Arizona: The Grand Canyon State

State of the United States of America situated in the southwestern part of the country. It covers an area of 113,990 square miles, making it the 6th largest state in the country. Its population is 7,171,646, being Arizona the 14th most populous state and the 33rd one in terms of population density (57 people per square mile). Its capital is Phoenix. The metropolitan area of the capital contains 3/4 of the total Arizona population.

The Grand Canyon, The Treasure of Arizona



The hills, plains and the valleys which occupy the south of the state, are characterized by their aridity (7.5 inches of rain in Yuma). The Colorado Plateaus (from 6,562 to 11,480 feet high) and the mountains from the north of the state (up to 13,000 feet) receive from 20 to 25 inches of precipitations (from which a small fraction falls as snow during the winter). The summer temperatures are extremely high in the southern regions, whereas in the northern parts they tend to decrease due to the differences in altitude. The highest temperatures are found in July: from 100 to 110 degrees in Yuma; from 68 to 86 degrees at the proximities of the Grand Canyon (located at 6,888 feet on average). In winter, snow is practically unknown for the plains and valleys in the south, whereas in the northern high lands, temperatures on this season can drop down to 14 degrees. The insolation is a very important feature of the climate in Arizona: 80%-85% on average, and with a greater number of cases in the southwest. The small watercourses are often dry. Only the most important rivers, fed by the rainfalls and the snows from the higher mountains, have a permanent volume of water, like the Colorado River.

Missing in the most arid locations, the vegetation is constituted by creosote bushes (Larrea mexicana); in the semi-desert zones of the southwest; by clear forests of pines, holm oaks and junipers on the northern plateaus and by wormwood steppes on the higher valleys. Dryness, luminosity, vegetation, and meager or discontinuous soil give the landscapes a sharp look and a violent coloration to the rocks. It also contains conic volcanic formations, sedimentary witnessing ridges and rocky glacials but, especially, the grandeur Grand Canyon of Colorado, with a depth of 6,096 feet and 4 to 17 miles wide, is the main attraction in the state of Arizona.

The actual Arizona seems to have been a prosperous civilization settlement before the arrival of the Europeans in the 17th century. The Spanish occupation, later Spanish-Mexican, was limited to the southern part of the state. This Spanish territory, however, was soon conquered by the United States, at the same time that other western states, at the expense of Mexico (1848) and enlarged in 1853 (Gadsden Purchase.)

The Civil War, the conflicts with the Apaches and the Navajos, as well as the desert aspects of the area delayed the colonization. The discovery of valuable metals (copper, silver, lead) in the southeast meant the beginning of the development of Arizona. Irrigation works were started, from the rivers Gila and Salt and the construction of railways favored the growth of Phoenix and Tucson. Arizona surpassed the 200,000 inhabitants in 1910 and was admitted as a state of the Union in 1912, becoming the 48th state, the 3rd last American state in being declared.

The population comprises an indigenous population (especially Navajos, who were about 57,000 a century ago, and since then, they've experimented a sixfold increase), a Spanish-Mexican element, more or less mestizo, and American immigrants. Its population slightly increased during the Second World War, due to the stimulation of the industrial development (building of aircraft parts, treatment of metals and alloys). After the war, the emigration "towards the sun" which benefited the southwestern states, resulted in a huge population increase in Arizona (in 1970, the population of Arizona was around 1.77 million; 20 years later, in 1990, the population was 3.68 million people). The urban population has gone from 30% in 1940 to 85% nowadays. The most favored cities have been: Phoenix (1,626,000 inhabitants) and Tucson (535,677 inhabitants). This evolution helps to decrease the land occupation, as Arizona has an extremely low population density (as we said at the beginning of this post, it is 57 people per square mile) one of the lowest of the country. To give you an idea of how low this number is, the entire population of Arizona is basically the same as the population in Bangalore, India (300 times smaller in area).

In the mining sector, Arizona is the first state of the Union in the fabrication of non-ferrous metals, such as copper, gold, silver, molybdenum, vanadium, lead, zinc and uranium.

Agriculture has developed thanks to irrigation. The water comes from the reservoirs built over the Gila and its tributaries, and also from springs. Thanks to that, it has been formed a prosperous oasis in Phoenix. The main production is cotton; it's also cultivated forage plants, and especially, fruit trees (cranberries, dates, melons, figs, and grapes). This agriculture is favored by the proximity from the city markets (especially from the ones in Los Angeles) and by Mexico, supplier of labor force. However, the subsistence of this oasis is endangered: the reservoirs are running down fast; the pumping makes the level of the underground mantles go down 3 meters every year. Therefore, it is extremely urgent to solve the conflicts with those who make use of the Colorado waters (nearby states, Mexico and, Los Angeles).

The earliest industries have made use of the agrarian products and miners of the state (cotton oil mills, fruit canning, metal refinement). Electronics, missiles research laboratories, the manufacturing of weaponry and planes, as well as different equipment goods, joined the first ones. The cities have also attracted important research laboratories.

The climate, dry and sunny, is one of the treasures of the state which contributes, together with the attractiveness that represents the indigenous remains, the Hispanic architecture and the natural beauties (Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater), to the growth of tourism in the state.

Source: Wikipedia

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