Arizona is a state in the southwestern United States. Arizona was the last of the 48 adjoining continental states to enter the Union. Arizona is popularly known as the Grand Canyon State, after its most remarkable physical feature, the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River.
The largest lake in Arizona is Lake Mead, with an area of 603 sq km (233 sq mi), formed by the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River. It lies partly in Arizona and partly in Nevada and backs into the lower portion of the Grand Canyon. Other large lakes created by dams include Theodore Roosevelt Lake, behind the Roosevelt Dam on Salt River; San Carlos Lake, behind the Coolidge Dam on the Gila River; Lake Havasu, behind the Parker Dam on the Colorado River; and Lake Powell, which is partly in Utah and formed behind the Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River.
The first humans in present-day Arizona appeared more than 12,000 years ago. Archaeologists have found evidence that the original peoples hunted and gathered food with a few crude stone tools and probably built no permanent dwellings. About 2,000 years ago, people whom archaeologists now call the Anasazi settled on the plateaus of northwestern Arizona. As they left the nomadic lifestyle, the Anasazi lived in multiroomed houses built into caves and built kiva, circular buildings used for ceremonial purposes. In the mountains of eastern Arizona lived a people now called the Mogollon, who borrowed elements of their culture from both plateau and desert peoples. About ad 300 an agricultural people called the Hohokam arrived in the river valleys of central Arizona. They planted corn and devised a system of irrigation to bring water to their crops. In the plateau country, Anasazi also learned to grow corn, squash, and cotton. However, the plateau peoples farmed without the aid of irrigation, using rainwater instead. From 700 to 1100 these peoples developed, to a very high level, the arts of building, cotton weaving, and pottery making. The Hohokam and the Anasazi reached the height of their civilizations between 1100 and 1300. Most of their great multiple-roomed cliff houses were built toward the end of this period. In the 13th century a prolonged drought reduced the food supply and available farmland. After 1300 the population decreased and the area of habitation shrank. When the Spanish arrived in the 16th century, they found the distribution of native peoples largely as it is today, except for the Navajo and Apache, nomadic peoples who migrated into the area shortly before the arrival of the Spanish. The first non-Native Americans to see Arizona may have been members of a Spanish expedition led by Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, who was shipwrecked on the Texas coast in 1528. Estevanico, a slave from Azamor, Morocco, was also on the expedition. Only Estevanico, Cabeza de Vaca, and two others survived the Native American attacks and disease. Cabeza de Vaca led the group around the Gulf of Mexico to Mexico City on what became an eight-year journey, during which time he and Estevanico befriended many Native American peoples, who told them about a kingdom of wealth called the Seven Cities of Cíbola. Cabeza de Vaca’s report about the possibility of wealth interested the viceroy of New Spain. In 1539 Estevanico reentered Arizona guiding a small band led by the Franciscan Friar Marcos de Niza on an expedition to find the Seven Cities. Although he found no riches, de Niza reported that he had sighted one of the cities. On this expedition Estevanico was killed by Zuni Pueblos in western New Mexico. With about 300 Spanish soldiers and many Native Americans under his command, on February 23, 1540, the Spanish conquistador Francisco Vásquez de Coronado began following the western slope of the Sierra Madre Occidental north to the present border of the state of Arizona. He then headed northeast toward Cíbola, which he found to be only villages of the Zuni Pueblo, containing no wealth. However, in the course of the explorations one of his lieutenants, García López de Cárdenas, saw the Grand Canyon; a second, Hernando de Alarcón, reached the lower Colorado River; and a third, Melchior Diaz, crossed what is now Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona on his way to the Gulf of California. In 1581 a party of soldiers and missionaries from Santa Barbara, on the northern frontier of what is now Mexico, traveled up the Río Grande seeking knowledge of the Pueblo peoples in what is now New Mexico. After an extensive survey of the country, the missionaries stayed and the soldiers returned to Spanish Mexico. In 1582 an expedition led by Antonio de Espejo set out north, mainly to find out what had happened to the missionaries. After learning that they had been killed, Espejo returned to Santa Barbara, searching for minerals along the way. Espejo found silver deposits somewhere in the vicinity of present-day Jerome, and the samples he carried back stimulated further interest in the area. In 1595 Juan de Oñate, born in Spanish Mexico and related to the conquistador Hernán Cortés and to the Aztec ruler Montezuma II, won a royal contract to settle the region. Oñate’s expedition left in 1598. When it reached the Río Grande near present-day El Paso, Texas, Oñate took possession for Spain of the territory he called New Mexico, which included present-day Arizona. Proceeding upstream, the Spanish founded a colony near the junction of the Río Grande and the Rio Chama, named it San Juan, and then took a party west to Arizona. Oñate sent another expedition under Marcos Farfán into Arizona to search for the mines Espejo had found. Farfán found ore deposits near present-day Prescott. At first the Spanish did little to develop Arizona. It was arid, remote from the center of government in Mexico, and did not promise much wealth. But to strengthen their control over what later became the southwestern United States, the Spanish colonized it. The Spanish established two types of colonies: presidios, which were military posts, and missions, which attempted to convert native peoples to Roman Catholicism and to teach them the ways of Spanish civilization. In 1629 Franciscan monks (Roman Catholic clergy) built a mission at Awatovi in northern Arizona to convert the Hopi, but the Hopi resented the Franciscans’ efforts to destroy native religious practices and forcibly replace them with Roman Catholicism; they may have poisoned a monk in 1633. When the Pueblo peoples in New Mexico, with the aid of the Apache, rebelled in 1680, the Hopi seized the opportunity to kill the missionaries in northern Arizona. When missionaries returned to Awatovi in 1700, local Hopi destroyed the village. Subsequent efforts to convert the Hopi failed completely. Missionaries had somewhat more success in southern Arizona, where in 1692 the Jesuit missionary Eusebio Kino arrived in Arizona. The Italian-born Kino remained in the region known as Pimería Alta, including what is now the southern part of Arizona and most of the Mexican state of Sonora, until his death in 1711. He founded several missions in the south among the Yaqui, Pima, and Yuma peoples, but also spent nearly 30 years preparing maps. One of his maps first showed Baja California to be a peninsula rather than an island; this remained the standard map of the region for over a century. Spanish colonists slowly moved into Arizona, and in 1752, after years of fighting with local Native Americans and the migrating Apache, the Spanish built a presidio at Tubac. This was the first permanent European settlement in Arizona. About 25 years later the Spanish moved the presidio north to the present site of Tucson, near the mission of San Xavier del Bac. During the struggle for Mexican independence from Spain between 1810 and 1821, the Spanish were unable to maintain military control over Arizona. Taking advantage of this situation, Native Americans attacked and destroyed all of the missions and settlements except Tubac and Tucson. In 1824 Arizona passed from Spanish to Mexican rule. The remaining mission lands were taken and redistributed among Mexican settlers, but the administration of the area changed little. At about this time trappers and traders (followed by a small number of settlers) from the United States began to move into Arizona. James Ohio Pattie probably entered Arizona first in late 1825 or early 1826, but he was followed quickly by Kit Carson, Michel Robidoux, and others. As the number of traders from the United States increased in the area, Mexico grew increasingly suspicious, and relations between the two countries became strained. The annexation of Texas in 1845, which continued the trend of claiming land east of the Río Grande, encouraged U.S. expansionists to demand the annexation of all the Southwest and California, including Arizona. After moving U.S. troops to the mouth of the Río Grande, which Mexico considered a provocation, United States president James K. Polk declared war on Mexico in 1846. A battalion of Mormons (members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) on its way to join the battle for possession of California, which was then held by the Mexicans, raised the first American flag over Tucson in 1846. The Mexican War ended in 1848 with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which formally ceded New Mexico to the United States. Under the treaty, all of Arizona north of the Gila River was ceded to the United States. Thousands of Americans, however, traveled south of the Gila River on their way to the California goldfields following the discovery of gold there in 1848. Largely because of this, in 1853 James Gadsden, the U.S. minister to Mexico, purchased for the United States about 76,735 sq km (about 29,640 sq mi) of land south of the Gila River from Mexico (see Gadsden Purchase). In 1850 the U.S. Congress organized the lands ceded under the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo as the territory of New Mexico. At the time, Tucson and Tubac, together with Yuma, established in 1849, were the only white settlements in Arizona. In 1858 the Butterfield Overland Mail began operating through the Arizona desert on the long haul between St. Louis and San Francisco, and military posts were set up along the route to protect the stagecoaches from ambushes by Apache trying to protect their hunting lands. Small silver-mining camps began to spring up along the Colorado and Hassayampa rivers and south of the Gila River. Claiming that they were too far from Santa Fe to be governed effectively by New Mexico, the miners and settlers soon began agitating for a separate territory, but their demands were ignored. Following the beginning of the American Civil War in 1861, Arizona settlers from the South called a convention in Tucson and declared Arizona a Confederate territory. Nevertheless, the war’s impact on Arizona was slight. The Confederacy did send a force to take the New Mexico territory, but it was defeated in New Mexico, although a minor skirmish was fought in Arizona at Picacho Peak in 1862. On February 24, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln, hoping that Arizona gold would replenish the depleted federal treasury, approved the congressional act creating the territory of Arizona. John N. Goodwin, a Republican, was appointed the first territorial governor. Goodwin then became the territorial delegate to the United States Congress and was succeeded as governor by Republicans Richard C. McCormick and Anson P. K. Safford, who were largely responsible for the creation of territorial government in Arizona. Tucson was the capital of the territory from 1867 to 1877. The seat of government was then moved back to Prescott, which had been the first capital, and finally, in 1889, the capital was moved to Phoenix. The Apache had fought Europeans since the days of Spanish rule. Skilled at war, mounted on swift horses, and operating from an almost impregnable range of hills in southeastern Arizona, they were hard to suppress. In addition, whites frequently retaliated against the wrong native peoples, creating more hostility. Two Chiricahua Apache warriors in particular, Cochise and Geronimo, became famous for their battles with white settlers and the U.S. Army. In 1861, after a raid by Coyotero Apache, the U.S. military seized Cochise and some of his relatives, despite the fact that they were Chiricahua Apache. Cochise escaped and took his own hostages to obtain the release of his relatives, but he killed them when the army refused to exchange prisoners. The previously friendly chief immediately became hostile, leading a series of brilliantly conceived but brutal attacks against white settlements in the Arizona Territory for nearly ten years. After the American Civil War, U.S. troops moved in force against the Apache warriors. Cochise surrendered in 1871, but when ordered to remove his people to a reservation in the New Mexico territory, he refused and escaped with several hundred followers. In 1872 Cochise agreed to remain with his people on a Chiricahua reservation in southern Arizona. After his wife, children, and mother were killed by Mexicans in 1858, Geronimo had participated in a number of raids against Mexican and American settlers, but eventually settled on a reservation. In 1876 the U.S. government attempted to move the Chiricahua from their traditional home to the San Carlos reservation; Geronimo then began ten years of intermittent raids against white settlements, alternating with periods on the San Carlos reservation. In March 1886 U.S. General George Crook captured Geronimo and forced him to sign a treaty under which the Chiricahua would be relocated in Florida; two days later Geronimo escaped and continued his raids. General Nelson Miles then chased Geronimo into Mexico and captured him the following September; the Chiricahua became cattle raisers and shepherds on several reservations. Geronimo himself eventually adopted Christianity and took part in the inaugural procession of President Theodore Roosevelt in 1905. Most of the present cities in Arizona were established in the two decades following the end of the Civil War in 1865. Mining brought many of the settlers, who founded trading posts, such as Phoenix, and mining towns, such as the gold-mining town Wickenburg; Globe, which mined silver and copper; Tombstone, which mined gold and silver; and the copper town, Bisbee. Immigrants came from every state and many nations to farm and work the mines. Mormon settlers from Utah founded such towns as Safford and Mesa. After the army had reduced the threat of Apache raids, cattle ranching greatly expanded on the grasslands of central and southeastern Arizona. By the mid-1870s the grasslands were full of Mexican and Texas cattle that fed both miners and railroad workers. Cattle ranching became even more profitable after the railroads provided access to large but distant markets. The Southern Pacific reached the Colorado River at Yuma in 1877 and the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad reached Arizona in 1881. The early mining towns grew rapidly, and their populations soon exceeded the capabilities of law enforcement. Violent feuds erupted between cattle ranchers and sheepherders, and robberies, holdups, Native American raids, and mining-camp brawls were commonplace. Cochise County, in the southeast, was a haven for outlaws. In addition, local officials were often corrupt, and frequently territorial officials were no better. As a result, the lawmen who eventually established some order were later romanticized in books, movies, and on television. In 1879 Wyatt Earp, who had built a reputation as a gunfighter in Dodge City, Kansas, settled in Tombstone, Arizona Territory. Earp tried to create some semblance of order in Arizona, working first as the deputy sheriff of Pima County and later as deputy U.S. marshal for the entire Arizona Territory. Earp and three of his brothers, together with the American frontiersman Doc Holliday, became famous for their participation in the O.K. Corral gunfight in 1881, in which they killed several suspected cattle rustlers. Eventually, Earp, Bat Masterson (another famous lawman from Kansas), Cochise County Sheriff John Slaughter, and others managed to reduce the violence in the area. As early as 1877 Arizonans had begun demanding statehood, but the first bill for statehood was introduced into Congress—and defeated—in 1889. Congress twice enacted legislation admitting Arizona and New Mexico to the Union as a single state between 1904 and 1906, but Arizonans overwhelmingly rejected this plan in a popular vote in 1906. In January 1910, Congress authorized the territory to hold a constitutional convention to draft a state constitution. The convention completed its work in December 1910, and the document was ratified in February 1911. Congress then passed a resolution conferring statehood on Arizona, but President William Howard Taft vetoed the resolution because the proposed state constitution allowed voters to recall judges. In August, Congress and the president agreed to make the admission of Arizona to the Union conditional upon the elimination of the recall provision. Arizona voters removed the provision from the constitution on December 12, and on February 14, 1912, Taft signed the proclamation admitting Arizona as the 48th state. Then, on November 5, 1912, Arizona voters reinserted the judicial recall article into the state constitution. George W. P. Hunt, a Democrat, became the first state governor, and eventually served seven terms, although not in succession. Hunt strongly supported legislation to aid the mining and farming industries; the latter he aided by urging the construction of dams and irrigation projects. In 1911 former U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt dedicated a dam on the Salt River that was named after him. The dam assured farmers and ranchers in central Arizona of a continuous water supply and was the first major irrigation project undertaken by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The Roosevelt Dam was followed by the Coolidge Dam, the Bartlett Dam, and the Hoover Dam; the last was completed in 1936.
Arizona - Video
Capital & largest city: Phoenix
State Nickname: The Grand Canyon State
Arizona Motto: Ditat Deus (God Enriches)
State bird: Cactus wren
State flower: Saguaro cactus blossom
State tree: Blue Palo Verde
State mammal: Ring-tailed cat
State Fish: Apache trout
State reptile: Arizona ridge-nosed rattlesnake
State Seal (Coat of arms)
Arizona became 48th state on
Median Household Income (2015 est.)
Governor: Douglas Ducey(Republican)
Current Arizona time
Area of Arizona
Highest point: Humphreys Peak