Phoenix is the capital of the state of Arizona as well as the most populous city in the American Southwest and fifth largest city in the United States. Founded in 1871, it has become the region's primary political, cultural, economic, and transportation center. At an elevation of 1100 feet, it is situated in the biologically unique Sonoran Desert.
Phoenix has an arid climate with long, hot summers and very mild winters. It has the highest average temperature of any metropolitan area in the States. The weather varies enormously from one season to the next. While it's not as cold as in the northern states during the winter, it does freeze sometimes, and temperatures in the 30s (°F) are not unheard of. In the summer, very hot and dry heat is the norm. On the hottest days, it can get up to 115°F or more. Monsoon rains with lightning occur regularly from July to September during the late afternoon and evening, occasionally overnight also. April is the most ideal month. In some neighborhoods, cicada (locust-like insects) make loud sounds from sunset to sunrise.
Due to the high level of suburban sprawl in the city, getting anywhere on foot is almost an impossibility (especially in the hot summer). The limited options for public transportation mean that using a car will be a necessity in Phoenix.