Chapter 2 The Land Sand dunes, cacti, gila monsters, and snakes are what many people expect in Arizona. But our state has many different landforms, plants, and animals. Arizona is like three states in one, with three completely different regions. Arizona is the sixth largest state in the United States. It is 392 miles long and 338 miles wide. It covers 113,956 square miles. Arizona’s latitude is 31° (degrees) 20´ (minutes) north to 37° (degrees) north. Arizona’s longitude is 109° (degrees) 3´ (minutes) west to 114° (degrees) 49´ (minutes) west. Arizona’s average land elevation is 4,000 feet above sea level. Over 90 percent of rain and snow that falls on Arizona’s land drains into the Colorado River. Latitude is the distance measured by degrees north and south of the earth’s equator. Longitude is the distance measured by degrees east and west of the prime meridian. Elevation is the height of the land above sea level. Standards’ Vocabulary latitude longitude elevation desert Sonoran Desert Mogollon Rim Colorado Plateau plateau lifezone Is all of Arizona’s land the same? The southern region of Arizona is desert. It is known as the Sonoran Desert. It is arid land. It makes up 30 percent of Arizona. This desert land gets less than 11 inches of rain each year. Cacti, scrub trees, and thorny bushes cover the Sonoran Desert. Over 2,000 species of plants live here. It is where the giant saguaro cactus grows. The giant saguaro can become 50 feet tall. The saguaro cactus blossom is Arizona’s state flower. The saguaro flower opens after sunset and closes before noon of the following day, never to open again. Each flower may produce as many as 2,000 seeds. 16  Chapter 2 • The Land