(redirected from Arizonan)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Idioms.


Arizona (ârˌəzōˈnə), state in the SW United States. It is bordered by Utah (N), New Mexico (E), Mexico (S), and, largely across the Colorado River, Nevada and California (W); it touches Colorado (NE) in the Four Corners region.

Facts and Figures

Area, 113,909 sq mi (295,024 sq km). Pop. (2020) 7,151,502, a 13.9% increase since the 2010 census. As of the 2020 census, the state's population was: White alone, 82.6%; Black alone, 5.2%; Hispanic or Latino, 31.7%; American Indian and Alaska native alone, 15.6%; Asian alone, 6.5%; Two or More Races, 2.9%. Capital and largest city, Phoenix. Statehood, Feb. 14, 1912 (48th state). Highest pt., Humphreys Peak, 12,633 ft (3,853 m); lowest pt., Colorado River, 70 ft (21 m). Nickname, Grand Canyon State, Copper State. Motto, Ditat Deus [God Enriches]. State bird, cactus wren. State flower, blossom of the saguaro cactus. State tree, paloverde. Abbr., Ariz.; AZ


Northern Arizona lies on the Colorado Plateau, an area of dry plains more than 4,000 ft (1,220 m) high, with deep canyons, including the famous Grand Canyon carved by the Colorado River. Along the Little Colorado River, which runs northwest through the plateau to join the Colorado, are the Painted Desert, where erosion has left colorful layers of sediment exposed, and the Petrified Forest National Park, one of the world's most extensive areas of petrified wood. South of the Grand Canyon are the San Francisco Peaks, including Humphreys Peak, the highest point (12,655 ft/3,857 m) in the state. The southern edge of the Colorado Plateau is marked by an escarpment called Mogollon Rim.

The southern half of the state has desert basins broken up by mountains with rocky peaks and extending NW to SE across central Arizona. To the south, the Gila River, a major tributary of the Colorado, flows west across the entire state. This area has desert plains separated by mountain chains running north and south; in the west the plains fall to the relatively low altitude of c.140 ft (43 m) in the region around Yuma.

Although some mountain peaks receive an annual rainfall of more than 30 in. (76 cm), precipitation in most of the state is low, and much of Arizona's history has been shaped by the inadequate water supply. Since the early 20th cent., massive irrigation projects have been built in Arizona's valleys. Roosevelt, Horse Mesa, Mormon Flat, and Stewart Mountain dams, with reservoirs and storage lakes, irrigate the Salt River valley. The Gillespie Dam on the Gila River helps irrigate the Yuma vicinity. The Coolidge Dam, with its San Carlos reservoir, serves the area near Casa Grande in the southeast. W Arizona is irrigated by Colorado River dams, which also serve California. These include Hoover, Glen Canyon, Davis, Parker, Imperial, and Laguna dams. At the Parker dam, the Central Arizona Project diverts water via canal to Phoenix, the state's capital and largest city, and Tucson, the second largest city. Arizona also obtains water from groundwater pumping stations.


The state's principal crops are cotton, lettuce, cauliflowers, broccoli, and sorghum. Cattle, calves, and dairy goods are, however, the most valuable Arizona farm products. Manufacturing is the leading economic activity, with electronics, printing and publishing, processed foods, and aerospace and transportation leading sectors. High-technology research and development, communications, and service industries are also important, as are construction (the state is rapidly growing) and tourism. Military facilities contributing to Arizona's economy include Fort Huachuca, Luke and Davis-Monthan air force bases, and the Yuma Proving Grounds. Testing and training with military aircraft and desert storage of commercial and military planes are both major undertakings.

Arizona abounds in minerals. Copper is the state's most valuable mineral; Arizona leads the nation in production. Other leading resources are molybdenum, sand, gravel, and cement.

The mountains in the north and central regions have 3,180,000 acres (1,286,900 hectares) of commercial forests, chiefly ponderosa pines and other firs, which support lumber and building-materials industries. The U.S. government owns about 95% of the commercial forests in the state. National and state forests attract millions of tourists yearly. Tourism centers in the N on the Grand Canyon, the Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest, meteor craters, ancient Native American ruins, and the Navajo and Hopi reservations that cover nearly all of the state's northeast quadrant. SE Arizona's warm, dry climate and Spanish colonial ruins also attract a large tourist trade, as do golf courses and other leisure facilities.


Between 1940 and 1960, Arizona's population increased more than 100%, and since then growth has continued. By the 2000 census the cumulative increase since 1940 amounted to more than 1000%, and Arizona was ranked among the fastest growing states in the nation. The mountainous north, however, has not shared the population growth of the southern sections of the state. Over 80% of the people are Caucasian and nearly 20% are Hispanic.

There were 203,527 Native Americans in Arizona in 1990 (or almost 6% of the people), the third highest such population in the United States. In addition to the Navajo, they include Mohave, Apache, Hopi, Paiute, Tohono O'Odham, Pima, Maricopa, Yavapaí, Hualapai, and Havasupai. Agriculture is the basis of their economy, but lack of water makes farming difficult; there is much poverty. The production of handicrafts, including leather goods, woven items, pottery, and the famous silver and turquoise jewelry of the Navajo; tourism; and mineral leases have also brought income to the tribes.

Government, Politics, and Education

The state's constitution provides for an elected governor and bicameral legislature, with a 30-member senate and a 60-member house of representatives. The governor and members of the legislature serve two-year terms. The state elects two senators and nine representatives to the U.S. Congress and has 11 electoral votes. Republicans have dominated state politics since the 1960s.

Arizona's educational institutions include the Univ. of Arizona, at Tucson; Arizona State Univ., at Tempe; Northern Arizona Univ., at Flagstaff; and several private institutions.


Early History

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.

Modern Development

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.

In the late 1980s and 90s, political scandals tainted Arizona's governors. In 1988, Gov. Evan Mecham, charged with obstructing justice and financial improprieties, was impeached and removed from office. J. Fife Symington 3d, another Republican, won election in 1991 and was reelected in 1994; in 1997, convicted on fraud charges, he too resigned. In 1992 a six-year political controversy ended when Arizona voters approved a proposal to observe an annual state holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.

In 2002, Democrat Janet Napolitano was elected to succeed Hull. She was the first woman to be reelected to the governorship in 2006, but resigned in 2009 to become Homeland Security secretary. Arizona's secretary of state, Jan Brewer, a Republican, succeeded her, and was elected to the office in 2010. The state again became a focus of national (and international) controversy in 2010 when it enacted a law requiring local law officers to check the status of someone stopped for an offense if the person is believed to an illegal alien; although that aspect of the law was upheld in 2012 by the U.S. Supreme Court, other aspects were struck down. Current governor Doug Ducey (2015-) has pursued conservative positions on abortion, same-sex marriage, and other issues, although he has increased the state's support for education.

Following the defeat of President Donald Trump in 2020, the Republican-controlled legislature sponsored an election audit of Maricopa County run by a group called the Cyper Ninjas; although the audit found that Joe Biden indeed had won, it was marred by controversy.


See E. H. Peplow, Jr., History of Arizona (3 vol., 1958); Univ. of Arizona Faculty, Arizona: Its People and Resources (rev. 2d ed. 1972); M. R. Comeaux, Arizona: A Geography (1982); T. Miller, ed., Arizona: The Land and Its People (1986); J. E. Officer, Hispanic Arizona (1987); M. Trimble, Arizona: A Cavalcade of History (1989).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

Arizona State Information

Phone: (602) 542-4900

Area (sq mi):: 113998.30 (land 113634.57; water 363.73) Population per square mile: 52.30
Population 2005: 5,939,292 State rank: 0 Population change: 2000-20005 15.80%; 1990-2000 40.00% Population 2000: 5,130,632 (White 63.80%; Black or African American 3.10%; Hispanic or Latino 25.30%; Asian 1.80%; Other 19.60%). Foreign born: 12.80%. Median age: 34.20
Income 2000: per capita $20,275; median household $40,558; Population below poverty level: 13.90% Personal per capita income (2000-2003): $25,660-$27,232
Unemployment (2004): 5.00% Unemployment change (from 2000): 1.00% Median travel time to work: 24.90 minutes Working outside county of residence: 4.80%

List of Arizona counties:

  • Apache County
  • Cochise County
  • Coconino County
  • Gila County
  • Graham County
  • Greenlee County
  • La Paz County
  • Maricopa County
  • Mohave County
  • Navajo County
  • Pima County
  • Pinal County
  • Santa Cruz County
  • Yavapai County
  • Yuma County
  • Counties USA: A Directory of United States Counties, 3rd Edition. © 2006 by Omnigraphics, Inc.

    Arizona Parks

    Parks Directory of the United States, 5th Edition. © 2007 by Omnigraphics, Inc.
    The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



    state in the western USA. Area, 295,000 sq km; population, 1,665,000(1967). Administrative center, Phoenix.

    In the center of the state there are mountains with altitudes up to 3,861 m. The Colorado and Gila desert plateaus, dissected by rivers of the Colorado River basin, lie in the northeast and southeast respectively. The main branches of Arizona’s economy are irrigated farming (about 500,000 hectares [ha] in 1965) and mining. The primary agricultural crop is cotton (138,000 ha in 1965), which occupies about one-third of the state’s cultivated area. There is considerable cultivation of alfalfa and vegetables, and there are citrus orchards. Livestock raising is carried on mainly for the production of meat and wool (1, 116,000 head of cattle, 669,000 head of sheep in 1966). As small farmers have been dispossessed of the land, the number of farms has decreased from 18,500 in 1940 to 6,200 in 1965. The Hoover Hydroelectric Plant (Boulder Dam, capacity 1.3 million kilowatts), one of the largest in the country, is located on the Colorado River on the border with Nevada. Arizona holds first place in the USA in output of copper, with deposits at Miami, Bisbee, and Morenci. In 1965, 638,000 tons—56 percent of the entire output of copper in the USA—were extracted. Arizona also plays an important role in the mining of silver (171,000 kg in 1965) and gold (4,300 kg). There are factories for nonferrous metallurgy (smelting of copper and production of secondary aluminum in Phoenix, and others), for metalworking, and for the food industry. There are also rocket and radioelectronic industries. The state is a center for tourism: the Grand Canyon National Park is in Arizona.


    The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


    Forty-eighth state; admitted on February 14, 1912

    State capital: Phoenix

    Nickname: Grand Canyon State

    State motto: Ditat Deus (Latin “God Enriches”)

    State amphibian: Arizona tree frog (Hyla eximia)

    State bird: Cactus wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus)

    State butterfly: Two-tailed swallowtail

    State colors: Federal blue and old gold

    State fish: Apache trout (Salmo apache)

    State flower: Blossom of the saguaro cactus (Carnegiea gigantea)

    State fossil: Petrified wood

    State gem: Turquoise

    State mammal: Ringtail (Bassariscus astutus)

    State neckwear: Bola tie

    State reptile: Arizona ridge-nosed rattlesnake (Crotalus willardi)

    State songs: “Arizona March Song” and “Arizona”

    State tree: Palo Verde (Cercidium floridum)

    More about state symbols at:


    AmerBkDays-2000, p. 141
    AnnivHol-2000, p. 27


    State web site:

    Office of the Governor
    1700 W Washington St
    Executive Tower 9th Fl
    Phoenix, AZ 85007
    fax: 602-542-7601

    Secretary of State
    1700 W Washington St
    West Wing 7th Fl
    Phoenix, AZ 85007
    fax: 602-542-1575

    Arizona State Library
    1700 W Washington St
    Rm 200
    Phoenix, AZ 85007
    fax: 602-542-4972

    Legal Holidays:

    Constitution Commemoration DaySep 17
    Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday and Civil Rights DayJan 17, 2011; Jan 16, 2012; Jan 21, 2013; Jan 20, 2014; Jan 19, 2015; Jan 18, 2016; Jan 16, 2017; Jan 15, 2018; Jan 21, 2019; Jan 20, 2020; Jan 18, 2021; Jan 17, 2022; Jan 16, 2023
    Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.


    a state of the southwestern US: consists of the Colorado plateau in the northeast, including the Grand Canyon, divided from desert in the southwest by mountains rising over 3750 m (12 500 ft.). Capital: Phoenix. Pop.: 5 580 811 (2003 est.). Area: 293 750 sq. km (113 417 sq. miles)
    Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
    References in periodicals archive ?
    And because Arizonans get a deduction for taxes paid to other states, Brnovich figures Arizona loses about $484,000 a year.
    It was about ensuring more Arizonans have access to preventative care, and reducing the number of our friends and neighbors falling through the cracks in our health care system.
    A recent Gallup Arizona Poll asked Arizonans to choose among public improvement issues they would be willing to support through a tax increase.
    If the measure passes, a new constitutional amendment will protect Arizonans' right to spend their own money on any legal health care service and to opt out of any health care system imposed upon them.
    Arizona State said its site, described as "the first-ever social media Website designed to help Arizonans who have been impacted by the economy" has also seen jumps in usage.
    An Arizona Daily Star op-ed commented, "The measure is the latest attempt by anti-immigrant-rights ideologues to impose their will on a majority of Arizonans who, we believe, are tolerant of and encouraging of cultural diversity."
    They ignored Arizonans who overwhelmingly passed four get-tough initiatives to crack down on illegal immigration.
    Upon meeting President Bush as the White House with some fellow Arizonans, Flake said, "Mr.
    "Arizonans want to incorporate healthier foods into their diets.
    Arizonans believe that our merit selection system, adopted in 1974 by the electorate, should serve as a nationwide model.
    Numerous advocacy groups in Tuscon, Ariz., are beginning a campaign to give thousands of Arizonans with felony convictions, the right to vote, serve on a jury or hold public office, rights normally denied ex-felons.