With a population of more than 6.6 million, Arizona is the fifth fastest growing state in the U.S. with a five-year growth rate of over 5%. In 2014, approximately 60% of the growth stemmed from migration, reflecting a larger movement of Americans into the so-called “Sunbelt States” since the 1990s. Arizona's population boom was aided by the post-World War II development of affordable air conditioning systems, which have made the extreme climate more inhabitable. Over the past decade, real estate development and prices have fluctuated greatly due to swings in population growth (the state once led the U.S. with a staggering 20% growth rate), supply and demand. In 2015, the median home value was $221,151, and the median rental price was $1,098.
Arizona's dry summer heat is legendary - in the lower elevation areas like Phoenix and Tucson, the average temperature between May and August ranges from 90F to 120F, and temperature drops of 50F from day to night are common. In 2013, Phoenix logged a remarkable 115 days with temperatures at or above 100F. In addition, Arizona averages just over eight inches of rainfall each year, making it one of the driest states in the U.S.
Yet it’s a stark contrast in higher elevation areas like Flagstaff (7,000 feet), which has milder summers, significantly higher precipitation (22.96 inches on average annually) and cold, snowy winters, making the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort possible. With a summit elevation of 11,500 feet, the Snowbowl averages 240 inches of snow annually, boasts 777 skiable acres and was open for 122 days in 2014. Most surprising of all, it’s only a 2.75 hour drive from Phoenix.
Arizona boasts a stunning landscape, from the Colorado Plateau in the north to the Sonora Desert in the southwest and the mountains of the southeast. The state is home to 22 national parks and monuments, most famously the Grand Canyon, an awe-inspiring river-carved gorge. Nearly 5 million recreational visitors travel to the Grand Canyon annually, helping to propel the state's $20.9 billion tourism industry (2014). Other natural wonders helping to draw over 40 million overnight visitors to Arizona each year include the Painted Desert, Petrified Forest, Canyon de Chelly, Monument Valley, Saguaro National Park, Lake Havasu and Lake Mead, the latter a recreational bonanza created by the construction of the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River in 1936.
Aside from its scenic attractions and destination resorts, Arizona's economy benefits from copper mining, producing roughly 65% of the U.S total. There is also cattle ranching and irrigated farming of heat-loving crops such as cotton, lettuce and citrus fruits. First explored by Spanish conquistadors looking for “cities of gold” in the 1500s, Arizona still mines significant amounts of gold and silver and ranks in the top five in the U.S. in gemstone production. For turquoise, it comes in first for the value of production. Accordingly, the state is home to the annual Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, the largest of its kind in the world.
Arizona's culture is strongly influenced by Native Americans and Mexican Americans. The state has 22 federally recognized Indian tribes, communities and nations, and 4% of Arizona residents identify as American Indian. The Navajo Nation – the largest reservation in the country – spans Arizona, Utah and New Mexico and is nearly the same land area as the state of West Virginia. Additionally, the Hispanic population – currently at 29% – is growing so quickly that, if current trends continue, Arizona is predicted to become a majority-minority state by 2023. Roughly 20% of Arizonans speak Spanish at home currently.