The state of Arizona is, from a geomorphological point of view, a section of the Great Basin and the Great Mountain Range of the southwestern United States.
Its great natural regions are the Mexican Highlands, the Sonoran Desert and the Colorado Plateau.
To these regions some authors add a transitional section, the so-called Arizona Transition, which is located north of Sonora and in the Mexican Highlands, as well as south of the Colorado plateau. Its territory occupies an area of 295,253 km², whose extension can be compared with that of Italy.
The Tierra Alta Mexicana (Mexican Highland) is a mountain range that runs diagonally across the state from southeast to northwest; next to this chain, in the southwest, is the Sonoran desert. This area is characterized by a succession of mountain ranges (the Pinaleno, Santa Catalina and Huachuca Mountains, among others) and steep valleys.
Most of the peaks do not exceed 2,400 m, however, some of them are higher such as Mount Graham, Lemmon or Miller Peak. The extent of the width of the valleys between these mountain ranges varies between 241 km and 97 km.
According to 800zipcodes, the Colorado Plateau covers a large section of the northeast of the state. This plateau extends through the states of Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. In reality, this region is not a uniform plateau but a succession of plains (with heights ranging between 1,524 and 2,743 m) and valleys.
In this area are canyons (such as the spectacular and famous Grand Canyon of Colorado, and the Canyon de Chelly) and mountains of volcanic origin (among which Humphreys Peak, at 3,862 m, the highest point in Arizona). On the southern margin of the plateau there is an area of cliffs.
The most important rivers that run through Arizona are the Colorado and its tributaries. The Colorado enters the state from Utah. It runs for approximately 350 km through the Canyon area and forms the natural border between Nevada and Arizona, and Arizona and California.
Its most important tributaries in Arizona are the Gila, the Little Colorado, and the Bil Williams. Arizona has hardly any natural lakes, but some dams have created artificial lakes including Lake Powell, Mead, Mohave, Havasu, San Carlos, Theodore Roosevelt and Apache.
According to the 2006 data, Arizona had an estimated population of 5,567,378 residents, which represents an increase of 313,311 residents (or 6.5%, which is the same) over the previous year and an increase of 1,435,686 residents (or 20.2%), in relation to the year 2000.
The demographic increase since the last census (that of 2000) is due to a natural growth of 897,928 people (564,062 births minus 466,134 deaths) and a net migration of 745,944 people in the state. External migrations have resulted in a net increase of 204,661 people, while internal migrations produced a net growth of 941,283 people.
According to population figures of the 1 of July of 2006, Arizona is the fastest growing state in the US, has a population growth rate of 7.6% since 2005, exceeding the growth rate of the previous leader, Nevada. These high rates of natural growth are due in part to the large immigration of Mexicans (sometimes illegal).
In 2005, 15% of the state’s residents (943,296 people) were not born in Arizona. Of these, 31% were citizens of the United States and 69% were not.
Arizona’s population center is located in Maricopa County, in the city of Gilbert.
Flora and fauna
Arizona has a wide diversity of vegetation as a result of its varied terrain. Numerous species of cacti grow in the desert, such as the saguaro, whose flower is the state flower, prickly pears and yucca. Jojoba, a species of shrub that grows in desert areas, is prized for its many properties. At higher altitudes, in the mountains, spruce, fir, juniper, ponderosa pine, and oak grow.
Arizona’s fauna is also diverse. It ranges from the lizards and snakes of the desert to the deer, elk, and antelope of the northern mountains. There are also pumas, jaguars, coyotes, and brown and black bears, as well as badgers, black-tailed hares, and gray foxes. Small mammals include several species of rabbits, mice, and squirrels.
Prairie dogs dot the northern regions. Snakes abound in the desert, as well as other reptiles such as collared lizards and chacahualas. Among the native birds, the western mountain parakeet and the desert rattle (which is the state bird) stand out.
The most important economic activities in Arizona are industry, mining, agriculture, and those related to tourism. The sectors that employ the most people are, in this order, services (given the importance of their tourism sector), commerce, industry and construction.
During 1999, mining has experienced an appreciable decrease as a demand for labor. In terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), this state experiences an annual growth of 5.1% (1995 – 1996). The largest increase in GDP has occurred in the services sector (9.7%), while the least dynamic sector has been that of construction (3.5%).
Mining resources, although they have experienced a setback in recent years, continue to be fundamental in the economy not only of Arizona, but of the United States. Indeed, Arizona is the fourth state in the country with the largest mining extraction: its mines obtain 69% of the copper in the United States and 31% of the molybdenum. It is also rich in gold, silver, and coal, as well as in construction materials such as gravel, cement, and quarry stone.
It is estimated that the land dedicated to agricultural activities is 50% of the surface of the state. The parcels are the largest in the United States, since they have an average of 2,038 ha and 47% are dedicated to cultivation and the rest to livestock.
The state maintains and controls irrigation systems. The main crops are cotton (Arizona is the fourth largest producing state), vegetables (mostly lettuce) and hay. Livestock is based on beef, which is the basis of a powerful dairy industry.
Arizona has a large wooded area, equivalent to 25% of its territory. Two thirds of these forests are protected by the government (which classifies them as National Parks) so their timber industry is scarce (one fifth of the forested area).
Arizona’s industry has benefited from the advantageous price of land, the abundant and therefore cheap electric power, the low level of wages compared to other states, and the government’s fiscal policy that has tried to provide incentives to new industries..
For example, the government has facilitated the creation of industrial development poles in Tucson and Phoenix with excellent results. As a result of this policy and the advantageous conditions outlined above, Arizona is home to many new industries in the electrical and electronic sector, and heavy equipment.
The second most buoyant industry in Arizona is related to tourism, and although most of its visitors are from the United States and some from Mexico, it is attracting more and more visitors from other places, especially from European countries.
With a labor force of 4.43 million people, its level of unemployment is low since Arizona has an unemployment rate of 4.1% (1999). Average annual per capita income is $ 20,461 (1998), and per household is $ 37,090 ($ 1,800 below the national average). The population index, which lives below the poverty index, is 16.6%, which makes it the sixth least favored state in this regard; In this sense, it has worsened since in 1990 it occupied the nineteenth position with an index similar to the national average.