History of Arizona
The first recorded expedition of the area was undertaken by a Spanish explorer Marcos de Niza who came to this region in 1539 and made contact with some of the native tribes. After that it was visited by another Spaniard, Coronado in the period between 1540 and 1542. But the first prolonged contact with the native tribes was made by Father Kino who belonged to the Society of Jesus and who was at the head of a number of missions that came to this area and converted a significant number of Native Americans into Christianity at the end of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th century. Spain decided to strengthen their position in the area by building fortifications in the cities of Tucson and Tubac in 1775 and 1752, respectively. When in 1821 Mexico became independent from Spain this region became a part of it and was known as Nueva California.
However, after 1847 and the occupation of Mexico City in the Mexican-American War by the US army, the victorious US army also claimed a significant portion of Northern Mexican regions, including the territory that is today known as Arizona. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo which was signed in 1848 placed the US under the obligation to pay $15 million of compensation for that territory. Five years later, in 1853, the Gadsden Purchase was made, which made the US the owners of the land bellow the Gila River. It was considered to be a territory in New Mexico, until 1861 and the succession of the southern part of New Mexico that was from hence on to be known as the Confederate Territory of Arizona. It was recognized in 1862 as a Confederate Territory by Jefferson Davis’ presidential proclamation. This is the first time that the name ‘Arizona’ was officially used. Arizona supported the war effort of the Confederation by providing supplies, horses and men; they also organized Arizona Scout Companies that became a part of the Confederate army. The western portion of the former New Mexico territory became a part of the new state in the 1863.
A number of names were taken into the consideration for this new state. This included Pimeria, Gadsonia, Arizuma and Montezuma, but it was decided that the state would bear the name under which it is known today. A number of cities in the late 19th century were founded by Mormons sent by Brigham Young. Some of these cities are Heber, Mesa and Safford. They usually settled in what is today northern Arizona.
The battles of Mexican Revolution that lasted from 1910 to 1920 were fought just over the border and many people from Arizona participated in them. In that time there were only two significant battles fought on the US territory by US and Mexican forces– 1916 Pancho Villa’s Columbus Raid and 1918 battle of Ambos Nogales. US forces that stormed Nogales were ultimately victorious. Arizona officially became a state in 1912. It was the 48th state to be admitted in the US, as well as the last admitted contiguous state.
For a while, its two most important industries were copper mining and the production of cotton. They were severely influenced by the Great Depression, but the state began its recovery with the large influx of tourists into the state between 1920 and 1930. It is than that tourism became one of the important industries in the state. Dude ranches became one of the popular tourist attractions. These guest ranches would give visitors a chance to experience the life lead by the first settlers to the continent.
During the WW II Arizona held a number of POW camps, which were, naturally, abolished after the war ended. Another ugly part of its history was the Phoenix Indian School, a federal institution that was meant to force assimilation of Native American children into the Anglo-American culture. Children’s families usually weren’t given a choice when it came to enrolling their children in such institutions that forced the children to take English names and conform to that culture in a number of different ways.
The population of Arizona experienced a rapid increase after the WW II. Many believe that this was caused by the improved air conditioning options available that made the heat in state more bearable. It was estimated that the increase of inhabitants in several decades was as high as 60%.
The GSP (gross state product) of Arizona in 2011 amounted to $259 billion, which is larger than the GP of countries such as Finland and Ireland. This money is coming from various sources, but government, transportation and health care are the most important sectors. In the past, the most important aspects of the Arizona’s economy were the so called ‘five Cs’ – cattle, cotton, copper, citrus and climate, which is to say tourism. Arizona even held the position of the largest cotton producer in the nation for a while. The state is still a very significant source of copper, as it is responsible for two thirds of the total national copper output. Phoenix metropolitan area is the industrial center responsible for somewhere around 74% of the domestic product. Arizona is expecting a deficit of $1.5 billion for the year 2012.
Per capita income in the state is $40,828, which places Arizona in the 39th place by per capita income in the United States. The largest employer in the state is its government, while the largest private employer is Wal-Mart that is estimated to have 30,000 employees. It is followed by Banner Health with 28,400 employees and Wells Fargo and Co. with 14,000. In 2010 the unemployment rate in the state was 9.6%. Personal income taxes in Arizona come in one of five brackets – 5.04%, 4.72%, 3.74%, 3.20% and 2.87%.
Geography and Climate in Arizona
Arizona is one of the Four Corner states along with Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. It covers 113,998 square miles of which only 15% is privately owned, and the rest is covered in national parks and forests as well as Native American reservations. Desert regions are characteristic of Arizona, along with the hot climate that goes with such regions. However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t large forested areas in the state. In fact, despite the fact that the climate is rather dry, 27% of Arizona is covered in forests. This includes vast pine forests in the Colorado Plateau in the northern part of the state. Deserts are usually found in the southern regions. The state is abundant in interesting topographical formations such as plateaus and mountains. This is to some extent caused by the fact that Arizona is located in the Basin and Range region that was shaped by prehistoric volcanic activities.
Grand Canyon is probably the most recognizable landmark of Arizona. It is located in the northern part of Arizona. It was carved into rock by the Colorado River over millions of years. The canyon is one of the oldest US national parks, and is considered one of the seven natural wonders. It is somewhere around 277 miles long, more than a mile deep and its width varies from 4 to 18 miles. To say that the view from the top is stunning would be an understatement.
Another interesting sight that Arizona offers is a mile wide meteor crater known as the Barringer Meteorite Crater the is 570 feet deep at the deepest point. It is found in the Colorado Plateau, some 25 miles west of Winslow. The rim of the crater extends some 150 feet above the plain and is composed of boulder fragments. Except Hawaii, Arizona is the only state that doesn’t observe Daylight Saving Time.
Due to the fact that Arizona has a lot of areas with drastically different elevation, it is not surprising that that there are also significant differences in climate from one area to the next. In the lower areas climate is usually of the desert type, meaning that it has hot summers and rather mild winters. The usual winter temperatures don’t go below 60 F, with the lowest temperatures often occurring between November and February and ranging anywhere from 40 to 70 F. The second half of February usually brings higher temperatures. Summer months are characterized by temperatures going from 90 to 120 F, even though higher temperatures are not exactly a surprise. The highest recorded temperature in Arizona is 128 F, and it was recorded twice, once in 1994 and once in 2007. The lowest temperature, recorded in 1971 is -40 F.
The dry climate causes large differences in the day and night temperatures. In summer months, these differences can amount to 50 F. This kind of temperature swings is usually recorded in the less developed desert areas, urbanized regions are usually subjected to smaller shifts in temperature.
The average yearly rainfall in the state is 12.7 inches. This is usually accumulated during the two rainy seasons that the state has. The first one is during the winter when the cold fronts from the Pacific reach the state, while the other is the monsoon season that is usually reserved for the end of the summer. During the latter season the air is very humid, which makes for ideal conditions for thunderstorms which are quite frequent and often accompanied by downpours and potentially dangerous flooding. Hurricanes and tornadoes are not frequent in Arizona, but there are some recorded cases of both.
Northern part of Arizona is much higher than the southern parts, and as such has a significantly colder climate. Still, the temperatures don’t go too low even in this part, but temperatures of 0 F have been recorded.
Population of Arizona
In 2011 it was determined that Arizona had 6,482,505 inhabitants, which presented an increase of 1.42% when compared to the previous year. For the best part of the 19th century this state didn’t have too many people living in it. In the 1860, the census reported that number of people present in the Arizona County, as the state was called at the time, was 6,482. Somewhere around 4,000 of those inhabitants were listed as ‘Indians’, 21 people as ‘free colored’ and 2,421 as ‘white’. In the 1980 the population consisted of 16.2% of Hispanic people, 5.6% of Native Americans, and 74.5% of non Hispanic white people. In 2006, the number of people living in Arizona reached 6,166,318. The rapid increase in the population is putting a rather serious strain on the water supply of the state.
From 1991 to 2001 number of inhabitants of metropolitan Phoenix has gone through an increase of 45.3%, which contributed to making Arizona the second fastest growing state in the US at the time. In 2010 the population of Arizona was determined to consist of 14.2% of Hispanic white people, 57.8% non Hispanic whites, 4.1% African Americans, 4.6% Native Americans or Alaska Natives, 2.8% Asians, 0.2% Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders and 15.2 of members of other races or those of two or more races. The most common origins of these people were 27.4% Mexican, 16% German, 11% Irish, 10% English and 4.6% Italian. Arizona is the state with the highest number of people who speak some of Native American languages. It has over 85,000 speakers of Navajo and 10,400 speakers of the Apache language. It was estimated in 2010 that illegal immigrants make up 7.9% of the population, which puts Arizona in the second place when the percentage of illegal immigrants is concerned.
In the year 2000 it was estimated that the three denominations with the most believers were the Roman Catholic Church with 974,883 believers, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints with 251,874 adherents and the Southern Baptist Convention with 138,516 members. A research from 2007 shows different results. It established that there are 40% of Protestants (15% Mainline, 23% Evangelical and 2% of other Protestants), 25% of Roman Catholics, 22% of unaffiliated people, 4% of the Church of the Latter day Saints, 1% of Jehovah’s Witnesses, 1% of Jewish people, 1% of Buddhists, 4% of members of other religions and 2% of those who chose not to answer.
Arizona Government and Legislation
The legislative branch of Arizona consists of two bodies, just like legislative branches of all other states with the exception of Nebraska. It has a Senate that has 30 members and the House of Representatives with 60 members. This means that each of the state’s 30 legislative districts is appointed one senator and two members of the House of Representatives. Members of both bodies are elected for periods of two years and cannot serve in continuity for more than four terms. The executive branch has a Governor at its helm.
Governor’s terms last for four years, and he or she cannot serve more than two consecutive terms. Some of the other officials are State Treasurer, State Mine Inspector, Secretary of the State and State Attorney General. Just like the Governor, officials serve four year terms, and cannot serve more than two terms in a row. The only official to whom the rule concerning the number of allowed consecutive terms does not apply is the State Mine Inspector.
Arizona is one of the several states without the position of Lieutenant Governor, in case that the Governor is somehow prevented from performing his or her duties, the Secretary of the State will act as a temporary replacement. The highest court in the state is Arizona Supreme Court and it consists of a Chief justice, a Vice Chief Justice and 3 associate Justices. The Governor appoints them by consulting the list made by a bi-partisan commission, and they get re-elected after their first two years of service. They are later re-elected every 6 years.
The state has been divided in 15 counties since 1983, and each of these counties has a Superior Court. One of the interesting laws in this state is the not too subtly named Stupid Motorist Law. It came into the existence because of the fact that flash floods are rather frequent in Arizona and that drivers will often ignore the barricades and try to brave the waters in order to reach their destination. The law dictates that every driver that does this and ends up being stuck in the flood will have to personally compensate the rescue services that come to his or her aid. This compensation can amount up to a maximum of $2000.
Transportation in Arizona
Arizona is well covered by its six major interstate highways and 14 US routes that are crossing the state. Public transportation is also well regulated in most of the urban areas. Some of them rely mostly on buses, while Phoenix can also boast a light rail system that connects it with nearby Tempe and Mesa. This system is functional since 2008. There are also a great number of airports in the state, including but not limited to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Tucson International Airport, Yuma International Airport and Flagstaff Pulliam Airport.
Sports in Arizona
Arizona has a number of famous sports teams in different major leagues, just to mention Arizona Cardinals, Arizona Diamondbacks and Arizona Rattlers. The state has a great number of golf courses which makes it a popular stop for the PGA Tour. There are three state universities and a number of community colleges in Arizona. This has made college sports quite a big deal in Arizona, especially college football. Lastly, Arizona is not only home to spring training it also has two other baseball leagues – Arizona Winter league and Arizona Fall League.
The former is active since 2007 and it consists of four baseball teams For Golden Baseball League. The games of this league were usually played at the Desert Sun Stadium in Yuma, but recently two new teams have been added in California, and one in Sonora. These teams were added in the season of 2008. The Fall league has been active since 1992. It is a minor league that was meant to be an opportunity for less experienced players to hone their skills and get a chance to play in front of scouts and team executives from both major and minor leagues.