The Grand Canyon State was the last of the 48 contiguous states to join the union, admitted in 1912. Arizona was carved from the western side of New Mexico during the Civil War in 1863, becoming a territory then and until statehood.
Mining became a major industry after the Gadsden Purchase of 1853, which granted U.S. possession of southern Arizona, and remained a strong contributor to region’s economy through the 1950s. The arrival of railroads in the 1880s only heightened the copper boom, and thousands of people flocked to the Wild West of Arizona's mining towns.
Copper mining and cotton farming, another important industry, suffered during the Great Depression. Tourism became a huge driver of growth, with steadily more visitors attracted by the Grand Canyon each year, a trend that continues today.
During World War II, Arizona served as a site for German prisoner of war camps and Japanese-American internment camps. Many Native Americans from Arizona fought during the war, and advocated for their civil rights upon returning home. Today, about a quarter of the state is made up of Native American reservations, including the Navajo Nation Reservation.
Following the war, the increasingly widespread use of air conditioning resulted in massive population and business growth in the state. Phoenix, the state capital, shot from around 65,000 residents to more than 1 million by 1991. Today, the "Valley of the Sun" is the largest state capital in the country, with 1.6 million residents – the only capital with more than 1 million people. It ranks in the top 50 U.S. News' Best Places to Live.
Arizona's population growth is among the highest in the country – it recorded 1.6 percent growth from 2016 to 2017, tying with Florida and falling behind only four other states.
Two-thirds of Arizona's foreign-born population comes from Latin America and another 21 percent comes from Asia. While the state's foreign-born population numbers are generally on par with the country's, more people in Arizona speak a language other than English at home.
A number of well-known companies are headquartered in Arizona, including Best Western, Cold Stone Creamery, GoDaddy, P.F. Chang's and U-Haul. Arizona's top industries include agriculture, mining, manufacturing and tourism.
The median household income in Arizona, $53,558 in 2016, was lower than the national average of $57,617, and the poverty rate was slightly higher, at 16.4 percent. The cost of living in Arizona is relatively low.
Arizona is the sixth largest state physically and is perhaps best known for its weather and geography. Southern Arizona features a hot desert climate, while northern Arizona is full of forests, mountain ranges and canyons. There are several national parks, monuments and forests in the state, including the Grand Canyon.
Arizona is one of the Four Corners states, sharing a border with New Mexico, Utah and Nevada. The Four Corners is the only place in the U.S. where four states meet. Arizona also shares its border with Mexico, California and Colorado.
Compared with the country, slightly fewer Arizona residents have at least a bachelor's degree. The University of Arizona ranks among the 60 best public schools in U.S. News' Best Colleges rankings. Other ranked universities include Arizona State University and the private Prescott College.
Though the state has long been considered a Republican stronghold, the number of Democrat and Independent registered voters has been creeping up on the GOP in recent years, fueled in part by the controversy of the 2016 election and the Democrat push for Latinos to vote.