All About Arizona Geographic Area
Arizona (i/ɛrɪˈzoʊnə/; /ærɪˈzoʊnə/) (Navajo: Hoozdo Hahoodzo; O'odham: Alĭ ṣonak) is a state in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the Western United States and of the Mountain West states. It is the sixth largest and the 15th most populous of the 50 states. Its capital and largest city is Phoenix. Arizona is one of the Four Corners states. It has borders with New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, California, and Mexico, and one point in common with the southwestern corner of Colorado. Arizona's border with Mexico is 389 miles (626 km) long, on the northern border of the Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California.
Arizona is the 48th state and last of the contiguous states to be admitted to the Union, achieving statehood on February 14, 1912. It was previously part of the territory of Alta California in New Spain before being passed down to independent Mexico and later ceded to the United States after the Mexican–American War. The southernmost portion of the state was acquired in 1853 through the Gadsden Purchase.
Arizona is noted for its desert climate in its southern half, with very hot summers and mild winters. The northern half of the state features forests of pine, Douglas fir, and spruce trees; the Colorado Plateau; some mountain ranges (such as the San Francisco Mountains); as well as large, deep canyons, with much more moderate summer temperatures and significant winter snowfalls. There are ski resorts in the areas of Flagstaff, Alpine, and Tucson. In addition to the Grand Canyon National Park, there are several national forests, national parks, and national monuments. About one-quarter of the state is made up of Indian Reservations that serve as the home of a number of Native American tribes.
The name of the state appears to originate from an earlier Spanish name, Arizonac, derived from the O'odham name alĭ ṣonak, meaning "small spring", which initially applied only to an area near the Mexican silver mining camp of Planchas de Plata, Sonora. This is supported by the fact that that area is still known as alĭ ṣonak in the O'odham language. Another possible origin is the Basque phrase haritz ona ("the good oak").
There is a misconception that the state's name originated from the Spanish term for "Arid Zone".
Arizona is located in the Southwestern United States as one of the Four Corners states. Arizona is the sixth largest state by area, 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.
Arizona is well known for its desert Basin and Range region in the southern portions of the state, which is rich in a landscape of xerophyte plants such as the cactus and its climate with exceptionally hot summers and mild winters. The state is less well known for its pine-covered north-central portion of the state's high country of the Colorado Plateau (see Arizona Mountains forests).
Like other states of the Southwest United States, Arizona has an abundance of mountains and plateaus in addition to its desert climate. Despite the state's aridity, 27% of Arizona is forest, a percentage comparable to modern-day France or Germany. The largest stand of Ponderosa pine trees in the world is contained in Arizona.
The Mogollon Rim, a 1,998-foot (609 m) escarpment, cuts across the central section of the state and marks the southwestern edge of the Colorado Plateau, where the state experienced its second 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 the cooling-off and related subsidence.
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 as a National Park, 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 km) and attains a depth of more than 1 mile (1.6 km). Nearly two billion years of the Earth's history have been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut through layer after layer of sediment as the Colorado Plateau uplifted.
Arizona is home to one of the most well-preserved meteorite impact sites in the world. Created around 50,000 years ago, 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 1 mile (1.6 km) wide, and 570 feet (170 m) deep.
Arizona is one of two U.S. states that does not observe Daylight Saving Time (the other being Hawaii), except in the Navajo Nation (which does observe Daylight Savings Time), located in the northeastern region of the state.
Generally, Arizona is at low risk of earthquakes, except for the southwestern portion which is at moderate risk due to its proximity to Southern California. On the other hand, Northern Arizona is at moderate risk due to numerous faults in the area. The regions that are at lowest risk in the state are near and west of Phoenix.
The earliest Arizona earthquakes were recorded at Fort Yuma, on the California side of the Colorado River. They were centered near the Imperial Valley, or Mexico, back in the 1800s. In 1887, Douglas felt the shock of a magnitude 7.2 earthquake with an epicenter 40 miles to the south in the Mexican state of Sonora. The first damaging earthquake known to be centered within Arizona's borders occurred on January 25, 1906, also including a series of other earthquakes centered near Socorro, New Mexico. The shock was violent in Flagstaff.
In September 1910, a series of fifty-two earthquakes caused a construction crew near Flagstaff to leave the area. In 1912, the year Arizona achieved statehood, on August 18, an earthquake caused a 50-mile crack in the San Francisco Range. In early January 1935, the state experienced a series of earthquakes, in the Yuma area and near the Grand Canyon. Arizona experienced its largest earthquake in 1959, with a tremor of a magnitude 5.6. It was centered near Fredonia, in the northwestern part of the state near the border with Utah. The tremor was felt across the border in the neighboring states of Nevada and Utah.
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 again, with warm days, and cool, breezy nights. The summer months of June through September bring a dry heat ranging from 90–120 °F (32–49 °C), with occasional high temperatures exceeding 125 °F 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° was recorded at Hawley Lake on January 7, 1971.
Due to the primarily dry climate, large diurnal temperature variations occur in less-developed areas of the desert above 2,500 feet. 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 night-time lows than in the recent past.
Arizona has an average annual rainfall of 12.7 in (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. These downpours often cause flash floods, which can turn deadly. In an attempt to deter drivers from crossing flooding streams, the Arizona Legislature enacted the Stupid Motorist Law. It is rare for tornadoes or hurricanes to occur in Arizona.
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, though the climate remains semiarid to arid. Extremely 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 northern 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 (Phoenix), and the metropolitan area in the lower 48 states with the most days with a low temperature below freezing (Flagstaff).
Before the modern era, Arizona was home to numerous Native American Tribes. Hohokam, Mogollon and Anazasi(Navajo term) cultures were among the many that flourished throughout the entire state before the arrival of Marcos de Niza, a Spanish Franciscan, in 1539. He explored parts of the state and made contact with native inhabitants, probably the Sobaipuri. The expedition of Spanish explorer Coronado entered the area in 1540–1542 during its search for Cíbola. Father Kino was the next European in the region. A member of the Society of Jesus, he led the development of a chain of missions and converted many of the Indians to Christianity in the Pimería Alta (now southern Arizona and northern Sonora) in the 1690s and early 18th century. 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 Territory of Nueva California, also known as Alta California.
In the Mexican–American War (1847), the US occupied Mexico City and pursued its claim to much of northern Mexico, including what later became Arizona.
The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848) specified that, in addition to language and cultural rights of the existing inhabitants being considered as inviolable, the sum of US$15 million in compensation (equivalent to about $409 million in 2012) be paid to the Republic of Mexico. 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 Territory 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 14, 1862. This is the first official use of the name. Arizona supported the Confederate cause with men, horses, and supplies. Formed in 1862, Arizona Scout Companies fought with the Confederate Army throughout the war. Arizona has the farthest recorded Western engagement of the war, the Battle of Picacho Pass. 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.
Although names including "Gadsonia", "Pimeria", "Montezuma", and "Arizuma" had been considered for the territory, when President Lincoln signed the final bill, it read "Arizona", and the name became permanent. (Montezuma was not the Aztec emperor, but the sacred name of a divine hero to the Pima people of the Gila River 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, and other areas. The Mormons settled what became northern Arizona and northern New Mexico, but these areas were located in a part of the former New Mexico Territory.
During the Mexican Revolution from 1910 to 1920, several battles were fought in the Mexican towns just across the border from Arizonan border settlements. Throughout the revolution, Arizonans were enlisting in one of the several armies fighting in Mexico. The Battle of Ambos Nogales in 1918, other than Pancho Villa's 1916 Columbus Raid in New Mexico, was the only significant engagement on US soil between American and Mexican forces. The battle resulted in an American victory.
After US soldiers were fired on by Mexican federal troops, the American garrison then launched an assault into Nogales, Mexico. The Mexicans eventually surrendered after both sides sustained heavy casualties. A few months earlier, just west of Nogales, an Indian War battle occurred, thus being the last engagement in the American Indian Wars which lasted from 1775 to 1918. The participants in the fight were US soldiers stationed on the border and Yaqui Indians who were using Arizona as a base to raid the nearby Mexican settlements, as part of their wars against Mexico.
Arizona became a US state on February 14, 1912. Arizona was the 48th state admitted to the US 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 during the 1920s and 1930s, tourism began to be the important Arizonan 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; 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 POW camps during World War II and Japanese-American internment camps. The camps were abolished after World War II. The Phoenix area German POW site was purchased after the war by the Maytag family (of major home appliance fame), and is currently the site of 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 wartime fears of Japanese invasion of the west coast, from 1942 to 1945 all Japanese-American residents in western Washington, western Oregon, all of California, and western Arizona were required to reside in the war camps.
Arizona was also home to the Phoenix Indian School, one of several federal institutions designed to forcibly assimilate Native American children into Anglo-American 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 English 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 Arizona 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.
In the 1960s, 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 began. 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 across the U.S. and Canada arrive in Arizona each winter and stay only during the winter months; they are referred to as Snowbirds.
In March 2000, Arizona was the site of the first legally binding election to nominate a candidate for public office ever held over the internet. In the 2000 Arizona Democratic Primary, under worldwide attention, Al Gore defeated Bill Bradley, and voter turnout increased more than 500% over the 1996 primary.
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.
The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Arizona was 6,731,484 on July 1, 2014, a 5.31% 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, 61.3% of Arizona's children under the age of 1 belonged to minority groups.
The population of metropolitan Phoenix increased by 45.3% 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 January 2012, the population of the Phoenix area is estimated to be over 4.3 million.
According to the 2010 United States Census, Arizona had a population of 6,392,017. In 2010, illegal immigrants constituted an estimated 7.9% of the population. This was the second highest percentage of any state in the U.S.
Metropolitan Phoenix (4.3 million) and Tucson (1 million) are home to about five-sixths of Arizona's people (as of the 2010 census). Metro Phoenix alone accounts for two-thirds of the state's population.
In 1980, the Census Bureau reported Arizona's population as 16.2% Hispanic, 5.6% Native American, and 74.5% non-Hispanic white. In 2010, the racial makeup of the state was:
Hispanics or Latinos of any race made up 29.6% of the state's population. Non-Hispanic whites formed 57.8% of the total population.
Arizona's five largest ancestry groups, as of 2009, were:
As of 2010, 72.90% (4,215,749) of Arizona residents age 5 and older spoke English at home as a primary language, while 20.80% (1,202,638) spoke Spanish, 1.48% (85,602) Navajo, 0.39% (22,592) German, 0.39% (22,426) Chinese (which includes Mandarin,) 0.33% (19,015) Tagalog, 0.30% (17,603) Vietnamese, 0.27% (15,707) Other North American Indigenous Languages (especially Native American Languages of Arizona), and French was spoken as a main language by 0.26% (15,062) of the population over the age of five. In total, 27.10% (1,567,548) of Arizona's population age 5 and older spoke a mother language other than English.
Arizona is home to the largest number of speakers of Native American languages in the 48 contiguous states, as over 85,000 individuals reported speaking Navajo, and 10,403 people reported Apache, as a language spoken at home in 2005. Arizona's Apache County has the highest concentration of speakers of Native American Indian languages in the United States.
Phoenix, located in Maricopa County, is the largest city in Arizona and also the Arizona State Capitol. Other prominent cities in the Phoenix metro area include Mesa (the third largest city in Arizona), Glendale, Peoria, Chandler, 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 4.3 million. It has an average July high temperature of 106 °F (41 °C), one of the highest of any metropolitan area in the United States, but an average January high temperature of 67 °F (19 °C).
With a metro population of just over one million, Tucson is the state's second largest city, and is located in Pima County, approximately 110 miles (180 km) southeast of Phoenix. It is home to the University of Arizona.
The Prescott metropolitan area includes the cities of Prescott, Cottonwood, Camp Verde and numerous other towns spread out over the 8,123 square miles (21,000 km2) of Yavapai County area. With 212,635 residents, this cluster of towns forms the third largest metropolitan area in the state. The city of Prescott (population 41,528) lies approximately 100 miles (160 km) northwest of the Phoenix metropolitan area. Situated in pine tree forests at an elevation of about 5,500 feet (1,700 m), Prescott enjoys a much cooler climate than Phoenix, with average summer highs around 88 °F (31 °C) and winter temperatures averaging 50 °F (10 °C).
Yuma is center of the fourth largest metropolitan area in Arizona. Located in Yuma County, it is near the borders of California and Mexico. It is one of the hottest cities in the United States with an average July high of 107 °F (42 °C). (The same month's average in Death Valley is 115 °F (46 °C).) 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, in Coconino County, is the largest city in northern Arizona, and is situated at an elevation of nearly 7,000 feet (2,100 m). With its large Ponderosa Pine forests, snowy winter weather and picturesque mountains, it 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 (3,851 m). Flagstaff has a strong tourism sector, due to its proximity to numerous tourist attractions including: Grand Canyon National Park, Sedona, and Oak Creek Canyon. Historic U.S. Route 66 is the main east-west street in the town. The Flagstaff metropolitan area is home to 134,421 residents and the main campus of Northern Arizona University.
Lake Havasu City, in Mohave County, known as "Arizona's playground" resides on the Colorado River and is named after Lake Havasu. Lake Havasu City has a population of about 53,000 people. It is famous for huge spring break parties, sunsets and the London Bridge. Lake Havasu City was founded by Robert P. McCulloch in 1963. It has 2 colleges, Mohave Community College and ASU Colleges in Lake Havasu City.
As of the year 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 a 2007 survey conducted by The Pew Forum, the religious affiliation of the people of Arizona was 40% Protestant, 25% Roman Catholic, 4% LDS (Mormon), 1% Jehovah's Witnesses, 1% Jewish, 1% Buddhist, 0.5% Muslim and 0.5% Hindu. Atheists, deists and other unaffiliated people stood at 22%.
The 2011 total gross state product was $259 billion. This figure gives Arizona a larger economy than such countries as Ireland, Finland, and New Zealand. 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 US$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 (see Copper mining in Arizona), 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.
The state government is Arizona's largest employer, while Wal-Mart is the state's largest private employer, with 30,000 employees (2010). As of September 2014, the state's unemployment rate was 6.9%.
The top employment sectors in Arizona are (August 2014, excludes agriculture):
According to The Arizona Republic, the largest private employers in the state as of 2010 were:
In southern Arizona, the top ten largest public employers, as of 2011, were:
Arizona collects personal income taxes in five brackets: 2.87%, 3.20%, 3.74%, 4.72% and 5.04%. The state transaction privilege tax is 5.6%; however, county and municipal sales taxes generally add an additional 2%.
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, including Phoenix at 2%, 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 I-17, and I-19 traveling north-south, I-8, I-10, and I-40, traveling east-west, and a short stretch of I-15 traveling 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.
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 Light Rail, has recently been completed in Phoenix; it connects Central Phoenix with the nearby cities of Mesa and Tempe. The system officially opened for service in December 2008.
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's Amtrak service was canceled in 1996, and now an Amtrak bus runs between Phoenix and the station in Maricopa.
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: NYL, ICAO: KNYL) in Yuma; Prescott Municipal Airport (PRC) in Prescott; Flagstaff Pulliam Airport (IATA: FLG, ICAO: KFLG) in Flagstaff, and Grand Canyon National Park Airport (IATA: GCN, ICAO: KGCN, FAA: GCN), a small, but busy, single-runway facility providing tourist flights, mostly from Las Vegas. Phoenix Sky Harbor is currently 7th busiest airport in the world in terms of aircraft movements, and 17th for passenger traffic.
Other significant airports without regularly scheduled commercial flights include Scottsdale Municipal Airport (IATA: SCF, ICAO: KSDL) in Scottsdale, and Deer Valley Airport (IATA: DVT, ICAO: KDVT, FAA: DVT) home to two flight training academies and the Nation's busiest general aviation airport.
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 buildings 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) and a granite version of the Ten Commandments.
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.
Arizona's executive branch is headed by a governor, who is elected to a four-year term. The governor may serve any number of terms, though no more than two in a row. Arizona is one of the few states that does not maintain a governor's mansion. During office the governors reside within their private residence, and all executive offices are housed in the executive tower at the state capitol. The current governor of Arizona is Doug Ducey (R).
Former Governor Jan Brewer assumed office after Janet Napolitano had her nomination by Barack Obama for Secretary of Homeland Security confirmed by the United States Senate. Arizona has had four female governors, more than any other state.
Other elected executive officials include the Secretary of State, State Treasurer, State Attorney General, Superintendent of Public Instruction, State Mine Inspector and a five-member Corporation Commission. All elected officials hold a term of four years, and are limited to two consecutive terms (except the office of the state mine inspector, which is exempt from term limits).
Arizona is one of seven states that do not have a specified lieutenant governor. The secretary of state is the first in line to succeed the governor in the event of death, disability, resignation, or removal from office. The line of succession also includes the attorney general, state treasurer and superintendent of public instruction. Since 1977, four secretaries of state and one attorney general have risen to Arizona's governorship through these means.
The Arizona Supreme Court is the highest court in Arizona. The court currently consists of one chief justice, a vice chief justice, and three associate justices. Justices are appointed by the governor from a list recommended by a bipartisan commission, and are re-elected after the initial two years following their appointment. Subsequent re-elections occur every six years. The supreme court has appellate jurisdiction in death penalty cases, but almost all other appellate cases go through the Arizona Court of Appeals beforehand. The court has original jurisdiction in a few other circumstances, as outlined in the state constitution. The court may also declare laws unconstitutional, but only while seated en banc. The court meets in the Arizona Supreme Court Building at the capitol complex (at the southern end of Wesley Bolin Plaza).
The Arizona Court of Appeals, further divided into two divisions, is the intermediate court in the state. Division One is based in Phoenix, consists of sixteen judges, and has jurisdiction in the Western and Northern regions of the state, along with the greater Phoenix area. Division Two is based in Tucson, consists of six judges, and has jurisdiction over the Southern regions of the state, including the Tucson area. Judges are selected in a method similar to the one used for state supreme court justices.
Each county of Arizona has a superior court, the size and organization of which are varied and generally depend on the size of the particular county.
Arizona is divided into political jurisdictions designated as counties. As of 1983 there were 15 counties in the state, ranging in size from 1,238 square miles (3,210 km2) to 18,661 square miles (48,330 km2).
Arizona's two United States Senators are John McCain (R), the 2008 Republican Presidential Nominee, and Jeff Flake (R).
As of the start of the 114th Congress, Arizona's representatives in the United States House of Representatives are Ann Kirkpatrick (D-1), Martha McSally (R-2), Raul Grijalva (D-3), Paul Gosar (R-4), Matt Salmon (R-5), David Schweikert (R-6), Ruben Gallego (D-7), Trent Franks (R-8), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-9). Arizona gained a ninth seat in the House of Representatives due to redistricting based on Census 2010.
See also: Elections in Arizona, Political party strength in Arizona
From statehood through the late 1940s, Arizona was primarily dominated by the Democratic Party. During this time period, the Democratic candidate for the presidency carried the state each election, with the only exceptions being the elections of 1920, 1924 and 1928—all three of which were national Republican landslides.
Since the election of Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952, however, the state has voted consistently Republican in presidential elections. Arizona voted Republican in every presidential election from 1952 to 1992, with Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan winning the state by particularly large margins. During this forty-year span, it was also the only state not to be carried by a Democrat at least once.
The closest that a Democrat came to carrying the state during this time was Lyndon Johnson in 1964, who lost the state by less than 5,000 votes to Arizona Senator and native Barry Goldwater (This was the most closely contested state in what was otherwise a landslide victory for Johnson that year). Democrat Bill Clinton ended this streak in 1996 when he won Arizona by a little over two percentage points (Clinton had previously come within less than two percent of winning Arizona's electoral votes in 1992). However, Clinton's victory has proven to be an exception, as the state has continued to support Republican presidential candidates by solid margins in every election since.
In recent years, the Republican Party has also dominated Arizona politics in general. The fast-growing Phoenix and Tucson suburbs became increasingly friendly to Republicans from the 1950s onward. During this time, many "Pinto Democrats", or conservative Democrats from rural areas, became increasingly willing to support Republicans at the state and national level. While the state normally supports Republicans at the federal level, Democrats are often competitive in statewide elections; two of the last five governors have been Democrats.
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.
Arizona politics are dominated by a longstanding rivalry between its two largest counties, Maricopa County and Pima County—home to Phoenix and Tucson, respectively. The two counties have almost 75 percent of the state's population and cast almost 80 percent of the state's vote. They also elect a substantial majority of the state legislature.
Maricopa County 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 would not have carried his home state had it not been for a 20,000-vote margin in Maricopa County. Similarly, while McCain won Arizona by eight percentage points in 2008, the margin would have likely been far closer if not for a 130,000-vote margin in Maricopa County.
In contrast, Pima County, home to Tucson, and most of southern Arizona have 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.
Arizona rejected a same-sex marriage ban in a referendum as part of the 2006 elections. Arizona was the first state in the nation to do so. Same-sex marriage was already not recognized in Arizona, but this amendment would have denied any legal or financial benefits to unmarried homosexual or heterosexual couples. In 2008, Arizona voters passed Proposition 102, an amendment to the state constitution to define marriage as a union of one man and one woman, though by a narrower majority than similar votes in a number of other states.
In 2010, Arizona passed SB 1070, called the toughest illegal immigration legislation in the nation, igniting a fierce debate between supporters and detractors of the law.
The United States Supreme Court heard arguments March 18, 2013, regarding the validity of the Arizona law that tries to keep illegal immigrants from voting by demanding all state residents show documents proving their U.S. citizenship before registering to vote in national elections.
A November 2011 Public Policy Polling survey found that 44% of Arizona voters supported the legalization of same-sex marriage, while 45% opposed it and 12% were not sure. A separate question on the same survey found that 72% of respondents supported legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 40% supporting same-sex marriage, 32% supporting civil unions, 27% opposing all legal recognition and 1% not sure. Arizona Proposition 102, known by its supporters as the Marriage Protection Amendment, appeared as a legislatively referred constitutional amendment on the November 4, 2008 ballot in Arizona, where it was approved: 56.2%-43%. It amended the Arizona Constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman.
On October 17, 2014, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne announced that his office would no longer object to same-sex marriage, in response to a U.S. District Court Ruling on Arizona Proposition 102. On that day, each county's Clerk of the Superior Court began to issue same-sex marriage licenses, and Arizona became the 31st state to legalize same-sex marriage.
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.
Arizona is served by three public universities: Arizona State University, the University of Arizona, and Northern Arizona University. These schools are governed by the Arizona Board of Regents.
Private higher education in Arizona is dominated by a large number of for-profit and "chain" (multi-site) universities.
Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott and Prescott College are Arizona's only non-profit four-year private colleges.
Arizona has a wide network of two-year vocational schools and community colleges. These colleges were governed historically by a separate statewide Board of Directors but, in 2002, the state legislature 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.
Professional sports teams in Arizona include:
The University of Phoenix stadium hosted Super Bowl XLII on February 3, 2008, and Super Bowl XLIX on February 1, 2015.
Due to its numerous golf courses, Arizona is home to several stops on the PGA Tour, most notably the Phoenix Open, held at the TPC of Scottsdale, and the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Marana.
Auto racing is another sport known in the state. Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale is home to NASCAR race weekends twice a year. Firebird International Raceway near Chandler is home to drag racing and other motorsport events.
College sports are also prevalent in Arizona. The rivalry between Arizona State University and the University of Arizona predates Arizona's statehood, and is the oldest rivalry in the NCAA. The Territorial Cup, first awarded in 1889 and certified as the oldest trophy in college football, is awarded to the winner of the annual football game between the two schools.
Arizona also hosts several college football bowl games. The Fiesta Bowl, originally held at Sun Devil Stadium, is now held at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. The Fiesta Bowl is part of the new College Football Playoff (CFP). University of Phoenix Stadium was also home to the 2007 and 2011 BCS National Championship Games.
Arizona is a popular location for Major League Baseball spring training, as it is the site of the Cactus League. Spring training has been somewhat of a tradition[vague] 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.
Phoenix Art Museum, located 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 located 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.
Sedona, Jerome, and Tubac are known as a budding artist colonies, and small arts scenes exist in the larger cities and near the state universities.
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 the town of Snowflake, was set in Snowflake, but filmed in the Oregon towns of Oakland, Roseburg, and Sutherlin.
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. One of the most famous examples is 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, Medium, 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, the TV sitcom Alice, which was based on the movie was set in Phoenix. Twilight was also set in Phoenix at the beginning and the end of the film.
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.
"Arizona" was the title of a popular song recorded by Mark Lindsay. Arizona is mentioned by the hit song "Take It Easy", written by Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey and performed by the Eagles. Arizona is also mentioned in the Beatles' song "Get Back", credited to John Lennon and Paul McCartney; McCartney sings: "JoJo left his home in Tucson, Arizona, for some California grass." "Carefree Highway", released in 1974 by Gordon Lightfoot, takes its name from Arizona State Route 74 north of Phoenix.
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, Caroline's Spine, and others began their careers in Arizona. Also, a number of punk and rock bands got their start in Arizona, including JFA, The Feederz, Sun City Girls, The Meat Puppets, The Maine, The Summer Set, and more recently Authority Zero and Digital Summer.
Arizona also has many 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 better known musicians is shock rocker Alice Cooper, who helped define the genre. Maynard James Keenan, the lead singer of the bands Tool, A Perfect Circle, and Puscifer, calls the town of Cornville his current home.
Other notable singers include country singers Dierks Bentley and Marty Robbins, folk singer Katie Lee, Fleetwood Mac's Stevie Nicks, CeCe Peniston, Rex Allen, 2007 American Idol winner Jordin Sparks, and Linda Ronstadt.
Arizona is also known for its heavy metal scene, which is centered in and around Phoenix. In the early to mid-1990s, it included bands such as Job for a Cowboy, Knights of the Abyss, Eyes Set To Kill, blessthefall, and Abigail Williams. The band Soulfly calls Phoenix home and Megadeth lived in Phoenix for about a decade. Beginning in and around 2009, Phoenix began to host a burgeoning dessert rock and sludge metal underground, (ala' Kyuss in 1990s California) led by bands like Wolves of Winter, Asimov and Dead Canyon.
American composer Elliott Carter composed his first String Quartet (1950–51) while on sabbatical (from New York) in Arizona. The quartet won a Pulitzer prize and other awards and is now a staple of the string quartet repertoire.
Some famous Arizonans involved in politics and government are:
Arizona notables in culture and the arts include:
For a complete list, see List of people from Arizona.