By Kathryn Hicks,2014-09-08 18:24
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    Map of Arizona

    Marcos de Niza, a Spanish Franciscan friar, was the first European to explore Arizona. He entered the area in 1539 in search of the mythical

    Seven Cities of Gold. Although he was followed a year later by another gold seeker, Francisco Vásquez de Coronado, most of the early

    settlement was for missionary purposes. In 1775 the Spanish established Fort Tucson. In 1848, after the Mexican War, most of the Arizona territory became part of the U.S., and the southern portion of the territory was added by the Gadsden Purchase in 1853.

    Arizona history is rich in legends of America's Old West. It was here that the great Indian chiefs Geronimo and Cochise led their people against the frontiersmen. Tombstone, Ariz., was the site of the West's most famous shoot-outthe gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Today, Arizona has one of the largest U.S. Indian populations; more than 14 tribes are represented on 20 reservations. Manufacturing has become Arizona's most important industry. Principal products include electrical, communications, and aeronautical items. The

    state produces over half of the country's copper. Agriculture is also important to the state's economy. Top commodities are cattle and calves,

    dairy products, and cotton. In 1973 one of the world's most massive dams, the New Cornelia Tailings, was completed near Ajo.

    State attractions include the Grand Canyon, the Petrified Forest, the Painted Desert, Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, Fort Apache, and the

    reconstructed London Bridge at Lake Havasu City.

The State of Arizona

Monument Valley

    Over 550 years ago Franciscan friar Marcos de Niza and Francisco Vasquez de Coronado both failed to discover the wealth of the Seven Cities of Cibola. Today, the wealth of Arizona can be found in the startling natural wonders of the state, in vast mineral reserves, in the healthful climate and in the rich cultural heritage of the "Pueblos".

    One of the "Seven Natural Wonders of the World", the Grand Canyon attracts nearly five million visitors each year and Monument Valley's sandstone monoliths have served as the breathtaking backdrop for many classic western films.

    Arizona leads all states in the production of copper and non-fuel minerals. From about 700 A.D. to 1200 A.D. the Pueblo (Spanish for village) people flourished, building the great communal cliff dwellings that today, serve as testament to a remarkably unique culture.

    This state with a tumultuous past was also the home of Geronimo and Cochise and set the scene for the "Gunfight at the OK Coral" where the score was finally settled between the Earps and the Clantons.


    It's said that a mining speculator named Charles D. Poston first suggested the name Arizona in a petition to the United States Congress to make Arizona a legal territory. The name, Arizona, is derived from a combination of two words from the Papago Indian dialect of the Pima language; "Aleh" and "Zon" together as "Aleh-zon" meaning "little spring." The "little spring", located in Mexican territory, is near a large silver discovery made in Arizona Creek.

    Pimeria was in reference to the land of the Pima Indians of the region. Gadsonia was a Latin adaptation of the surname of James Gadsden. This suggested name is rooted in one man's dream/scheme to establish a southern transcontinental railroad running from Florida to the Pacific coast. Underlying this idea was Mr. Gadsden's desire to make the western territories economically dependent on the southern states rather than the northern states. James Gadsden was appointed U.S. Minister to Mexico and instructed to purchase, from Mexico, a strip of land south of the Gila River and lying in what is now southwestern New Mexico and southern Arizona. The Gadsden Purchase formalized the deal, providing Mexico with $10,000,000,

    the United States with 45,535 square miles of land and a clarified the U.S./Mexico boundary. The Gadsden Purchase also provided James Gadsden with a route for his transcontinental railroad. Click here for more about

    the Gadsden Purchase.


Grand Canyon National Park

    The Grand Canyon State

This popular nickname for Arizona references the incomparable Grand Canyon in the

    northern part of the state, one of the world's natural wonders.

    The Copper State

    Producing more copper than any other state in the union, the Copper State is an apt nickname for Arizona. This nickname is reinforced by the copper star that is at the center of the Arizona

    State Flag.

    The Apache State

    Arizona was referred to as the Apache State because of the great numbers of Apache that lived in the territory. The Apache people fought bravely to keep newcomers from the state for many years in the 19th century.

    The Aztec State

    This nickname was probably in reference to the Aztec place names found in the Gila and Salt River valleys. Some of the ruins along these rivers may have been built by the Aztecs. The Baby State

    For a period of time, Arizona was the "baby" of the republic. It was the last of the contiguous 48 states to be admitted to the union in 1912. It was another 47 years later that Alaska and Hawaii gained statehood.

    The Valentine State

    Happy Valentines Day! Yes, Arizona has been referred to as the Valentine State because it was admitted to the union on February 14th!

    Italy of America

    The Italy of America nickname compares the beautiful and scenic mountain regions of the state of Arizona with the mountains of Italy.

    The Sand Hill State

    This nickname is a reference to the desert-like appearance of many areas throughout the state. The Sunset State

    This nickname most certainly stemmed from the beautiful sunsets throughout the state and particularly at the Grand Canyon. Arizona does provide a magnificent foreground for dramatic sunsets. "Sunset Land," a variation of the Sunset State, has also been recorded. Patrick Hamilton, in his book, The Resources of Colorado, published in 1884, stated "...there

    is no region on the globe, not even excepting he Italian peninsula, that can show such grand

    effects of light and shade, such gorgeousness of coloring, or such magnificent sun-bathed

    landscapes. When the banks of clouds around the western horizon look like masses of

    burnished gold set in a sea of silver, then is presented a picture to which neither pen nor

    pencil can do justice."


    People who live in or come from Arizona are referred to as Arizonans. According to A Book of Nicknames, by John Goff, published in 1892, Arizonans were sometimes referred to as "Sand Cutters" by people from outside the state, but it is not clear how this nickname for the people of Arizona came to be.


United States Mint Image

    The third commemorative quarter-dollar coin released in 2008 honors Arizona, and is the 48th coin in the United States Mint's 50 State Quarters? Program. Arizona was admitted into the Union on February 14, 1912, becoming our Nation's 48th state, and the last in the continental United States.

    The Arizona quarter features an image of the Grand Canyon with a Saguaro cactus in the foreground. A banner reading "Grand Canyon State" separates the two images to signify that the Saguaro cactus does not grow in the Grand Canyon. The coin also bears the inscriptions "Arizona" and "1912."

    One of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon covers more than 1.2 million acres in northwestern Arizona. The Canyon, sculpted by the mighty Colorado River, is 6,000 feet deep at its deepest point and 18 miles at its widest. It is home to numerous rare and threatened plant and animal species. The Grand Canyon joined the National Park system in 1919 and is visited by more than four million tourists a year.

    The Arizona Quarter Commission, appointed by Governor Janet Napolitano, solicited design suggestions from across the State. The Commission narrowed down more than 4,200 ideas to five narratives, which were sent to the United States Mint for consideration. The final artistic renderings, developed by Sculptor-Engravers of the United States Mint and artists in the United States Mint's Artistic Infusion Program, were then proposed to Arizona, and a statewide online vote was conducted. On May 1, 2007, Governor Napolitano announced her recommendation of the "Grand Canyon with Saguaro Cactus" design, based on the results of the online poll. The Department of the Treasury approved the design on May 25, 2007. The other design concepts considered during the final selection process were "Grand Canyon," featuring an overview of the Grand Canyon; "Grand Canyon with Saguaro Cacti," featuring the Saguaro cactus as the central design with the Grand Canyon in the background; "Powell's Grand Canyon Expedition," depicting the John Wesley Powell expedition in a boat going through rapids; and "Navajo Code Talkers," depicting two Navajo Code Talkers using World War II field communication equipment. For more about the state commemorative quarters, visit this page.

    This 50 State Quarter Map is a great way to collect and display all 50 State Quarters.


    Carpenter, Allan & Provose, Carl. The World Almanac? of the U.S.A.. World Almanac Books (An Imprint of K-III Reference

    Corporation, A K-III Communications Company). Mahwah, N.J., 1996.

    Shankle, George Earlie. State Names, Flags, Seals, Songs, Birds, Flowers, and Other Symbols. Irvine, Calif.: Reprint Services

    Corp, Revised edition, 1971.

    Shearer, Benjamin F. and Barbara S. State Names, Seals, Flags and Symbols: A Historical Guide Third Edition, Revised and

    Expanded. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 3 Sub edition, 2001

Additional information


    Carole K. Standard

    Arizona (From Sea to Shining Sea), by Carol K. Standard. 80 pages. Publisher:

    Scholastic Library Publishing (March 2002) Reading level: Grades 3-5. Presents information about Arizona's people, geography, history, landmarks, natural resources, government, state capitol, towns and cities, and more.


    Michael A. Martin

    Arizona, by Michael A. Martin. 48 pages. Gareth Stevens Publishing (October 2002) Reading level: Grades 4-6. Filled with the most up-to-date information, including the latest Census results. Full-color photos bring to life the story of Arizona. In addition to an in-depth factual profile of Arizona in the form of a state Almanac, this book offers fascinating and lively discussions of the state's history, people, geography, government, economy, culture, and lifestyles. A section on Notable People, a calendar of events, and enough primary source documents, time lines, maps, and other tools to make this unquestionably the best young adult reference material on the USA available anywhere.

The Great Arizona


     edited by Dean Smith

    The Great Arizona Almanac: Facts about Arizona, edited by Dean Smith. 240 pages.

    Westwinds Press; 1st edition (October 5, 2000) The Great Arizona Almanac? is an

    essential read for anyone wanting the latest, greatest scoop on the history, geography, economy, and people of the Grand Canyon State. Filled with photographs, illustrations, maps, and up-to-date information, this comprehensive source will intrigue anyone wanting to know more about this amazing state. Editor Dean Smith, a former newspaper reporter and columnist, served as Director of Publications for Arizona State University for more than twenty-five years. He has written sixteen books and more than two hundred magazine articles. He lives in Tempe and Prescott, Arizona.


    A History

    Thomas E. Sheridan

    Arizona: A History, by Thomas E. Sheridan. 434 pages. University of Arizona Press; First edition (February 1, 1995) Thomas E. Sheridan has spent a lifetime in Arizona, "living off it and seeking refuge from it." He knows firsthand its canyons, forests, and deserts; he has seen its cities exploding with new growth; and, like many other people, he sometimes fears for its future. Arizona: A History explores the ways in which

    Native Americans, Hispanics, and Anglos have inhabited and exploited Arizona from the pursuit of the Naco mammoth 11,000 years ago to the financial adventurism of Charles Keating and others today. It also examines how perceptions of Arizona have changed, creating new constituencies of tourists, environmentalists, and outside business interests to challenge the dominance of ranchers, mining companies, and farmers who used to control the state. Sheridan emphasizes the crucial role of the federal government in Arizona's development throughout the book.

ARIZONA is everything the Southwest is supposed to be - there are canyons,

    deserts, cacti, mountains, ghost towns, Indian tribes and abundant sunshine. Most

    Grand Canyon, destination for millions of visitors famous of all there is the

    each year, but there are also hundreds of miles of scenic land with many other canyons large and small waiting to be explored. Several artificial lakes, formed by dams on the Salt and Colorado rivers, provide many recreational opportunities and a welcome relief from the summer heat.

    The Grand Canyon, near Desert View

    ARIZONA is everything the Southwest is supposed to be - there are canyons,

    deserts, cacti, mountains, ghost towns, Indian tribes and abundant sunshine. Most

    Grand Canyon, destination for millions of visitors famous of all there is the

    each year, but there are also hundreds of miles of scenic land with many other canyons large and small waiting to be explored. Several artificial lakes, formed by

    dams on the Salt and Colorado rivers, provide many recreational opportunities and a welcome relief from the summer heat.

    The Grand Canyon, near Desert View

One quarter of the land is occupied by Indian reservations - the largest percentage

    of any state; amongst the tribes, the Navajo, Apache and Hopi all occupy extensive areas where traditional life continues largely unaffected by mainstream US culture. There are also traces of more ancient civilisations - many ruins from the Anasazi

    period around the twelfth century are preserved as National Monuments; the most interesting include Montezuma Castle, Walnut Canyon and


The capital of Arizona is Phoenix, the eighth largest and fastest growing city in the

    US, and also probably the hottest major town in the world - as a result of the desert

    location and low elevation the temperature regularly exceeds 110?F and once reached 122?. The city and its extensive suburbs are known collectively as the

    Valley of the Sun and are very popular as a warm winter resort and a retirement center. 110 miles southeast, the other main town is Tucson which is more compact

    and slightly cooler than Phoenix, and has an attractive location on a wide, cacti-filled

plain enclosed on most sides by rocky mountain ranges.

     The northeast of Arizona is high desert country, part of the Colorado Plateau, a vast uplifted area of multi-colored layered rocks extending into New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. The largest Indian reservations are found here, belonging to the Navajo and Hopi peoples, and although much of this land

    is rather barren and not especially scenic, there are several notable destinations such as Canyon de Chelly, the Petrified Forest and

    the Painted Desert.

    Sunset Crater, near Flagstaff

    South of here the land becomes more mountainous, rising to over 7,000 feet at the Mogollon Plateau, part of a high forested area that provides skiing opportunities in the winter and respite from the desert sun during summer. The Plateau ends abruptly and spectacularly at the Mogollon Rim with a steep drop of up to 2000 feet - to the south, the land becomes gradually hotter, lower and more desert-like. South of Flagstaff, the town of Sedona has

    become the second most popular tourist destination in the state.

    Much of the south and west of the state is empty desert with scattered cacti, in particular the distinctive saguaro. Driving for hundreds of miles along either of the two main cross-country routes I-10 and I-8 is a memorable but relentless desert experience. Despite the apparent barrenness, most of the land is used or protected, either as Indian reservations, US Army ranges or National Wildlife refuges. Along the Colorado river, there are several towns increasing in population due to their warm winter climate, including Lake Havasu City, the new location of Old London Bridge. Southwest Arizona is part of the Sonoran Desert that extends into California and Mexico, and is characterised by high temperatures and infrequent rainfall, but with a surprisingly diverse range of wildlife.

    The southeast lies in the Chihuahuan Desert which also extends across south New Mexico and far west Texas; there are wooded mountain ridges separated by wide valleys, with many old mines, ghost towns and other historic sites. Here, the wild west lives on in old settlements such as Tombstone

    and Bisbee, and there is a strong Mexican influence around the border region to the south.

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