Phoenix is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Arizona. With 1,626,078 people (as of 2017), Phoenix is the fifth most populous city nationwide, the most populous state capital in the United States, and the only state capital with a population of more than one million residents.
Phoenix is the anchor of the Phoenix metropolitan area, also known as the Valley of the Sun, which in turn is a part of the Salt River Valley. The metropolitan area is the 12th largest by population in the United States, with approximately 4.73 million people as of 2017. In addition, Phoenix is the seat of Maricopa County, and at 517.9 square miles (1,341 km²), it is the largest city in the state, more than twice the size of Tucson and one of the largest cities in the United States.
Settled in 1867 as an agricultural community near the confluence of the Salt and Gila Rivers, Phoenix incorporated as a city in 1881. It became the capital of Arizona in 1889. Located in the northeastern reaches of the Sonoran Desert, Phoenix has a hot desert climate. Despite this, its canal system led to a thriving farming community, many of the original crops remaining important parts of the Phoenix economy for decades, such as alfalfa, cotton, citrus, and hay (which was important for the cattle industry). Cotton, cattle, citrus, climate, and copper were known locally as the "Five C's" of Phoenix's economy. These industries remained the driving forces of the city until after World War II, when high-tech companies began to move into the valley and air conditioning made Phoenix's hot summers more bearable.
The city averaged a four percent annual population growth rate over a 40-year period from the mid-1960s to the mid-2000s. This growth rate slowed during the Great Recession of 2007–09, and has rebounded slowly. Phoenix is the cultural center of the Valley of the Sun, as well as the entire state.
Phoenix is in the southwestern United States, in the south-central portion of Arizona; about halfway between Tucson to the southeast and Flagstaff to the north. By car, the city is approximately 150 miles (242 km) north of the US-Mexico border at Sonoyta and 180 miles (290 km) north of the border at Nogales. The metropolitan area is known as the "Valley of the Sun", due to its location in the Salt River Valley. It lies at a mean elevation of 1,086 feet (331 m), in the northern reaches of the Sonoran Desert.
Phoenix is the sixth most populous city in the United States according to the 2010 United States Census, with a population of 1,445,632, making it the most populous state capital in the United States. Phoenix's ranking as the sixth most populous city was a drop from the number five position it had held since the U. S. Census Bureau released population estimates on June 28, 2007. Those statistics used data from 2006, which showed Phoenix's population at 1,512,986, which put it just ahead of Philadelphia. In 2016, Phoenix regained the position of 5th most populous city, with the census bureau estimating its population at 1,615,017, edging out Philadelphia with a population of 1,567,872.
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