Arizona Culture

Before you visit Arizona, it pays to learn about the culture there. Arizona culture is unique in that it is a combination of the splendid natural beauty of the numerous landmarks and the cultures of the Native American and Hispanic communities that occupy many places in the state. Add a touch of southwestern culture and you've got an experience to remember.

Arizona culture is what you can call the true western culture - culture of the United States - with the biggest influences being Native American culture. The locals are outdoors people as they're passionate about adventure such as camping, biking, hiking, and any activity that entails being outdoors. People who enjoy adventure can easily fit into the culture of the locals. There is a lot of focus on natural landmarks and the landscape of the place and this has influenced the culture of the locals over the years. For instance, eateries typically offer big patios for people to enjoy the beauty of the place.

In terms of religion and politics, Arizona can be regarded as largely conservative. A large section of the Arizonans are evangelical Christians (23 percent) while Catholics are the largest religious denomination at 25 percent. Church attendance is high as with most Southern states.

The People

Being in the south-west, Arizona has for long been a major hub for immigrant populations especially from Latin America. Ultimately, the culture there has been hugely influenced by those populations. Currently, the cultural makeup of Arizona is a composite mixture of various cultures influenced by Indians, Anglos, blacks, and Hispanics. Arizona is home to the second largest Native American population, including the Navajo, Hopi, Apache, and Pueblo Indian communities in some parts.

The general lifestyle is conveniently private yet native Arizonans still manage to be pleasant, hospitable, and amazingly friendly. There's a general notion mainly among 'outsiders' that Arizonans are too 'tough', but native Arizonans see it as being courageous.

Arizonans, especially those from the southern part of the state, are very hardworking people. They are friendly and mostly live within their means. Many like to wear hats and cowboy boots, not because they're emulating their forefathers but because it is more practical to wear like that. The hats keep away the sun's heat during day, otherwise your head would fry like an egg if it were not covered in the desert sun.

In terms of ancestry, Mexicans take up the largest portion of the population at 25 percent, followed by Germans, English, Irish, and Native American. People of Mexican ancestry occupy much of southern Arizona while white Americans inhabit majority of the north-central and northwestern parts. American Indians are mostly concentrated in the northeastern part.

There are many Spanish speakers in Arizona, making up approximately 21 percent of the population.


Arizona has some of the richest and oldest food traditions in the US. For instance, the cultivation of corn and squash is dated back more than 4000 years ago. Many farmers in the state still cultivate over 160 of identical heirloom varieties of grain, vegetables, and fruits that were grown in the 1900 when the state of Arizona was formed from the Arizona Territory. Also, the state boasts rare livestock breeds that can only be found in very few other states.

Like other southwestern states, Arizona's culinary heritage has strong influences of Native American and Mexican tribes. However, the cooking style leans closer to the Mexican component although not as you'll find in New Mexico.

When you hop into a restaurant in Arizona, you'll be served mostly Native American cuisine including traditional dishes like beef stew to various modern delicacies. Fry bread is popular at festivals and fairs. An invention of Navajo women during the 1860s war, fry bread was made by mixing white flour with lard, water, and salt, after which flattened balls of dough were deep fried to make puffy rounds of bread.

This is largely still the same way that fry bread is made today and it is typically eaten with stews and soups. However, most Arizonans like to eat fry bread with toppings such as ground beef, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, lettuce, and green chili. Most people like to call this the state's dish.

Economic Activities

The five C's that define the state's economy are cattle, cotton, copper, citrus, and climate. Traditionally, these have been the main drivers of the Arizona's economy and have a lot in common with the interests of the pioneers of the South.

Rural Life Vs City Life

For the most part, rural life in Arizona can be summed up in three words: simplicity, fresh air, and blue skies. As with much of the state, climate is very favorable in most rural counties; that is, although they have all four seasons, they are not as severe as in some other places in the country, except in the mountainous areas. Many rural counties have attracted permanent settlers right from the olden days, most of whom built large ranches to rear cattle and horses. Some areas have the small-town feel and you might sense a disconnected atmosphere. This is because many people come to settle in rural Arizona from somewhere else.

City life, on the other hand, is much the same as that of any other big city in America, especially Phoenix. As you'd expect, things move a lot faster in cities than in rural areas and living costs are slightly higher as well. Again, as with most big cities in America, the quality of life is generally high, but largely depends on what you're looking for. There are lots of recreational activities in cities such as Scottsdale, Phoenix, Mesa, and Tucson, among others. And of course, crime rate is higher especially in Phoenix.

In all, the culture of Arizona is 'Western' and mostly influenced by Native American and Mexican culture. There's great respect for tradition, something that reflects in the highly conservative nature of majority of Arizonans.

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