Arizona is located in the western United States as one of the Four Corners states. Arizona is the sixth largest state in area.
Eighty five percent of Arizona is public forest and park land, state trust land and Native American reservations
offering many places to visit.
Arizona is best known for its desert landscape, which is rich in xerophyte plants such as the cactus. It is also known for its climate,
which presents exceptionally hot summers and mild winters. Less well known is the pine-covered high country of the Colorado Plateau in
the north-central portion of the state, which contrasts with the desert Basin and Range region in the southern portions of the state.
Phoenix is the capital and largest city of the U.S. state of Arizona, as well as the fifth most populated city in the United States.
Phoenix is home to approximately 1.5 million people, and is the anchor of the Phoenix metropolitan area (also known as the Valley of the Sun),
the 12th largest metro area by population in the United States with nearly 4.3 million people. In addition, Phoenix is the county seat of
Maricopa County, and is one of the largest cities in the United States by land area.
Like other states of the Southwest, Arizona has an abundance of topographical characteristics in addition to its desert climate. Mountains
and plateaus are found in more than half of the state. Despite the state's aridity, 27% of Arizona is forest a percentage comparable to
modern day France or Germany.
The largest stand in the world of Ponderosa pine trees is contained in Arizona as well as the Grand Canyon. A colorful, steep-sided gorge,
carved by the Colorado River, in northern Arizona. The canyon is one of the seven natural wonders of the world and is largely contained in
the Grand Canyon National Park-one of the first national parks in the United States.
Due to its large area and variations in elevation the state has a wide variety of localized climate conditions. In the lower elevations, the
climate is primarily desert, with mild winters and hot summers. Typically, from late fall to early spring, the weather is mild. Due to the
primarily dry climate, large temperature swings often occur between day and night in less developed areas of the desert. The swings can be as
large as 50 F (28 C) in the summer months. In the state's urban centers, the effects of local warming result in much higher measured
nighttime lows than in the recent past.
Arizona has an average annual rainfall of 12.7 inches (323 mm, which comes during two rainy seasons, with cold fronts coming from the Pacific
Ocean during the winter and a monsoon in the summer. The monsoon season occurs towards the end of summer. This hot moisture brings lightning,
thunderstorms, wind, and torrential, if usually brief, downpours.
The Northern third of Arizona is a plateau at significantly higher altitudes than the lower desert, and has an appreciably cooler climate,
with cold winters and mild summers. Extreme cold temperatures are not unknown; cold air systems from the northern states and Canada occasionally
push into the state, bringing temperatures below 0 F (-18 C) to the Northern parts of the state.