If you have never heard of the “Five C’s of Arizona”, chances are that you grew up in another state. This is a topic that grade school students are taught in their Arizona curriculum.
In Arizona’s early years, the Five C’s were the pillar of its successful economy. They provided many people with jobs in agriculture, mining, and ranching. Although their economic role is less significant today, they still play a strong cultural role across the state.
People have been digging for precious metals in Arizona for thousands of years. In the 1870s, copper mining drew people to Bisbee, Clifton, Globe, Miami, and Jerome providing jobs for about one-fourth of Arizonans. Copper is no longer Arizona’s leading industry, but the state is still its largest producer in the U.S.
Arizona was once an important source of beef to the nation with as many as 1.75 million heads of cattle in 1918 compared to the human population of 320,000. Today, that number has dropped by half, even though beef and dairy are still big business here.
In the early 20th century, Arizona became known for the new Pima long-staple cotton. In 2010, Arizona boasted that it grew enough cotton each year to make more than one pair of jeans for every person in the country. During the peak years, 800,000 acres of Arizona land was planted in cotton. Today, it is closer to 200,000 acres, yet Arizona remains a leading cotton state.
When early irrigation efforts in the 1860s reconstructed ancient Hohokam canals, Arizona was able to grow citrus in the harsh desert climate. Citrus production really took off in 1928 with the creation of the Arizona Citrus Growers Association. Arizona is known for its citrus production in grapefruit, lemons, limes, and oranges.
With over 300 days of sunshine a year and an average rainfall of eight inches, Arizona is a major destination for “Snowbirds” who “nest” here for the winter. Tourism is big business for our state with 46.8 million visitors in 2019 who spent $25.6 billion and created tax revenue of $3.78 billion.