California (i/ˌkælɨˈfɔrnjə/) is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is the most populous U.S. state, home to one out of eight people who live in the U.S., with a total of 38 million people, and it is the third largest state by area (after Alaska and Texas). California is bordered by Oregon to the north, Nevada to the east, Arizona to the southeast, and the Mexican state of Baja California to the south. It is home to the nation's second and fifth most populous census statistical areas (Greater Los Angeles Area and San Francisco Bay Area, respectively), and eight of the nation's 50 most populated cities (Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Fresno,Sacramento, Long Beach, and Oakland). Sacramento is the state capital, and has been since 1854.
What is now California was first settled by various Native American tribes before being explored by a number of European expeditions throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. It was then claimed by the Spanish Empire as part of Alta California in the larger territory of New Spain. Alta California became a part of Mexico in 1821 following its successful war for independence, but would later be ceded to the United States in 1848 after the Mexican-American War. The western portion of Alta California was soon organized as the State of California, which was admitted as the 31st state on September 9, 1850. The California Gold Rush starting in 1848 led to dramatic social and demographic change, with large-scale immigration from the east and abroad with an accompanying economic boom.
California's diverse geography ranges from the Pacific Coast in the west, to the Sierra Nevada in the east – from the Redwood–Douglas firforests of the northwest, to the Mojave Desert areas in the southeast. The center of the state is dominated by the Central Valley, a major agricultural area. California contains both the highest and lowest points in the contiguous United States (Mount Whitney and Death Valley), and has the 3rd longest coastline of all states (after Alaska and Florida). Earthquakes are a common occurrence because of the state's location along the Pacific Ring of Fire: about 37,000 are recorded annually, but most are too small to feel.
At least half of the fruit produced in the United States is now cultivated in California, and the state also leads in the production of vegetables. Other important contributors to the state's economy include aerospace, education, manufacturing, and high-tech industry. If it were a country, California would be the 8th or 9th largest economy in the world and the 34th most populous.
|State of California|
|Nickname(s): The Golden State|
|State song(s): "I Love You, California"|
The culture of California is a Western culture and most clearly has its modern roots in the culture of the United States, but also, historically, manyHispanic influences. As a border and coastal state, Californian culture has been greatly influenced by several large immigrant populations, especially those from Latin America.
California has long been a subject of interest in the public mind and has often been promoted by its boosters as a kind of paradise. In the early 20th century, fueled by the efforts of state and local boosters, many Americans saw the Golden State as an ideal resort destination, sunny and dry all year round with easy access to the ocean and mountains. In the 1960s, popular music groups such as The Beach Boys promoted the image of Californians as laid-back, tanned beach-goers.
The California Gold Rush of the 1850s is still seen as a symbol of California's economic style, which tends to generate technology, social, entertainment, and economic fads and booms and related busts.
Much of the state has a Mediterranean climate, with cool, rainy winters and dry summers. The cool California Current offshore often creates summer fog near the coast. Farther inland, one encounters colder winters and hotter summers. The maritime moderation results in the shoreline summertime temperatures of Los Angeles and San Francisco being the coolest of all major metropolitan areas of the United States and uniquely cool compared to areas on the same parallels in the interior and on the east coast of the North American continent. Even the San Diego shoreline bordering Mexico is cooler in summer than most areas in contiguous United States. Just a few miles inland, summer temperature extremes are significantly higher, with downtown Los Angeles being several degrees warmer than at the coast. The same microclimate phenomenon is seen in the climate of the Bay Area, where areas sheltered from the sea sees significantly hotter summers than nearby areas close to the ocean.
Northern parts of the state average higher annual rainfall than the south. California's mountain ranges influence the climate as well: some of the rainiest parts of the state are west-facing mountain slopes. Northwestern California has a temperate climate, and the Central Valley has a Mediterranean climate but with greater temperature extremes than the coast. The high mountains, including the Sierra Nevada, have an alpine climate with snow in winter and mild to moderate heat in summer.
The east side of California's mountains produce a rain shadow, creating expansive deserts. The higher elevation deserts of eastern California see hot summers and cold winters, while the low deserts east of the Southern California mountains experience hot summers and nearly frostless mild winters. Death Valley, a desert with large expanses below sea level, is considered the hottest location in the world; the highest temperature in the world, 134 °F (57 °C), was recorded there on July 10, 1913. The lowest temperature in California was −45 °F (−43 °C) in 1937 in Boca.
The vast majority of rivers in California are dammed as part of two massive water projects: the Central Valley Project, providing water to the agricultural central valley, the California State Water Project diverting water from northern to southern California. The state's coasts, rivers, and other bodies of water are regulated by the California Coastal Commission.
The two most prominent rivers within California are the Sacramento River and the San Joaquin River, which drain the Central Valley and the west slope of the Sierra Nevada and flow to the Pacific Ocean through San Francisco Bay. Several major tributaries feed into the Sacramento and the San Joaquin, including the Pit River, the Tuolumne River, and the Feather River.
The Eel River and Salinas River each drain portions of the California coast, north and south of San Francisco Bay, respectively, and the Eel River is the largest river in the state to remain in its natural un-dammed state. The Mojave River is the primary watercourse in the Mojave Desert, and the Santa Ana River drains much of the Transverse Ranges as it bisects Southern California. Some other important rivers are the Klamath River and the Trinity River in the far north coast, and the Colorado River on the southeast border with Arizona.