, Sedona, Cottonwood, Camp Verde and numerous other towns spread out over the Yavapai County area. With 212,635 residents, this cluster of towns form the third largest metropolitan area in the state. The city of Prescott (population 41,528) lies approximately 100 miles (170 km) northwest of the Phoenix metropolitan area. Situated in pine tree forests at an elevation of about 5500 ft, Prescott enjoys a much cooler climate than Phoenix, with average summer highs in the upper 80s Fahrenheit and winter temperatures averaging 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Yuma is center of the fourth largest metropolitan area in Arizona. It is located near the borders of California and Mexico. It is one of the hottest cities in the United States with the average July high of 107 degrees Fahrenheit. (The same month's average in Death Valley is 115 degrees.) The city also features sunny days about 90% of the year. The Yuma Metropolitan Statistical Area has a population of 160,000. Yuma also attracts many winter visitors from all over the United States.

Flagstaff is the largest city in northern Arizona, and has a nearly a 7000 ft elevation, with its large Ponderosa Pine forests and Ski areas, is a stark contrast to the desert regions typically associated with Arizona. It sits at the base of the San Francisco Peaks the highest mountain range in the state of Arizona, with Humphreys Peak, the highest point in Arizona at 12,633 feet (3,850 m). Flagstaff has a strong tourism sector, due to its proximity to Grand Canyon National Park, Sedona, and Oak Creek Canyon. Historic Route 66 is the main east-west street. Flagstaff is home to 57,391 residents and the main campus of Northern Arizona University.


Elementary and secondary education

Public schools in Arizona are separated into about 220 local school districts which operate independently, but are governed in most cases by elected county school superintendents; these are in turn overseen by the Arizona State Board of Education (a division of the Arizona Department of Education) and the state Superintendent of Public Instruction (elected in partisan elections every even-numbered year when there is not a presidential election, for a four-year term). In 2005, a School District Redistricting Commission was established with the goal of combining and consolidating many of these districts.

Colleges and universities

Higher education in Arizona is governed at the university level by the Arizona Board of Regents or the ABOR, a 12-member body. According to information published by the ABOR office and available on their Web site, eight volunteer members are appointed by the Governor to staggered eight-year terms; two students serve on the Board for two-year appointments, with the first year being a nonvoting apprentice year. The Governor and the Superintendent of Public Instruction serve as voting ex-officio members. The ABOR provides "policy guidance" and oversight to the three major degree-granting universities, as provided for by Title 15 of the Arizona Revised Statutes.

Community colleges in Arizona were governed historically by a separate statewide Board of Directors, but a bill passed in the 2002 regular session of the Legislature (HB 2710, which later became ARS 15-1444) transferred almost all oversight authority to individual community college districts. The Maricopa County Community College District includes 11 community colleges throughout Maricopa County and is one of the largest in the nation.

Public colleges and universities

  • Arizona State University
  • Northern Arizona University
  • University of Arizona

Private four-year colleges and universities (non-profit)

  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
  • Ottawa University
  • Prescott College
  • Western Governors University An online school with a former Arizona governor as a founder, Governor Napolitano as a former board member, and employees and students throughout Arizona.

Professional Schools, Trade Schools, and For-Profit Private Colleges

  • The Art Center Design College, Tucson
  • Art Institute of Phoenix
  • A.T. Still University, Mesa
  • Collins College, Tempe
  • DeVry University, Phoenix
  • Grand Canyon University
  • Midwestern University, Glendale
  • Northcentral University
  • Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery[29]
  • Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine
  • Southwestern College
  • Thunderbird School of Global Management
  • University of Advancing Technology, Tempe
  • University of Phoenix
  • Western International University

Public two-year colleges

  • Arizona Western College
  • Central Arizona College
  • Cochise College
  • Coconino Community College
  • Eastern Arizona College
  • Maricopa County Community College District
    • Chandler-Gilbert Community College
    • Estrella Mountain Community College
    • GateWay Community College
    • Glendale Community College
    • Mesa Community College
    • Paradise Valley Community College
    • Phoenix College
    • Rio Salado Community College
    • Scottsdale Community College
    • South Mountain Community College
  • Mohave Community College
  • Northland Pioneer College
  • Pima Community College
  • Yavapai College

Professional sports teams

Club Sport League
Arizona Cardinals Football National Football League
Arizona Diamondbacks Baseball Major League Baseball
Arizona Heat* Softball National Pro Fastpitch
Arizona Rattlers Arena Football Arena Football League
Arizona Sting Lacrosse National Lacrosse League
Arizona Sundogs Ice hockey Central Hockey League
Phoenix Coyotes Ice hockey National Hockey League
Phoenix Mercury Basketball Women's National Basketball Association
Phoenix Roadrunners Ice hockey East Coast Hockey League
Phoenix Suns Basketball National Basketball Association
Tucson Sidewinders Baseball Minor League Baseball
Yuma Scorpions Baseball Golden Baseball League

Due to its numerous golf courses, Arizona is home to several stops on the PGA Tour, most notably at the FBR Open, more commonly known as the Phoenix Open.

With three universities and several community colleges, college sports are also prevalent in Arizona. Arizona is home to the oldest rivalry in the NCAA. The Territorial Cup is given to the winner of the Duel in the Desert, an annual game between intense rivals the Arizona State Sun Devils and the Arizona Wildcats. Arizona also hosts several bowl games in the Bowl Championship Series. The Fiesta Bowl, originally held at Sun Devil Stadium, will now be held at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. The University of Phoenix Stadium was also home to the 2007 BCS National Championship Game and hosted Super Bowl XLII on February 3rd, 2008. The Insight Bowl is also held at Sun Devil Stadium.

Besides being home to spring training, Arizona is also home to two other baseball leagues, Arizona Fall League and Arizona Winter League. The Fall League was founded in 1992 and is a minor league baseball league designed for players to refine their skills and perform in game settings in front of major and minor league baseball scouts and team executives, who are in attendance at almost every game. The league got exposure when Michael Jordan started his time in baseball with the Scottsdale Scorpions. The Arizona Winter League, founded in 2007, is a professional baseball league of four teams for the independent Golden Baseball League. The games are played in Yuma at the Desert Sun Stadium, but added two new teams in the California desert, and one more in Sonora, Mexico for the 2008 season.

  • Note: The Arizona Heat is currently suspended from the NPF, with a possible return for the 2008 season.


Spring training

Arizona is a popular location for Major League Baseball spring training, as it is the site of the Cactus League. The only other location for spring training is in Florida with the Grapefruit League. The Los Angeles Dodgers will have a new spring training facility in Glendale in 2009, which makes them the 14th team in Arizona. Spring training has been somewhat of a tradition in Arizona since 1947 (i.e. the Cleveland Indians in Tucson until 1991, and the San Diego Padres in Yuma until 1992) despite the fact that the state did not have its own major league team until the state was awarded the Diamondbacks in Phoenix as an expansion team. The state hosts the following teams:

  • Arizona Diamondbacks in Tucson Electric Park, but also held games and practiced in Casa Grande
  • Chicago Cubs in HoHoKam Park of Mesa.
  • Chicago White Sox in Tucson Electric Park.
  • Cleveland Indians in Goodyear Ballpark.
  • Colorado Rockies in Hi Corbett Field of Tucson.
  • Kansas City Royals in Surprise Stadium, but also in Sun Cities Park near Youngtown.
  • Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in Tempe Diablo Stadium
  • Milwaukee Brewers in Maryvale Baseball Park of Phoenix.
  • Oakland Athletics in Phoenix Municipal Stadium, but also in Indian School Park in Scottsdale.
  • San Diego Padres in Peoria Sports Complex.
  • San Francisco Giants in Scottsdale Stadium, but also in Papago Park of Phoenix.
  • Seattle Mariners in Peoria Sports Complex, but also in Chandler.
  • Texas Rangers in Surprise Stadium.

Miscellaneous topics

Art and pop culture

Arizona has featured a continuous string of dancing and performing groups of many ethnicities. The state is a recognized center of Native American art, with a number of galleries such as the Heard Museum showcasing historical and contemporary works. Sedona, Jerome, and Tubac are known as budding artist colonies, and small arts scenes exist in the larger cities and near the state universities.

Many tourist souvenirs produced in Arizona or by its residents display characteristic images, such as sunsets, coyotes, and desert plants. Several major Hollywood films, such as Billy Jack, U-Turn, Waiting to Exhale, Just One of the Guys, Can't Buy Me Love, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, The Scorpion King, The Banger Sisters, Used Cars, and Raising Arizona have been made there (as indeed have many Westerns). The 1993 science fiction movie Fire in the Sky, which was actually based on a reported alien abduction in Arizona, was set and filmed in the town of Snowflake. The climax of the 1977 Clint Eastwood film The Gauntlet takes place in downtown Phoenix. The final segments of the 1984 film Starman take place at Meteor Crater outside Winslow. The Jeff Foxworthy comedy documentary movie Blue Collar Comedy Tour was filmed almost entirely at the Dodge Theatre. Arguably one of the most famous examples could be Alfred Hitchcock's classic film Psycho. Not only was some of the film shot in Phoenix, but the main character is from there as well. Some of the television shows filmed or set in Arizona include The New Dick Van Dyke Show, Alice, The First 48, Insomniac with Dave Attell, COPS, and America's Most Wanted. The 1974 film Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, for which Ellen Burstyn won the Academy Award for Best Actress, and also starred Kris Kristofferson, was set in Tucson, as was the TV sitcom Alice, which was based on the movie.

Arizona is prominently featured in the lyrics of many Country and Western songs. Jamie O'Neal's hit ballad "There is No Arizona". George Strait's "Oceanfront Property" uses the offer of "ocean front property in Arizona" as a metaphor for a sucker proposition that is obviously false. The line "see you down in Arizona Bay" is used in a Tool song in reference to a Bill Hicks quote. The line refers to the hope that L.A. will one day fall into the ocean due to a major earthquake.

"Arizona" was the title of a popular song recorded by Mark Lindsay (formerly of Paul Revere and the Raiders) that was a hit during the winter of 1969-1970.

Arizona's budding music scene is helped by emerging bands, as well as some well-known artists. The Gin Blossoms, Chronic Future, Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, Jimmy Eat World and others began their careers in Arizona. Also, a number of punk bands got their start in Arizona, including JFA, The Feederz, Sun City Girls, The Meat Puppets, and more recently Authority Zero. There is also an indie rock scene with artists such as Scary Kids Scaring Kids, The Bled, Fine China, Greeley Estates, The Stiletto Formal, The Format.

Arizona also has its share of singers and other musicians. Singer, songwriter and guitarist Michelle Branch is from Sedona. Chester Bennington, the lead vocalist of Linkin Park, and mash-up artist DJ Z-Trip are both from Phoenix. One of Arizona's more infamous musicians would be shock rocker Alice Cooper, who helped define the genre. Other notable singers include country singer Marty Robbins, folk singer Katie Lee, Fleetwood Mac's Stevie Nicks, CeCe Peniston, Rex Allen, 2007 American Idol winner Jordin Sparks, and Linda Ronstadt.

Notable people

Some famous Arizonans involved in politics and government are:

  • United States Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters
  • former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor
  • former U.S. Senator Dennis DeConcini
  • Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio
  • Junior Republican Senator Jon Kyl, current chairman of the Senate Minority Whip, and the No.2 Republican in the Senate.
  • Presidential candidate (2000), (2008) and Senior Republican Senator John McCain
  • Presidential candidate (1964) and former U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater
  • former Governor, Secretary of the Interior, and Presidential candidate (1988) Bruce Babbitt
  • Presidential candidate (1976) and former Arizona congressman Mo Udall and his brother Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall
  • former U.S. Senator Carl Hayden
  • and former United States Solicitor General Rex E. Lee.

Arizona notables in culture and the arts include:

  • Musicians Curt Kirkwood and Cris Kirkwood of alternative rock band Meat Puppets
  • author Zane Grey
  • architect Frank Lloyd Wright
  • musicians Chester Bennington of Linkin Park, Alice Cooper and Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac, of Phoenix
  • Linda Ronstadt of Tucson, Michelle Branch of Sedona, Authority Zero and Jimmy Eat World of Mesa, Gin Blossoms and Psychostick of Tempe, Chronic Future of Scottsdale
  • poet Jim Simmerman of Flagstaff
  • film director Steven Spielberg grew up in Scottsdale, as did David Spade and Wonder Woman star Lynda Carter.
  • labor leader and civil rights pioneer Cesar Estrada Chavez was from San Luis, near Yuma
  • Frederick Sommer an artist/photographer moved to Tucson in 1931 and lived in Prescott from 1935-1999
  • Author Stephenie Meyer

State symbols

  • Arizona state amphibian: Arizona Treefrog (Hyla eximia)
  • Arizona state bird: Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus)
  • Arizona state butterfly: Two-tailed Swallowtail (Papilio multicaudata)
  • Arizona state colors: federal blue and old gold
  • Arizona state fish: Arizona Trout (Oncorhynchus gilae apache)
  • Arizona state flag: Flag of the State of Arizona
  • Arizona state flower: Saguaro blossom (Carnegiea gigantea)
  • Arizona state fossil: Petrified wood
  • Arizona state gemstone: Turquoise
  • Arizona state mammal: Ringtail (Bassariscus astutus)
  • Arizona state motto: Ditat Deus (Latin God enriches)
  • Arizona state neckwear: Bolo tie
  • Arizona state reptile: Arizona Ridge-nosed Rattlesnake (Crotalus willardi)
  • Arizona state seal: Great Seal of the State of Arizona
  • Arizona state slogan: Grand Canyon State
  • Arizona state songs: Arizona March Song and Arizona
  • Arizona state tree: Blue Palo Verde (Parkinsonia florida)

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