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Arizona (i /ærɪˈzoʊnə/) is a state of the United States of America located in the southwestern region of the United States. The capital and largest city is Phoenix. The second largest city is Tucson, followed in size by the eight Phoenix metropolitan area cities of Mesa, Glendale, Chandler, Scottsdale, Gilbert, Tempe, Peoria, Surprise and then by Yuma in Yuma County.
Arizona is the 48th state and last of the contiguous states admitted to the Union, achieving statehood on February 14, 1912 - the 50th anniversary of Arizona's recognition as a territory of the United States. Arizona is noted for its desert climate, exceptionally hot summers, and mild winters, however it also features pine forests and mountain ranges in the northern high country, with cooler weather than in the lower deserts.
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. It is the largest landlocked U.S. state by population. 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 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 best known for its desert landscape, which is rich in xerophyte plants such as the 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. Mountains and plateaus are found in more than half of the state. Despite the state's aridity, 27% of Arizona is forest, a percentage comparable to modern day France or Germany. The largest stand in the world of Ponderosa pine trees is contained in Arizona. The Mogollon Rim, a 1,998 feet (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 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 km) and attains a depth of more than 1 mile (1.6 km). Nearly 2 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 Plateaus have uplifted.
Arizona is home to one of the 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 (170 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 °F (16 °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 June through September bring a dry heat ranging from 90–120 °F (32–49 °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 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 (38 °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." Possible origins supported by historians are the spanish sentence 'zona arida' (desert region), shortened to arizona or the Basque phrase aritz ona, "good oak," and 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 area near the silver mining camp of Planchas de Plata, Sonora, 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 Territory 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) specified that the sum of $15 million US dollars in compensation (equivalent to about $376 million in present day terms) be paid to the newly formed 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 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 Aztec 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.
During the Mexican Revolution from 1910 to 1920, a few battles were fought in the Mexican towns just across the border from Arizona 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 United States 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. As World War I raged in Europe, Frank Luke became America's 2nd best ace. Frank was born in Phoenix, Arizona, and was killed in combat over France in 1918.
Arizona became a U.S. state on February 14, 1912. This resulted in the end to the territorial colonization of Continental America. Arizona was the 48th state admitted into the U.S. and the last of the contiguous states to be admitted. The admission, originally scheduled to coincide with that of New Mexico, was delayed by Democrats in the territorial legislature to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Arizona becoming a Confederate territory in 1862.
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 wartime fears of Japanese invasion of the west coast, all Japanese residents in western Arizona were required to reside in the war camps. Grand Avenue, a major thoroughfare in the Phoenix area and part of U.S. 60, was chosen as part of the boundary.
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.)
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.
Until the latter half of the 19th century, almost all of central and northern Arizona remained sparsely settled. At the time of Arizona’s acquisition by the United States in 1848, fewer than 1,000 people of Hispanic origin lived in Arizona. 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". As of 2006, Arizona had an estimated population of 6,166,318. Arizona's continued population growth is putting an enormous stress on the state's water supplies.
The population of the Phoenix metropolitan area increased by 45.3% from 1991 through 2001, helping to make Arizona the second fastest growing state in the nation in the 1990s (the fastest was Nevada). Currently the population of the Phoenix metropolitan area is estimated to be over 4.3 million.
According to the 2005-2007 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, Non-Hispanic White Americans made up 59.6% of Arizona's population. Hispanics and Latinos (of any race) made up 29.0% of Arizona's population.
In 2010 illegal aliens constituted an estimated 7.9% of the population. This was the second highest percentage of any state in the nation.
According to a 2007 survey conducted by The Pew Forum, the religious affiliation of the People of Arizona are:
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 one of the largest in the country, behind such states as California, Michigan, and Florida, to name a few.
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). As of January 2010, the state's unemployment rate is 9.2%.
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%.
Interstate 8 | Interstate 10 | Interstate 15 | Interstate 17 | Interstate 19 | Interstate 40
U.S. Route 60 | U.S. Route 64 | U.S. Route 70 | U.S. Route 89 | U.S. Route 66
U.S. Route 91 | U.S. Route 93 | U.S. Route 95 | U.S. Route 160 | U.S. Route 163
U.S. Route 180 | U.S. Route 191 | U.S. Route 466 | U.S. Route 491
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.
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 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 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: 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), a granite version of the Ten Commandments, and the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
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 Jan Brewer (R). She 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 including the current Governor Jan Brewer, 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 bi-partisian 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 to 18,661 square miles.
Arizona's two United States Senators are John McCain (R), the 2008 Republican Presidential Nominee, and Jon Kyl (R).
Arizona's representatives in the United States House of Representatives are Ann Kirkpatrick (D-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). Arizona gained two seats in the House of Representatives due to redistricting based on Census 2000.
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 national politics, with the Republican candidate carrying the state every time with the sole exception of Bill Clinton in 1996. 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, as in 2006, when Janet Napolitano was handily reelected the state's governor.
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.
See also: United States presidential election, 2004, in Arizona, United States presidential election in Arizona, 2008
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 an anti-gay marriage amendment in the 2006 midterm elections. Arizona was the first state in the nation to do so. Same-sex marriage was already illegal in Arizona, but this amendment would have denied any legal or financial benefits to unmarried homosexual or heterosexual couples.
In 2009, Arizona passed an amendment to the state constitution to define marriage as a union of one man and one woman.
Phoenix, located in Maricopa County, is the largest city in Arizona and also the state capital. Other prominent cities in the Phoenix metro area include Mesa (the third largest city in Arizona), Glendale, Peoria, Chandler, 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 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, which, along with Arizona State University in Tempe, is considered the state's flagship university.
The Prescott metropolitan area includes the cities of Prescott, Sedona, Cottonwood, Camp Verde and numerous other towns spread out over the 8,123 square miles 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 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 °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 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. Flagstaff is home to 57,391 residents and the main campus of Northern Arizona University.
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: The University of Arizona, Arizona State University, 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. Only one traditional (single-site, non-profit, four-year) private college exists in Arizona (Prescott College). 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.
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 state universities and several community colleges, college sports are also prevalent in Arizona. The intense rivalry between Arizona State University and the University of Arizona predates Arizona's statehood, and is the oldest rivalry in the NCAA. The thus aptly named Territorial Cup, first awarded in 1889 and certified as the oldest trophy in college football, is awarded to the winner of the “Duel in the Desert,” the annual football game between the two schools. 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 3, 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 for the 2008 season.
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 have a new spring training facility in Glendale which opened in 2009, making 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 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, 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, as was the TV sitcom Alice, which was based on the movie.
See also: List of films shot in Arizona
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 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 blessthefall, Scary Kids Scaring Kids, Eyes Set To Kill, 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. Maynard James Keenan, the lead singer of the bands, Tool, A Perfect Circle, and Puscifer, calls the town of Jerome his current home. 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.
Arizona is also known for its Heavy metal scene, centered in and around Phoenix, which includes bands such as Job for a Cowboy, Knights of the Abyss, and Viraemia. The band Soulfly calls Phoenix home and Megadeth lived in Phoenix for about a decade. See also Music of Arizona
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.