Getting to Know the Community
- Population: Tucson Metropolitan Area 989,000 in 2010
- Geographical size: Metropolitan area covers 600 square miles +
- Proximity to other areas: Phoenix (115 miles); Nogales, Mexico (45 miles); San Diego (420 miles); Los Angeles (520 miles); Las Vegas (399 miles); Puerto Penasco, MX (220 miles)
- Third-fastest-growing city in U.S. (UA Eller College of Business and Public Administration)
- Arizona is the fastest growing state with 6.3 million population
- Weather: Average high temperature, 81.7; low 54.2
- Elevation: 2,389 feet in the basin and 9100 ft. atop Mt. Lemmon
The UA is located in Tucson, 45 miles from the Arizona/Mexico border in the Sonoran Desert ecoregion, a 55 million-acre area in Arizona, Mexico, and Baja California. Arizona has 22 American Indian reservations and some of the best known national parkland in the country, yet it is one of the most urban states with the fast growing cities of Phoenix and Tucson.
Cultural Diversity - Southern Arizona's diversity is a great part of its charm with 37% Hispanic and sizable Native American populations. The Tohono O’Odham and Pascua Yaqui reservations border Tucson. The border community of Nogales is 45 miles south of Tucson. Migrant border crossings are a complex issue in southern Arizona. Arizona is ranked 7th in the number of refugees. The most common languages spoken at home by refugee students in TUSD are Nepalese, Arabic, Somali, Kirundi, and Swahili.
Desert Living - Saguaro National Park (east and west), the Catalina National Forest, and the Rincon, Tucson, and Santa Rita Mountains ring the Tucson basin. The weather is very mild from October to March. Summers are hot with a "monsoon season" in July and August when dramatic thunderstorms supply a major portion of an average 14 inches of rain per year.
Healthy Living - Bicycling, rock climbing, hiking, running, soccer, swimming, and baseball/softball are year-round outdoor activities. The art scene, music, theater, and fine arts all thrive here and you can catch acts in Phoenix, LA and Vegas without much difficulty. Tucson and the UA are highly accessible communities.
History - Evidence of early hunter gatherers dates back 12,000 years in the region. August 20th, 1775 is considered Tucson's birthday with the proclamation organizing a Presidio. Spanish settlers arrived in the area in 1776. Tucson officially became part of the United States with the Gadsden Purchase of 1854 and served as capital of the Arizona Territory from 1867 to 1877. The ancient Hohokham, Spanish colonizers, Father Kino, Geronimo and the Apache Wars, Pancho Villa, the great Bisbee Deportation, the Buffalo Soldiers, ranching, copper mining, cures for tuberculosis, Howard Hughes, Margaret Sanger, and the Sanctuary Movement are all a part of southern Arizona's fascinating history.
Issues that interest many Peace Corps Fellows generally focus on issues of social justice and disparity. Typical issues prevalent in southern Arizona that have attracted Fellows include:
Border and Refugees - addressing immigrant rights, integration of refugees into the community, border deaths, environmental repercussions of migration and fence building, safety/security, and policy issues.
Economic health, planning, public administration and evaluation - Micro-enterprise development and training, non-profit management, governmental administration, civic dialogue and neighborhood technical assistance, and evaluation.
Education - improving literacy, strengthening charter schools, ELL mandates, and school financing.
Environment - managing scarce water resources in arid regions, conservation, fire ecology, invasive species such as buffel grass, and air quality issues.
Health - working on border health issues/international health issues, access to care and insurance, community health care workers, AIDS/HIV policies and prevention, promoting healthy living, maternal child health, and risk reduction.