The Central Region is home to the state capital, Phoenix, and is made up of five counties—Maricopa, Gila, Pinal, Graham, and Greenlee. More than half of the state’s population lives in Maricopa County, primarily in Phoenix and surrounding cities in a region known as the Valley of the Sun. Located in the nation’s “sunbelt,” this part of the state receives more than 290 day of sunshine per year.
The region’s geography ranges from desert to mountains and forests. The northern part of the region offers spectacular views of the Mogollon Rim, a rugged escarpment where the Colorado Plateau drops about 2,000 feet. To the east is the Coronado Trail, named after the Spanish explorer who trekked in the area in 1540 in his quest for treasures. The trail is a beautiful drive over rugged, forested mountains. Throughout the region are attractions such as Painted Rock State Park, Picacho Peak State Park, lakes along the Salt River, and hot springs. Historical attractions include Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, the remains of prehistoric farmers who once prospered in the desert.
This region is about 23% of the state’s area but 65% (3,584,335) of its population, due to the Phoenix metropolitan area. Several Indian tribes are in this region, including San Carlos Apache Tribe, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, Tonto Apache Tribe, White Mountain Apache Tribe, Ak-Chin Indian Community, Gila River Indian Community, and Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation.
The region’s economy depends on copper mining, agriculture, ranching, tourism, logging, electronics, and computer component manufacturing. In addition, there are several institutes of higher learning are in the region, including Arizona State University in Tempe and Midwestern University (College of Osteopathic Medicine), in Glendale.