Arizona - Geography

Geography

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Arizona is located in the Southwestern United States as one of the Four Corners states. Arizona is the sixth largest state in area, after New Mexico and before Nevada. Of the state's 113,998 square miles (295,000 km2), approximately 15% is privately owned. The remaining area is public forest and park land, state trust land and Native American reservations.

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 (see Arizona Mountains forests).

Like other states of the Southwest, Arizona has an abundance of topographical characteristics in addition to its desert climate. Mountains and plateaux 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.

The Mogollon Rim, a 1,998-foot (609 m) escarpment, cuts across the central section of the state and marks the southwestern edge of the Colorado Plateau, where the state experienced its second worst forest fire ever in 2002.

Arizona belongs firmly within the Basin and Range region of North America. The region was shaped by prehistoric volcanism, followed by the cooling-off and related subsidence.

The Grand Canyon is 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. President Theodore Roosevelt was a major proponent of designating the Grand Canyon area, visiting on numerous occasions to hunt mountain lion and enjoy the scenery. The canyon was created by the Colorado River cutting a channel over millions of years, and is about 277 miles (446 km) long, ranges in width from 4 to 18 miles (6 to 29 km) and attains a depth of more than 1 mile (1.6 km). Nearly two billion years of the Earth's history have been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut through layer after layer of sediment as the Colorado Plateaus have uplifted.

Arizona is home to one of the most well-preserved meteorite impact sites in the world. The Barringer Meteorite Crater (better known simply as “Meteor Crater”) is a gigantic hole in the middle of the high plains of the Colorado Plateau, about 25 miles (40 km) west of Winslow. A rim of smashed and jumbled boulders, some of them the size of small houses, rises 150 feet (46 m) above the level of the surrounding plain. The crater itself is nearly 1 mile (1.6 km) wide, and 570 feet (170 m) deep.

Arizona is one of two states that does not observe Daylight Saving Time (the other being Hawaii), except in the Navajo Nation, located in the northeastern region of the state.

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