Although Arizona is The Grand Canyon State, it has more to offer than rust-colored rocks. Arizona has more mountain peaks than any other Mountain State, more wilderness areas than the whole Midwest, and more Native Americans lands than any other U.S. state.
Find out more about Arizona at DiscoverAmerica.com.
Population: Nearly 6.5 million people live in Arizona.
Geography: Located in the U.S. Southwest, Arizona shares a border with Utah to the north, New Mexico to the east, Mexico to the south, California to the west and Nevada to the northwest. Arizona is the last of the “Four Corner” states to be admitted to the union. While many think of Arizona as a desert state, it actually boasts soaring mountain ranges, deep canyons and rugged valleys.
Higher Education: Founded in 1885, the University of Arizona (UA) is the state’s oldest institute of higher education. UA, located in Tucson, is also the state’s premier public option. Considered a “public Ivy,” the university awards bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and professional degrees in more than 300 programs. It is best known for its natural science, entrepreneurship and architecture programs. Also founded in 1885, Arizona State University (ASU) is not only the largest university in Arizona, but also the largest university in the United States. For the 2011 school year, ASU enrolled an undergraduate population of 58,404 and a graduate population of 13,850 for a total of 72,254 students. ASU maintains four campuses throughout the Phoenix metropolitan area, with its flagship location in Tempe. ASU awards bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, with more than 250 undergraduate programs and more than 100 graduate programs.
Major Industries: Service industries lead the way in Arizona. Private health care, hotels and resorts, finance, insurance and government services are among the state’s more important sectors. Mining is also important. Arizona is the leading producer of copper in the United States. Other important products include gold, molybdenum and silver. In terms of manufacturing, computers, electronic equipment and aerospace vehicles generate the most revenue for the Grand Canyon State while cattle, lettuce, dairy, cotton and hay represent the state’s top agricultural products.
Sports Teams: Arizona has teams in the major U.S. sports, with the National Basketball Association’s Phoenix Suns, the National Football League’s Arizona Cardinals, the National Hockey League’s Phoenix Coyotes and Major League Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks.
Famous Arizonans: Country singer Dierks Bentley; the actress who played Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter; union leader and labor organizer Cesar Chavez; jazz musician Charles Mingus; U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater; baseball player Ian Kinsler; singer and songwriter Stevie Nicks; 10-time Grammy Award–winning singer Linda Ronstadt; comedian and actor Garry Shandling; and The Help actress Emma Stone were all born in the Grand Canyon State.
Pop Culture: The 1987 teen romantic comedy Can’t Buy Me Love starring Patrick Dempsey and Amanda Peterson; the 1995 romantic drama Waiting to Exhale starring Whitney Houston and Angela Bassett and directed by Forest Whitaker; the 2007 Western 3:10 to Yuma starring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale; and the 2011 science fiction western Cowboys & Aliens starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford and Olivia Wilde were all set in Arizona.
Culinary Specialties: While Texas has Tex-Mex, Arizona simply has great Mexican food. From street fare like elote — fire-roasted corn on the cob, tossed in spicy mayonnaise and sprinkled with cotija cheese — to restaurant-style chile relleno — chile peppers stuffed with Chihuahua cheese, deep-fried in a light egg batter and slathered with sour cream and enchilada sauce — Arizona’s cuisine is south-of-the-border inspired and out-of-this-world delicious.
International Connection: Phoenix is sister cities with Calgary, Canada; Catania, Italy; Chengdu, China; Ennis, Ireland; Grenoble, France; Hermosillo, Mexico; Himeji, Japan; Ramat Gan, Israel; and Taipei, Taiwan.
• When England replaced its London Bridge in the 1960s, the original was purchased, dismantled and shipped to Lake Havasu City, Arizona, where it was reconstructed and still stands today.
• Arizona boasts 3,928 mountain peaks and summits — more than any of the other U.S. Mountain States (Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming).
• Arizona is home to the oldest continuously inhabited community in the United States. Oraibi is a Hopi village located in Navajo County and it dates back to before A.D. 1200.
Adventure Idea: You’d be remiss to visit the Grand Canyon State and not have a Grand Canyon adventure. What better way to experience the 446 kilometers of eroded rock than on the body of water that created it? The Colorado River is available for both motorized and oar-powered rafting trips. Spend two weeks paddling along the rapids or enjoy a half-day wading in the canyon.