Arizona, the Grand Canyon state, achieved statehood on February 14, 1912, the last of the 48 coterminous United States to be admitted to the union. Originally part of New Mexico, the land was ceded to the United States in 1848, and became a separate territory in 1863. Copper was discovered in 1854, and copper mining was Arizona’s premier industry until the 1950s. After World War II, the widespread availability of refrigeration and air conditioning caused Arizona’s population to boom and Phoenix to become one of the fastest growing cities in America. Arizona is the sixth largest state in the country in terms of area. Its population has always been predominantly urban, particularly since the mid-20th century, when urban and suburban areas began growing rapidly at the expense of the countryside. Some scholars believe that the state’s name comes from a Basque phrase meaning “place of oaks” while others attribute it to a Tohono O’odham (Papago) Indian phrase meaning “place of the young (or little) spring.”
Date of Statehood: February 14, 1912
Population: 6,392,017 (2010)
Size: 113,990 square miles
Nickname(s):Grand Canyon State
Motto: Ditat Deus (“God enriches”)
Tree: Palo Verde
Flower: Saguaro Cactus Blossom
Bird: Cactus Wren
- Formed by the Colorado River over a period of 3 to 6 million years, Arizona’s Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide and one mile deep. Nearly 5 million people visit Grand Canyon National Park each year.
- Arizona has the greatest percentage of its acreage designated as Indian tribal land in the United States.
- Oraibi, a Hopi Indian village dating back to at least 1150 AD, is believed to be the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the United States.
- The official state flower, the Saguaro Cactus Blossom, grows on the Saugaro Cactus, which can reach more than 50 feet tall and live more than 200 years. In May and June, it blooms in the middle of the night and closes the next day—surviving only about 18 hours for pollination by nocturnal animals like bats and moths.
- Navajo Indians from Arizona were enlisted to transmit secret communications for the U.S. Marines after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941. Known as Navajo Code Talkers, these young men created an oral code the enemy was unable to decipher, fulfilling a crucial role during World War II and saving countless lives.
- Arizona is one of only two U.S. states that do not observe Daylight Saving Time. The one exception is the area occupied by the Navajo Nation in the northeast region of the state.
- Arizona’s diverse climate and geography can yield both the highest and lowest temperatures in the country within the same day.
- Arizona’s flag features a copper-colored star, acknowledging the state’s role as the leading copper producer in the United States.