Arizona State History – Native American, Spanish, US, Geography of Arizona

Native Americans

Before Europeans arrived, Arizona was inhabited by various Native American tribes, including Hopi, Pueblo, Zuni, Apache, Mojave, and Navajo. The Navajo lived in domed houses called hogans and became famous for their woven blankets. The Puebloans lived in adobe buildings, sometimes built on the slopes of hills and caves. A Hopi village known as Oraibi is believed to have been founded in 1150 AD and is probably the oldest continuously inhabited city in the United States.

Information about Arizona State:

Capital Phoenix
Population 7,359,197 (Source: 2022 U.S. Census)
Major Cities Phoenix, Tucson, Mesa, Chandler, Glendale, Scottsdale, Gilbert
Borders California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Mexico
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) $458,949.8 million (2022  U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis)
Key Industries Copper mining, cotton, manufacturing, electronics, cattle, and tourism

Flag of Arizona State:

Europeans Arrived

The first European to arrive in Arizona in 1539 was the Spanish priest Marcos de Nice. He was followed by gold-seeking explorers and other mission-seeking priests. Eventually, the Spaniards began building settlements such as Tubac in 1752 and Tucson in 1775.

Get Free Counseling

Becoming Part of the United States

After the Mexican-American War, the United States took control of much of the Southwest, including Arizona. They purchased the land for $15 million under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo signed in 1848. In 1853 the Gadsden Purchase added land to southern Arizona.

Arizona State Symbols

  • Arizona State Nickname: Grand Canyon State
  • Arizona State Slogan: The Grand Canyon State; also on its license plate
  • Arizona State Motto: Ditat Deus (God enriches)
  • Arizona State flower: Saguaro Cactus blossom
  • Arizona State bird: Cactus Wren
  • Arizona State fish: Apache trout
  • Arizona State tree: Palo Verde
  • Arizona State mammal: Ringtail
  • Arizona State foods: Prickly-pear cactus

Civil War

At the beginning of the Civil War, Arizona was part of the New Mexico Territory. When the war began, Arizona separated from the United States and joined the Confederate States of America. Arizona sent men and supplies to assist the Confederates. The westernmost battle of the Civil War was fought at the Battle of Picacho Pass between Union soldiers in California and Confederate soldiers in Tucson, Arizona.

The Geography of Arizona

  • Total Size of Arizona: 113,635 sq. miles (source: 2003 Census)
  • Geographical Low Point of Arizona: Colorado River at 70 feet, located in the county/subdivision of Yuma (source: U.S. Geological Survey)
  • Geographical High Point of Arizona: Humphreys Peak at 12,633 feet, located in the county/subdivision of Coconino (source: U.S. Geological Survey)
  • Central Point of Arizona: Located in Yavapai County approx. 55 miles east-southeast of Prescott (source: U.S. Geological Survey)
  • Counties of Arizona: 15 (source: National Association of Counties)
  • Bodies of Water of Arizona: Major bodies of water include the Colorado River, Gila River, Lake Mead, Lake Havasu, and Lake Powell.

Becoming a State

In 1863, President Lincoln signed a bill that made the western half of New Mexico Territory a separate territory called Arizona. Arizona was admitted as a state on February 14, 1912. It was the 48th state and the last of its 48 contiguous states to be licensed.

Wild West

Arizona’s history is steeped in the story of the Old West, before much of the area was settled. Perhaps the most famous story is the legendary shootout at OK. Coral also included gunslingers Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. The incident, which took place in Tombstone, Arizona, has been the subject of numerous Hollywood movies. Arizona has also been the scene of many battles between settlers and Native Americans, led by famous war leaders such as Cochise and Geronimo.

Famous People of Arizona:

Cesar Chavez Civil rights leader
Ted Danson Actor from the TV show Cheers
Geronimo Leader of the Apache people
Zane Grey Author of western novels
David Henrie Actor from Wizards of Waverly Place
Reggie Jackson Professional baseball player
Joe Jonas Singer and actor
Phil Mickelson Professional golfer
Stevie Nicks Rock singer and musician
Sandra Day O’Connor First female justice of the United States Supreme Court
Danica Patrick Professional race car driver
Pat Tillman NFL player who died fighting in the Afghanistan War

Interesting facts about Arizona:

Arizona is home to the United States’ only poisonous lizard, the Gila Gila.
Arizona’s geography varies from hot deserts to towering snow-capped mountains.
Arizona was once part of Mexico.
The famous shootout corral on the OK took place in Tombstone, Arizona.
Stone from London Bridge in England was transported to Havasu City, where the bridge was rebuilt in 1971. Grand Canyon National Park is located in Arizona.
The state is home to 11 different species of rattlesnakes.
A formal tie is a bora tie.
Yuma is he one of the sunniest cities in the world. About 90% chance it will be sunny.

Timeline Overview:

1150 – The Hopi village of Oraibi is founded. It is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the United States.
1539 – Spanish priest Marcos de Nisa becomes the first European to arrive in Arizona.
1752 – The first European settlement is established in Tubac.
1775 – The city of Tucson is founded by the Spaniards. There is a fortified city called “Presidio”.
1848 – The United States acquires most of Arizona in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. 1853 – Southern Arizona is purchased as part of the Gadsden Purchase.
1862 – Battle of Picacho Pass takes place. It is the westernmost battle of the Civil War.
1863 – Arizona Territory is formed.
1881 – Shootout corral at OK takes place at Tombstone. 1886 – Apache chief Jeronimo surrenders.
1889 – Phoenix becomes the capital.
1912 – US Congress makes Arizona the 48th state.
1919 – Grand Canyon National Park is established.