Phoenix is the capital, and largest city, of the state of Arizona. With 1,445,632 people (as of the 2010 U.S. Census), Phoenix is the most populous state capital in the United States, as well as the sixth most populous city nationwide.
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 city is the 13th largest metro area by population in the United States, with approximately 4.3 million people in 2010. In addition, Phoenix is the county seat of Maricopa County and is one of the largest cities in the United States by land area.
Settled in 1867 as an agricultural community near the confluence of the Salt and Gila Rivers, Phoenix incorporated as a city in 1881. Located in the northeastern reaches of the Sonoran Desert, Phoenix has a subtropical 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). In fact, the “Five C’s” (Cotton, Cattle, Citrus, Climate, and Copper), remained the driving forces of Phoenix’s economy until after World War II, when high tech industries began to move into the valley.
The population growth rate of the Phoenix metro area has been nearly 4% per year for the past 40 years. While that growth rate slowed during the Great Recession, it has already begun to rebound. Phoenix is the cultural center of the Valley of the Sun, as well as the rest of Arizona.