Phoenix is the state capital and most populous city in Arizona, with a population of 1,680,992 people as of the most recent census. Besides that, it is the country’s fifth-most populous city by population, the nation’s largest state capital by population, and the only state capital with a population of more than one million people. Phoenix is the focal point of the Phoenix metropolitan area, also known as the Valley of the Sun, which is itself a part of the Salt River Valley. Phoenix is the state capital of Arizona. With a population of approximately 4.73 million people as of 2017, the metropolitan area ranks 11th in the country in terms of population size. Located in Maricopa County and covering 517.9 square miles, Phoenix is Arizona’s largest city and one of the Country’s most populous. It is more than twice as large as Tucson and one of the largest cities in the world.
Phoenix was founded in 1867 as an agricultural community near the confluence of the Salt and Gila rivers, and it became a city in 1881 after being incorporated as a borough. In 1889, it was designated as the state capital of Arizona Territory. It is located in the northeastern reaches of the Sonoran Desert, and it has a hot desert climate similar to the rest of the state. Despite this, the city’s canal system resulted in a thriving farming community, with many of the crops grown by the city’s early settlers continuing to be important parts of the city’s economy for decades afterward, such as alfalfa, cotton, citrus, and hay. Cotton, cattle, citrus, climate, and copper were collectively referred to as the “Five C’s,” which served as the foundation of Phoenix’s economy. Until after World War II, these were the driving forces behind the city, when high-tech companies began to relocate to the valley and air conditioning made Phoenix’s oppressively hot summers more bearable.
It was Jack Swilling, a Confederate veteran of the Civil War who first discovered gold in the nearby mining town of Wickenburg in the newly formed Arizona Territory, which marked the beginning of Phoenix’s history. As he traveled through the Salt River Valley in 1867, he recognized the potential for farming to provide food for the people of Wickenburg. The eroded mounds of dirt that indicated previous canals dug by indigenous peoples who had long since left the area were also noted by the explorer. In that same year, he established the Swilling Irrigation and Canal Company, dug a large canal that drew in river water, and planted several crop fields in an area that is now located in the eastern portion of central Phoenix, near the Phoenix International Airport.
Other settlers soon began to arrive, drawn by the area’s fertile soil and lack of frost, and the farmhouse Swilling built soon became a popular destination for those traveling through the Valley of the Shadows to see it. Lord Darrell Duppa was one of the original settlers in Swilling’s party, and he was the one who suggested the name “Phoenix,” because it described a city that had risen from the ruins of a former civilization. Swilling agreed, and the name was adopted. Over a 40-year period, from the mid-1960s to the mid-2000s, the city experienced an average annual population growth rate of four percent per year. Growth in this area decreased during the Great Recession of 2007–09 and has only recently begun to pick up speed. Phoenix is the state’s cultural capital and the largest city in the state.
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