State: Arizona – AZ
The Arizona state abbreviation is AZ and it’s located in the southwestern region of the United States. It falls into the Mountain West region of the continent and represents the six largest and 15th most populated in the country. As one of the Four Corner States, it is bordered by New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, California, and Mexico.
It was one of the last territories to be admitted to the union, the 48th one to be exact. Today we’ll look at the state symbols, culture, and history of this location.
Before that however, let’s take a look at some fast facts about this place:
- Capital: Arizona
- Time Zones: Mountain UTC -7 (DST not observed) Navajo Nation does observe DST (UTC -6/-7)
- State Abbreviation: AZ
- Official Website: az.gov
- State flag
- Admitted to the Union February 14, 1912 (48th)
- Official flower: The blooming Saguaro cactus
- Nicknames: “The Grand Canyon State,” “The Copper State,” “Apache State.”
- Official bird: Cactus Wren
A Brief Overview of AZ
Now that you’ve seen the fast facts about this place, it’s time to learn a few more things in detail. Prior to statehood, the area was controlled by Alta California in New Spain before it was given to the independent Mexico, and finally ceded to the U.S. after the Mexican-American War. The southern area of the territory was acquired in 1853 as part of the Gadsden Purchase.
The southern portion of the area is known for an intense desert climate. The northern region has vast forests of pine, Douglas fir, and spruce trees. There are some mountain ranges to be found where snowfall is high in the winter months. These areas have ski resorts in locations like Flagstaff, Alpine, and Tucson.
The famous Grand Canyon National Park, along with several other monuments and parks are scattered throughout the state. Roughly one-quarter of the area is owned by Indian Reservations that house a number of different tribes of Native Americans.
State Symbols, Monuments, and National Parks
It’s customary for each of the 50 U.S. States to have their own individual symbols, flags, and seals. This one is no different, and with several other major features, we’ll explore some of the things that make this place so unique.
The flag’s design is composed of 13 rays that alternate between red and yellow on the top half, while the bottom half is a dark blue color. The center has a copper star. The thirteen rays represent the original thirteen colonies, and the red/yellow combination represents the incredible sunsets in this location.
The bottom blue color is meant to represent the Colorado river, it is also the same shade of “liberty blue” as the field of stars in the U.S. flag. The copper star in the center is representative of the fact that this location is the largest supplier of copper in the U.S. It was adopted as the official state flag on February 27, 1917.
2. The Great Seal of AZ
The seal is ringed by the words “The Great Seal of the State of Arizona,” and the year of its statehood, 1912, is on the bottom. The center of the seal depicts the sun rising behind a mountain range, with a water reservoir and dam on the right side.
Fields and orchards, along with cattle grazing, and a miner with a pick and shovel are depicted on the left side. This seal is meant to show the main pieces of the economy which include cattle, cotton, copper, citrus, and the climate known as the “Five Cs.”
The state’s motto “Ditat Deus” or “God enriches,” is depicted on the seal as well.
3. Flora and Fauna
The official flower is actually one that blooms on the Saguaro Cactus. These cacti are native to the Sonoran Desert. The flowers blossom only after sunset in April through June each year and remain open until mid-afternoon the following day.
The official tree is the Blue Palo Verde which is Spanish for “green stick,” referring to the bright green color of the trunk which handles the process of photosynthesis for the rest of the plant. There are number of Fauna species that are native and symbolic of the state:
- Amphibian: Arizona tree frog
- Bird: Cactus wren
- Butterfly: Two-tailed swallowtail
- Fish: Apache trout
- Mammal: Ring-tailed cat
- Reptile: ridge-nosed rattlesnake
4. The Grand Canyon
As one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon in Arizona is perhaps one of the most iconic reasons to visit this state. The canyon is a gorge that was naturally carved out over time by the Colorado River. While not the steepest or the largest of its kind, the landscape and color of this incredible place make it a natural wonder.
Here are some facts about the Grand Canyon:
- It is 277 miles long.
- The width is anywhere from 4 to 18 miles depending on the location.
- It is over one mile deep.
- The majority of it is within the Grand Canyon National Park.
The Ancient History and Cultures of Arizona
In the area of the Four Corners, the Ancestral Puebloans were the dominant Native American culture in the region. They were the first people to live in the area surrounding the Grand Canyon. While they exact emergence of this culture is still debated by archaeologists, it suggests that they were first around in 1200 BCE.
The first outside visitor was Marcos de Niza, a Spanish Franciscan who explored parts of the region in 1539. He made contact with the local natives. Spanish explorer Coronado entered the region in 1542. Father Kino came to develop missions where he converted many of the Indians to Christianity.
During the Mexican-American War in 1847 the U.S. occupied Mexico City and claimed much of northern Mexico, which would eventually become the state of Arizona. After continued conflict, the state was admitted to the Union on February 14, 1912.
Beyond the natural wonders that this place has to offer, there is also a rich history of culture across art, film, and music in this place. The Phoenix Art Museum for example is the largest collection of visual art in the southwest. This is also the hub for Native American art including the Heard Museum in Phoenix.
A number of classic films were shot in the state. One of the most iconic ones was Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho which was shot in Phoenix. The location has been the inspiration for countless music tracks as well.
When it comes down to it, this is a great place to live or visit. It’s chock full of culture and history, but wait, we’re not done yet. Check out these Arizona state facts next after you leave a comment below about your experiences in this state.