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Arizona is a state of the southwest United States on the Mexican border. It was admitted as the 48th state in 1912. Explored by the Spanish beginning in 1539, the area was acquired by the United States in 1848 through the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Phoenix is the capital and the largest city. Population: 5,930,000.
Little is known of the earliest indigenous cultures in Arizona, but they probably lived in the region as early as 25,000 B.C. A later culture, the Hohokam (A.D. 500–1450), were pit dwellers who constructed extensive irrigation systems. The Pueblo flourished in Arizona between the 11th and 14th cent. and built many of the elaborate cliff dwellings that still stand. The Apache and Navajo came to the area in c.1300 from Canada.
Spanish Exploration and Mexican Control
Probably the first Spanish explorer to enter Arizona (c.1536) was Cabeza de Vaca. Franciscan friar Marcos de Niza reached the state in 1539; he was followed by Francisco Vásquez de Coronado, who led an expedition from Mexico in 1540 in search of the seven legendary cities of gold, reaching as far as the Grand Canyon. Despite extensive exploration, the region was neglected by the Spanish in favor of the more fruitful area of New Mexico. Father Eusebio Kino, a Jesuit, founded the missions of Guevavi (1692) and Tumacacori (1696), near Nogales, and San Xavier del Bac (1700), near Tucson. The Spanish Empire, however, expelled the Jesuits in 1767, and those in Arizona subsequently lost their control over the indigenous people.
The Arizona region came under Mexican control following the Mexican war of independence from Spain (1810–21). In the early 1800s, U.S. mountain men, trappers and traders such as Kit Carson, trapped beaver in the area, but otherwise there were few settlers.
U.S. Acquisition and the Discovery of Minerals
In the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848), ending the Mexican War (1846–48), Mexico relinquished control of the area N of the Gila River to the United States. This area became part of the U.S. Territory of New Mexico in 1850. The United States, wishing to build a railroad through the area S of the Gila River, bought the area between the river and the S boundary of Arizona from Mexico in the Gadsden Purchase (1853).
Arizona's minerals, valued even by prehistoric miners, attracted most of the early explorers, and although the area remained a relatively obscure section of the Territory of New Mexico, mining continued sporadically. Small numbers of prospectors, crossing Arizona to join the California gold rush (1849), found gold, silver, and a neglected metal—copper.
In 1861, at the outbreak of the Civil War, conventions held at Tucson and Mesilla declared the area part of the Confederacy. In the only engagement fought in the Arizona area, a small group of Confederate pickets held off Union cavalry NW of Tucson in the skirmish known as the battle of Picacho Pass.
Territorial Status and Statehood
In 1863, Arizona was organized as a separate territory, with its first, temporary capital at Fort Whipple. Prescott became the capital in 1865. Charles D. Poston, who had worked to achieve Arizona's new status, was elected as the territory's first delegate to the U.S. Congress. The capital was moved to Tucson in 1867, back to Prescott in 1877, and finally to Phoenix in 1889.
The region had been held precariously by U.S. soldiers during the intermittent warfare (1861–86) with the Apaches, who were led by Cochise and later Geronimo. General George Crook waged a successful campaign against the Apaches in 1882–85, and in 1886 Geronimo finally surrendered to federal troops. When Confederate troops were routed and Union soldiers went east to fight in the Civil War, settlement was abandoned. It was resumed after the war and encouraged by the Homestead Act (1862), the Desert Land Act (1877), and the Carey Land Act (1894)—all of which turned land over to settlers and required them to develop it.
In the 1870s mining flourished, and by the following decade the Copper Queen Company at Bisbee was exploiting one of the area's largest copper deposits. In 1877 silver was discovered at Tombstone, setting off a boom that drew throngs of prospectors to Arizona but lasted less than 10 years. Tombstone also became famous for its lawlessness; Wyatt Earp and his brothers gained their reputations during the famous gunfight (1881) at the O. K. Corral. By 1880 the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific railroads both extended into Arizona. Ranching began to thrive and sheep raising grew from solely a Navajo occupation to a major enterprise among white settlers. After 1897, the U.S. Forestry Bureau issued grazing permits to protect public land from depletion.
In 1912, Arizona, still a frontier territory, attained statehood. Its constitution created a storm, with such radical political features as initiative, referendum, and judicial recall. Only after recall had been deleted did President Taft sign the statehood bill. Once admitted to the Union, Arizona restored the recall provision.
Irrigation, spurred by the Desert Land Act and by Mormon immigration, promoted farming in the southern part of the territory. By 1900, diverted streams were irrigating 200,000 acres (80,940 hectares). With the opening of the Roosevelt Dam (1911), a federally financed project, massive irrigation projects transformed Arizona's valleys. Although Arizona's mines were not unionized until the mid-1930s, strikes occurred at the copper mines of Clifton and Morenci in 1915 and at the Bisbee mines in 1917.
During World War II, defense industries were established in Arizona. Manufacturing, notably electronic industries, continued to develop after the war, especially around Phoenix and Tucson; in the 1960s, manufacturing achieved economic supremacy over mining and agriculture in Arizona. During the 1970s and 80s the state experienced phenomenal economic growth as it and other Sun Belt states attracted high-technology industries with enormous growth potential.
Arizona has contributed several major figures to national politics. Among them, Senator Barry M. Goldwater, the unsuccessful 1964 Republican candidate for the U.S. presidency, was long the standard bearer for American conservatism. Democrat Stewart L. Udall served as secretary of the interior under presidents Kennedy and Johnson.
With the development of irrigation and hydroelectric projects along the Colorado River and its tributaries, water rights became a subject of litigation between Arizona and California. In 1963 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Arizona had rights to a share of the water from the Colorado's main stream and sole water rights over tributaries within Arizona. In 1968, Congress authorized the Central Arizona Project, a 335-mi (539-km) canal system to divert water from the Colorado River to the booming metropolitan areas of Phoenix and Tucson. The canal, which uses dams, tunnels, and pumps to raise the water 1,247 ft (380 m) to the desert plain, was opposed by environmentalists, who feared it would damage desert ecosystems. Construction was completed in 1991, at a cost of over $3.5 billion.
- Arizona is a right-to-work state. The law states no person shall be denied the opportunity to obtain or retain employment because of non-membership in a labor organization.
- The Arizona trout is found only in the Arizona.
- The saguaro cactus blossom is the official state flower. The white flower blooms on the tips of the saguaro cactus during May and June. The saguaro is the largest American cactus.
- Arizona leads the nation in copper production.
- Petrified wood is the official state fossil. Most petrified wood comes from the Petrified Forest in northeastern Arizona.
- The bola tie is the official state neckwear.
- The Palo verde is the official state tree. Its name means green stick and it blooms a brilliant yellow-gold in April or May.
- The cactus wren is the official state bird. It grows seven to eight inches long and likes to build nests in the protection of thorny desert plants like the arms of the giant saguaro cactus.
- Turquoise is the official state gemstone. The blue-green stone has a somewhat waxy surface and can be found throughout the state.
- Arizona is home of the Grand Canyon National Park.
- The ringtail is the official state mammal. The ringtail is a small fox-like animal about two and one-half feet long and is a shy, nocturnal creature.
- The amount of copper on the roof of the Capitol building is equivalent to 4,800,000 pennies.
- Arizona observes Mountain Standard Time on a year round basis. The one exception is the Navajo Nation, located in the northeast corner of the state, which observes the daylight savings time change.
- The battleship USS Arizona was named in honor of the state. It was commissioned in 1913 and launched in 1915 from the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
- World War II brought many military personnel to train at Luke and Thunderbird fields in Glendale.
- The Castilian and Burgundian flags of Spain, the Mexican flag, the Confederate flag, and the flag of the United States have all flown over the land area that has become Arizona.
- In 1926, the Southern Pacific Railroad connected Arizona with the eastern states.
- The geographic center of Arizona is 55 miles (89 kilometers) southeast of Prescott.
- Arizona's most abundant mineral is copper.
- Bisbee, located in Tombstone Canyon, is known as the Queen of the Copper Mines. During its mining history the town was the largest city between Saint Louis and San Francisco.
- The state's most popular natural wonders include the Grand Canyon, Havasu Canyon, Grand Canyon Caves, Lake Powell/Rainbow Bridge, Petrified Forest/Painted Desert, Monument Valley, Sunset Crater, Meteor Crater, Sedona Oak Creek Canyon, Salt River Canyon, Superstition Mountains, Picacho Peak State Park, Saguaro National Park, Chiricahua National Monument, and the Colorado River.
- The Arizona tree frog is the state official amphibian. The frog is actually between three-quarter to two inches long.
- Once a rowdy copper mining town, Jerome's population dwindled to as few as 50 people after the mines closed in 1953.
- The original London Bridge was shipped stone-by-stone and reconstructed in Lake Havasu City.
- The capital of the Navajo Reservation is Window Rock.
- The state's precipitation varies. At Flagstaff the annual average is 18.31 inches; Phoenix averages 7.64 inches; and Yuma's annual average is 3.27 inches.
- Crops include 2%; pastureland 57%; forests 24%; and other uses are 17% in land-use designation.
- The Arizona ridge-nosed rattlesnake is perhaps the most beautiful of all eleven species of rattlesnakes found in Arizona.
- The colors blue and gold are the official state colors.
- Located in Fountain Hills is a fountain believed to be the tallest in the world.
- Four Corners is noted as the spot in the United States where a person can stand in four states at the same time.
- The age of a saguaro cactus is determined by its height.
- The Apache trout is considered a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act.
- Arizona, among all the states, has the largest percentage of its land set aside and designated as Indian lands.
- Rising to a height of 12,643 feet, Mount Humphreys north of Flagstaff is the state's highest mountain.
- The Hopi Indians of Arizona are noted for growing their multicolored corn.
- Barry Goldwater, a famous public official, senator, and presidential candidate was born in Phoenix.
- In 1939 architect Frank Lloyd Wright's studio, Taliesin West, was built near Phoenix.
- Oraibi is the oldest Indian settlement in the United States. The Hopis Indians founded it.
- Grand Canyon's Flaming Gorge got its name for its blazing red and orange colored, twelve-hundred-foot-high walls.
- Grand Canyon's Disaster Falls was named to commemorate the site of a previous explorer's wreck.
- Grand Canyon's Marble Canyon got its name from its thousand-foot-thick seam of marble and for its walls eroded to a polished glass finish.
- Arizona became the 48th state on February 14, 1912.
- The world's largest solar telescope is located at Kitts Peak National Observatory in the city of Sells.
- At one time camels were used to transport goods across Arizona.
- Between the years 1692 and 1711 Father Eusebio Kino focused on area missionary work. During the time many grain and stock farms began.
- A person from Arizona is called an Arizonan.
- Phoenix originated in 1866 as a hay camp to supply Camp McDowell.
- The famous labor leader, Ceasar Estrada Chavez, was born in Yuma.
- Tombstone, Ruby, Gillette, and Gunsight are among the ghost towns scattered throughout the state.
- Arizona.gov - Official website.