Surprise is a city in Maricopa County, in the U.S. state of Arizona. The population was 30,848 at the 2000 census; however, rapid expansion has boosted the city's population to 117,517 at the 2010 census, an increase of 281%. As such, it is the second-fastest-expanding municipality in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area (after Gilbert) and, between 1990 and 2000, it was the sixth-fastest-expanding place among all cities and towns in Arizona. Census estimates in 2019 continue this accelerated growth pattern, with the population now estimated at 141,664.
The city has a 10,562-square-foot (981.2 m2) Aquatics Center and Maricopa County's northwest regional library, a $5.5 million, 20,000-square-foot (1,900 m2) library, along with a 100.3 cost of living index.
The city was founded in 1938 by Flora Mae Statler, who named it Surprise as she "would be surprised if the town ever amounted to much". Surprise officials previously thought the city was founded by Statler's husband, real estate developer and state legislator Homer C. Ludden, but in 2010 property records were discovered which listed Statler owning the land before she met Ludden.
Although there were only a few houses and a gas station on the one-square-mile (1.6 km) parcel of land when it was subdivided to build inexpensive houses for agricultural workers, Surprise has experienced tremendous growth in the years since. It incorporated into a city in 1960, the townsite being bounded by Greenway Road on the south, El Mirage Road on the east, Bell Road on the north, and Dysart Road on the west. City Hall is located on the site of one of Luke Air Force Base's former auxiliary airfields.
Tens of thousands of retirees moved to the city in the 1990s and early 2000s to live in Sun City Grand, an age-restricted resort-like community, with homes built by the property development firm Del Webb. Surprise is about five miles (8 km) northwest of Del Webb's original Sun City development and adjacent to Sun City West.
Sun City Grand has become a large contributor to the city's population, which more than septupled (7 times) from 10,187 to about 75,000 in 2004.
Surprise is about 20 miles (32 km) northwest of Phoenix.