Like California and New Mexico, Arizona was once part of the Spanish holdings in the New World and in 1824 (after Mexican independence) became part of Mexico. In 1848, Mexico ceded the land that today makes up Arizona, California and New Mexico to the United States in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that ended the two-year war between Mexico and the U.S. Arizona became a separate U.S. territory in 1863 and in 1912 it was admitted as a state – the last of the forty-eight contiguous states. Arizona remained America's "newest" state until 1959 when Alaska and Hawaii were admitted.
Today, much of the Spanish/Mexican culture remains throughout Arizona, from the Spanish names given to places to the distinctive architecture. But Arizona also boasts influences even older than the Mexican influence. For centuries prior to the arrival of the Spanish, Arizona was inhabited by Anasazi (ancient Pueblo Indians) and later by the Navajo and Apache Indians. The Apache especially became famous for the fighting skills, against both the Mexican government and later U.S. soldiers and settlers. Two Apache chiefs – Cochise and Geronimo – were particularly tenacious in their struggle to avoid being confined to reservations established by the U.S. government.
Arizona is also home to some of the United States' most dramatic scenery, photos of which appear on separate pages: the Grand Canyon, the Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest, Canyon de Chelly (pronounced "de SHAY"), Monument Valley and the entrance to Lake Powell.
Arizona thus offers great variety for visitors: spectacular landscapes, Native American culture and reminders of a time when this state was part of Mexico. The photos here are a hodgepodge of scenes from Arizona, including the Baroque style San Xavier church near Tucson, the mile-wide meteor crater in northern Arizona, plus a cool motel in Gila Bend.