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Arizona, is a land of
seemingly limitless space and tremendous vistas. Arizona was the
last of the 48 adjoining continental states to enter the Union. From
its admission on February 14, 1912, until the admission of Alaska
and Hawaii in 1959, it was the youngest state.
Arizona’s landscape is
one of great diversity. Sun-swept mountains and valleys, lofty
plateaus, narrow canyons, and awesome stretches of desert make it
one of the most beautiful states in the nation. This scenic beauty,
coupled with an ideal climate, has made Arizona very popular with
Imperial Spain and, later, independent
Mexico once controlled this land, and there the Native American,
Spanish, and Anglo-American cultures met and fused. Although most of
the Native Americans now live on reservations and Mexico and Spain
long ago relinquished control of the area, traces of Arizona’s
past still remain. The Native American culture has been preserved on
the reservations, and Mexican and Spanish influences may be seen in
architectural styles and place-names.
The name of the state is derived from
the Native American word arizonac believed to mean
"place of the small spring." Arizona is popularly known as
the Grand Canyon State, after its most remarkable physical feature,
the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River.
Arizona ranks 6th among the states in
size. With an area of 114,006 square miles, including 364 square
miles of inland water, it is almost as large as all of the New
England states and New York combined. Arizona’s mean elevation is
about 4100 feet. Roughly rectangular in shape, the state’s extreme
dimensions are 392 miles from north to south and 341 miles from east
to west. Most of the western border is formed by the Colorado River.
The northeastern corner is the only place where four states meet:
Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah.
Arizona’s healthful climate, with
clear and sunny skies and dry weather, is one of the state’s chief
assets. It not only attracts tourists but is often a delight to
residents, especially those suffering from asthma and other
respiratory complaints who find relief from dry air. But as in most
developed areas, Arizona’s pristine air is threatened by pollution
brought on by residential and industrial development. However, the
sunny, clear climate permits such activities as building houses and
grazing cattle year round. It has also been an important factor in
the location of space observatories and aircraft and missile proving
grounds in the state.