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Phoenix (/ˈfiːnɪks/; O’odham: S-ki:kigk; Yavapai: Wathinka or Wakatehe; Western Apache: Fiinigis; Navajo: Hoozdoh; Mojave: Hachpa ‘Anya Nyava) is the capital, and largest city, of the U.S. 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 nationally, after (in order) New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Philadelphia. Residents of the city are known as Phoenicians.
The anchor of the Phoenix metropolitan area (also known as the Valley of the Sun, a part of the Salt River Valley), it 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.
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. Currently ranked 6th in population, it is predicted that Phoenix will rank 4th by 2020. Being near the center of the state, Phoenix is the jumping off point for the various attractions in the Valley of the Sun, as well as the rest of Arizona.
Phoenix is in the southwestern United States, in the south-central portion of Arizona, and about halfway between Tucson to the south and Flagstaff to the north. The metropolitan area is known as the “Valley of the Sun”, due to its location in the Salt River Valley. It lies at a mean elevation of 1,117 feet (340 m), in the northern reaches of the Sonoran Desert.
Other than the mountains in and around the city, the topography of Phoenix is generally flat, allowing the city’s main streets to run on a precise grid with wide, open-spaced roadways. Scattered, low mountain ranges surround the valley: McDowell Mountains to the northeast, the White Tank Mountains to the west, the Superstition Mountains far to the east, and the Sierra Estrella to the southwest. On the outskirts of Phoenix are large fields of irrigated cropland and several Indian reservations. The Salt River runs westward through the city of Phoenix, and the riverbed is often dry or contains a little water due to large irrigation diversions. The community of Ahwatukee is separated from the rest of the city by South Mountain.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 517.9 square miles (1,341 km2); 516.7 square miles (1,338 km2) of it is land and 1.2 square miles (0.6 km², or 0.2%) of it is water. Even though it is the 6th most populated city, the large area gives it a low density rate of approximately 2,797 people per square mile. In comparison, Philadelphia, the 5th most populous city has a density of over 11,000.
Since 1979, the City of Phoenix has been divided into urban villages, many of which are based upon historically significant neighborhoods and communities that have since been annexed into Phoenix. Each village has a planning committee that is appointed directly by the city council. According to the village planning handbook issued by the city, the purpose of the village planning committees is to work with the city’s planning commission to ensure a balance of housing and employment in each village, concentrate development at identified village cores, and to promote the unique character and identity of the villages.
Phoenix has a subtropical desert climate (Köppen: BWh), typical of the Sonoran Desert in which it lies. Phoenix has extremely hot summers and warm winters. The average summer high temperatures are some of the hottest of any major city in the United States, and approach those of cities such as Riyadh and Baghdad. The temperature reaches and exceeds 100 °F (38 °C), on average over 92 days each year, including most days from late May through early October. Highs top 110 °F (43 °C) an average of 18 days during the year The longest stretch of continuous 100 degree days is 76, from June 10 – August 24, 1993. The greatest number of 100 degree days in a year in Phoenix history is 143 (1989), while the fewest is 48 (1913). For comparison, New York City has had a total of 59 days of 100 degree weather since 1870. On June 26, 1990, the temperature reached an all-time recorded high of 122 °F (50 °C).
Most deserts undergo drastic fluctuations between day and nighttime temperatures, but not Phoenix due to the heat sink effect. As the city has expanded, average summer low temps have been rising steadily. The daily heat of the sun is stored in pavement, sidewalks and buildings, and is radiated back out at night. Overnight lows greater than 80 °F (27 °C) occur frequently each summer, with the average July low being 81 °F (27 °C), and the average August low being 80 °F (27 °C). On average, 67 days throughout the year will see the nighttime low at or above 80 °F (27 °C). The highest low temperature recorded in Phoenix was 96 °F (36 °C), which occurred on July 15, 2003.
Phoenix is the sixth most populous city in the United States according to the 2010 United States Census, with a population of 1,445,632, making it the most populous state capital in the United States. Phoenix’s ranking as the sixth most populous city was a drop from the number five position it had held since the U. S. Census Bureau released population estimates on June 28, 2007. Those statistics used data from 2006, which showed Phoenix’s population at 1,512,986, which put it just ahead of Philadelphia. The 2010 Census, while showing an overall increase from the official 2000 Census showed a drop in Phoenix’ population from the 2007 estimates, allowing Philadelphia to regain the fifth spot.
After leading the nation in population growth for over a decade, the sub-prime mortgage crisis, followed by the recession, led to a slowing in the growth of Phoenix. The Phoenix metropolitan area’s net population growth was estimated at around 77,000 in 2009, down from a peak of about 162,000 in 2006. Despite this slowing, Phoenix’s population grew by 9.4% since the 2000 census (a total of 124,000 people), while the entire Phoenix metropolitan area grew by 28.9% during the same period. The 124,000 gain was the smallest of any census period since 1940–50, when the city’s entire population was 107,000 residents, and that 9.4% was the lowest percentage increase rate since the 1880–90 census period. The city of Phoenix captured 13% of the metropolitan growth, down from 33% in the 1990–2000 census period.
The Phoenix Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) (officially known as the Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale MSA), is one of 10 MSA’s in Arizona, and is the 13th largest in the United States, with a total population of 4,192,887 as of the 2010 Census. Consisting of parts of both Pinal and Maricopa counties, the MSA accounts for 65.5% of the total population of the state of Arizona. Phoenix is also part of the Arizona Sun Corridor megaregion (MR), which is the 10th most populous of the 11 MRs, and the 8th largest by area. It had the 2nd largest growth by percentage of the MRs (behind only the Gulf Coast MR) between 2000 and 2010.
The population is almost equally split between men and women, with men making up 50.2% of city’s citizens. The population density is 2,797.8 people per square mile, and the median age of the city is 32.2 years, with only 10.9 of the population being over 62. 98.5% of Phoenix’s population lives in households with an average household size of 2.77 people. There were 514,806 total households, with 64.2% of those households consisting of families: 42.3% married couples, 7% with an unmarried male as head of household, and 14.9% with an unmarried female as head of household. 33.6% of those households have children below the age of 18. Of the 35.8% of non-family households, 27.1% of them have a householder living alone, almost evenly split between men and women, with women having 13.7% and men occupying 13.5%. Phoenix has 590,149 housing units, with an occupancy rate of 87.2%. The largest segment of vacancies is in the rental market, where the vacancy rate is 14.9%, and 51% of all vacancies are in rentals. Vacant houses for sale only make up 17.7% of the vacancies, with the rest being split among vacation properties and other various reasons.
The median income for a household in the city was $47,866, and the median income for a family was $54,804. Males had a median income of $32,820 versus $27,466 for females. The per capita income for the city was $24,110. 21.8% of the population and 17.1% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 31.4% of those under the age of 18 and 10.5% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.