According to the United States Census Bureau, as of 2010, the City of Tucson has a land area of 226.71 square miles (587.2 km2).
The city's elevation is 2,643 ft (806 m) above sea level (as measured at the Tucson International Airport). Tucson is situated on an alluvial plain in the Sonoran desert, surrounded by five minor ranges of mountains: the Santa Catalina Mountains and the Tortolita Mountains to the north, the Santa Rita Mountains to the south, the Rincon Mountains to the east, and the Tucson Mountains to the west. The high point of the Santa Catalina Mountains is 9,157 ft (2,791 m) Mount Lemmon, the southernmost ski destination in the continental U.S., while the Tucson Mountains include 4,687 ft (1,429 m) Wasson Peak. The highest point in the area is Mount Wrightson, found in the Santa Rita Mountains at 9,453 ft (2,881 m) above sea level.
Tucson is located 118 mi (190 km) southeast of Phoenix and 60 mi (97 km) north of the United States - Mexico border. The 2010 United States Census puts the city's population at 520,116 with a metropolitan area population at 1,020,200. In 2009, Tucson ranked as the 32nd largest city and 52nd largest metropolitan area in the United States. A major city in the Arizona Sun Corridor, Tucson is the largest city in southern Arizona, the second largest in the state after Phoenix. It is also the largest city in the area of the Gadsden Purchase.
The city is located on the Santa Cruz River, formerly a perennial river but now a dry river bed for much of the year that floods during significant seasonal rains.
Interstate 10, which runs southeast to northwest through town, connects Tucson to Phoenix to the northwest on the way to its western terminus in Santa Monica, California, and to Las Cruces, New Mexico and El Paso, Texas toward its eastern terminus in Jacksonville, Florida. I-19 runs south from Tucson toward Nogales and the U.S.-Mexico border. I-19 is the only Interstate highway that uses "kilometer posts" instead of "mileposts", although the speed limits are marked in miles per hour instead of kilometers per hour.
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