Long before the coming of the Spanish Conquistadors and missionaries in the 17th Century, the Marana/Avra Valley area was inhabited by the Hohokam Indians, who developed extensive canal systems to use the waters of the Santa Cruz River for irrigated agriculture. The Gold Rush of California in 1848 spread eastward into Arizona. Also, many Mexican ranchers established large cattle ranches in the area, displacing most of the remaining indigenous Papago Indians. With the Marana area under the jurisdiction of the United States, prospectors seeking mineral riches intensified their efforts in the region.

Rail transportation came in 1881 and signaled a major change in the area. It gave Marana its first identification as a specific place by appearing on Southern Pacific Railroad maps in 1890. World War I brought new prosperity to what was left of the once thriving Silverbell Mine. The population climbed back to over a thousand and the town had both a school and a hospital. However, ranching and the railroad continued to form the backbone of the immediate Marana community. In March of 1977 the Town of Marana was incorporated with about 10 square miles. In August of that year the 1,500 townspeople elected their first town council.

In early 1979 the Town began growing through an aggressive annexation policy and is now nearly 120 square miles with an estimated population of 34,961. Marana is located in Pima County in southern Arizona, about 18 miles northwest of Tucson.

The median income for a household in the town was $68,361, and the median income for a family was $75,281. Males had a median income of $58,932 versus $37,388 for females. The per capita income for the town was $28,468. About 6.1% of families and 8.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.0% of those under age 18 and 2.3% of those age 65 or over.