The region of Southern Arizona consists of three counties – including three Native American nations:
The area (68,757 sq.km) represents 27% of the state of Arizona and 23% (1.2 million inhabitants) of the population. Geographically, it covers the northern part of the Sonoran Desert and the northwestern tip of the Chihuahuan Desert.
It is a major gateway for the trade between the U.S. and Mexico. As it borders Mexico, the environment is multicultural: 35% of the population is Hispanic. Its economic centre is the Tucson Metropolitan Area, which is Arizona’s second-largest metropolitan area, located in Pima County.
Figure 1: Southern Arizona
The US is a federal republic; the power is vertically divided between the federal, the state and the local level. The President is Head of State and Chief of Government. The legislative – Congress – is divided into the House of Representatives and the Senate; the latter represents the 50 states.
Most of the states’ legislatives are organized in two chambers, too. The states are lead by the governor.
On the local level the responsibilities are divided between the counties and municipalities.
The administration of government planning and higher education policy development is decentralized in the US. The national government may set goals for attainment and proficiency, but the implementation and execution is generally a state and local responsibility.
The region is evolving into a knowledge-based economy.
Major industries are
The unemployment rate in the Tucson Metropolitan Area was 3.6%, which is about the same magnitude as the rate of the state of Arizona in 2007.