Phoenix is the capital and most populous city of the state of Arizona, with 1,626,078 people (as of 2017). It is the fifth most populous city nationwide, the most populous state capital in the United States, and the only state capital with a population of more than one million residents.
Phoenix is the anchor of the Phoenix metropolitan area, also known as the Valley of the Sun, which in turn is part of the Salt River Valley. The metropolitan area is the 11th largest by population in the United States, with approximately 4.73 million people as of 2017. In addition, Phoenix is the seat of Maricopa County and the largest city in the state at 517.9 square miles (1,341 km²), more than twice the size of Tucson and one of the largest cities in the United States.
Phoenix is in the southwestern United States, in the south-central portion of Arizona; about halfway between Tucson to the southeast and Flagstaff to the north. By car, the city is approximately 150 miles (240 kilometers) north of the US-Mexico border at Sonoyta and 180 mi (290 km) north of the border at Nogales. The metropolitan area is known as the "Valley of the Sun" due to its location in the Salt River Valley. It lies at a mean elevation of 1,086 feet (331 m), in the northern reaches of the Sonoran Desert.
Other than the mountains in and around the city, the topography of Phoenix is generally flat, allowing the city's main streets to run on a precise grid with wide, open-spaced roadways. Scattered, low mountain ranges surround the valley: McDowell Mountains to the northeast, the White Tank Mountains to the west, the Superstition Mountains far to the east, and both South Mountain and the Sierra Estrella to the south/southwest. Camelback Mountain, North Mountain, Sunnyslope Mountain, and Piestewa Peak are located within the heart of the valley. On the outskirts of Phoenix are large fields of irrigated cropland and Native American reservation lands. The Salt River runs westward through the city of Phoenix, but the riverbed is often dry or contains little water due to large irrigation diversions. The community of Ahwatukee is separated from the rest of the city by South Mountain.
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