California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is the most populous state in the country and has a diverse and vibrant culture. Known for its stunning natural landscapes, technological innovation, and entertainment industry, California holds a prominent place in the global imagination.
The state's geography is incredibly diverse, ranging from the Pacific coastline to vast mountain ranges, fertile valleys, and expansive deserts. California is home to iconic landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles, and the beautiful beaches of San Diego.
Size and Position
California is located on the West Coast of the United States. It is bordered by Oregon to the north, Nevada and Arizona to the east, and the Mexican state of Baja California to the south. It also has a long coastline along the Pacific Ocean to the west.
In terms of size, California is the third-largest state in the United States, covering an area of approximately 163,696 square miles (423,970 square kilometers). It stretches about 770 miles (1,240 kilometers) from north to south and varies in width, spanning approximately 250 miles (400 kilometers) at its widest point
Landscape and Geography
The state's diverse geography includes a wide range of landscapes. It has rugged mountain ranges such as the Sierra Nevada and the Cascade Range, which include iconic peaks like Mount Whitney and Mount Shasta. California is also home to fertile valleys, including the Central Valley, known for its agricultural productivity. The state has deserts like the Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert, as well as beautiful coastal areas and beach cities along the Pacific Coast.
California People and Population
California has the largest population of any state in the U.S. which includes a large immigrant community and is made up of many different ethnicities, such as Hispanics, Asians, African Americans, and Native Americans.
Per the 2022 Census, in California, the larger portions of the population are showing to be under 18 with 21.8% of the population or 65 and over at 16.9%. The average age in Indiana is 40 years.
The gender in Indiana is pretty evenly split with 50.1% reporting as identifying male and 49.9% reporting as identifying female.
California is relatively racially/ethnically diverse with a majority of Caucasian (70.7%), followed by the Latino/Hispanic population (40.3%), and an Asian population (16.3%).
Religion in California has a majority of Christian affiliations with 63% of the population identifying as a subgroup under Christianity. 27% of the population reported being Unaffiliated or a “religious none.” 9% of the reporting population identified with non-Christian faiths such as Judaism and Islam.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2022 American Community Survey, the median household income in California was around $84,097.
California currently ranks #38 in the United States for K-12 education with an 84.3% graduation rate for high school.
California’s higher education ranks first in the country with Stanford University in Stanford, California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, and the University of California State University, Berkley in Berkley as the top-ranking universities in the state. There are a total of 48 colleges and universities in New Jersey.
California has been a major entry point for immigrants coming to the United States, particularly through its ports and the U.S.-Mexico border. Immigrants have arrived in California from various countries, including Mexico, China, the Philippines, Vietnam, India, and many others.
California has several major population centers that are home to large numbers of residents. These population centers are spread across the state and vary in terms of size, economic significance, and cultural influence. Here are some of the notable population centers in California:
California’s state government structure follows a republican form of government, similar to the rest of the United States. The government of California operates under a framework outlined in its state constitution.
There are three branches of government in California: the Executive, the Legislative, and the Judicial. The Executive Branch holds the offices of the governor, lieutenant governor, and other offices such as the Secretary of State, Attorney General, and others.
The Legislative Branch, also known as the California State Legislature, is a bicameral body consisting of two houses: the California State Senate and the California State Assembly. The State Senate has 40 members, each representing a district, and the State Assembly has 80 members, each representing a district. Legislators are elected by the citizens of California. The Legislature is responsible for making and passing laws, approving the state budget, and conducting legislative oversight.
California has a system of local government that includes counties, cities, towns, and special districts. Each local government has its own elected officials and governing bodies responsible for local administration, services, and policymaking.
Political trends in California have been shaped by various factors, including the state's diverse population, progressive values, and influential industries. California has been known as a stronghold for the Democratic Party and consistently leans Democratic in statewide elections. California lawmakers have been at the forefront of implementing progressive policies on various issues such as environmental protection, climate change, LBGTQ+ rights, public health care access, and criminal justice reform.
California's economy is the largest in the U.S. and the fifth largest in the world. It has a diverse and vibrant economic base encompassing agriculture, technology, entertainment, finance, aerospace, tourism, manufacturing, construction, and retail. California is home to major corporations such as Apple Inc., Google LLC., Disney Enterprises Inc., Wells Fargo & Co., Chevron Corporation, and more.
Oil and gas are huge extraction industries for California. The Golden State produces 463,000 barrels of oil a day and consumes 1.8 million barrels.
Gold was found in California in 1848, but the state no longer depends on that industry to create revenue. Many locals from the Sacramento area like to take part in recreational gold mining.
Arts and Entertainment
California is also home to some of the world’s best entertainment and technology companies. Hollywood movies, television shows, and music are all produced in California.
The state offers a diverse range of attractions, including natural wonders, iconic landmarks, vibrant cities, cultural sites, and recreational opportunities. California offers natural beauty, iconic landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, as well as cable cars! San Diego County offers beautiful beaches and family-friendly attractions like the San Diego Zoo.
The National Park Service (nps.gov) is an excellent resource to find a park that suits you and your family out of California’s 280 state parks!
California has loads of social media-worthy photo opportunities at places like Joshua Tree National Park, the Boardwalk, and any of the wineries.
Agriculture & Wildfires
California has a thriving agricultural industry that contributes significantly to the state's economy. The state is a major producer of a wide range of agricultural products, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, dairy products, and wine. California's Central Valley, with its fertile soil and favorable climate, is known as the "breadbasket" of the nation. However, agriculture in California faces challenges related to water availability, droughts, and environmental sustainability. The state's water resources are heavily relied upon for irrigation, and the demand for water often leads to conflicts between agricultural needs and other sectors, as well as concerns over water scarcity and ecosystem health. Efforts to promote sustainable farming practices, water conservation, and balancing competing water demands are ongoing.
California is prone to wildfires, especially during the dry and hot summer months. The state's Mediterranean climate, combined with factors like drought, strong winds, and a buildup of vegetation, creates conditions that can contribute to the occurrence and severity of wildfires.
Agriculture and wildfires are interconnected, as fires can impact agricultural lands, crops, livestock, and infrastructure. Managing the risks associated with wildfires while supporting a sustainable and resilient agricultural sector remains an ongoing challenge for California.
Several state agencies work to regulate water, food and agriculture, and environmental statuses throughout the year.
Wealth and Poverty
As of 2022, the poverty rate in California is 11.7% and the rate of extreme poverty is 6%. 10.2% of Californians are experiencing food insecurity and almost 28% of the population are working under the poverty line due to the moderate percentage of low-wage jobs. 7.7% of Californians are uninsured.
Though 45% of California rent their homes, the property tax rate is relatively low in comparison to other states. The home foreclosure rates are at 0.34% and 161,548 people are experiencing homelessness.
In terms of health care, 8.2% of Californians are uninsured. 37.2% are receiving Medicaid, Medicare, or CHIP.
California Interesting Facts
California is one of the most fascinating states in the U.S., including the following interesting tidbits.
Did you know?
California is bigger than Canada in terms of population size.
Almonds are California’s top export.
With nearly 20,000 sq mi of land, San Bernardino County is the largest county in the U.S.
During the Great Depression, San Francisco successfully survived the worldwide recession. None of its banks went bankrupt during this time.
California experiences over 100,000 earthquakes per year!
These, and many more, can be found on the state website's homepage!
California's cuisine is renowned for its diversity and fusion of culinary traditions from around the world. The state's multicultural population, fertile agricultural lands, and coastal access contribute to a vibrant and innovative food scene. Some key aspects of California’s cuisine are: fresh and local ingredients are a necessity; a farm-to-table movement; fusion and global influences; fresh seafood; healthy and light options; Mexican influence; and wine and craft beers.
Californian history is rich and varied, from the native Ohlone tribes of the San Francisco Bay area to the Spanish settlers who arrived in the late 18th century. It is one of only two states that were admitted into the union during a period of great expansion (the other being Texas).
California was home to a large number of distinct Native American tribes and groups, each with its own unique languages, customs, and traditions. Some of the major Native American tribes and groups in California included the Ohlone, Miwok, Pomo, Chumash, Wintu, Yokuts, Hupa, and many others. These indigenous communities had complex social structures, subsistence practices, and spiritual beliefs. They relied on a combination of hunting, fishing, gathering, and agriculture for their sustenance.
California has a broad and diverse colonial history. Under the Spanish Colonial history beginning in 1769. Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, and his party first arrived in California in 1542; however, there was no permanent settlement established until 1769 at the Mission San Diego de Alcala. Spanish settlers developed a mission system with presidios and pueblos.
In 1821, Mexico gained independence from Spain, and California became a part of the newly independent Mexico. Though this was short-lived, in 1848, California became part of the Union. In 1848, gold was discovered in California which led to the California Gold Rush. This led to a surge of migrant settlers and prospectors seeking the fortunes that awaited them. California was admitted to the Union as the 31st state in 1850 and entered the Union as a fee state.
Pre-Civil War History
Though the state saw a rise in their population, when California entered the Civil War, there were not a lot of people ready to mobilize. The state did raise and send several regiments of volunteer soldiers to support the Union cause.
California’s gold rush provided a significant source of revenue for the federal government. The state also helped secure the Western territory and was able to prevent the spread of the Confederacy.
Urban centers in California grew quickly in the post-Civil War period. San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego experienced a great population boom and developed rapidly. It is important to note that there was a significant influx of Chinese immigrants to California, in search of better economic opportunity. While their contributions were many, so was the discrimination, prejudice, and anti-Chinese sentiments that ultimately led to discriminatory laws, violence, and social exclusion.
California, with it’s great diversity, became a foreground for the Civil Rights Movement.
Activists fought for racial equality, desegregation, and voting rights. The state witnessed significant activism and milestones, including the formation of the Black Panther Party in Oakland and influential figures such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez advocating for labor rights and farmworker rights.
In more recent history, California Governor Newsom ended the COVID-19 State of Emergency last year. The pandemic impacted the whole world, but in May 2020, 13,060 people in the Bay Area had been confirmed as having the coronavirus. During the pandemic, the California Department of Health worked tirelessly to monitor and survey the populations, provide guidance and regulations, provide testing and contact tracing, manage the vaccine rollout, and develop public health messaging and education opportunities.
People Also Ask...
That’s everything you need to know about California, but how well do you know the other U.S. states and their histories? For the ultimate test, try out this challenge in which you answer questions about characteristics of the state: Infoplease's U.S. States Quiz.
What is California known for?
California, often referred to as the "Golden State," is known for a variety of attractions and landmarks. This includes its stunning Pacific coastline, the glamorous Hollywood film industry, technological hub Silicon Valley, and renowned national parks like Yosemite and Joshua Tree. It's also famous for its agriculture, producing more than a third of the country's vegetables and two-thirds of the country's fruits and nuts.
When was California admitted to the Union?
California was admitted as the 31st state of the United States on September 9, 1850.
What is the capital of California?
The capital city of California is Sacramento.
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Selected famous natives and residents:
- Gertrude Atherton author;
- David Belasco playwright and producer;
- Shirley Temple Black actress, ambassador;
- Dave Brubeck musician;
- Luther Burbank horticulturalist;
- Julia Child chef;
- Joe DiMaggio baseball player;
- James H. Doolittle air force general;
- Isadora Duncan dancer;
- John FrÃ©mont explorer;
- Robert Frost poet;
- Henry George economist;
- Richard â€œPanchoâ€ Gonzales tennis player;
- George E. Hale astronomer;
- Bret Harte writer;
- William Randolph Hearst publisher;
- Sidney Howard playwright;
- Collis Potter Huntington financier;
- Helen Hunt Jackson writer;
- Robinson Jeffers poet;
- Anthony M. Kennedy jurist;
- Jack London author;
- James W. Marshall first discovered gold;
- Aimee Semple McPherson evangelist;
- Marilyn Monroe actress;
- John Muir naturalist;
- Richard M. Nixon president;
- Isamu Noguchi sculptor;
- Frank Norris novelist;
- Kathleen Norris novelist;
- George S. Patton, Jr. general;
- Robert Redford actor;
- Sally K. Ride astronaut;
- William Saroyan author;
- JunÃpero Serra missionary;
- Upton Sinclair novelist;
- Leland Stanford railroad magnate;
- Lincoln Steffens journalist, author;
- John Steinbeck author;
- Adlai Stevenson statesman;
- Johann Sutter pioneer;
- Amy Tan author;
- Michael Tilson Thomas conductor;
- Earl Warren jurist;
- Serena Williams tennis player;
- Venus Williams tennis player;
- Tiger Woods golfer.