Named after the Santa Cruz River that runs through it—a Spanish name meaning "holy cross"—Santa Cruz County, Arizona's smallest county, was created by the 20th Territorial Assembly in 1899. Nogales, located on the international border with Mexico, is the county's largest city and serves as the Santa Cruz County seat.
Many firsts have taken place in this tiny, southern county of Arizona: Tubac is known as Arizona's first European settlement; and the first newspaper in the Arizona Territory was published in Tubac as well. Arizona's first state park—Tubac Presidio State Historic Park—is in Santa Cruz County.
There is a large Spanish-speaking population in the county with over 80% of the population sharing a Hispanic heritage, and a strong Mexican influence in every facet of the county's culture.
Bird watching is a major tourist attraction here, as are hiking, horseback riding, and many other outdoor adventures. The area is also widely known for its art. Ranching is still a way of life for many of the county's residents, and Sonoita and Elgin are known for their wineries. The high altitude desert landscape here is one of the finest in the country, with a natural, unspoiled beauty that is simply unparalleled.