Located in southwest Arizona in the Sonoran Desert, Maricopa County is home to 25 cities and towns, as well as five American Indian reservations.
Prior to European settlement, the area was inhabited by several bands of American Indians, including the Apache, Maricopa, Gila River, and Pima tribes. Since the first European settlers arrived in the late 1800s, the county has experienced rapid population growth; in the last 24 years, the population has almost doubled. The “Five Cs” (copper, cotton, climate, citrus, and cattle) have historically made up most of Arizona and Maricopa County’s economy. However, by the mid-20th century, the influx of technology companies and the establishment of military air bases and training facilities led to a population and technology boom. Currently, less than half of a percent of Maricopa County’s workforce is employed in agriculture.
The Maricopa County Department of Public Health is charged with providing a wide range of health services to this large, diverse, and continually growing population. However, a lack of local funding for public health has forced public health leaders to rely on public-private partnerships and cross-sector collaboration to implement preventive health programs and to address a variety of issues, such as child safety, access to health care, and teen pregnancy.