Phoenix, city, seat (1871) of Maricopa county and capital of Arizona, U. It lies along the Salt River in the south-central part of the state, about 120 miles (190 km) north of the Mexico border and midway between El Paso, Texas, and Los Angeles, California.
The Salt River valley, popularly called the Valley of the Sun, includes not only Phoenix but also nearby cities such as Mesa, Scottsdale, and Tempe. (2000) 1,321,045; Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale Metro Area, 3,251,876; (2010) 1,445,632; Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale Metro Area, 4,192,887.
Water is strangely abundant, given the fact that the city lies in one of the most arid regions on the continent; the valley overlies a subterranean sedimentary bowl that can hold vast quantities of groundwater.
However, these stores have been substantially depleted, and Phoenix increasingly has come to depend on water from the Colorado River via the Central Arizona Project (CAP), an artificial waterway 336 miles (541 km) long extending from Lake Havasu on the California border to Tucson.
The Native American inhabitants of the Phoenix area. government sent many of these peoples to nearby reservations in the 19th century.
After them came the Akimel O’odham (Pima), Maricopa, Yavapai, and Yaqui groups. Although only a fraction of the city’s population is Native American, Phoenix still has one of the largest urban concentrations of Native Americans in the country.
Many irrigated areas in the Phoenix area are encrusted with dried mineral deposits, which accumulate and reduce the productivity of the soil.
From its historic heart to the west of Sky Harbor International Airport, the greater metropolitan area—of which Phoenix is only a small part—has grown to take in a vast expanse of land that stretches nearly from the Gila River far to the south to the tall plateaus and volcanic mountains of the north and east and out into the broad desert valley to the west.
Growth is a constant in Phoenix life as thousands of new residents and millions of visitors find their way there each year.
The population of Phoenix is predominantly white (i.e., generally of European ancestry); the site was settled largely by Midwesterners in several waves of migration.
More than two-fifths of the people identify themselves as Hispanic.