Mesa is the third-largest city in Arizona after Phoenix and Tucson. Mesa is one of the United States' fastest-growing cities, and currently ranks as the 38th largest. 2006 Census Bureau estimates put the city's population at 447,541.
The first settlers in Mesa were probably the Hohokam Indians, who made life on the arid landscape of the region possible by developing an extensive canal system. Much later, Spanish missionaries and soldiers traveled through the area. Then, several groups of Mormon, or Latter Day Saints, pioneers settled in the area. Over time, residents from other areas of the Valley of the Sun also moved into Mesa, increasing its population further.
The city of Mesa was founded in January 1878 by Mormon pioneers and its population is still roughly one-tenth Mormon.
Although it has a large population, Mesa is a bedroom community. Neighborhoods across the city are diverse — some areas have experienced urban blight while others contain elaborate custom homes.