Tucson  has a few different faces. Exploring the city and its environs, it’s difficult to escape constant reminders that not too long ago this land was considered not the southern end of the United States but rather the northern end of Mexico. Before that it belonged to Spain, before that the Tohono O’odham and the Apache, before that the Hohokam.
For more than 10,000 years varied, sometimes contradictory, cultures have developed and adapted in this desert basin encircled by ragged ranges, and somehow they’ve mixed themselves up into a distinctive culture that one might call Southwestern. This is how it is in Tucson, where mixture is celebrated and studied, pulled apart, dissected, and turned around itself.
Many Tucson residents are émigrés, but there’s definitely a much higher percentage of born-and-bred locals here than in Phoenix, Arizona’s only other urban region of any size. Indeed, the majority of the state’s 6.1 million residents live in Pima and Maricopa Counties, in and around the two large urban areas of Phoenix and Tucson—about a million persons live in Pima County and some 3.7 million live in Maricopa.
About 13 percent of Arizonans are over 65, but 26 percent are under 18. The former statistic is expected to rise significantly as more and more baby boomers retire and move to the Sunbelt, just as their parents did in the 1960s and 1970s. On par with nationwide averages, about 81 percent of Arizonans are high school graduates, and 24 percent have at least a bachelor’s degree. A full 68 percent of Arizonans own their homes.
Tucson  has a larger percentage of Mexican-American and other Latino residents than most other places. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2000, Tucson’s Hispanic population was 35.7 percent, compared to about 20 percent nationwide. Those numbers are expected to rise after the 2010 census is complete. According to a City of Tucson report, Latinos could once again become the majority population in Tucson by 2015.