Arizona is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States of America. It is one of the largest states in terms of area (6th largest) and has a population of about 6.5 million (15th largest). It shares a border with Mexico as well as the U.S. states of California, Nevada, Utah and New Mexico. Arizona was long inhabited by Native American tribes and the European history of this state didn’t begin until the 16th century. Let’s take a brief look at the history of this area and find out when it became a state.
Brief history of Arizona
The first European expedition that entered modern day Arizona was believed to occur in 1539 and was led by Spanish explorer Marcos de Niza. In the late 17th and early 18th century missionaries began work in the region to convert the native people. The territory was claimed for Spain and the first fortified towns were formed in 1752 (Tubac) and 1775 (Tucson). Arizona became a Mexican territory, as a part of Alta California, after the Mexican War of Independence in 1821. Some Mexican settlement took place in the 1840’s, but about 70% the territory became part of the United States at the conclusion of the Mexican-American war in 1848. The southern portion (the remaining 30%) of the state later being purchased by the United States in 1853 (Gadsden Purchase).
Road to statehood
Modern day Arizona was originally included in the Territory of New Mexico and the southern portion of Arizona became the Confederate Territory of Arizona during the American Civil War. A new territory, called Arizona Territory, with the same boundaries as the modern day state was formed in 1863. Settlements in the area were still sporadic and relations with the native people were also strained. This was part of the reason that the state was the last contiguous state (the 48 connected states of the U.S.) to be granted statehood. It became the 48th state of the United States on February 14, 1912.