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Arizona Facts

Spanish explorers first arrived in Arizona in the 1530s, but the territory was part of Mexico through the 1840s.

Related: Arizona State History

The United States took control of the land after winning the Mexican-American War in 1848. Finally, in 1912, Arizona became the 48th state in the Union.

Arizona is probably best known for the Grand Canyon.

Although most people think of Arizona as desert, about 15% of the state is covered by forests, including some of the largest national forests in the nation.

Autumn colors in the park

Quick Facts

Capital: Phoenix

Population: 7 million

Nickname: The Copper State, The Grand Canyon State

Key Cities: Tucson, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa, Glendale

Postal Abbreviation: AZ

Major Industries: Manufacturing, mining, tourism, agriculture



How did Arizona get its name: There’s some debate about the origin of Arizona’s name.

Some scholars believe the name comes from a Basque phrase meaning “place of oaks,” while others argue it’s a Papago Indian phrase meaning “place of the young (or little) spring.”

Date admitted to the Union: Wednesday, February 14, 1912.


Size: 113,998 sq. miles

Lowest point: Colorado River at 70 feet

Highest point: Humphreys Peak (Coconino) at 12,633 feet

Counties: 15

Famous locations: Grand Canyon, Saguaro National Park, Monument Valley, Hoover Dam, Havasu Falls, Sedona


Famous Arizonans

Michelle Branch- singer

John McCain- senator

Geronimo- Indian chief

Emma Stone- actress

Emma-Stone-Rise Of Electro

Lynda Carter- actress

Barry Goldwater- politican

Fun Facts

Arizona’s Sonoran Desert is the only place on earth where the saguaro cactus grows.

saguaro cactus

It’s the largest cactus in the United States, but it also grows very In areas that don’t get much rain, it can take a saguaro cactus up to 100 years to grow a single “arm.”

There are 13 species of rattlesnake in Arizona, more of this kind of snake than in any other state. About 150 people are bitten by rattlesnakes in Arizona each year. Yikes!


Arizona is the nation’s sixth largest state in area, but only about 17% of the land is privately owned. The rest goes to Native American reservations, public forest and park lands, and state trusts.

There are 21 federally recognized American Indian tribes in Arizona. One tribe, the Havasupai Indians, actually live inside the Grand Canyon in a village near Havasu Creek, Arizona.


It might not be called the Sunshine State, but Arizona cities Phoenix and Tucson get sunshine for 85% of the year. In Yuma, Arizona, the sun shines 90% of the time.

All these cities receive more sunlight than even Hawaii or Florida!

Arizona is the only place in the United States where you can be in four states at once. This is at the intersection of Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico.


The former planet Pluto was discovered in Flagstaff, Arizona in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh.

View more United States facts.


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