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Geography of Arizona

Learn 10 Facts about the U.S. State of Arizona

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Arizona

Sky Harbor Airport is the major airport of Phoenix, Arizona; the Phoenix skyline is in the background.

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Population: 6,595,778 (2009 estimate)
Capital: Phoenix
Bordering States: California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico
Land Area: 113,998 square miles (295,254 sq km)
Highest Point: Humphrey's Peak at 12,637 feet (3,851 m)
Lowest Point: Colorado River at 70 feet (22 m)

Arizona is a state located in the southwestern United States. It became a part of the U.S. as the 48th state (the last of the contiguous states) to be admitted into the Union on February 14, 1912. Today Arizona is known for its varied landscape, national parks, desert climate and the Grand Canyon. Arizona has recently been in the news due to its stringent and controversial policies on illegal immigration.

The following is a list of ten geographic facts about Arizona:

1) The first Europeans to explore the Arizona region were the Spanish in 1539. In the 1690s and early 1700s, several Spanish missions were established in the state and Spain established Tubac in 1752 and Tucson in 1775 as presidios. In 1812, when Mexico achieved its independence from Spain, Arizona became a part of Alta California. However with the Mexican-American War in 1847, the area of present-day Arizona was given up and it eventually became a part of the Territory of New Mexico.

2) In 1863, Arizona became territory after New Mexico seceded from the Union two years earlier. The new Arizona Territory consisted of the western part of New Mexico.

3) Throughout the rest of the 1800s and into the 1900s, Arizona began to grow as people moved into the area, including Mormon settlers who founded the cities of Mesa, Snowflake, Heber and Stafford. In 1912, Arizona became the 48th state to enter the Union.

4) Following its entry into the Union, Arizona continued to grow and cotton farming and copper mining became the state's two largest industries. After World War II, the state grew even more with the development of air conditioning and tourism to the state's national parks also increased. In addition, retirement communities began to develop and today, the state is one of the most popular for people of retirement age on the West Coast.

5) Today, Arizona is one of the fastest growing states in the U.S. and the Phoenix area alone has over four million residents. The total population of Arizona is hard to determine however because of its large number of illegal immigrants. Some estimates claim that illegal immigrants make up 7.9% of the state's population.

6) Arizona is considered one of the Four Corner states and it is best known for its desert landscape and highly varied topography. High mountains and plateaus cover more than half of the state and the Grand Canyon, which was carved over millions of years by the Colorado River, is a popular tourist destinations.

7) Like its topography, Arizona also has a varied climate, though much of the state is considered desert with mild winters and very hot summers. Phoenix for instance has an average July high of 106.6˚F (49.4˚C) and a January average low of 44.8˚F (7.1˚C). By contrast, Arizona's higher elevations often have milder summers and very cold winters. Flagstaff for example has a January average low of 15.3˚F (-9.28˚C) and a July average high of 97˚F (36˚C). Thunderstorms are also common throughout much of the state.

8) Because of its desert landscape, Arizona mainly has vegetation that can be classified as xerophytes - these are plants like cactus that use little water. The mountain ranges however have forested areas and Arizona is home to the larges stand of Ponderosa pine trees in the world.

9) In addition to the Grand Canyon and its desert landscape, Arizona is known as having one of the best preserved meteorite impact sites in the world. The Barringer Meteorite Crater is about 25 miles (40 km) west of Winslow, Az. and is almost one mile (1.6 km) wide and 570 feet (170 m) deep.

10) Arizona is one state in the U.S. (along with Hawaii) that does not observe Daylight Saving Time.

To learn more about Arizona, visit the state's official website.

References

Infoplease.com. (n.d.). Arizona: History, Geography, Population and State Facts- Infoplease.com. Retrieved from: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0108181.html

Wikipedia.com. (24 July 2010). Arizona - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arizona

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