California

California

Overview
California is a state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 located on the West Coast
West Coast of the United States
West Coast or Pacific Coast are terms for the westernmost coastal states of the United States. The term most often refers to the states of California, Oregon, and Washington. Although not part of the contiguous United States, Alaska and Hawaii do border the Pacific Ocean but can't be included in...

 of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area (after Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

 and Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

). It is home to the nation's second- and sixth-largest census statistical areas (Los Angeles Metropolitan Area
Los Angeles Metropolitan Area
The Los Angeles metropolitan area, also known as Metropolitan Los Angeles or the Southland, is the 13th largest metropolitan area in the world and the second-largest metropolitan area in the United States....

 and San Francisco Bay Area
San Francisco Bay Area
The San Francisco Bay Area, commonly known as the Bay Area, is a populated region that surrounds the San Francisco and San Pablo estuaries in Northern California. The region encompasses metropolitan areas of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose, along with smaller urban and rural areas...

), and eight of the nation's fifty most populated cities (Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

, San Diego, San Jose
San Jose, California
San Jose is the third-largest city in California, the tenth-largest in the U.S., and the county seat of Santa Clara County which is located at the southern end of San Francisco Bay...

, San Francisco, Fresno
Fresno, California
Fresno is a city in central California, United States, the county seat of Fresno County. As of the 2010 census, the city's population was 510,365, making it the fifth largest city in California, the largest inland city in California, and the 34th largest in the nation...

, Sacramento
Sacramento, California
Sacramento is the capital city of the U.S. state of California and the county seat of Sacramento County. It is located at the confluence of the Sacramento River and the American River in the northern portion of California's expansive Central Valley. With a population of 466,488 at the 2010 census,...

, Long Beach
Long Beach, California
Long Beach is a city situated in Los Angeles County in Southern California, on the Pacific coast of the United States. The city is the 36th-largest city in the nation and the seventh-largest in California. As of 2010, its population was 462,257...

 and Oakland
Oakland, California
Oakland is a major West Coast port city on San Francisco Bay in the U.S. state of California. It is the eighth-largest city in the state with a 2010 population of 390,724...

).
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Timeline

1542   Navigator João Rodrigues Cabrilho of Portugal arrives at what is now San Diego, California, United States.

1579   Sir Francis Drake claims a land he calls ''Nova Albion'' (modern California) for England.

1769   An expedition led by Gaspar de Portolà establishes a base in California and sets out to find the Port of Monterey (now Monterey, California).

1769   Father Junipero Serra founds California's first mission, Mission San Diego de Alcalá. Over the following decades, it evolves into the city of San Diego.

1846   The Donner Party of pioneers departs Springfield, Illinois, for California, on what will become a year-long journey of hardship, cannibalism, and survival.

1846   Mexican-American War: American troops occupy Monterey and Yerba Buena, thus beginning the U.S. conquest of California.

1847   The Treaty of Cahuenga ends the Mexican-American War in California.

1847   John C. Fremont is appointed Governor of the new California Territory.

1847   Yerba Buena, California is renamed San Francisco.

1848   Mexican-American War: Mexico ratifies the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo thus ending the war and ceding California, Nevada, Utah and parts of four other modern-day U.S. states to the United States for $15 million USD.

 
Encyclopedia
California is a state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 located on the West Coast
West Coast of the United States
West Coast or Pacific Coast are terms for the westernmost coastal states of the United States. The term most often refers to the states of California, Oregon, and Washington. Although not part of the contiguous United States, Alaska and Hawaii do border the Pacific Ocean but can't be included in...

 of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area (after Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

 and Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

). It is home to the nation's second- and sixth-largest census statistical areas (Los Angeles Metropolitan Area
Los Angeles Metropolitan Area
The Los Angeles metropolitan area, also known as Metropolitan Los Angeles or the Southland, is the 13th largest metropolitan area in the world and the second-largest metropolitan area in the United States....

 and San Francisco Bay Area
San Francisco Bay Area
The San Francisco Bay Area, commonly known as the Bay Area, is a populated region that surrounds the San Francisco and San Pablo estuaries in Northern California. The region encompasses metropolitan areas of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose, along with smaller urban and rural areas...

), and eight of the nation's fifty most populated cities (Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

, San Diego, San Jose
San Jose, California
San Jose is the third-largest city in California, the tenth-largest in the U.S., and the county seat of Santa Clara County which is located at the southern end of San Francisco Bay...

, San Francisco, Fresno
Fresno, California
Fresno is a city in central California, United States, the county seat of Fresno County. As of the 2010 census, the city's population was 510,365, making it the fifth largest city in California, the largest inland city in California, and the 34th largest in the nation...

, Sacramento
Sacramento, California
Sacramento is the capital city of the U.S. state of California and the county seat of Sacramento County. It is located at the confluence of the Sacramento River and the American River in the northern portion of California's expansive Central Valley. With a population of 466,488 at the 2010 census,...

, Long Beach
Long Beach, California
Long Beach is a city situated in Los Angeles County in Southern California, on the Pacific coast of the United States. The city is the 36th-largest city in the nation and the seventh-largest in California. As of 2010, its population was 462,257...

 and Oakland
Oakland, California
Oakland is a major West Coast port city on San Francisco Bay in the U.S. state of California. It is the eighth-largest city in the state with a 2010 population of 390,724...

). The capital city is Sacramento.

California's diverse geography ranges from the Pacific Coast
West Coast of the United States
West Coast or Pacific Coast are terms for the westernmost coastal states of the United States. The term most often refers to the states of California, Oregon, and Washington. Although not part of the contiguous United States, Alaska and Hawaii do border the Pacific Ocean but can't be included in...

 in the west, to the Sierra Nevada mountains in the east—from the Redwood–Douglas-fir
Douglas-fir
Douglas-fir is one of the English common names for evergreen coniferous trees of the genus Pseudotsuga in the family Pinaceae. Other common names include Douglas tree, and Oregon pine. There are five species, two in western North America, one in Mexico, and two in eastern Asia...

 forests of the northwest, to the Mojave Desert
Mojave Desert
The Mojave Desert occupies a significant portion of southeastern California and smaller parts of central California, southern Nevada, southwestern Utah and northwestern Arizona, in the United States...

 areas in the southeast. The center of the state is dominated by Central Valley
California Central Valley
California's Central Valley is a large, flat valley that dominates the central portion of California. It is home to California's most productive agricultural efforts. The valley stretches approximately from northwest to southeast inland and parallel to the Pacific Ocean coast. Its northern half is...

, a major agricultural area. California contains both the highest and lowest points in the contiguous United States
Contiguous United States
The contiguous United States are the 48 U.S. states on the continent of North America that are south of Canada and north of Mexico, plus the District of Columbia....

 (Mount Whitney
Mount Whitney
Mount Whitney is the highest summit in the contiguous United States with an elevation of . It is on the boundary between California's Inyo and Tulare counties, west-northwest of the lowest point in North America at Badwater in Death Valley National Park...

 and Death Valley
Death Valley
Death Valley is a desert valley located in Eastern California. Situated within the Mojave Desert, it features the lowest, driest, and hottest locations in North America. Badwater, a basin located in Death Valley, is the specific location of the lowest elevation in North America at 282 feet below...

), and has the third-longest coastline of all states (after Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

 and Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

). Earthquakes are a common occurrence due to the state's location along the Pacific Ring of Fire
Pacific Ring of Fire
The Pacific Ring of Fire is an area where large numbers of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur in the basin of the Pacific Ocean. In a horseshoe shape, it is associated with a nearly continuous series of oceanic trenches, volcanic arcs, and volcanic belts and/or plate movements...

: about 37,000 are recorded annually.

The name California once referred to a large area of North America claimed by Spain that included much of modern-day Southwestern United States
Southwestern United States
The Southwestern United States is a region defined in different ways by different sources. Broad definitions include nearly a quarter of the United States, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah...

 and the Baja California peninsula
Baja California Peninsula
The Baja California peninsula , is a peninsula in northwestern Mexico. Its land mass separates the Pacific Ocean from the Gulf of California. The Peninsula extends from Mexicali, Baja California in the north to Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur in the south.The total area of the Baja California...

. Beginning in the late 18th century, the area known as Alta California
Alta California
Alta California was a province and territory in the Viceroyalty of New Spain and later a territory and department in independent Mexico. The territory was created in 1769 out of the northern part of the former province of Las Californias, and consisted of the modern American states of California,...

, comprising the California territory north of the Baja Peninsula, was colonized by the Spanish Empire
Spanish Empire
The Spanish Empire comprised territories and colonies administered directly by Spain in Europe, in America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. It originated during the Age of Exploration and was therefore one of the first global empires. At the time of Habsburgs, Spain reached the peak of its world power....

 as part of New Spain
New Spain
New Spain, formally called the Viceroyalty of New Spain , was a viceroyalty of the Spanish colonial empire, comprising primarily territories in what was known then as 'América Septentrional' or North America. Its capital was Mexico City, formerly Tenochtitlan, capital of the Aztec Empire...

. In 1821, Alta California became a part of Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 following its successful war for independence. Shortly after the beginning of the Mexican-American War in 1846, a group of American settlers in Sonoma
Sonoma, California
Sonoma is a historically significant city in Sonoma Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA, surrounding its historic town plaza, a remnant of the town's Mexican colonial past. It was the capital of the short-lived California Republic...

 declared an independent California Republic
California Republic
The California Republic, also called the Bear Flag Republic, is the name used for a period of revolt against Mexico initially proclaimed by a handful of American settlers in Mexican California on June 14, 1846, in Sonoma. This was shortly before news of the Mexican–American War had reached the area...

 in Alta California. Though its existence was short-lived, its flag became the precursor for California's current state flag. American victory in the war led to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo is the peace treaty, largely dictated by the United States to the interim government of a militarily occupied Mexico City, that ended the Mexican-American War on February 2, 1848...

, in which Mexico ceded Alta California to the United States. Western areas of Alta California became the state of California, which was admitted as the 31st state on September 9, 1850.

The California Gold Rush
California Gold Rush
The California Gold Rush began on January 24, 1848, when gold was found by James W. Marshall at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California. The first to hear confirmed information of the gold rush were the people in Oregon, the Sandwich Islands , and Latin America, who were the first to start flocking to...

 beginning in 1848 led to dramatic social and demographic change, with large scale immigration from the U.S. and abroad and an accompanying economic boom. Key developments in the early 20th century included the emergence of Los Angeles as the center of the American entertainment industry, and the growth of a large, state-wide tourism
Tourism
Tourism is travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. The World Tourism Organization defines tourists as people "traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes".Tourism has become a...

 sector. The late 20th century saw the development of the technology
Technology
Technology is the making, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems or methods of organization in order to solve a problem or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, machinery, and procedures. The word technology comes ;...

 and information
Information
Information in its most restricted technical sense is a message or collection of messages that consists of an ordered sequence of symbols, or it is the meaning that can be interpreted from such a message or collection of messages. Information can be recorded or transmitted. It can be recorded as...

 sectors, punctuated by the growth of Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley is a term which refers to the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area in Northern California in the United States. The region is home to many of the world's largest technology corporations...

. In addition to California's prosperous agricultural industry
Industry
Industry refers to the production of an economic good or service within an economy.-Industrial sectors:There are four key industrial economic sectors: the primary sector, largely raw material extraction industries such as mining and farming; the secondary sector, involving refining, construction,...

, other important contributors to its economy include aerospace
Aerospace
Aerospace comprises the atmosphere of Earth and surrounding space. Typically the term is used to refer to the industry that researches, designs, manufactures, operates, and maintains vehicles moving through air and space...

, education
Education
Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts...

, and manufacturing
Manufacturing
Manufacturing is the use of machines, tools and labor to produce goods for use or sale. The term may refer to a range of human activity, from handicraft to high tech, but is most commonly applied to industrial production, in which raw materials are transformed into finished goods on a large scale...

. If California were a country, it would be the eighth-largest economy in the world
Comparison between U.S. states and countries nominal GDP
This is a comparison between US states and countries' nominal Gross Domestic Product. Many of the states of the United States have large Gross Domestic Product which would rank highly on a list of countries world GDP...

 and the 35th most populous nation. At least half of the fresh fruit produced in the United States are cultivated in California, and it also leads in the production of vegetables.

Etymology



The word California originally referred to the entire region composed of what is today the U.S. state of California, plus all or parts of Nevada
Nevada
Nevada is a state in the western, mountain west, and southwestern regions of the United States. With an area of and a population of about 2.7 million, it is the 7th-largest and 35th-most populous state. Over two-thirds of Nevada's people live in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, which contains its...

, Utah
Utah
Utah is a state in the Western United States. It was the 45th state to join the Union, on January 4, 1896. Approximately 80% of Utah's 2,763,885 people live along the Wasatch Front, centering on Salt Lake City. This leaves vast expanses of the state nearly uninhabited, making the population the...

, Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

, and Wyoming
Wyoming
Wyoming is a state in the mountain region of the Western United States. The western two thirds of the state is covered mostly with the mountain ranges and rangelands in the foothills of the Eastern Rocky Mountains, while the eastern third of the state is high elevation prairie known as the High...

, and the Baja California peninsula
Baja California Peninsula
The Baja California peninsula , is a peninsula in northwestern Mexico. Its land mass separates the Pacific Ocean from the Gulf of California. The Peninsula extends from Mexicali, Baja California in the north to Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur in the south.The total area of the Baja California...

 of Mexico.

The name California is most commonly believed to have derived from a fictional paradise peopled by Black
Black people
The term black people is used in systems of racial classification for humans of a dark skinned phenotype, relative to other racial groups.Different societies apply different criteria regarding who is classified as "black", and often social variables such as class, socio-economic status also plays a...

 Amazons
Amazons
The Amazons are a nation of all-female warriors in Greek mythology and Classical antiquity. Herodotus placed them in a region bordering Scythia in Sarmatia...

 and ruled by Queen Calafia. The story of Calafia is recorded in a 1510 work The Exploits of Esplandian
Las sergas de Esplandián
Las Sergas de Esplandián is the fifth book in a series of Spanish chivalric romance novels by Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo, which began with Amadís de Gaula. The first known edition of this work was published in Seville in July 1510...

, written as a sequel to Amadis de Gaula
Amadis de Gaula
Amadis de Gaula is a landmark work among the knight-errantry tales which were in vogue in 16th century Iberian Peninsula, and formed the earliest reading of many Renaissance and Baroque writers, although it was written at the onset of the 14th century.The first known printed edition was published...

by Spanish adventure writer Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo
Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo
Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo was a Spanish author who arranged the modern version of the chivalric romance Amadis of Gaul, written in three books in the 14th century by an unknown author...

. The kingdom of Queen Calafia, according to Montalvo, was said to be a remote land inhabited by griffin
Griffin
The griffin, griffon, or gryphon is a legendary creature with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle...

s and other strange beasts, and rich in gold.
Know ye that at the right hand of the Indies there is an island called California, very close to that part of the Terrestrial Paradise, which was inhabited by black women without a single man among them, and they lived in the manner of Amazons. They were robust of body with strong passionate hearts and great virtue. The island itself is one of the wildest in the world on account of the bold and craggy rocks.


The name California is the fifth-oldest surviving European place-name in the U.S. and was applied to what is now the southern tip of Baja California peninsula as the island of California
Island of California
The Island of California refers to a long-held European misconception, dating from the 16th century, that California was not part of mainland North America but rather a large island separated from the continent by a strait now known instead as the Gulf of California.One of the most famous...

by a Spanish expedition led by Diego de Becerra and Fortún Ximénez
Fortún Ximénez
Fortún Ximénez was Spanish sailor who led a mutiny during an early expedition along the coast of Mexico and is the first European known to have landed in Baja California....

, who landed there in 1533 at the behest of Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro, 1st Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca was a Spanish Conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile in the early 16th century...

.

Geography




California adjoins the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 to the west, Oregon
Oregon
Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern...

 to the north, Nevada
Nevada
Nevada is a state in the western, mountain west, and southwestern regions of the United States. With an area of and a population of about 2.7 million, it is the 7th-largest and 35th-most populous state. Over two-thirds of Nevada's people live in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, which contains its...

 and Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

 to the east, and the Mexican
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 state of Baja California
Baja California
Baja California officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Baja California is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is both the northernmost and westernmost state of Mexico. Before becoming a state in 1953, the area was known as the North...

 to the south. With an area of 160000 square miles (414,398.1 km²), it is the third-largest state in the United States in size, after Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

 and Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

. If it were a country, California would be the 59th-largest in the world in area.

In the middle of the state lies the California Central Valley
California Central Valley
California's Central Valley is a large, flat valley that dominates the central portion of California. It is home to California's most productive agricultural efforts. The valley stretches approximately from northwest to southeast inland and parallel to the Pacific Ocean coast. Its northern half is...

, bounded by the coastal mountain ranges
Pacific Coast Ranges
The Pacific Coast Ranges and the Pacific Mountain System are the series of mountain ranges that stretch along the West Coast of North America from Alaska south to Northern and Central Mexico...

 in the west, the Sierra Nevada to the east, the Cascade Range
Cascade Range
The Cascade Range is a major mountain range of western North America, extending from southern British Columbia through Washington and Oregon to Northern California. It includes both non-volcanic mountains, such as the North Cascades, and the notable volcanoes known as the High Cascades...

 in the north and the Tehachapi Mountains
Tehachapi Mountains
The Tehachapi Mountains , regionally also called The Tehachapis, are a mountain range in the Transverse Ranges system of California in the Western United States...

 in the south. The Central Valley is California's agricultural heartland and grows approximately one-third of the nation's food.

Divided in two by the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the northern portion, the Sacramento Valley
Sacramento Valley
The Sacramento Valley is the portion of the California Central Valley that lies to the north of the San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta in the U.S. state of California. It encompasses all or parts of ten counties.-Geography:...

 serves as the watershed of the Sacramento River
Sacramento River
The Sacramento River is an important watercourse of Northern and Central California in the United States. The largest river in California, it rises on the eastern slopes of the Klamath Mountains, and after a journey south of over , empties into Suisun Bay, an arm of the San Francisco Bay, and...

, while the southern portion, the San Joaquin Valley
San Joaquin Valley
The San Joaquin Valley is the area of the Central Valley of California that lies south of the Sacramento – San Joaquin River Delta in Stockton...

 is the watershed for the San Joaquin River
San Joaquin River
The San Joaquin River is the largest river of Central California in the United States. At over long, the river starts in the high Sierra Nevada, and flows through a rich agricultural region known as the San Joaquin Valley before reaching Suisun Bay, San Francisco Bay, and the Pacific Ocean...

; both areas derive their names from the rivers that transit them. With dredging, the Sacramento and the San Joaquin Rivers have remained sufficiently deep that several inland cities are seaports.

The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta serves as a critical water supply hub for the state. Water is routed through an extensive network of canals and pumps out of the delta, that traverse nearly the length of the state, including the Central Valley Project and the State Water Project. Water from the Delta provides drinking water for nearly 23 million people, almost two-thirds of the state's population, and provides water to farmers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. The Channel Islands
Channel Islands of California
The Channel Islands of California are a chain of eight islands located in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Southern California along the Santa Barbara Channel in the United States of America...

 are located off the southern
Southern California
Southern California is a megaregion, or megapolitan area, in the southern area of the U.S. state of California. Large urban areas include Greater Los Angeles and Greater San Diego. The urban area stretches along the coast from Ventura through the Southland and Inland Empire to San Diego...

 coast.

The Sierra Nevada (Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

 for "snowy range") includes the highest peak in the contiguous forty-eight states
Contiguous United States
The contiguous United States are the 48 U.S. states on the continent of North America that are south of Canada and north of Mexico, plus the District of Columbia....

, Mount Whitney
Mount Whitney
Mount Whitney is the highest summit in the contiguous United States with an elevation of . It is on the boundary between California's Inyo and Tulare counties, west-northwest of the lowest point in North America at Badwater in Death Valley National Park...

, at 14,505 ft (4421 m). The range embraces Yosemite Valley
Yosemite Valley
Yosemite Valley is a glacial valley in Yosemite National Park in the western Sierra Nevada mountains of California, carved out by the Merced River. The valley is about long and up to a mile deep, surrounded by high granite summits such as Half Dome and El Capitan, and densely forested with pines...

, famous for its glacially carved domes, and Sequoia National Park
Sequoia National Park
Sequoia National Park is a national park in the southern Sierra Nevada east of Visalia, California, in the United States. It was established on September 25, 1890. The park spans . Encompassing a vertical relief of nearly , the park contains among its natural resources the highest point in the...

, home to the giant sequoia
Sequoiadendron
Sequoiadendron giganteum is the sole living species in the genus Sequoiadendron, and one of three species of coniferous trees known as redwoods, classified in the family Cupressaceae in the subfamily Sequoioideae, together with Sequoia sempervirens and...

 trees, the largest living organisms on Earth, and the deep freshwater lake, Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe is a large freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada of the United States. At a surface elevation of , it is located along the border between California and Nevada, west of Carson City. Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America. Its depth is , making it the USA's second-deepest...

, the largest lake in the state by volume.

To the east of the Sierra Nevada are Owens Valley
Owens Valley
Owens Valley is the arid valley of the Owens River in eastern California in the United States, to the east of the Sierra Nevada and west of the White Mountains and Inyo Mountains on the west edge of the Great Basin section...

 and Mono Lake
Mono Lake
Mono Lake is a large, shallow saline lake in Mono County, California, formed at least 760,000 years ago as a terminal lake in a basin that has no outlet to the ocean...

, an essential migratory bird
Bird migration
Bird migration is the regular seasonal journey undertaken by many species of birds. Bird movements include those made in response to changes in food availability, habitat or weather. Sometimes, journeys are not termed "true migration" because they are irregular or in only one direction...

 habitat. In the western part of the state is Clear Lake, the largest freshwater lake by area entirely in California. Though Lake Tahoe is larger, it is divided by the California/Nevada border. The Sierra Nevada falls to Arctic temperatures in winter and has several dozen small glaciers, including Palisade Glacier, the southernmost glacier in the United States.

About 45 percent of the state's total surface area is covered by forests, and California's diversity of pine species is unmatched by any other state. California contains more forestland than any other state except Alaska. Many of the trees in the California White Mountains
White Mountains (California)
The White Mountains of California are a triangular fault block mountain range facing the Sierra Nevada across the upper Owens Valley. They extend for approximately as a greatly elevated plateau about wide on the south, narrowing to a point at the north, with elevations generally increasing...

 are the oldest in the world; one Bristlecone pine
Bristlecone pine
The bristlecone pines are a small group of pine trees that are thought to reach an age far greater than that of any other single living organism known, up to nearly 5,000 years....

 has an age of 4,700 years.

In the south is a large inland salt lake, the Salton Sea
Salton Sea
The Salton Sea is a shallow, saline, endorheic rift lake located directly on the San Andreas Fault, predominantly in California's Imperial Valley. The lake occupies the lowest elevations of the Salton Sink in the Colorado Desert of Imperial and Riverside counties in Southern California. Like Death...

. The south-central desert is called the Mojave
Mojave Desert
The Mojave Desert occupies a significant portion of southeastern California and smaller parts of central California, southern Nevada, southwestern Utah and northwestern Arizona, in the United States...

; to the northeast of the Mojave lies Death Valley
Death Valley
Death Valley is a desert valley located in Eastern California. Situated within the Mojave Desert, it features the lowest, driest, and hottest locations in North America. Badwater, a basin located in Death Valley, is the specific location of the lowest elevation in North America at 282 feet below...

, which contains the lowest and hottest place in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, the Badwater Basin at −282 ft. The horizontal distance from the nadir of Death Valley to the summit of Mount Whitney is less than 90 miles (144.8 km). Indeed, almost all of southeastern California is arid, hot desert, with routine extreme high temperatures during the summer. The southeastern border of California with Arizona is entirely formed by the Colorado River
Colorado River
The Colorado River , is a river in the Southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, approximately long, draining a part of the arid regions on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains. The watershed of the Colorado River covers in parts of seven U.S. states and two Mexican states...

, from which the southern part of the state gets about half of its water.

Along the California coast are several major metropolitan areas, including Greater Los Angeles Area
Greater Los Angeles Area
The Greater Los Angeles Area, or the Southland, is a term used for the Combined Statistical Area sprawled over five counties in the southern part of California, namely Los Angeles County, Orange County, San Bernardino County, Riverside County and Ventura County...

, the San Francisco Bay Area
San Francisco Bay Area
The San Francisco Bay Area, commonly known as the Bay Area, is a populated region that surrounds the San Francisco and San Pablo estuaries in Northern California. The region encompasses metropolitan areas of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose, along with smaller urban and rural areas...

, and the San Diego metropolitan area
San Diego metropolitan area
The San Diego Metropolitan Area, also known as Greater San Diego and officially the San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos Metropolitan Statistical Area, is a metropolitan area on the United States Pacific Coast. The U.S. Census of the Bureau defines the San Diego metropolitan area as encompassing all of...

.

As part of the Ring of Fire
Pacific Ring of Fire
The Pacific Ring of Fire is an area where large numbers of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur in the basin of the Pacific Ocean. In a horseshoe shape, it is associated with a nearly continuous series of oceanic trenches, volcanic arcs, and volcanic belts and/or plate movements...

, California is subject to tsunami
Tsunami
A tsunami is a series of water waves caused by the displacement of a large volume of a body of water, typically an ocean or a large lake...

s, flood
Flood
A flood is an overflow of an expanse of water that submerges land. The EU Floods directive defines a flood as a temporary covering by water of land not normally covered by water...

s, drought
Drought
A drought is an extended period of months or years when a region notes a deficiency in its water supply. Generally, this occurs when a region receives consistently below average precipitation. It can have a substantial impact on the ecosystem and agriculture of the affected region...

s, Santa Ana winds, wildfire
Wildfire
A wildfire is any uncontrolled fire in combustible vegetation that occurs in the countryside or a wilderness area. Other names such as brush fire, bushfire, forest fire, desert fire, grass fire, hill fire, squirrel fire, vegetation fire, veldfire, and wilkjjofire may be used to describe the same...

s, landslide
Landslide
A landslide or landslip is a geological phenomenon which includes a wide range of ground movement, such as rockfalls, deep failure of slopes and shallow debris flows, which can occur in offshore, coastal and onshore environments...

s on steep terrain, and has several volcanoes. It sees numerous earthquakes due to several faults, in particular the San Andreas Fault
San Andreas Fault
The San Andreas Fault is a continental strike-slip fault that runs a length of roughly through California in the United States. The fault's motion is right-lateral strike-slip...

.

Climate


California's climate varies from Mediterranean
Mediterranean climate
A Mediterranean climate is the climate typical of most of the lands in the Mediterranean Basin, and is a particular variety of subtropical climate...

 to subarctic
Subarctic climate
The subarctic climate is a climate characterized by long, usually very cold winters, and short, cool to mild summers. It is found on large landmasses, away from the moderating effects of an ocean, generally at latitudes from 50° to 70°N poleward of the humid continental climates...

.

Much of the state has a Mediterranean climate
Mediterranean climate
A Mediterranean climate is the climate typical of most of the lands in the Mediterranean Basin, and is a particular variety of subtropical climate...

, with cool, rainy winters and dry summers. The cool California Current
California Current
The California Current is a Pacific Ocean current that moves south along the western coast of North America, beginning off southern British Columbia, and ending off southern Baja California. There are five major coastal currents affiliated with upwelling zones...

 offshore often creates summer fog
Fog
Fog is a collection of water droplets or ice crystals suspended in the air at or near the Earth's surface. While fog is a type of stratus cloud, the term "fog" is typically distinguished from the more generic term "cloud" in that fog is low-lying, and the moisture in the fog is often generated...

 near the coast. Further inland, one encounters colder winters and hotter summers.

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 a mountain climate with snow
Snow
Snow is a form of precipitation within the Earth's atmosphere in the form of crystalline water ice, consisting of a multitude of snowflakes that fall from clouds. Since snow is composed of small ice particles, it is a granular material. It has an open and therefore soft structure, unless packed by...

 in winter and mild to moderate heat in summer.

The east side of California's mountains produce a rain shadow
Rain shadow
A rain shadow is a dry area on the lee side of a mountainous area. The mountains block the passage of rain-producing weather systems, casting a "shadow" of dryness behind them. As shown by the diagram to the right, the warm moist air is "pulled" by the prevailing winds over a mountain...

, creating expansive desert
Desert
A desert is a landscape or region that receives an extremely low amount of precipitation, less than enough to support growth of most plants. Most deserts have an average annual precipitation of less than...

s. The higher elevation deserts of eastern California
Eastern California
Eastern California is a term that refers to the eastern region of California, United States. It can refer to either the strip to the east of the crest of the Sierra Nevada, or to the easternmost counties of California.-Culture and history:...

 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
Death Valley
Death Valley is a desert valley located in Eastern California. Situated within the Mojave Desert, it features the lowest, driest, and hottest locations in North America. Badwater, a basin located in Death Valley, is the specific location of the lowest elevation in North America at 282 feet below...

, a desert with large expanses below sea level
Sea level
Mean sea level is a measure of the average height of the ocean's surface ; used as a standard in reckoning land elevation...

, is considered the hottest location in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

; the highest temperature in the Western Hemisphere
Western Hemisphere
The Western Hemisphere or western hemisphere is mainly used as a geographical term for the half of the Earth that lies west of the Prime Meridian and east of the Antimeridian , the other half being called the Eastern Hemisphere.In this sense, the western hemisphere consists of the western portions...

, 134 °F (57 °C), was recorded there on July 10, 1913.

Ecology


California is one of the richest and most diverse parts of the world, and includes some of the most endangered ecological communities. California is part of the Nearctic ecozone and spans a number of terrestrial ecoregion
Ecoregion
An ecoregion , sometimes called a bioregion, is an ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than an ecozone and larger than an ecosystem. Ecoregions cover relatively large areas of land or water, and contain characteristic, geographically distinct assemblages of natural...

s.

California's large number of endemic
Endemic (ecology)
Endemism is the ecological state of being unique to a defined geographic location, such as an island, nation or other defined zone, or habitat type; organisms that are indigenous to a place are not endemic to it if they are also found elsewhere. For example, all species of lemur are endemic to the...

 species includes relict
Relict
A relict is a surviving remnant of a natural phenomenon.* In biology a relict is an organism that at an earlier time was abundant in a large area but now occurs at only one or a few small areas....

 species, which have died out elsewhere, such as the Catalina Ironwood (Lyonothamnus floribundus). Many other endemics originated through differentiation or adaptive radiation
Adaptive radiation
In evolutionary biology, adaptive radiation is the evolution of ecological and phenotypic diversity within a rapidly multiplying lineage. Starting with a recent single ancestor, this process results in the speciation and phenotypic adaptation of an array of species exhibiting different...

, whereby multiple species develop from a common ancestor to take advantage of diverse ecological conditions such as the California lilac (Ceanothus
Ceanothus
Ceanothus L. is a genus of about 50–60 species of shrubs or small trees in the buckthorn family Rhamnaceae. The genus is confined to North America, the center of its distribution in California, with some species in the eastern United States and southeast Canada, and others extending as far south...

). Many California endemics have become endangered, as urbanization
Urbanization
Urbanization, urbanisation or urban drift is the physical growth of urban areas as a result of global change. The United Nations projected that half of the world's population would live in urban areas at the end of 2008....

, logging
Logging
Logging is the cutting, skidding, on-site processing, and loading of trees or logs onto trucks.In forestry, the term logging is sometimes used in a narrow sense concerning the logistics of moving wood from the stump to somewhere outside the forest, usually a sawmill or a lumber yard...

, overgrazing
Overgrazing
Overgrazing occurs when plants are exposed to intensive grazing for extended periods of time, or without sufficient recovery periods. It can be caused by either livestock in poorly managed agricultural applications, or by overpopulations of native or non-native wild animals.Overgrazing reduces the...

, and the introduction of exotic species have encroached on their habitat.

Flora and fauna


California boasts several superlatives in its collection of flora: the largest trees, the tallest trees, and the oldest trees. California's native grasses are perennial plant
Perennial plant
A perennial plant or simply perennial is a plant that lives for more than two years. The term is often used to differentiate a plant from shorter lived annuals and biennials. The term is sometimes misused by commercial gardeners or horticulturalists to describe only herbaceous perennials...

s. After European contact, these were generally replaced by invasive species
Invasive species
"Invasive species", or invasive exotics, is a nomenclature term and categorization phrase used for flora and fauna, and for specific restoration-preservation processes in native habitats, with several definitions....

 of European annual grasses; and, in modern times, California's hills turn a characteristic golden-brown in summer.

Because California has the greatest diversity of climate and terrain, the state has six life zones which are the lower Sonoran (desert); upper Sonoran (foothill regions and some coastal lands), transition (coastal areas and moist northeastern counties); and the Canadian, Hudsonian, and Arctic Zones, comprising the state's highest elevations.

Plant life in the dry climate of the lower Sonoran zone contains a diversity of native cactus, mesquite, and paloverde. The Joshua tree
Joshua tree
Yucca brevifolia is a plant species belonging to the genus Yucca. It is tree-like in habit, which is reflected in its common names: Joshua tree, Yucca palm, Tree yucca, and Palm tree yucca....

 (Yucca brevifolia) is found in the Mojave Desert. Flowering plants include the dwarf desert poppy and a variety of asters. Fremont cottonwood and valley oak
Valley Oak
Quercus lobata, commonly called the Valley oak, grows into the largest of North American oaks. It is endemic to California, growing in the interior valleys and foothills. Mature specimens may attain an age of up to 600 years. This deciduous oak requires year-round access to groundwater.Its thick,...

 thrive in the Central Valley. The upper Sonoran zone includes the chaparral belt, characterized by forests of small shrubs, stunted trees, and herbaceous plants. Nemophila
Nemophila
Nemophila is a genus found in the flowering plant family Hydrophyllaceae.Most of the species in Nemophila contain the phrase "baby blue-eyes" in their common names. N. menziesii has the common name of "Baby blue-eyes". N. parviflora is called the "Smallflower baby blue-eyes" and N. spatulata is...

, mint
Lamiaceae
The mints, taxonomically known as Lamiaceae or Labiatae, are a family of flowering plants. They have traditionally been considered closely related to Verbenaceae, but in the 1990s, phylogenetic studies suggested that many genera classified in Verbenaceae belong instead in Lamiaceae...

, phacelia
Phacelia
Phacelia is a genus of about 200 species of annual or perennial herbaceous plants, native to North and South America....

, viola
Viola
The viola is a bowed string instrument. It is the middle voice of the violin family, between the violin and the cello.- Form :The viola is similar in material and construction to the violin. A full-size viola's body is between and longer than the body of a full-size violin , with an average...

, and the California poppy
California poppy
The California poppy is a perennial and annual plant, native to the United States, and the official state flower of California.- Description :...

 (Eschscholtzia californica)- the state flower- also flourish in this zone, along with the lupine, more species of which occur here than anywhere else in the world.

The transition zone includes most of California's forests with the redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) and the "big tree" or giant sequoia (Sequoia gigantea), among the oldest living things on earth (some are said to have lived at least 4,000 years). Tanbark oak, California laurel, Sugar Pine
Sugar Pine
Pinus lambertiana, commonly known as the sugar pine or sugar cone pine, is the tallest and most massive pine, with the longest cones of any conifer...

, madrona
Arbutus
Arbutus is a genus of at least 14 species of flowering plants in the family Ericaceae, native to warm temperate regions of the Mediterranean, western Europe, and North America.-Description:...

, broad-leaved maple, and Douglas-fir
Douglas-fir
Douglas-fir is one of the English common names for evergreen coniferous trees of the genus Pseudotsuga in the family Pinaceae. Other common names include Douglas tree, and Oregon pine. There are five species, two in western North America, one in Mexico, and two in eastern Asia...

 also grow here. Forest floors are covered with swordfern, alumnroot, barrenwort, and trillium
Trillium
Trillium is a genus of about 40–50 species of spring ephemeral perennials, native to temperate regions of North America and Asia....

, and there are tickets of huckleberry
Huckleberry
Huckleberry is a common name used in North America for several species of plants in two closely related genera in the family Ericaceae:* Vaccinium* GaylussaciaHuckleberry may also refer to:-Plants:...

, azalea
Azalea
Azaleas are flowering shrubs comprising two of the eight subgenera of the genus Rhododendron, Pentanthera and Tsutsuji . Azaleas bloom in spring, their flowers often lasting several weeks...

, elder, and wild currant. Characteristic wild flowers include varieties of mariposa, tulip
Tulip
The tulip is a perennial, bulbous plant with showy flowers in the genus Tulipa, which comprises 109 species and belongs to the family Liliaceae. The genus's native range extends from as far west as Southern Europe, North Africa, Anatolia, and Iran to the Northwest of China. The tulip's centre of...

, and tiger
Lilium columbianum
Lilium columbianum is a lily native to western North America. It is also known as the Columbia Lily or Tiger Lily .-Distribution:...

 and leopard lilies.

The high elevations of the Canadian zone allow the Jeffrey Pine
Jeffrey Pine
The Jeffrey Pine, Pinus jeffreyi, named in honor of its botanist documenter John Jeffrey, is a North American pine related to Ponderosa Pine.-Distribution and habitat:...

, red fir
Red Fir
Abies magnifica, the Red Fir or Silvertip fir, is a western North American fir, native to the mountains of southwest Oregon and California in the United States. It is a high altitude tree, typically occurring at altitude, though only rarely reaching tree line...

, and Lodgepole Pine
Lodgepole Pine
Lodgepole Pine, Pinus contorta, also known as Shore Pine, is a common tree in western North America. Like all pines, it is evergreen.-Subspecies:...

 to thrive. Brushy areas are abundant with dwarf manzanita
Manzanita
Manzanita is a common name for many species of the genus Arctostaphylos. They are evergreen shrubs or small trees present in the chaparral biome of western North America, where they occur from southern British Columbia, Washington to California, Arizona and New Mexico in the United States, and...

 and ceanothus
Ceanothus
Ceanothus L. is a genus of about 50–60 species of shrubs or small trees in the buckthorn family Rhamnaceae. The genus is confined to North America, the center of its distribution in California, with some species in the eastern United States and southeast Canada, and others extending as far south...

; the unique Sierra puffball is also found here. Right below the timeberline, in the Hudsonian zone, the whitebark, foxtail, and silver pines grow. At about 10,500 ft (3,200 m), begins the Arctic zone, a treeless region whose flora include a number of wildflowers, including Sierra primrose, yellow columbine, alpine buttercup, and alpine shooting star.

Common plants that have been introduced to the state include the eucalyptus
Eucalyptus
Eucalyptus is a diverse genus of flowering trees in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae. Members of the genus dominate the tree flora of Australia...

, acacia
Acacia
Acacia is a genus of shrubs and trees belonging to the subfamily Mimosoideae of the family Fabaceae, first described in Africa by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1773. Many non-Australian species tend to be thorny, whereas the majority of Australian acacias are not...

, pepper tree
Schinus
Schinus is a genus of flowering trees and tall shrubs in the sumac family, Anacardiaceae. Members of the genus are commonly known as pepper trees. The Peruvian Pepper Tree is the source of the spice known as pink peppercorns but can become serious invasive species outside their natural habitats...

, geranium, and Scotch broom. The species that are federally classified as endangered are the Contra Costa wallflower, Antioch Dunes evening primrose
Antioch Dunes Evening Primrose
Oenothera deltoides subsp. howellii, the Antioch Dunes Evening Primrose, is an endangered subspecies of plant in the family Onagraceae, genus Oenothera, and species Oenothera deltoides.-Description:...

, Solano Grass, San Clemente Island larkspur, salt marsh bird's beak, McDonald's rock-cress, and Santa Barbara Island Liveforever. , 85 plant species were listed as threatened or endangered.

In the deserts of the lower Sonoran zone, the mammals include the jackrabbit, kangaroo rat
Kangaroo rat
Kangaroo rats, genus Dipodomys, are small rodents native to North America. The common name derives from their bipedal form: as they hop in a manner similar to the much larger kangaroo, although they are not related...

, squirrel, and opossum. Common birds include the owl
Owl
Owls are a group of birds that belong to the order Strigiformes, constituting 200 bird of prey species. Most are solitary and nocturnal, with some exceptions . Owls hunt mostly small mammals, insects, and other birds, although a few species specialize in hunting fish...

, roadrunner
Roadrunner
Roadrunners are birds of the genus Geococcyx.Roadrunner or Road Runner may also refer to:* Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner, an animated character based on the bird** The Road Runner Show, compiled cartoons including the character...

, Cactus Wren
Cactus Wren
The Cactus Wren is a species of wren that is native to the southwestern United States southwards to central Mexico.-Description:...

, and various species of hawk. The area's reptilian life include the sidewinder viper, desert tortoise
Desert Tortoise
The desert tortoise is a species of tortoise native to the Mojave desert and Sonoran desert of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. They can be located in western Arizona, southeastern California, southern Nevada, and southwestern Utah. The species name agassizii is in honor of...

, and horned toad. The upper Sonoran zone boasts mammals such as the antelope
Antelope
Antelope is a term referring to many even-toed ungulate species indigenous to various regions in Africa and Eurasia. Antelopes comprise a miscellaneous group within the family Bovidae, encompassing those old-world species that are neither cattle, sheep, buffalo, bison, nor goats...

, brown-footed woodrat, and Ring-tailed Cat
Ring-tailed Cat
The ringtail is a mammal of the raccoon family , native to arid regions of North America. It is also known as the ringtail cat, ring-tailed cat or miner's cat, and is also sometimes mistakenly called a "civet cat"...

. Birds unique to this zone are the California thrasher
California Thrasher
The California Thrasher is a large thrasher found primarily in chaparral habitat in California and Baja California. Similar to the Crissal and Le Conte's Thrashers in habit, the California Thrasher is the only species of Toxostoma throughout most of its limited range...

, bush tit, and California Condor
California Condor
The California Condor is a New World vulture, the largest North American land bird. Currently, this condor inhabits only the Grand Canyon area, Zion National Park, and coastal mountains of central and southern California and northern Baja California...

.

In the transition zone, there are Colombian Black-tailed Deer
Black-tailed Deer
Two forms of black-tailed deer or blacktail deer occupying coastal temperate rainforest on North America's Pacific coast are subspecies of the mule deer. They have sometimes been treated as a species, but virtually all recent authorities maintain they are subspecies...

, black bear
American black bear
The American black bear is a medium-sized bear native to North America. It is the continent's smallest and most common bear species. Black bears are omnivores, with their diets varying greatly depending on season and location. They typically live in largely forested areas, but do leave forests in...

s, gray fox
Gray Fox
The gray fox is a mammal of the order Carnivora ranging throughout most of the southern half of North America from southern Canada to the northern part of South America...

es, cougars, bobcat
Bobcat
The bobcat is a North American mammal of the cat family Felidae, appearing during the Irvingtonian stage of around 1.8 million years ago . With twelve recognized subspecies, it ranges from southern Canada to northern Mexico, including most of the continental United States...

s, and Roosevelt elk
Roosevelt elk
The Roosevelt elk , also known as Olympic elk, is the largest of the four surviving subspecies of elk in North America...

. Reptiles such as the garter snakes and rattlesnakes inhabit the zone. In addition, amphibians such as the water puppy and redwood salamander are common too. Birds such as the kingfisher
Kingfisher
Kingfishers are a group of small to medium sized brightly coloured birds in the order Coraciiformes. They have a cosmopolitan distribution, with most species being found in the Old World and Australia...

, chickadee, towhee
Towhee
A towhee is any one of a number of species of birds in the genus Pipilo or Melozone within the family Emberizidae ....

, and hummingbird thrive here as well.

The Canadian zone mammals include the Mountain Weasel
Mountain Weasel
The mountain weasel , also known as the pale weasel, Altai weasel or solongoi, is a species of weasel that prefer to live in environments that are usually high in altitude as well as rocky tundra and grassy woodlands covered in green vegetation.They rest in rock crevices, tree trunks, and...

, Snowshoe Hare
Snowshoe Hare
The Snowshoe Hare , also called the Varying Hare, or Snowshoe Rabbit, is a species of hare found in North America. It has the name "snowshoe" because of the large size of its hind feet and the marks its tail leaves. The animal's feet prevent it from sinking into the snow when it hops and walks...

, Sierra chickadee, and several species of chipmunks. Conspicuous birds include the blue-fronted jay, Sierra hermit thrush, water ouzel, and Townsend solitaire. As one ascends into the Hudsonian zone, birds become scarcer. While the Sierra rosy finch is the only bird native to the high Arctic region, other bird species such as the hummingbird and Clark's Nutcracker
Clark's Nutcracker
Clark's Nutcracker , sometimes referred to as Clark's Crow or Woodpecker Crow, is a passerine bird in the family Corvidae. It is slightly smaller than its Eurasian relative the Spotted Nutcracker . It is ashy-grey all over except for the black-and-white wings and central tail feathers...

. Principal mammals found in this region include the Sierra coney, White-tailed Jackrabbit
White-tailed Jackrabbit
The White-tailed Jackrabbit , also known as the Prairie Hare and the White Jack, is a hare found in western North America. Briefly reputed to have been extirpated , it is now clear from observations, roadkilled specimens and historical records that white-tailed jackrabbits are still extant in...

, and the Bighorn Sheep
Bighorn Sheep
The bighorn sheep is a species of sheep in North America named for its large horns. These horns can weigh up to , while the sheep themselves weigh up to . Recent genetic testing indicates that there are three distinct subspecies of Ovis canadensis, one of which is endangered: Ovis canadensis sierrae...

. , the Bighorn Sheep was listed as endangered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The fauna found throughout several zones are the mule deer
Mule Deer
The mule deer is a deer indigenous to western North America. The Mule Deer gets its name from its large mule-like ears. There are believed to be several subspecies, including the black-tailed deer...

, coyote, mountain lion, Northern Flicker
Northern Flicker
The Northern Flicker is a medium-sized member of the woodpecker family. It is native to most of North America, parts of Central America, Cuba, the Cayman Islands, and is one of the few woodpecker species that migrate. There are over 100 common names for the Northern Flicker...

, and several species of hawk and sparrow.

Aquatic life in California thrives, from the state's mountain lakes and streams to the rocky Pacific coastline. Numerous trout species are found, among them rainbow
Rainbow trout
The rainbow trout is a species of salmonid native to tributaries of the Pacific Ocean in Asia and North America. The steelhead is a sea run rainbow trout usually returning to freshwater to spawn after 2 to 3 years at sea. In other words, rainbow trout and steelhead trout are the same species....

, golden
Golden Trout
The golden trout is a sub-species of the rainbow trout, and it closley resembles the juvenile Rainbow trout. The fish is also known as the California golden trout and is native to Golden Trout Creek, Volcano Creek and the South Fork Kern River. Another variant, O. m...

, and Tahoe. Migratory species of salmon are common as well. Deep-sea life forms include sea bass
White seabass
White seabass or white weakfish, Atractoscion nobilis, is a species of croaker occurring from Magdalena Bay, Baja California, to Juneau, Alaska. They usually travel in schools over deep rocky bottoms and in and out of kelp beds....

, yellowfin tuna
Yellowfin tuna
The yellowfin tuna is a species of tuna found in pelagic waters of tropical and subtropical oceans worldwide.Yellowfin is often marketed as ahi, from its Hawaiian name ahi although the name ahi in Hawaiian also refers to the closely related bigeye tuna. The species name, albacares can lead to...

, barracuda
Barracuda
The barracuda is a ray-finned fish known for its large size and fearsome appearance. Its body is long, fairly compressed, and covered with small, smooth scales. Some species could reach up to 1.8m in length and 30 cm in width...

, and several types of whale. Native to the cliffs of northern California are seals, sea lions, and many types of shorebirds, including migratory species.

As of April 2003, 118 California animals were on the federal endangered list; 181 plants were listed as endangered or threatened. Endangered animals include the San Joaquin kitfox, Point Arena mountain beaver, Pacific pocket mouse, Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse
Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse
The Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse , also known as the Red-bellied Harvest Mouse and some times called by Saltmarsh Harvest Mouse, is an endangered rodent endemic to the San Francisco Bay Area salt marshes in California. There are two distinct subspecies, both endangered and listed together on federal...

, Morro Bay kangaroo rat
Morro Bay kangaroo rat
Morro Bay kangaroo rat, Dipodomys heermanni morroensis, is endemic to San Luis Obispo County, California-Description:The Morro Bay kangaroo rat subspecies is unique to Baywood fine sands, a soil type found in Morro Bay, Los Osos, and Montana de Oro State Park on the Central Coast of California. ...

 (and five other species of kangaroo rat), Amargosa vole, California Least Tern
California Least Tern
The Least Tern is a species of tern that breeds in North America and locally in northern South America. It is closely related to, and was formerly often considered conspecific with, the Little Tern of the Old World...

, California Condor
California Condor
The California Condor is a New World vulture, the largest North American land bird. Currently, this condor inhabits only the Grand Canyon area, Zion National Park, and coastal mountains of central and southern California and northern Baja California...

, Loggerhead Shrike
Loggerhead Shrike
The Loggerhead Shrike is a passerine bird. It is the only member of the shrike family endemic to North America; the related Northern Shrike occurs north of its range but also in the Palearctic....

, San Clemente sage sparrow, San Francisco garter snake, five species of salamander, three species of chub, and two species of pupfish. Eleven butterflies are also endangered and two that are threatened are on the federal list. Among threatened animals are the coastal California Gnatcatcher
California Gnatcatcher
The California Gnatcatcher, Polioptila californica, is a small 10.8 cm long insectivorous bird which frequents dense coastal sage scrub growth...

, Paiute cutthroat trout
Paiute cutthroat trout
Paiute cutthroat trout is a subspecies of cutthroat trout native only to Silver King Creek, a headwater tributary of the Carson River in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, U.S.A. The Carson River lies within the Great Basin interior drainage system, within the historic range of Lahontan...

, southern sea otter, and Northern Spotted Owl
Northern Spotted Owl
The Northern Spotted Owl, Strix occidentalis caurina, is one of three Spotted Owl subspecies. A Western North American bird in the family Strigidae, genus Strix, it is a medium-sized dark brown owl sixteen to nineteen inches in length and one to one and one sixth pounds. Females are larger than males...

. California has a total of 290821 acres (1,176.9 km²) of National Wildlife Refuges. , 123 California animals were listed as either endangered or threatened on the federal list provided by the US Fish & Wildlife Service. Also, , 178 species of California plants were listed either as endangered or threatened on this federal list.

Rivers


The state's coasts, rivers, and other bodies of water are looked after by the California Coastal Commission
California Coastal Commission
The California Coastal Commission is a state agency in the U.S. state of California with quasi-judicial regulatory oversight over land use and public access in the California coastal zone....

.

The two most prominent rivers within California are the Sacramento River
Sacramento River
The Sacramento River is an important watercourse of Northern and Central California in the United States. The largest river in California, it rises on the eastern slopes of the Klamath Mountains, and after a journey south of over , empties into Suisun Bay, an arm of the San Francisco Bay, and...

 and the San Joaquin River
San Joaquin River
The San Joaquin River is the largest river of Central California in the United States. At over long, the river starts in the high Sierra Nevada, and flows through a rich agricultural region known as the San Joaquin Valley before reaching Suisun Bay, San Francisco Bay, and the Pacific Ocean...

, which drain the Central Valley and the west slope of the Sierra Nevada and flow to the Pacific Ocean through San Francisco Bay
San Francisco Bay
San Francisco Bay is a shallow, productive estuary through which water draining from approximately forty percent of California, flowing in the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers from the Sierra Nevada mountains, enters the Pacific Ocean...

. Several major tributaries feed into the Sacramento and the San Joaquin, including the Pit River
Pit River
The Pit River is a major river draining from northeastern California into the state's Central Valley. The Pit, the Klamath and the Columbia are the only three rivers in the U.S...

, the Tuolumne River
Tuolumne River
The Tuolumne River is a California river that flows nearly from the central Sierra Nevada to the San Joaquin River in the Central Valley...

, and the Feather River
Feather River
The Feather River is the principal tributary of the Sacramento River, in the Sacramento Valley of Northern California. The river's main stem is about long. Its length to its most distant headwater tributary is about . Its drainage basin is about...

.

The Owens River
Owens River
The Owens River is a river in southeastern California in the United States, approximately long. It drains into and through the Owens Valley, an arid basin between the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada and the western faces of the Inyo and White Mountains. The river terminates at Owens Lake, but...

 takes runoff from the southeastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada and flows into Owens Lake
Owens Lake
Owens Lake is a mostly dry lake in the Owens Valley on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada in Inyo County, California. It is located about south of Lone Pine, California...

. The Eel River
Eel River (California)
The Eel River is a major river system of the northern Pacific coast of the U.S. state of California. Approximately 200 miles long, it drains a rugged area in the California Coast Ranges between the Sacramento Valley and the ocean. For most of its course, the river flows northwest, parallel to the...

 and Salinas River
Salinas River (California)
The Salinas River is the largest river of the central coast of California, running and draining 4,160 square miles. It flows north-northwest and drains the Salinas Valley that slices through the Coast Range south from Monterey Bay...

 each drain portions of the California coast, north and south of San Francisco Bay, respectively. The Mojave River
Mojave River
The Mojave River is an intermittent river in the eastern San Bernardino Mountains and Mojave Desert in San Bernardino County, California. The river is notable as most of its flow is underground, while its surface channels remain dry most of the time, with the exception of the headwaters and several...

 is the primary watercourse in the Mojave Desert, and the Santa Ana River
Santa Ana River
The Santa Ana River is the largest river of Southern California in the United States. Its drainage basin spans four counties. It rises in the San Bernardino Mountains and flows past the cities of San Bernardino and Riverside, before cutting through the northern tip of the Santa Ana Mountains and...

 drains much of the Transverse Ranges
Transverse Ranges
The Transverse Ranges are a group of mountain ranges of southern California, in the Pacific Coast Ranges physiographic region that runs along the Pacific coast from Alaska to Mexico in North America. The Transverse Ranges begin at the southern end of the California Coast Ranges and lie between...

 as it bisects Southern California.

Some other important rivers are the Klamath River
Klamath River
The Klamath River is an American river that flows southwest through Oregon and northern California, cutting through the Cascade Range to empty into the Pacific Ocean. The river drains an extensive watershed of almost that stretches from the high desert country of the Great Basin to the temperate...

 and the Trinity River
Trinity River (California)
The Trinity River is the longest tributary of the Klamath River, approximately long, in northwestern California in the United States. It drains an area of the Coast Ranges, including the southern Klamath Mountains, northwest of the Sacramento Valley...

 in the far north coast, and the Colorado River
Colorado River
The Colorado River , is a river in the Southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, approximately long, draining a part of the arid regions on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains. The watershed of the Colorado River covers in parts of seven U.S. states and two Mexican states...

 on the southeast border with Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

.

Regions


History


Settled by successive waves of arrivals during the last 10,000 years, California was one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse areas in pre-Columbian North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

; The Indigenous peoples of California
Indigenous peoples of California
The Indigenous peoples of California are the indigenous inhabitants who have lived or currently live in the geographic area within the current boundaries of California before and after the arrival of Europeans. With over one hundred federally recognized tribes, California has the largest Native...

 included more than 70 distinct groups of Native American
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

s. Large, settled populations lived on the coast and hunted sea mammals, fished for salmon and gathered shellfish; groups in the interior hunted terrestrial game, and gathered nuts, acorns and berries. California groups also were diverse in their political organization with bands, tribes, villages, and on the resource-rich coasts, large chiefdoms, such as the Chumash, Pomo
Pomo people
The Pomo people are an indigenous peoples of California. The historic Pomo territory in northern California was large, bordered by the Pacific Coast to the west, extending inland to Clear Lake, and mainly between Cleone and Duncans Point...

 and Salinan
Salinan
The Salinan Native Americans lived in what is now the Central Coast of California, in the Salinas Valley. Said to have gone extinct by the Census of 1930, the Salinan Native Americans survived and are now in the process of applying for tribal recognition from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.There...

. Trade, intermarriage and military alliances fostered many social and economic relationships among the diverse groups.

The first European to explore the coast as far north as the Russian River
Russian River (California)
The Russian River, a southward-flowing river, drains of Sonoma and Mendocino counties in Northern California. With an annual average discharge of approximately , it is the second largest river flowing through the nine county Greater San Francisco Bay Area with a mainstem 110 miles ...

 was the Portuguese Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo
Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo
Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo was a Portuguese explorer noted for his exploration of the west coast of North America on behalf of Spain. Cabrillo was the first European explorer to navigate the coast of present day California in the United States...

, in 1542, sailing for the Spanish Empire
Spanish Empire
The Spanish Empire comprised territories and colonies administered directly by Spain in Europe, in America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. It originated during the Age of Exploration and was therefore one of the first global empires. At the time of Habsburgs, Spain reached the peak of its world power....

. Some 37 years later English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 explorer Francis Drake
Francis Drake
Sir Francis Drake, Vice Admiral was an English sea captain, privateer, navigator, slaver, and politician of the Elizabethan era. Elizabeth I of England awarded Drake a knighthood in 1581. He was second-in-command of the English fleet against the Spanish Armada in 1588. He also carried out the...

 also explored and claimed an undefined portion of the California coast in 1579. Spanish traders made unintended visits with the Manila Galleon
Manila Galleon
The Manila galleons or Manila-Acapulco galleons were Spanish trading ships that sailed once or twice per year across the Pacific Ocean between Manila in the Philippines, and Acapulco, New Spain . The name changed reflecting the city that the ship was sailing from...

s on their return trips from the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

 beginning in 1565. Sebastián Vizcaíno
Sebastián Vizcaíno
Sebastián Vizcaíno was a Spanish soldier, entrepreneur, explorer, and diplomat whose varied roles took him to New Spain, the Philippines, the Baja California peninsula, the California coast and Japan.-Early career:...

 explored and mapped the coast of California in 1602 for New Spain
New Spain
New Spain, formally called the Viceroyalty of New Spain , was a viceroyalty of the Spanish colonial empire, comprising primarily territories in what was known then as 'América Septentrional' or North America. Its capital was Mexico City, formerly Tenochtitlan, capital of the Aztec Empire...

.

Spanish missionaries began setting up 21 California Missions along the coast of what became known as Alta California
Alta California
Alta California was a province and territory in the Viceroyalty of New Spain and later a territory and department in independent Mexico. The territory was created in 1769 out of the northern part of the former province of Las Californias, and consisted of the modern American states of California,...

 (Upper California), together with small towns and presidios. In 1821 the Mexican War of Independence
Mexican War of Independence
The Mexican War of Independence was an armed conflict between the people of Mexico and the Spanish colonial authorities which started on 16 September 1810. The movement, which became known as the Mexican War of Independence, was led by Mexican-born Spaniards, Mestizos and Amerindians who sought...

 gave Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 (including California) independence from Spain; for the next 25 years, Alta California
Alta California
Alta California was a province and territory in the Viceroyalty of New Spain and later a territory and department in independent Mexico. The territory was created in 1769 out of the northern part of the former province of Las Californias, and consisted of the modern American states of California,...

 remained a remote northern province of the nation of Mexico. Cattle ranches, or ranchos
Ranchos of California
The Spanish, and later the Méxican government encouraged settlement of territory now known as California by the establishment of large land grants called ranchos, from which the English ranch is derived. Devoted to raising cattle and sheep, the owners of the ranchos attempted to pattern themselves...

, emerged as the dominant institutions of Mexican California. After Mexican independence from Spain, the chain of missions became the property of the Mexican government and were secularized by 1832. The ranchos developed under ownership by Californios (Spanish-speaking Californians) who had received land grants, and traded cowhides and tallow with Boston
Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

 merchants.

Beginning in the 1820s, trappers and settlers from the U.S. and Canada began to arrive in Northern California, harbingers of the great changes that would later sweep the Mexican territory. These new arrivals used the Siskiyou Trail
Siskiyou Trail
The Siskiyou Trail stretched from California's Central Valley to Oregon's Willamette Valley; modern-day Interstate 5 follows this pioneer path...

, California Trail
California Trail
The California Trail was an emigrant trail of about across the western half of the North American continent from Missouri River towns to what is now the state of California...

, Oregon Trail
Oregon Trail
The Oregon Trail is a historic east-west wagon route that connected the Missouri River to valleys in Oregon and locations in between.After 1840 steam-powered riverboats and steamboats traversing up and down the Ohio, Mississippi and Missouri rivers sped settlement and development in the flat...

 and Old Spanish Trail
Old Spanish Trail (trade route)
The Old Spanish Trail is a historical trade route which connected the northern New Mexico settlements near or in Santa Fe, New Mexico with that of Los Angeles, California and southern California. Approximately long, it ran through areas of high mountains, arid deserts, and deep canyons. It is...

 to cross the rugged mountains and harsh deserts surrounding California. In this period, Imperial Russia explored the California coast and established a trading post at Fort Ross.

In 1846 settlers rebelled against Mexican rule during the Bear Flag Revolt. Afterwards, rebels raised the Bear Flag (featuring a bear, a star, a red stripe and the words "California Republic") at Sonoma.

The Republic's first and only president was William B. Ide
William B. Ide
William Brown Ide was a California pioneer and Commander of the short-lived California Republic.-Life:...

, who played a pivotal role during the Bear Flag Revolt. His term lasted 22 days and concluded when California was occupied by U.S. forces during the Mexican-American War.

The California Republic was short lived. The same year marked the outbreak of the Mexican-American War (1846–1848). When Commodore John D. Sloat
John D. Sloat
John Drake Sloat was a commodore in the United States Navy who, in 1846, claimed California for the United States.-Life:...

 of the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 sailed into Monterey Bay
Monterey Bay
Monterey Bay is a bay of the Pacific Ocean, along the central coast of California. The bay is south of San Francisco and San Jose, between the cities of Santa Cruz and Monterey....

 and began the military occupation of California by the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, Northern California capitulated in less than a month to the U.S. forces. After a series of defensive battles in Southern California
Southern California
Southern California is a megaregion, or megapolitan area, in the southern area of the U.S. state of California. Large urban areas include Greater Los Angeles and Greater San Diego. The urban area stretches along the coast from Ventura through the Southland and Inland Empire to San Diego...

, including The Siege of Los Angeles
Siege of Los Angeles
The Siege of Los Angeles was a military occupation by the United States Marines of the Pueblo de Los Angeles during the Mexican-American war.-Occupation:...

, the Battle of Dominguez Rancho
Battle of Dominguez Rancho
The Battle of Dominguez Rancho or The Battle of the Old Woman's Gun was a military engagement of the Mexican-American War...

, the Battle of San Pasqual
Battle of San Pasqual
The Battle of San Pasqual, also spelled San Pascual, was a military encounter that occurred during the Mexican-American War in what is now the San Pasqual Valley community of the city of San Diego, California. On December 6 and December 7, 1846, General Stephen W...

, the Battle of Rio San Gabriel
Battle of Rio San Gabriel
The Battle of Rio San Gabriel fought on January 8, 1847 was a decisive action of the California campaign of the Mexican-American War and occurred at a ford of the San Gabriel River, at what are today parts of the cities of Whittier, Pico Rivera and Montebello, about ten miles south-east of downtown...

 and the Battle of La Mesa
Battle of La Mesa
The Battle of La Mesa of the Mexican-American War occurred on January 9, 1847, in present-day Vernon, California, the day after the Battle of Rio San Gabriel during the California Campaign.-Background:...

, the Treaty of Cahuenga
Treaty of Cahuenga
The Treaty of Cahuenga, also called the "Capitulation of Cahuenga," ended the fighting of the Mexican-American War in Alta California in 1847. It was not a formal treaty between nations but an informal agreement between rival military forces in which the Californios gave up fighting...

 was signed by the Californios on January 13, 1847, securing American control in California. Following the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo is the peace treaty, largely dictated by the United States to the interim government of a militarily occupied Mexico City, that ended the Mexican-American War on February 2, 1848...

 that ended the war, the region was divided between Mexico and the U.S.; the western territory of Alta California
Alta California
Alta California was a province and territory in the Viceroyalty of New Spain and later a territory and department in independent Mexico. The territory was created in 1769 out of the northern part of the former province of Las Californias, and consisted of the modern American states of California,...

, was to become the U.S. state of California, and Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

, Nevada
Nevada
Nevada is a state in the western, mountain west, and southwestern regions of the United States. With an area of and a population of about 2.7 million, it is the 7th-largest and 35th-most populous state. Over two-thirds of Nevada's people live in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, which contains its...

, Colorado
Colorado
Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

 and Utah
Utah
Utah is a state in the Western United States. It was the 45th state to join the Union, on January 4, 1896. Approximately 80% of Utah's 2,763,885 people live along the Wasatch Front, centering on Salt Lake City. This leaves vast expanses of the state nearly uninhabited, making the population the...

 became U.S. Territories, while the lower region of California, the Baja Peninsula, remained in the possession of Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

.

In 1848 the non-native population of California was estimated to be no more than 15,000. But after gold was discovered, the population burgeoned with U.S. citizens, Europeans and other immigrants during the great California Gold Rush
California Gold Rush
The California Gold Rush began on January 24, 1848, when gold was found by James W. Marshall at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California. The first to hear confirmed information of the gold rush were the people in Oregon, the Sandwich Islands , and Latin America, who were the first to start flocking to...

. By 1854 over 300,000 settlers had come. On September 9, 1850, as part of the Compromise of 1850
Compromise of 1850
The Compromise of 1850 was a package of five bills, passed in September 1850, which defused a four-year confrontation between the slave states of the South and the free states of the North regarding the status of territories acquired during the Mexican-American War...

, California was admitted to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 undivided as a free state, denying the expansion of slavery to the Pacific Coast.

In 1849 doctor of medicine and soldier Felix Wierzbicki published in San Francisco the first English-language book printed in California "California as it is and As It May Be". Book is an "unvarnished" description of the culture, peoples, and climate of the area in 1849. Wierzbicki described prospective settlers that includes a survey of agriculture and hints on gold mining.

The seat of government for California under Spanish and later Mexican rule was located at Monterey
Monterey, California
The City of Monterey in Monterey County is located on Monterey Bay along the Pacific coast in Central California. Monterey lies at an elevation of 26 feet above sea level. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 27,810. Monterey is of historical importance because it was the capital of...

 from 1777 until 1835, when Mexican authorities abandoned California, leaving their missions and military forts behind. In 1849 the Constitutional Convention was first held there. Among the duties was the task of determining the location for the new state capital. The first legislative sessions were held in San Jose
San Jose, California
San Jose is the third-largest city in California, the tenth-largest in the U.S., and the county seat of Santa Clara County which is located at the southern end of San Francisco Bay...

 (1850–1851). Subsequent locations included Vallejo
Vallejo, California
Vallejo is the largest city in Solano County, California, United States. The population was 115,942 at the 2010 census. It is located in the San Francisco Bay Area on the northeastern shore of San Pablo Bay...

 (1852–1853), and nearby Benicia
Benicia, California
Benicia is a waterside city in Solano County, California, United States. It was the first city in California to be founded by Anglo-Americans, and served as the state capital for nearly thirteen months from 1853 to 1854. The population was 26,997 at the 2010 census. The city is located in the San...

 (1853–1854); these locations eventually proved to be inadequate as well. The capital has been located in Sacramento
Sacramento, California
Sacramento is the capital city of the U.S. state of California and the county seat of Sacramento County. It is located at the confluence of the Sacramento River and the American River in the northern portion of California's expansive Central Valley. With a population of 466,488 at the 2010 census,...

 since 1854 with only a short break in 1861 when legislative sessions were held in San Francisco due to flooding in Sacramento.


Travel between California and the central and eastern parts of the U.S. was time consuming and dangerous. A more direct connection came in 1869 with the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad
First Transcontinental Railroad
The First Transcontinental Railroad was a railroad line built in the United States of America between 1863 and 1869 by the Central Pacific Railroad of California and the Union Pacific Railroad that connected its statutory Eastern terminus at Council Bluffs, Iowa/Omaha, Nebraska The First...

 through Donner Pass
Donner Pass
Donner Pass is a mountain pass in the northern Sierra Nevada, located above Donner Lake about nine miles west of Truckee, California. It has a steep approach from the east and a gradual approach from the west....

 in the Sierra Nevada mountains. After this rail link was established, hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens came west, where new Californians were discovering that land in the state, if irrigated during the dry summer months, was extremely well suited to fruit cultivation and agriculture in general. Vast expanses of wheat, other cereal crops, vegetable crops, cotton, and nut and fruit trees were grown (including oranges in Southern California), and the foundation was laid for the state's prodigious agricultural production in the Central Valley and elsewhere.

Migration to California accelerated during the early-20th century with the completion of major transcontinental highway
Highway
A highway is any public road. In American English, the term is common and almost always designates major roads. In British English, the term designates any road open to the public. Any interconnected set of highways can be variously referred to as a "highway system", a "highway network", or a...

s like the Lincoln Highway
Lincoln Highway
The Lincoln Highway was the first road across the United States of America.Conceived and promoted by entrepreneur Carl G. Fisher, the Lincoln Highway spanned coast-to-coast from Times Square in New York City to Lincoln Park in San Francisco, originally through 13 states: New York, New Jersey,...

 and Route 66. In the period from 1900 to 1965, the population grew from fewer than one million to become the most populous state in the Union. In order to meet the population's needs, major engineering feats like the California
California Aqueduct
The Governor Edmund G. Brown California Aqueduct is a system of canals, tunnels, and pipelines that conveys water collected from the Sierra Nevada Mountains and valleys of Northern- and Central California to Southern California. The Department of Water Resources operates and maintains the...

 and Los Angeles Aqueduct
Los Angeles Aqueduct
The Los Angeles Aqueduct system comprising the Los Angeles Aqueduct and the Second Los Angeles Aqueduct, is a water conveyance system operated by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power...

s; the Oroville
Oroville Dam
Oroville Dam spans the Feather River about northeast of the city of Oroville, California. It forms Lake Oroville, which stores water for irrigation, flood control, municipal water supply and hydroelectricity generation in California's Sacramento Valley. The dam lies in the foothills of the Sierra...

 and Shasta Dam
Shasta Dam
Shasta Dam is an arch dam across the Sacramento River in the northern part of the U.S. state of California, at the north end of the Sacramento Valley. The dam mainly serves long-term water storage and flood control in its reservoir, Shasta Lake, and also generates hydroelectric power...

s; and the Bay and Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate, the opening of the San Francisco Bay into the Pacific Ocean. As part of both U.S. Route 101 and California State Route 1, the structure links the city of San Francisco, on the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula, to...

s were built across the state. The state government also adopted the California Master Plan for Higher Education
California Master Plan for Higher Education
The California Master Plan for Higher Education of 1960 was developed by a survey team appointed by the UC Regents and the State Board of Education during the administration of Governor Pat Brown. Clark Kerr, then the President of UC, was a key figure in its development...

 in 1960 to develop a highly efficient system of public education.

Meanwhile, attracted to the mild Mediterranean climate, cheap land, and the state's wide variety of geography, filmmakers established the studio system
Studio system
The studio system was a means of film production and distribution dominant in Hollywood from the early 1920s through the early 1960s. The term studio system refers to the practice of large motion picture studios producing movies primarily on their own filmmaking lots with creative personnel under...

 in Hollywood in the 1920s. A couple of decades later, Stanford University
Stanford University
The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is a private research university on an campus located near Palo Alto, California. It is situated in the northwestern Santa Clara Valley on the San Francisco Peninsula, approximately northwest of San...

 and its Dean of Engineering Frederick Terman
Frederick Terman
Frederick Emmons Terman was an American academic. He is widely credited with being the father of Silicon Valley.-Education:...

 began encouraging faculty and graduates to stay in California instead of leaving the state, and develop a high-tech region in the area now known as Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley is a term which refers to the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area in Northern California in the United States. The region is home to many of the world's largest technology corporations...

. As a result of these efforts, California is currently regarded as a world center of the entertainment and music industries, of technology and engineering businesses, and as the U.S. center of agricultural production.

Demographics



Population


California's population was counted by the US Census Bureau
United States Census
The United States Census is a decennial census mandated by the United States Constitution. The population is enumerated every 10 years and the results are used to allocate Congressional seats , electoral votes, and government program funding. The United States Census Bureau The United States Census...

 at 37,253,956 for the 2010 census, making it the most populous state. Between 2000 and 2009, there was a natural increase of 3,090,016 (5,058,440 births minus 2,179,958 deaths). During this time period, international migration
Immigration to the United States
Immigration to the United States has been a major source of population growth and cultural change throughout much of the history of the United States. The economic, social, and political aspects of immigration have caused controversy regarding ethnicity, economic benefits, jobs for non-immigrants,...

 produced a net increase of 1,816,633 people while domestic migration produced a net decrease of 1,509,708, resulting in a net in-migration of 306,925 people. The State of California's own statistics show a population of 38,292,687 for January 1, 2009.

California is the second-most-populous sub-national entity in the Western Hemisphere
Western Hemisphere
The Western Hemisphere or western hemisphere is mainly used as a geographical term for the half of the Earth that lies west of the Prime Meridian and east of the Antimeridian , the other half being called the Eastern Hemisphere.In this sense, the western hemisphere consists of the western portions...

 and the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

, with a population second to that of State of São Paulo
São Paulo (state)
São Paulo is a state in Brazil. It is the major industrial and economic powerhouse of the Brazilian economy. Named after Saint Paul, São Paulo has the largest population, industrial complex, and economic production in the country. It is the richest state in Brazil...

, Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

. California's population is greater than that of all but 34 countries of the world. Also, Los Angeles County has held the title of most populous U.S. county for decades, and it alone is more populous than 42 U.S. states. In addition, California is home to eight of the 50 most populous cities in the United States: Los Angeles (2nd), San Diego (8th), San Jose (10th), San Francisco (13th), Fresno (34th), Sacramento (35th), Long Beach
Long Beach, California
Long Beach is a city situated in Los Angeles County in Southern California, on the Pacific coast of the United States. The city is the 36th-largest city in the nation and the seventh-largest in California. As of 2010, its population was 462,257...

 (36th), and Oakland (47th). The center of population
Center of population
In demographics, the center of population of a region is a geographical point that describes a centerpoint of the region's population...

 of California is located in the town of Buttonwillow
Buttonwillow, California
Buttonwillow is a census-designated place in the San Joaquin Valley, in Kern County, California, United States. Buttonwilliow is located west of Bakersfield, at an elevation of 269 feet . The population was 1,508 at the 2010 census, up from 1,266 at the 2000 census...

, Kern County
Kern County, California
Spreading across the southern end of the California Central Valley, Kern County is the fifth-largest county by population in California. Its economy is heavily linked to agriculture and to petroleum extraction, and there is a strong aviation and space presence. Politically, it has generally...

.

In 2010, illegal
Illegal immigration to the United States
An illegal immigrant in the United States is an alien who has entered the United States without government permission or stayed beyond the termination date of a visa....

 aliens
Alien (law)
In law, an alien is a person in a country who is not a citizen of that country.-Categorization:Types of "alien" persons are:*An alien who is legally permitted to remain in a country which is foreign to him or her. On specified terms, this kind of alien may be called a legal alien of that country...

 constituted an estimated 7.3 percent of the population, the third highest percentage of any state in the country
Illegal immigrant population of the United States
The actual size and the origin of the Illegal immigrant population in the United States is uncertain and difficult to ascertain because of difficulty in accurately counting individuals in this population...

, totaling nearly 2.6 million. More than half originate from Mexico.

Starting in the year 2010, for the first time since the California Gold Rush
California Gold Rush
The California Gold Rush began on January 24, 1848, when gold was found by James W. Marshall at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California. The first to hear confirmed information of the gold rush were the people in Oregon, the Sandwich Islands , and Latin America, who were the first to start flocking to...

, California-born residents make up the majority of the state's population.

Racial and ancestral makeup



Whereas according to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau:
  • 57.6% White
    White American
    White Americans are people of the United States who are considered or consider themselves White. The United States Census Bureau defines White people as those "having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa...

     (40.1% Non-Hispanic White
    Non-Hispanic Whites
    Non-Hispanic Whites or White, Not Hispanic or Latino are people in the United States, as defined by the Census Bureau, who are of the White race and are not of Hispanic or Latino origin/ethnicity. Hence the designation is exclusive in the sense that it defines who is not included as opposed to who is...

    )
  • 13.0% Asian
    Asian American
    Asian Americans are Americans of Asian descent. The U.S. Census Bureau definition of Asians as "Asian” refers to a person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent, including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan,...

     (3.2% Chinese
    Chinese American
    Chinese Americans represent Americans of Chinese descent. Chinese Americans constitute one group of overseas Chinese and also a subgroup of East Asian Americans, which is further a subgroup of Asian Americans...

    , 3.2% Filipino
    Filipino American
    Filipino Americans are Americans of Filipino ancestry. Filipino Americans, often shortened to "Fil-Ams", or "Pinoy",Filipinos in what is now the United States were first documented in the 16th century, with small settlements beginning in the 18th century...

    , 1.6% Vietnamese
    Vietnamese American
    A Vietnamese American is an American of Vietnamese descent. They make up about half of all overseas Vietnamese and are the fourth-largest Asian American group....

    , 1.4% Indian
    Indian American
    Indian Americans are Americans whose ancestral roots lie in India. The U.S. Census Bureau popularized the term Asian Indian to avoid confusion with Indigenous peoples of the Americas who are commonly referred to as American Indians.-The term: Indian:...

    , 1.2% Korean
    Korean American
    Korean Americans are Americans of Korean descent, mostly from South Korea, with a small minority from North Korea...

    , 0.7% Japanese
    Japanese American
    are American people of Japanese heritage. Japanese Americans have historically been among the three largest Asian American communities, but in recent decades have become the sixth largest group at roughly 1,204,205, including those of mixed-race or mixed-ethnicity...

    , 0.2% Hmong
    Hmong American
    A Hmong American is a resident of the United States who is of ethnic Hmong descent. Hmong Americans are one group of Asian Americans. Many Lao Hmong war refugees resettled in the U.S. following the communist takeover of Laos in 1975...

    , 0.2% Cambodian
    Cambodian American
    A Cambodian American is an American who is born, raised, or from Cambodia usually of Khmer descent but also including Chinese Cambodians, Vietnamese Cambodians, Cham people and other ethnicities of Cambodia...

    , 0.2% Laotian
    Laotian American
    A Laotian American is a resident of the United States who was originally from Laos, a person of Laotian descent residing in America, or a citizen born in the United States whose parents were originally from Laos. Laotian Americans are included in the larger category of Asian Americans...

    , 0.1% Thai
    Thai American
    A Thai American is an American of whose parents or grandparents came from Thailand. Many of them may in fact be of Thai Chinese or at least part Chinese ancestry, but they are still considered to be Thais.-History in U.S.:...

    , 0.1% Pakistani
    Pakistani American
    A Pakistani American is any citizen or resident of the United States who has Pakistani heritage.- History in the United States :Muslim immigrants from areas that are now part of Pakistan have been migrating to America and first entered the United States as early as the eighteenth century, working...

    )
  • 6.2% Black or African American
    African American
    African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

  • 1.0% Native American
    Native Americans in the United States
    Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

  • 4.9% Multiracial
    Multiracial American
    Multiracial Americans, US residents who identify themselves as of "two or more races", were numbered at around 9 million, or 2.9% of the population, in the census of 2010. However there is considerable evidence that the real number is far higher. Prior to the mid-20th century many people hid their...

     (1.3% White and "Some Other Race", 1.2% White and Asian, 0.6% White and Native American, 0.5% White and Black, 1.3% Other)
  • 0.4% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
    Pacific Islander American
    Pacific Islander Americans, also known as Oceanian Americans, are residents of the United States with original ancestry from Oceania. They represent the smallest racial group counted in the United States census of 2000. They numbered 874,000 people or 0.3 percent of the United States population...

     (0.1% Samoan, 0.1% Guamanian or Chamorro
    Chamorro
    Chamorro may refer to:* Chamorro language, an Austronesian language spoken on Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands* Chamorro Party, a 19th century Portuguese political party...

    , 0.1% Native Hawaiian, 0.2% "Other Pacific Islander")
  • 37.6% are Hispanic or Latino
    Hispanic and Latino Americans
    Hispanic or Latino Americans are Americans with origins in the Hispanic countries of Latin America or in Spain, and in general all persons in the United States who self-identify as Hispanic or Latino.1990 Census of Population and Housing: A self-designated classification for people whose origins...

     (of any race) (30.7% Mexican
    Mexican American
    Mexican Americans are Americans of Mexican descent. As of July 2009, Mexican Americans make up 10.3% of the United States' population with over 31,689,000 Americans listed as of Mexican ancestry. Mexican Americans comprise 66% of all Hispanics and Latinos in the United States...

    , 1.5% Salvadoran, 0.9% Guatemalan, 0.5% Puerto Rican, 0.3% Nicaraguan, 0.2% Honduran, 0.2% Cuban, 0.2% Colombian, 0.2% Peruvian)


The principal ancestries of California's residents in 2009 has been surveyed to be the following:
  • 30.6% Mexican
    Mexican American
    Mexican Americans are Americans of Mexican descent. As of July 2009, Mexican Americans make up 10.3% of the United States' population with over 31,689,000 Americans listed as of Mexican ancestry. Mexican Americans comprise 66% of all Hispanics and Latinos in the United States...

  • 9.8% German
    German American
    German Americans are citizens of the United States of German ancestry and comprise about 51 million people, or 17% of the U.S. population, the country's largest self-reported ancestral group...

  • 7.8% Irish
    Irish American
    Irish Americans are citizens of the United States who can trace their ancestry to Ireland. A total of 36,278,332 Americans—estimated at 11.9% of the total population—reported Irish ancestry in the 2008 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau...

  • 6.9% English
    English American
    English Americans are citizens or residents of the United States whose ancestry originates wholly or partly in England....

  • 4.3% Italian
    Italian American
    An Italian American , is an American of Italian ancestry. The designation may also refer to someone possessing Italian and American dual citizenship...



With regard to demographics, California has the largest population of White Americans in the U.S., an estimated 22,189,514 residents, although most demographic surveys do not measure actual genetic ancestry. The state has the fifth-largest population of African Americans in the U.S., an estimated 2,250,630 residents. California's Asian American population is estimated at 4.4 million, approximately one-third of the nation's 13.1 million Asian Americans. California's Native American population of 285,162 is the most of any state.

According to estimates from 2008, California has the largest minority population
Majority-minority state
Majority-minority is a term used to describe a U.S. state or other jurisdiction whose racial composition is less than 50% white. 'White' in this context means Non-Hispanic Whites. Racial data are derived from self-identification questions on the census and census bureau estimates...

 in the United States by numbers, making up 57% of the state population. In 2000, Hispanics comprised 32% of the population; that number grew to 37% in 2008. Non-Hispanic whites
Non-Hispanic Whites
Non-Hispanic Whites or White, Not Hispanic or Latino are people in the United States, as defined by the Census Bureau, who are of the White race and are not of Hispanic or Latino origin/ethnicity. Hence the designation is exclusive in the sense that it defines who is not included as opposed to who is...

 decreased from 80% of the state's population in 1970 to 42% in 2008.

Approximately 27% of California's public school students in the 2009–10 school year identified themselves as white, and almost 50.4% of the state's students identified themselves as Hispanic or Latino. While the population of minorities accounts for 102 million of 301 million U.S. residents, 20% of the national total live in California.

Languages


As of 2005, 57.6% of California residents age five and older spoke English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 as a first language
First language
A first language is the language a person has learned from birth or within the critical period, or that a person speaks the best and so is often the basis for sociolinguistic identity...

 at home, while 28.2% spoke Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

. In addition to English and Spanish, 2.0% spoke Filipino
Filipino language
This move has drawn much criticism from other regional groups.In 1987, a new constitution introduced many provisions for the language.Article XIV, Section 6, omits any mention of Tagalog as the basis for Filipino, and states that:...

, 1.6% spoke Chinese
Chinese language
The Chinese language is a language or language family consisting of varieties which are mutually intelligible to varying degrees. Originally the indigenous languages spoken by the Han Chinese in China, it forms one of the branches of Sino-Tibetan family of languages...

 (which included Cantonese [0.6%] and Mandarin [0.4%]), 1.4% spoke Vietnamese
Vietnamese language
Vietnamese is the national and official language of Vietnam. It is the mother tongue of 86% of Vietnam's population, and of about three million overseas Vietnamese. It is also spoken as a second language by many ethnic minorities of Vietnam...

, and 1.1% spoke Korean
Korean language
Korean is the official language of the country Korea, in both South and North. It is also one of the two official languages in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in People's Republic of China. There are about 78 million Korean speakers worldwide. In the 15th century, a national writing...

 as their mother tongue. In total, 42.4% of the population spoke languages other than English. California was historically one of the most linguistically diverse areas in the world, and is home to more than 70 indigenous languages derived from 64 root languages in 6 language families. About half of the indigenous languages are no longer spoken, and all of California's living indigenous languages are endangered
Endangered language
An endangered language is a language that is at risk of falling out of use. If it loses all its native speakers, it becomes a dead language. If eventually no one speaks the language at all it becomes an "extinct language"....

. There are some efforts toward language revitalization, such as for the Karuk language
Karuk language
Karuk or Karok is an endangered language of northwestern California. It is the traditional language of the Karuk people, most of whom now speak English....

.

The official language
Official language
An official language is a language that is given a special legal status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically a nation's official language will be the one used in that nation's courts, parliament and administration. However, official status can also be used to give a...

 of California has been English since the passage of Proposition 63 in 1986. However, many state, city, and local government agencies still continue to print official public documents in numerous languages. For example, the California Department of Motor Vehicles
California Department of Motor Vehicles
The California Department of Motor Vehicles is the state agency responsible for the registration of motor vehicles and boats and the issuance of driver's licenses in the U.S. state of California. It is responsible for regulating new car dealers , commercial cargo carriers, private driving...

 offers the written exam for the standard C Class driver's license in 31 languages along with English, and the audio exam in 11 languages.

Culture


The culture of California is a Western culture and most clearly has its modern roots in the culture of the United States
Culture of the United States
The Culture of the United States is a Western culture originally influenced by European cultures. It has been developing since long before the United States became a country with its own unique social and cultural characteristics such as dialect, music, arts, social habits, cuisine, and folklore...

, but also, historically, many Hispanic
Hispanic
Hispanic is a term that originally denoted a relationship to Hispania, which is to say the Iberian Peninsula: Andorra, Gibraltar, Portugal and Spain. During the Modern Era, Hispanic sometimes takes on a more limited meaning, particularly in the United States, where the term means a person of ...

 influences. As a border and coastal state, Californian culture has been greatly influenced by several large immigrant populations, especially those from Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

.

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
The Beach Boys
The Beach Boys are an American rock band, formed in 1961 in Hawthorne, California. The group was initially composed of brothers Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson, their cousin Mike Love, and friend Al Jardine. Managed by the Wilsons' father Murry, The Beach Boys signed to Capitol Records in 1962...

 promoted the image of Californians as laid-back, tanned beach-goers.

In terms of socio-cultural mores and national politics, Californians are perceived as more liberal than other Americans, especially those who live in the inland states. In some ways, California is the quintessential Blue State-- accepting of alternative lifestyles, not uniformly religious, and preoccupied with environmental issues.

The gold rush
California Gold Rush
The California Gold Rush began on January 24, 1848, when gold was found by James W. Marshall at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California. The first to hear confirmed information of the gold rush were the people in Oregon, the Sandwich Islands , and Latin America, who were the first to start flocking to...

 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.

Religion




The largest religious denominations by number of adherents as a percentage of California's population in 2008 were the Catholic Church with 31 percent; Evangelical Protestants with 18 percent; and Mainline Protestants with 14 percent. Those unaffiliated with any religion represented 21 percent of the population. The American Jewish Yearbook placed the total Jewish
American Jews
American Jews, also known as Jewish Americans, are American citizens of the Jewish faith or Jewish ethnicity. The Jewish community in the United States is composed predominantly of Ashkenazi Jews who emigrated from Central and Eastern Europe, and their U.S.-born descendants...

 population of California at about 1,194,190 in 2006.

The first priests to come to California were Roman Catholic missionaries from Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

. Roman Catholics founded 21 missions along the California coast, as well as the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco. California continues to have a large Roman Catholic population due to the large numbers of Mexicans and Central Americans living within its borders. California has twelve dioceses and two archdioceses, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Archdiocese of San Francisco, the former being the largest archdiocese in the United States.

A Pew Research Center
Pew Research Center
The Pew Research Center is an American think tank organization based in Washington, D.C. that provides information on issues, attitudes and trends shaping the United States and the world. The Center and its projects receive funding from The Pew Charitable Trusts. In 1990, Donald S...

 survey revealed that California is somewhat less religious than the rest of the US: 62 percent of Californians say they are "absolutely certain" of the belief in God, while in the nation 71 percent say so. The survey also revealed 48 percent of Californians say religion is "very important," compared to 56 percent nationally.

Armed forces



In California, , the US Department of Defense
United States Department of Defense
The United States Department of Defense is the U.S...

 had
  • 123,948 active-duty military personnel
    United States armed forces
    The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States. They consist of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.The United States has a strong tradition of civilian control of the military...

    • 7,932 US Army personnel
    • 96,047 US Navy (including 20,000+US Marines)
    • 19,969 Air Force
      Air force
      An air force, also known in some countries as an air army, is in the broadest sense, the national military organization that primarily conducts aerial warfare. More specifically, it is the branch of a nation's armed services that is responsible for aerial warfare as distinct from an army, navy or...

  • 58,076 DOD civilian personnel


In California, there were 2,569,340 veterans of US military service
Military service
Military service, in its simplest sense, is service by an individual or group in an army or other militia, whether as a chosen job or as a result of an involuntary draft . Some nations require a specific amount of military service from every citizen...

: 504,010 served in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, 301,034 in the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

, 754,682 during the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

, and 278,003 during 1990–2000 (including the Persian Gulf War).

California's military forces consist of the Army and Air National Guard
California National Guard
The California National Guard is the component of the United States National Guard in the U.S. state of California. It comprises both Army and Air National Guard components and is the largest national guard force in the United States with a total authorized strength of 22,900 soldiers and airmen...

, the naval and state military reserve
California State Military Reserve
The California State Military Reserve is the state defense force of California. The military reserve was formed to provide California a trained and organized military force in the event of a state security emergency when the National Guard is deployed...

 (militia), and the California Cadet Corps
California Cadet Corps
The California Cadet Corps is a paramilitary youth organization in California open for students in the college, high school, middle school and elementary school grades.-Role and purpose:...

.

Economy


As of 2010, the gross state product
Gross state product
Gross state product is a measurement of the economic output of a state or province...

 (GSP) is about $1.9 trillion, the largest in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. California is responsible for 13 percent of the United States' gross domestic product
Gross domestic product
Gross domestic product refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of a country's standard of living....

 (GDP).
As of 2006, California's GDP is larger than all but eight countries in the world (all but eleven countries by Purchasing Power Parity
Purchasing power parity
In economics, purchasing power parity is a condition between countries where an amount of money has the same purchasing power in different countries. The prices of the goods between the countries would only reflect the exchange rates...

).

In terms of jobs, the five largest sectors in California are trade, transportation, and utilities; government; professional and business services; education and health services; and leisure and hospitality. In terms of output, the five largest sectors are financial services, followed by trade, transportation, and utilities; education and health services; government; and manufacturing.

California currently has the 5th highest unemployment
California unemployment statistics
This table shows California unemployment statistics from 1976 through 2009. The data source is the "Labor Force & Unemployment Data" page from the official State of California website. The unemployment rates are annual averages without seasonal adjustment. The 1976-1989 rates are based on the...

 rate in the nation at 12.5% and had continued to rise, up significantly from 5.9% in 2007.

California's economy is very dependent on trade and international related commerce accounts for approximately one-quarter of the state’s economy. In 2008, California exported $144 billion worth of goods, up from $134 billion in 2007 and $127 billion in 2006.
Computers and electronic products are California's top export, accounting for 42 percent of all the state's exports in 2008.

Agriculture is an important sector in California's economy. Farming-related sales more than quadrupled over the past three decades, from $7.3 billion in 1974 to nearly $31 billion in 2004. This increase has occurred despite a 15 percent decline in acreage devoted to farming during the period, and water supply suffering from chronic instability. Factors contributing to the growth in sales-per-acre include more intensive use of active farmlands and technological improvements in crop production. In 2008, California's 81,500 farms and ranches generated $36.2 billion products revenue.

Per capita GDP in 2007 was $38,956, ranking eleventh in the nation. Per capita income
California locations by per capita income
All figures as of the census of 2000 by the United States Census Bureau.California is the thirteenth-richest state in the United States of America, with a per capita income of $22,711 .-California counties ranked by per capita income:...

 varies widely by geographic region and profession. The Central Valley is the most impoverished, with migrant farm workers
Migrant worker
The term migrant worker has different official meanings and connotations in different parts of the world. The United Nations' definition is broad, including any people working outside of their home country...

 making less than minimum wage
Minimum wage
A minimum wage is the lowest hourly, daily or monthly remuneration that employers may legally pay to workers. Equivalently, it is the lowest wage at which workers may sell their labour. Although minimum wage laws are in effect in a great many jurisdictions, there are differences of opinion about...

. Recently, the San Joaquin Valley
San Joaquin Valley
The San Joaquin Valley is the area of the Central Valley of California that lies south of the Sacramento – San Joaquin River Delta in Stockton...

 was characterized as one of the most economically depressed regions in the U.S., on par with the region of Appalachia
Appalachia
Appalachia is a term used to describe a cultural region in the eastern United States that stretches from the Southern Tier of New York state to northern Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia. While the Appalachian Mountains stretch from Belle Isle in Canada to Cheaha Mountain in the U.S...

. Many coastal cities include some of the wealthiest per-capita areas in the U.S. The high-technology sectors in Northern California, specifically Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley is a term which refers to the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area in Northern California in the United States. The region is home to many of the world's largest technology corporations...

, in Santa Clara
Santa Clara County, California
Santa Clara County is a county located at the southern end of the San Francisco Bay Area in the U.S. state of California. As of 2010 it had a population of 1,781,642. The county seat is San Jose. The highly urbanized Santa Clara Valley within Santa Clara County is also known as Silicon Valley...

 and San Mateo counties
San Mateo County, California
San Mateo County is a county located in the San Francisco Bay Area of the U.S. state of California. It covers most of the San Francisco Peninsula just south of San Francisco, and north of Santa Clara County. San Francisco International Airport is located at the northern end of the county, and...

, have emerged from the economic downturn caused by the dot-com bust
Dot-com bubble
The dot-com bubble was a speculative bubble covering roughly 1995–2000 during which stock markets in industrialized nations saw their equity value rise rapidly from growth in the more...

.

In 2010, there were more than 663,000 millionaires in the state, more than any other state in the nation.

State finances


California levies a 9.3 percent maximum variable rate income tax
Income tax
An income tax is a tax levied on the income of individuals or businesses . Various income tax systems exist, with varying degrees of tax incidence. Income taxation can be progressive, proportional, or regressive. When the tax is levied on the income of companies, it is often called a corporate...

, with six tax bracket
Tax bracket
Tax brackets are the divisions at which tax rates change in a progressive tax system . Essentially, they are the cutoff values for taxable income — income past a certain point will be taxed at a higher rate.-Example:Imagine that there are three tax brackets: 10%, 20%, and 30%...

s, collecting about $40 billion per year (representing approximately 51% of General Fund revenue and 40% of tax revenue overall in FY2007). California has a state sales tax of 8.25%, which can total up to 10.75% with local sales tax included. All real property
Real property
In English Common Law, real property, real estate, realty, or immovable property is any subset of land that has been legally defined and the improvements to it made by human efforts: any buildings, machinery, wells, dams, ponds, mines, canals, roads, various property rights, and so forth...

 is taxable annually, the tax based on the property's fair market value at the time of purchase or completion of new construction. Property tax increases are capped at 2% per year (see Proposition 13
California Proposition 13 (1978)
Proposition 13 was an amendment of the Constitution of California enacted during 1978, by means of the initiative process. It was approved by California voters on June 6, 1978. It was declared constitutional by the United States Supreme Court in the case of Nordlinger v. Hahn,...

).

However, California is facing a $26.3 billion budget deficit for the 2009–2010 budget year. While the legislative bodies appeared to address the problem in 2008 with the three-month delayed passage of a budget they in fact only postponed the deficit to 2009 and due to the late 2008 decline in the economy and the credit crisis the problem became urgent in November 2008.

One potential problem is that a substantial portion of the state's income comes from income taxes on a small proportion of wealthy citizens. For example, it is estimated that in 2004 the richest 3% of state taxpayers (those with tax returns showing over 200K USD yearly income) paid approximately 60% of state income taxes. The taxable income of this population is highly dependent upon capital gains, which has been severely impacted by the stock market declines of this period. The governor has proposed a combination of extensive program cuts and tax increases to address this problem, but owing to longstanding problems in the legislature these proposals are likely to be difficult to pass as legislation.

State spending increased from $56 billion in 1998 to $131 billion in 2008, and the state was facing a budget deficit of $40 billion in 2008. California is facing another budget gap for 2010, with $72 billion in debt.

In 2009 the California economic crisis became severe as the state faced insolvency. In June 2009 Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger is an Austrian-American former professional bodybuilder, actor, businessman, investor, and politician. Schwarzenegger served as the 38th Governor of California from 2003 until 2011....

 said "Our wallet is empty, our bank is closed and our credit is dried up." He called for massive budget cuts of $24 billion, about of the state's budget.

Energy


Because it is the most populous U.S. state, California is one of the country's largest users of energy. However because of its mild weather and strong environmental movement, its per capita
Per capita
Per capita is a Latin prepositional phrase: per and capita . The phrase thus means "by heads" or "for each head", i.e. per individual or per person...

energy use is one of the smallest of any U.S. state. Due to the high electricity demand, California imports more electricity than any other state, primarily hydroelectric power from states in the Pacific Northwest (via Path 15
Path 15
Path 15 is an portion of the north-south power transmission corridor in California, U.S. It forms a part of the Pacific AC Intertie and the California-Oregon Transmission Project....

 and Path 66
Path 66
Path 66 is the name of several 500 kV power lines that were built by Western Area Power Administration , Pacific Gas & Electric , and PacifiCorp in the early 1970s to 1990s and totally completed in 1993...

) and coal- and natural gas-fired production from the desert Southwest via Path 46
Path 46
Path 46, also called West of Colorado River, Arizona-California West-of-the-River Path , is a set of many alternating current high-voltage transmission lines that are located in southeast California and Nevada up to the Colorado River...

.

As a result of the state's strong environmental movement, California has the some of the most aggressive renewable energy
Renewable energy
Renewable energy is energy which comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat, which are renewable . About 16% of global final energy consumption comes from renewables, with 10% coming from traditional biomass, which is mainly used for heating, and 3.4% from...

 goals in the United States, with a target for California to obtain a third of its electricity from renewables by 2020. Currently, several solar power plants such as the Solar Energy Generating Systems
Solar Energy Generating Systems
Solar Energy Generating Systems is the largest solar energy generating facility in the world. It consists of nine solar power plants in California's Mojave Desert, where insolation is among the best available in the United States...

 facility are located in the Mojave Desert
Mojave Desert
The Mojave Desert occupies a significant portion of southeastern California and smaller parts of central California, southern Nevada, southwestern Utah and northwestern Arizona, in the United States...

. California's wind farms
Wind power in California
Wind power in California has been an area of considerable activity for many years. California was the first U.S. state where large wind farms were developed, beginning in the early 1980s. By 1995, California produced 30 percent of the entire world's wind-generated electricity...

 include Altamont Pass
Altamont Pass Wind Farm
The Altamont Pass Wind Farm is located in the Altamont Pass of the Diablo Range in Central California. It is one of the earliest wind farms in the United States. The wind farm is composed of 4930 relatively small wind turbines of various types, making it at one time the largest farm in the world in...

, San Gorgonio Pass
San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm
The San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm is a wind farm located on the eastern slope of the San Gorgonio Pass in Riverside County, just east of White Water, California, United States. Developed beginning in the 1980s, it is one of three major wind farms in California, along with those at Altamont and the...

, and Tehachapi Pass
Tehachapi Pass Wind Farm
Wind development in the Tehachapi Pass began in the early 1980s. The area hosts a multitude of wind farms, comprising one of California's largest wind resource areas. The pass is undergoing much repowering activity...

. And a number of dams across the state also provide hydro-electric power
Hydroelectricity
Hydroelectricity is the term referring to electricity generated by hydropower; the production of electrical power through the use of the gravitational force of falling or flowing water. It is the most widely used form of renewable energy...

.

The state’s crude oil and natural gas deposits are located in the Central Valley and along the coast, including the large Midway-Sunset Oil Field
Midway-Sunset Oil Field
The Midway-Sunset Oil Field is a large oil field in Kern County, San Joaquin Valley, California in the United States. Discovered in 1894, and having a cumulative production of close to of oil at the end of 2006, it is the largest oil field in California and the third largest in the United States....

. Natural gas-fired power plants typically account for more than one-half of State electricity generation.

California is also home to two major nuclear power
Nuclear power
Nuclear power is the use of sustained nuclear fission to generate heat and electricity. Nuclear power plants provide about 6% of the world's energy and 13–14% of the world's electricity, with the U.S., France, and Japan together accounting for about 50% of nuclear generated electricity...

 plants: Diablo Canyon
Diablo Canyon Power Plant
Diablo Canyon Power Plant is an electricity-generating nuclear power plant at Avila Beach in San Luis Obispo County, California. The plant has two Westinghouse-designed 4-loop pressurized-water nuclear reactors operated by Pacific Gas & Electric. The facility is located on about in Avila Beach,...

 and San Onofre
San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station
The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station is a nuclear power plant located on the Pacific coast of California. The site is in the northwestern corner of San Diego County, south of San Clemente, and surrounded by the San Onofre State Park and next to the I-5 Highway.Unit 1 is no longer in service...

. However, voters banned the approval of new nuclear power plants since the late 1970s because of concerns over radioactive waste disposal. In addition, several cities such as Oakland, Berkeley
Berkeley, California
Berkeley is a city on the east shore of the San Francisco Bay in Northern California, United States. Its neighbors to the south are the cities of Oakland and Emeryville. To the north is the city of Albany and the unincorporated community of Kensington...

 and Davis
Davis, California
Davis is a city in Yolo County, California, United States. It is part of the Sacramento–Arden-Arcade–Roseville Metropolitan Statistical Area...

 have declared themselves as nuclear-free zone
Nuclear-free zone
A nuclear-free zone is an area where nuclear weapons and nuclear power are banned. The specific ramifications of these depend on the locale in question....

s.

Transportation



California's vast terrain is connected by an extensive system of controlled-access highways ('freeways'), limited-access road
Limited-access road
A limited-access road known by various terms worldwide, including limited-access highway, dual-carriageway and expressway, is a highway or arterial road for high-speed traffic which has many or most characteristics of a controlled-access highway , including limited or no access to adjacent...

s ('expressways'), and highway
Highway
A highway is any public road. In American English, the term is common and almost always designates major roads. In British English, the term designates any road open to the public. Any interconnected set of highways can be variously referred to as a "highway system", a "highway network", or a...

s. California is known for its car culture, giving California's cities a reputation for severe traffic congestion
Traffic congestion
Traffic congestion is a condition on road networks that occurs as use increases, and is characterized by slower speeds, longer trip times, and increased vehicular queueing. The most common example is the physical use of roads by vehicles. When traffic demand is great enough that the interaction...

. Construction and maintenance of state roads and statewide transportation planning are primarily the responsibility of the California Department of Transportation
California Department of Transportation
The California Department of Transportation is a government department in the U.S. state of California. Its mission is to improve mobility across the state. It manages the state highway system and is actively involved with public transportation systems throughout the state...

, nicknamed "Caltrans". The rapidly growing population of the state is straining all of its transportation networks, and California has some of the worst roads in the United States. The Reason Foundation's 19th Annual Report on the Performance of State Highway Systems ranked California's highways the third-worst of any state, with Alaska second, and Rhode Island first.

One of the state's more visible landmarks, the Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate, the opening of the San Francisco Bay into the Pacific Ocean. As part of both U.S. Route 101 and California State Route 1, the structure links the city of San Francisco, on the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula, to...

 was completed in 1937. With its orange paint and panoramic views of the bay, this highway bridge is a popular tourist attraction and also accommodates pedestrians and bicyclists. It is simultaneously designated as U.S. Route 101, which is part of the El Camino Real
El Camino Real (California)
El Camino Real and sometimes associated with Calle Real usually refers to the 600-mile California Mission Trail, connecting the former Alta California's 21 missions , 4 presidios, and several pueblos, stretching from Mission San Diego de Alcalá in San Diego...

 (Spanish for Royal Road or King's Highway), and State Route 1
California State Route 1
State Route 1 , more often called Highway 1, is a state highway that runs along much of the Pacific coast of the U.S. state of California. It is famous for running along some of the most beautiful coastlines in the world, leading to its designation as an All-American Road.Highway 1 does not run...

, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway. Another of the seven bridges in the San Francisco Bay Area
San Francisco Bay Area
The San Francisco Bay Area, commonly known as the Bay Area, is a populated region that surrounds the San Francisco and San Pablo estuaries in Northern California. The region encompasses metropolitan areas of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose, along with smaller urban and rural areas...

 is the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge (often abbreviated the "Bay Bridge"), completed in 1936. This bridge transports approximately 280,000 vehicles per day on two-decks, with its two sections meeting at Yerba Buena Island
Yerba Buena Island
Yerba Buena Island sits in the San Francisco Bay between San Francisco and Oakland, California. The Yerba Buena Tunnel runs through its center and connects the western and eastern spans of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. It has had several other names over the decades: Sea Bird Island, Wood...

.

Los Angeles International Airport
Los Angeles International Airport
Los Angeles International Airport is the primary airport serving the Greater Los Angeles Area, the second-most populated metropolitan area in the United States. It is most often referred to by its IATA airport code LAX, with the letters pronounced individually...

 and San Francisco International Airport
San Francisco International Airport
San Francisco International Airport is a major international airport located south of downtown San Francisco, California, United States, near the cities of Millbrae and San Bruno in unincorporated San Mateo County. It is often referred to as SFO...

 are major hubs for trans-Pacific and transcontinental traffic. There are about a dozen important commercial airport
Airport
An airport is a location where aircraft such as fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, and blimps take off and land. Aircraft may be stored or maintained at an airport...

s and many more general aviation
General aviation
General aviation is one of the two categories of civil aviation. It refers to all flights other than military and scheduled airline and regular cargo flights, both private and commercial. General aviation flights range from gliders and powered parachutes to large, non-scheduled cargo jet flights...

 airports throughout the state.

California also has several important seaports. The giant seaport complex formed by the Port of Los Angeles
Port of Los Angeles
The Port of Los Angeles, also called Los Angeles Harbor and WORLDPORT L.A, is a port complex that occupies of land and water along of waterfront. The port is located on San Pedro Bay in the San Pedro neighborhood of Los Angeles, approximately south of downtown...

 and the Port of Long Beach in Southern California is the largest in the country and responsible for handling about a fourth of all container cargo traffic in the United States. The Port of Oakland
Port of Oakland
The Port of Oakland was the first major port on the Pacific Coast of the United States to build terminals for container ships. It is now the fifth busiest container port in the United States, behind Long Beach, Los Angeles, Newark, and Savannah...

, fourth largest in the nation, handles trade from the Pacific Rim and delivers most of the ocean containers passing through Northern California to the entire USA.

The California Highway Patrol
California Highway Patrol
The California Highway Patrol is a law enforcement agency of the U.S. state of California. The CHP has patrol jurisdiction over all California highways and also acts as the state police....

 is the largest statewide police agency in the United States in terms of employment with over 10,000 employees. They are responsible for providing any police-sanctioned service to anyone on California's state maintained highways and on state property.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles is by far the largest in North America. By the end of 2009, the California DMV had 26,555,006 driver's licenses and ID cards on file. In 2010, there were 1.17 million new vehicle registrations in force.

Intercity rail travel is provided by Amtrak California
Amtrak California
Amtrak California is a brand name used by the Caltrans Division of Rail for all state-supported Amtrak rail routes within the U.S. State of California...

, which manages the three busiest intercity rail lines in the U.S. outside the Northeast Corridor
Northeast Corridor
The Northeast Corridor is a fully electrified railway line owned primarily by Amtrak serving the Northeast megalopolis of the United States from Boston in the north, via New York to Washington, D.C. in the south, with branches serving other cities...

, all of which are funded by Caltrans. This service is becoming increasingly popular over flying and ridership is continuing to set records, especially on the LAX-SFO route. Integrated subway
Rapid transit
A rapid transit, underground, subway, elevated railway, metro or metropolitan railway system is an electric passenger railway in an urban area with a high capacity and frequency, and grade separation from other traffic. Rapid transit systems are typically located either in underground tunnels or on...

 and light rail
Light rail
Light rail or light rail transit is a form of urban rail public transportation that generally has a lower capacity and lower speed than heavy rail and metro systems, but higher capacity and higher speed than traditional street-running tram systems...

 networks are found in Los Angeles (Metro Rail) and San Francisco (MUNI Metro
San Francisco Municipal Railway
The San Francisco Municipal Railway is the public transit system for the city and county of San Francisco, California. In 2006, it served with an operating budget of about $700 million...

). Light rail systems are also found in San Jose (VTA
Santa Clara VTA Light-rail
VTA Light Rail is a light rail system serving San Jose, California and its suburbs in Silicon Valley. It is operated by the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, or VTA, and consists of of standard-gauge track on two main lines and a spur line...

), San Diego (San Diego Trolley
San Diego Trolley
The San Diego Trolley is a light rail system operating in the metropolitan area of San Diego. The operator, San Diego Trolley, Inc. , is a subsidiary of the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System ...

), Sacramento (RT Light Rail
Sacramento Regional Transit District
The Sacramento Regional Transit District, commonly referred to as RT, is the agency responsible for public transportation in the Sacramento, California area. It was established on April 1, 1973, as a result of the acquisition of the Sacramento Transit Authority...

), and Northern San Diego County (Sprinter). Furthermore, commuter rail networks serve the San Francisco Bay Area (ACE
Altamont Commuter Express
The Altamont Commuter Express is a regional rail service in California connecting Stockton with San Jose....

, BART
Bay Area Rapid Transit
Bay Area Rapid Transit is a rapid transit system serving the San Francisco Bay Area. The heavy-rail public transit and subway system connects San Francisco with cities in the East Bay and suburbs in northern San Mateo County. BART operates five lines on of track with 44 stations in four counties...

, Caltrain
Caltrain
Caltrain is a California commuter rail line on the San Francisco Peninsula and in the Santa Clara Valley in the United States. The northern terminus of the rail line is in San Francisco, at 4th and King streets; its southern terminus is in Gilroy...

), Greater Los Angeles (Metrolink
Metrolink (Southern California)
Metrolink is a commuter rail system serving Los Angeles and the surrounding area of Southern California; it currently consists of six lines and 55 stations using of track....

), and San Diego County (Coaster).

The California High-Speed Rail
California high-speed rail
The California High-Speed Rail project is a planned future high-speed rail system in the state of California and headed by the California High-Speed Rail Authority . Initial funding for the project was approved by California voters on November 4, 2008, with the passage of Proposition 1A...

 Authority was created in 1996 by the state to implement an extensive 700 mile (1127 km) rail system. Construction was approved by the voters during the November 2008 general election, a $9.95 billion state bond will go toward its construction. Nearly all counties operate bus
Bus
A bus is a road vehicle designed to carry passengers. Buses can have a capacity as high as 300 passengers. The most common type of bus is the single-decker bus, with larger loads carried by double-decker buses and articulated buses, and smaller loads carried by midibuses and minibuses; coaches are...

 lines, and many cities operate their own bus lines as well. Intercity bus travel is provided by Greyhound
Greyhound Lines
Greyhound Lines, Inc., based in Dallas, Texas, is an intercity common carrier of passengers by bus serving over 3,700 destinations in the United States, Canada and Mexico, operating under the well-known logo of a leaping greyhound. It was founded in Hibbing, Minnesota, USA, in 1914 and...

 and Amtrak Thruway Coach.

In March 2011, California ranked as a top BEST state in the American State Litter Scorecard for overall effectiveness and quality of its public space cleanliness—-primarily roadway litter—from state and related debris removal efforts.

State government




California is governed as a republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

, with three branches of government
Separation of powers
The separation of powers, often imprecisely used interchangeably with the trias politica principle, is a model for the governance of a state. The model was first developed in ancient Greece and came into widespread use by the Roman Republic as part of the unmodified Constitution of the Roman Republic...

 — the executive branch consisting of the Governor
Governor of California
The Governor of California is the chief executive of the California state government, whose responsibilities include making annual State of the State addresses to the California State Legislature, submitting the budget, and ensuring that state laws are enforced...

 and the other independently elected constitutional officers; the legislative branch consisting of the Assembly
California State Assembly
The California State Assembly is the lower house of the California State Legislature. There are 80 members in the Assembly, representing an approximately equal number of constituents, with each district having a population of at least 420,000...

 and Senate
California State Senate
The California State Senate is the upper house of the California State Legislature. There are 40 state senators. The state legislature meets in the California State Capitol in Sacramento. The Lieutenant Governor is the ex officio President of the Senate and may break a tied vote...

; and the judicial branch consisting of the Supreme Court of California
Supreme Court of California
The Supreme Court of California is the highest state court in California. It is headquartered in San Francisco and regularly holds sessions in Los Angeles and Sacramento. Its decisions are binding on all other California state courts.-Composition:...

 and lower courts. The state also allows direct participation of the electorate by initiative
Initiative
In political science, an initiative is a means by which a petition signed by a certain minimum number of registered voters can force a public vote...

, referendum
Referendum
A referendum is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. This may result in the adoption of a new constitution, a constitutional amendment, a law, the recall of an elected official or simply a specific government policy. It is a form of...

, recall
Recall election
A recall election is a procedure by which voters can remove an elected official from office through a direct vote before his or her term has ended...

, and ratification
Ratification
Ratification is a principal's approval of an act of its agent where the agent lacked authority to legally bind the principal. The term applies to private contract law, international treaties, and constitutionals in federations such as the United States and Canada.- Private law :In contract law, the...

. California allows each political party to choose whether to have a closed primary or a primary where only party members and independents vote. The state's capital is Sacramento
Sacramento, California
Sacramento is the capital city of the U.S. state of California and the county seat of Sacramento County. It is located at the confluence of the Sacramento River and the American River in the northern portion of California's expansive Central Valley. With a population of 466,488 at the 2010 census,...

.

The Governor of California and the other state constitutional officers serve four-year terms and may be re-elected only once. The California State Legislature
California State Legislature
The California State Legislature is the state legislature of the U.S. state of California. It is a bicameral body consisting of the lower house, the California State Assembly, with 80 members, and the upper house, the California State Senate, with 40 members...

 consists of a 40-member Senate and 80-member Assembly. Senators serve four-year terms and Assembly members two. Members of the Assembly are subject to term limit
Term limit
A term limit is a legal restriction that limits the number of terms a person may serve in a particular elected office. When term limits are found in presidential and semi-presidential systems they act as a method to curb the potential for monopoly, where a leader effectively becomes "president for...

s of three terms, and members of the Senate are subject to term limits of two terms.

California's legal system is explicitly based upon English common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

 (as is the case with all other states except Louisiana
Louisiana law
Law in the State of Louisiana is based in part on civil law. Louisiana is unique among the 50 U.S. states in having a legal system partially based on French and Spanish codes and ultimately Roman law, as opposed to English common law...

) but carries a few features from Spanish civil law
Civil law (legal system)
Civil law is a legal system inspired by Roman law and whose primary feature is that laws are codified into collections, as compared to common law systems that gives great precedential weight to common law on the principle that it is unfair to treat similar facts differently on different...

, such as community property
Community property
Community property is a marital property regime that originated in civil law jurisdictions and is now also found in some common law jurisdictions...

. Capital punishment
Capital punishment in California
Capital punishment is a legal form of punishment in the U.S. state of California. The first recorded execution in the area that is now California took place on April 11, 1878 when four Native Americans were shot in San Diego County for conspiracy to commit murder. These were the first of 709...

 is a legal form of punishment and the state has the largest "Death Row
Death row
Death row signifies the place, often a section of a prison, that houses individuals awaiting execution. The term is also used figuratively to describe the state of awaiting execution , even in places where no special facility or separate unit for condemned inmates exists.After individuals are found...

" population in the country (though Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 is far more active in carrying out executions). California's "Death Row" is in San Quentin State Prison
San Quentin State Prison
San Quentin State Prison is a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation state prison for men in unincorporated San Quentin, Marin County, California, United States. Opened in July 1852, it is the oldest prison in the state. California's only death row for male inmates, the largest...

 situated north of San Francisco in Marin County
Marin County, California
Marin County is a county located in the North San Francisco Bay Area of the U.S. state of California, across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. As of 2010, the population was 252,409. The county seat is San Rafael and the largest employer is the county government. Marin County is well...

. Executions in California are currently on hold indefinitely as human rights issues are addressed. California's prison population
Prisons in California
The California State Prison System is administered by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Division of Adult Institutions. which had 170,588 inmates as of 2007 - 475 inmates per 100,000 state residents), has been the focus of attention for growing influence upon the state's...

 grew from 25,000 in 1980 to over 170,000 in 2007.

California's judiciary
Judiciary
The judiciary is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state. The judiciary also provides a mechanism for the resolution of disputes...

 is the largest in the United States (with a total of 1,600 judges, while the federal system has only about 840). It is supervised by the seven Justices of the Supreme Court of California
Supreme Court of California
The Supreme Court of California is the highest state court in California. It is headquartered in San Francisco and regularly holds sessions in Los Angeles and Sacramento. Its decisions are binding on all other California state courts.-Composition:...

. Justices of the Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal are appointed by the Governor, but are subject to retention by the electorate every 12 years.

Politics



Presidential elections results
Year Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

Democratic
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

2008
United States presidential election, 2008
The United States presidential election of 2008 was the 56th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on November 4, 2008. Democrat Barack Obama, then the junior United States Senator from Illinois, defeated Republican John McCain, the senior U.S. Senator from Arizona. Obama received 365...

36.91% 5,011,781 60.94% 8,274,473
2004
United States presidential election, 2004
The United States presidential election of 2004 was the United States' 55th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on Tuesday, November 2, 2004. Republican Party candidate and incumbent President George W. Bush defeated Democratic Party candidate John Kerry, the then-junior U.S. Senator...

44.36% 5,509,826 54.40% 6,745,485
2000
United States presidential election, 2000
The United States presidential election of 2000 was a contest between Republican candidate George W. Bush, then-governor of Texas and son of former president George H. W. Bush , and Democratic candidate Al Gore, then-Vice President....

41.65% 4,567,429 53.45% 5,861,203
1996
United States presidential election, 1996
The United States presidential election of 1996 was a contest between the Democratic national ticket of President Bill Clinton of Arkansas and Vice President Al Gore of Tennessee and the Republican national ticket of former Senator Bob Dole of Kansas for President and former Housing Secretary Jack...

38.21% 3,828,380 51.10% 5,119,835
1992
United States presidential election, 1992
The United States presidential election of 1992 had three major candidates: Incumbent Republican President George Bush; Democratic Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton, and independent Texas businessman Ross Perot....

32.61% 3,630,574 46.01% 5,121,325
1988
United States presidential election, 1988
The United States presidential election of 1988 featured no incumbent president, as President Ronald Reagan was unable to seek re-election after serving the maximum two terms allowed by the Twenty-second Amendment. Reagan's Vice President, George H. W. Bush, won the Republican nomination, while the...

51.13% 5,054,917 47.56% 4,702,233
1984
United States presidential election, 1984
The United States presidential election of 1984 was a contest between the incumbent President Ronald Reagan, the Republican candidate, and former Vice President Walter Mondale, the Democratic candidate. Reagan was helped by a strong economic recovery from the deep recession of 1981–1982...

57.51% 5,467,009 41.27% 3,922,519
1980
United States presidential election, 1980
The United States presidential election of 1980 featured a contest between incumbent Democrat Jimmy Carter and his Republican opponent, Ronald Reagan, as well as Republican Congressman John B. Anderson, who ran as an independent...

52.69% 4,524,858 35.91% 3,083,661
1976
United States presidential election, 1976
The United States presidential election of 1976 followed the resignation of President Richard Nixon in the wake of the Watergate scandal. It pitted incumbent President Gerald Ford, the Republican candidate, against the relatively unknown former governor of Georgia, Jimmy Carter, the Democratic...

49.35% 3,882,244 47.57% 3,742,284
1972
United States presidential election, 1972
The United States presidential election of 1972 was the 47th quadrennial United States presidential election. It was held on November 7, 1972. The Democratic Party's nomination was eventually won by Senator George McGovern, who ran an anti-war campaign against incumbent Republican President Richard...

55.01% 4,602,096 41.54% 3,475,847
1968
United States presidential election, 1968
The United States presidential election of 1968 was the 46th quadrennial United States presidential election. Coming four years after Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson won in a historic landslide, it saw Johnson forced out of the race and Republican Richard Nixon elected...

47.82% 3,467,664 44.74% 3,244,318
1964
United States presidential election, 1964
The United States presidential election of 1964 was held on November 3, 1964. Incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson had come to office less than a year earlier following the assassination of his predecessor, John F. Kennedy. Johnson, who had successfully associated himself with Kennedy's...

40.79% 2,879,108 59.11% 4,171,877
1960
United States presidential election, 1960
The United States presidential election of 1960 was the 44th American presidential election, held on November 8, 1960, for the term beginning January 20, 1961, and ending January 20, 1965. The incumbent president, Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower, was not eligible to run again. The Republican Party...

50.10% 3,259,722 49.55% 3,224,099


California has an idiosyncratic political culture compared to the rest of the country, and is sometimes regarded as a trendsetter. It was the second state to recall their state governor, the second state to legalize abortion, and the only state to ban marriage
Marriage
Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found...

 for gay couples twice by voters (including Proposition 8 in 2008
California Proposition 8 (2008)
Proposition 8 was a ballot proposition and constitutional amendment passed in the November 2008 state elections...

). Voters also passed Proposition 71 in 2004 to fund stem cell
Stem cell
This article is about the cell type. For the medical therapy, see Stem Cell TreatmentsStem cells are biological cells found in all multicellular organisms, that can divide and differentiate into diverse specialized cell types and can self-renew to produce more stem cells...

 research, and Proposition 14 in 2010
California Proposition 14 (2010)
Proposition 14 is a California ballot proposition that appeared on the ballot during the June, 2010 state elections. It is a constitutional amendment that changed California's election processes by consolidating all primary elections for a particular office into an election with one ballot that...

 to completely change the state's primary election
Primary election
A primary election is an election in which party members or voters select candidates for a subsequent election. Primary elections are one means by which a political party nominates candidates for the next general election....

 process. California has also experienced disputes over water rights
California Water Wars
The California Water Wars were a series of conflicts between the city of Los Angeles, farmers and ranchers in the Owens Valley of Eastern California, and environmentalists. As Los Angeles grew in the late 1800s, it started to outgrow its water supply. Fred Eaton, mayor of Los Angeles, realized that...

; and a tax revolt
Tax revolt
A tax revolt is a political struggle to repeal, limit, or roll back a tax.-1930s, The Great Depression:In the United States, the term "tax revolt" is sometimes used to refer to a series of anti-tax state initiative campaigns. The first significant wave of these campaigns was during the 1930s. The...

, culminating with the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978
California Proposition 13 (1978)
Proposition 13 was an amendment of the Constitution of California enacted during 1978, by means of the initiative process. It was approved by California voters on June 6, 1978. It was declared constitutional by the United States Supreme Court in the case of Nordlinger v. Hahn,...

, limiting state property tax
Property tax
A property tax is an ad valorem levy on the value of property that the owner is required to pay. The tax is levied by the governing authority of the jurisdiction in which the property is located; it may be paid to a national government, a federated state or a municipality...

es.

What has been consistent in the last few decades is that California politics has trended towards the Democratic Party
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 and away from the Republican Party
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

. From 1899 to 1939, California had Republican governors. Once very conservative, having elected Republicans until 1958, California is now a reliable liberal, Democratic state. Since 1990, California has generally elected Democratic candidates to federal, state and local offices, including current Governor Jerry Brown
Jerry Brown
Edmund Gerald "Jerry" Brown, Jr. is an American politician. Brown served as the 34th Governor of California , and is currently serving as the 39th California Governor...

; however, the state has elected Republican Governors, though many of its Republican Governors, such as Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger is an Austrian-American former professional bodybuilder, actor, businessman, investor, and politician. Schwarzenegger served as the 38th Governor of California from 2003 until 2011....

, tend to be considered "Moderate Republicans" and more centrist than the national party.

The Democrats also hold a majority in both houses of the state legislature. There are currently 52 Democrats and 27 Republicans in the Assembly; and 25 Democrats and 15 Republicans in the Senate.

The trend towards the Democratic Party is most obvious in presidential elections; the Democratic Party candidate has won California's electoral votes in the last five elections. Additionally, both the state's current Democratic U.S. Senators, Dianne Feinstein
Dianne Feinstein
Dianne Goldman Berman Feinstein is the senior U.S. Senator from California. A member of the Democratic Party, she has served in the Senate since 1992. She also served as 38th Mayor of San Francisco from 1978 to 1988....

, a native and former mayor of San Francisco, and Barbara Boxer
Barbara Boxer
Barbara Levy Boxer is the junior United States Senator from California . A member of the Democratic Party, she previously served in the U.S. House of Representatives ....

, a former congresswoman from Marin County, have held onto their seats since they were first elected in 1992.

In the U.S. House, the Democrats have held a 34–19 edge since the seating of the 110th United States Congress
110th United States Congress
The One Hundred Tenth United States Congress was the meeting of the legislative branch of the United States federal government, between January 3, 2007, and January 3, 2009, during the last two years of the second term of President George W. Bush. It was composed of the Senate and the House of...

 in 2007. As the result of gerrymandering
Gerrymandering
In the process of setting electoral districts, gerrymandering is a practice that attempts to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating geographic boundaries to create partisan, incumbent-protected districts...

, the districts in California are usually dominated by one or the other party with very few districts that could be considered competitive.

In general, Democratic strength is centered in coastal regions
Coastal California
Coastal California refers to the coastal regions of the US state of California. The term is not primarily geographical as it also describes an area distinguished by sociological, economical and political attributes...

 of Los Angeles County and the San Francisco Bay Area
San Francisco Bay Area
The San Francisco Bay Area, commonly known as the Bay Area, is a populated region that surrounds the San Francisco and San Pablo estuaries in Northern California. The region encompasses metropolitan areas of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose, along with smaller urban and rural areas...

. Republican strength is still greatest in eastern parts of the state. Orange County
Orange County, California
Orange County is a county in the U.S. state of California. Its county seat is Santa Ana. As of the 2010 census, its population was 3,010,232, up from 2,846,293 at the 2000 census, making it the third most populous county in California, behind Los Angeles County and San Diego County...

 also remains mostly Republican. One study ranked Berkeley, Oakland
Oakland, California
Oakland is a major West Coast port city on San Francisco Bay in the U.S. state of California. It is the eighth-largest city in the state with a 2010 population of 390,724...

, Inglewood
Inglewood, California
Inglewood is a city in southwestern Los Angeles County, California, southwest of downtown Los Angeles. It was incorporated on February 14, 1908. Its population stood at 109,673 as of the 2010 Census...

 and San Francisco in the top 10 most liberal American cities; and Bakersfield
Bakersfield, California
Bakersfield is a city near the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley in Kern County, California. It is roughly equidistant between Fresno and Los Angeles, to the north and south respectively....

 and Orange
Orange, California
Southern California is well-known for year-round pleasant weather: - On average, the warmest month is August. - The highest recorded temperature was in 1985. - On average, the coolest month is December. - The lowest recorded temperature was in 1950...

 in the top 10 most conservative cities.

Cities, towns and counties

For lists of cities, towns, and counties in California, see List of California counties, List of largest California cities by population, List of incorporated cities and towns in California, List of California urban areas, and California locations by per capita income
California locations by per capita income
All figures as of the census of 2000 by the United States Census Bureau.California is the thirteenth-richest state in the United States of America, with a per capita income of $22,711 .-California counties ranked by per capita income:...

.


The state's local government
Local government
Local government refers collectively to administrative authorities over areas that are smaller than a state.The term is used to contrast with offices at nation-state level, which are referred to as the central government, national government, or federal government...

 is divided into 58 counties and 482 incorporated
Municipal corporation
A municipal corporation is the legal term for a local governing body, including cities, counties, towns, townships, charter townships, villages, and boroughs. Municipal incorporation occurs when such municipalities become self-governing entities under the laws of the state or province in which...

 cities and towns; of which 460 are cities and 22 are towns. Under California law, the terms "city" and "town" are explicitly interchangeable; the name of an incorporated municipality in the state can either be "City of (Name)" or "Town of (Name)".

Sacramento
Sacramento, California
Sacramento is the capital city of the U.S. state of California and the county seat of Sacramento County. It is located at the confluence of the Sacramento River and the American River in the northern portion of California's expansive Central Valley. With a population of 466,488 at the 2010 census,...

 became California's first incorporated city on February 27, 1850. San Jose
San Jose, California
San Jose is the third-largest city in California, the tenth-largest in the U.S., and the county seat of Santa Clara County which is located at the southern end of San Francisco Bay...

, San Diego and Benicia
Benicia, California
Benicia is a waterside city in Solano County, California, United States. It was the first city in California to be founded by Anglo-Americans, and served as the state capital for nearly thirteen months from 1853 to 1854. The population was 26,997 at the 2010 census. The city is located in the San...

 tied for California's second incorporated city, each receiving incorporation on March 27, 1850. Jurupa Valley
Jurupa Valley, California
Jurupa Valley is a city of Riverside County, California. On March 8, 2011, voters approved a ballot measure to incorporate the area into its own city; as a result, the area has been an incorporated city since July 1, 2011....

 became the state's most recent and 482nd incorporated municipality on July 1, 2011.

The majority of these cities and towns are within one of five metropolitan area
Metropolitan area
The term metropolitan area refers to a region consisting of a densely populated urban core and its less-populated surrounding territories, sharing industry, infrastructure, and housing. A metropolitan area usually encompasses multiple jurisdictions and municipalities: neighborhoods, townships,...

s. Sixty-eight percent of California's population lives in its three largest metropolitan areas, Greater Los Angeles Area
Greater Los Angeles Area
The Greater Los Angeles Area, or the Southland, is a term used for the Combined Statistical Area sprawled over five counties in the southern part of California, namely Los Angeles County, Orange County, San Bernardino County, Riverside County and Ventura County...

, the San Francisco Bay Area
San Francisco Bay Area
The San Francisco Bay Area, commonly known as the Bay Area, is a populated region that surrounds the San Francisco and San Pablo estuaries in Northern California. The region encompasses metropolitan areas of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose, along with smaller urban and rural areas...

, and the Riverside-San Bernardino Area. Although smaller, the other two large population centers are the San Diego
San Diego metropolitan area
The San Diego Metropolitan Area, also known as Greater San Diego and officially the San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos Metropolitan Statistical Area, is a metropolitan area on the United States Pacific Coast. The U.S. Census of the Bureau defines the San Diego metropolitan area as encompassing all of...

 and Greater Sacramento
Sacramento metropolitan area
The Greater Sacramento area, or officially Sacramento–Arden Arcade–Yuba City, CA-NV Combined Statistical Area, is a combined statistical area consisting of several metropolitan statistical areas and seven counties in Northern California and one in Western Nevada. These are Sacramento, Yolo, El...

 metro areas.

The state recognizes two kinds of cities: charter
Charter city
A charter city is a city in which the governing system is defined by the city's own charter document rather than by state, provincial, regional or national laws. In locations where city charters are allowed by law, a city can adopt or modify its organizing charter by decision of its administration...

 and general law. General law cities owe their existence to state law and are consequentially governed by it; charter cities are governed by their own city charters. Cities incorporated in the 19th century tend to be charter cities. All ten of the state's most populous cities are charter cities.

Education



Public secondary education
Secondary education in the United States
In most jurisdictions, secondary education in the United States refers to the last six or seven years of statutory formal education. Secondary education is generally split between junior high school or middle school, usually beginning with sixth or seventh grade , and high school, beginning with...

 consists of high schools that teach elective courses in trades, languages, and liberal arts with tracks for gifted, college-bound and industrial arts students. California's public educational system is supported by a unique constitutional amendment
California Proposition 98 (1988)
California Proposition 98 requires a minimum percentage of the state budget to be spent on K-14 education. Prop 98 guarantees an annual increase in education in the California budget. Prop 98, also called the "Classroom Instructional Improvement and Accountability Act," amended the California...

 that requires a minimum annual funding level for grades K-12 and community college
Community college
A community college is a type of educational institution. The term can have different meanings in different countries.-Australia:Community colleges carry on the tradition of adult education, which was established in Australia around mid 19th century when evening classes were held to help adults...

s that grows with the economy and student enrollment figures.

California had over 6.2 million school students in the 2005–06 school year. Funding and staffing levels in California schools lag behind other states. In expenditure per pupil, California ranked 29th (of the 50 states and the District of Columbia
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

) in 2005–06. In teaching staff expenditure per pupil, California ranked 49th of 51. In overall teacher-pupil ratio, California was also 49th, with 21 students per teacher. Only Arizona and Utah were lower.

A 2007 study concluded that California's public school system was "broken".

California's public postsecondary education offers a unique three tiered system:
  • The research university system in the state is the University of California
    University of California
    The University of California is a public university system in the U.S. state of California. Under the California Master Plan for Higher Education, the University of California is a part of the state's three-tier public higher education system, which also includes the California State University...

     (UC), a public university
    Public university
    A public university is a university that is predominantly funded by public means through a national or subnational government, as opposed to private universities. A national university may or may not be considered a public university, depending on regions...

     system. There are ten general UC campuses, and a number of specialized campuses in the UC system.
  • The California State University
    California State University
    The California State University is a public university system in the state of California. It is one of three public higher education systems in the state, the other two being the University of California system and the California Community College system. It is incorporated as The Trustees of the...

     (CSU) system has almost 450,000 students, making it the largest university system in the United States. It is intended to accept the top one-third of high school students. The 23 CSU schools are primarily intended for undergraduate education.
  • The California Community Colleges System
    California Community Colleges system
    The California Community Colleges System consists of 112 community colleges in 72 community college districts in the U.S. state of California...

     provides lower division coursework as well as basic skills and workforce training. It is the largest network of higher education in the US, composed of 110 colleges serving a student population of over 2.9 million.


California is also home to such notable private universities as Stanford University
Stanford University
The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is a private research university on an campus located near Palo Alto, California. It is situated in the northwestern Santa Clara Valley on the San Francisco Peninsula, approximately northwest of San...

, the University of Southern California
University of Southern California
The University of Southern California is a private, not-for-profit, nonsectarian, research university located in Los Angeles, California, United States. USC was founded in 1880, making it California's oldest private research university...

, the California Institute of Technology
California Institute of Technology
The California Institute of Technology is a private research university located in Pasadena, California, United States. Caltech has six academic divisions with strong emphases on science and engineering...

, and the Claremont Colleges
Claremont Colleges
The Claremont Colleges are a prestigious American consortium of five undergraduate and two graduate schools of higher education located in Claremont, California, a city east of downtown Los Angeles...

. California has hundreds of other private colleges and universities, including many religious and special-purpose institutions.

Sports




The State of California is the only US state to have hosted both the Summer
Summer Olympic Games
The Summer Olympic Games or the Games of the Olympiad are an international multi-sport event, occurring every four years, organized by the International Olympic Committee. Medals are awarded in each event, with gold medals for first place, silver for second and bronze for third, a tradition that...

 and Winter Olympics. The 1932
1932 Summer Olympics
The 1932 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the X Olympiad, was a major world wide multi-athletic event which was celebrated in 1932 in Los Angeles, California, United States. No other cities made a bid to host these Olympics. Held during the worldwide Great Depression, many nations...

 and 1984 Summer Olympics
1984 Summer Olympics
The 1984 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXIII Olympiad, was an international multi-sport event held in Los Angeles, California, United States in 1984...

 were held in Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

. Squaw Valley Ski Resort
Squaw Valley Ski Resort
Squaw Valley Ski Resort in Olympic Valley, California, is one of the largest ski areas in the United States, and was the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics. It is the second-largest ski area at Lake Tahoe , with 33 chairlifts, and has the only funitel lift in the U.S...

 hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics
1960 Winter Olympics
The 1960 Winter Olympics, officially known as the VIII Olympic Winter Games, were a winter multi-sport event held between February 18 and 28, 1960 in Squaw Valley, California, United States. In 1955 at the 50th IOC meeting, the organizing committee made the surprise choice to award Squaw Valley as...

. Multiple games during the 1994 FIFA World Cup
1994 FIFA World Cup
The 1994 FIFA World Cup, the 15th staging of the FIFA World Cup, was held in nine cities across the United States from June 17 to July 17, 1994. The United States was chosen as the host by FIFA on July 4, 1988...

 took place in California. The Rose Bowl in Los Angeles hosted eight matches including the final
1994 FIFA World Cup Final
The 1994 FIFA World Cup Final took place in Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California, United States. Brazil won the World Cup against Italy on a penalty shootout after the score was 0–0. This was Brazil's fourth World Cup title. It was also the first ever World Cup final to be decided by a penalty...

. Stanford Stadium
Stanford Stadium
Stanford Stadium is an outdoor athletic stadium on the Stanford University campus, the home of Stanford Cardinal college football team. It originally opened in 1921 as a football and track stadium, an earthen horseshoe with wooden bleacher seating and flooring upon a steel frame...

 which is located outside of San Francisco hosted six matches. The NFL Super Bowl
Super Bowl
The Super Bowl is the championship game of the National Football League , the highest level of professional American football in the United States, culminating a season that begins in the late summer of the previous calendar year. The Super Bowl uses Roman numerals to identify each game, rather...

 has been hosted in California 11 times at four different stadiums.

California has nineteen major professional sports league franchises, far more than any other state. The San Francisco Bay Area
San Francisco Bay Area
The San Francisco Bay Area, commonly known as the Bay Area, is a populated region that surrounds the San Francisco and San Pablo estuaries in Northern California. The region encompasses metropolitan areas of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose, along with smaller urban and rural areas...

 has seven major league teams spread in three cities, San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose
San Jose, California
San Jose is the third-largest city in California, the tenth-largest in the U.S., and the county seat of Santa Clara County which is located at the southern end of San Francisco Bay...

. While the Greater Los Angeles Area is home to ten major league franchises, it is also the largest metropolitan area not to have a team from the National Football League
National Football League
The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...

. San Diego has two major league teams, and Sacramento
Sacramento
Sacramento is the capital of the state of California, in the United States of America.Sacramento may also refer to:- United States :*Sacramento County, California*Sacramento, Kentucky*Sacramento – San Joaquin River Delta...

 has one.

Home to some of the most prominent universities in the United States, California has long had many respected collegiate sports programs. California is home to the oldest college bowl game, the annual Rose Bowl
Rose Bowl Game
The Rose Bowl is an annual American college football bowl game, usually played on January 1 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. When New Year's Day falls on a Sunday, the game is played on Monday, January 2...

, among others.

California has also long been a hub for motorsports and auto racing. The city of Long Beach holds an event every year in the month of April, which is host to IndyCar Series
IndyCar Series
The IZOD IndyCar Series is the premier level of American open wheel racing. The current championship, founded by Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Tony George, began in 1996 as a competitor to CART known as the Indy Racing League . Citing CART's increasing reliance on expensive machinery and...

 racing through the streets of downtown. Long Beach has hosted Formula One
Formula One
Formula One, also known as Formula 1 or F1 and referred to officially as the FIA Formula One World Championship, is the highest class of single seater auto racing sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile . The "formula" designation in the name refers to a set of rules with which...

 events there in the past, and also currently hosts an event on the American Le Mans Series
American Le Mans Series
The American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón is a sports car racing series based in the United States and Canada. It consists of a series of endurance and sprint races, and was created in the spirit of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Teams compete in one of five classes: LMP1, LMP2 and LMPC...

 schedule. Auto Club Speedway is a speedway in Fontana, and currently hosts one to two NASCAR
NASCAR
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing is a family-owned and -operated business venture that sanctions and governs multiple auto racing sports events. It was founded by Bill France Sr. in 1947–48. As of 2009, the CEO for the company is Brian France, grandson of the late Bill France Sr...

 Sprint Cup Series races a year, and used to host CART
Champ Car
Champ Car was the name for a class and specification of open wheel cars used in American Championship Car Racing for many decades, primarily for use in the Indianapolis 500 auto race...

 Indycar races. Infineon Raceway
Infineon Raceway
Infineon Raceway, formerly Sears Point Raceway, is a road course and drag strip located on the landform known as Sears Point in the southern Sonoma Mountains near Sonoma, California, USA. The course is a complex series of twists and turns that go up and down the hills...

 in Sonoma is a multi-purpose facility, featuring a road course and a drag strip. The road course is home to a NASCAR event, an IndyCar
IndyCar
IndyCar is the trade name of an American-based open-wheel auto racing sanctioning body. IndyCar sanctions three racing series, the premier IZOD IndyCar Series with its centerpiece Indianapolis 500, and developmental series Firestone Indy Lights and the U.S...

 event, and used to host an International Motor Sports Association
International Motor Sports Association
The International Motor Sports Association is an American sports car auto racing sanctioning body based in Braselton, Georgia. It was started by John Bishop, a former employee of SCCA , and his wife Peggy in 1969 with help from Bill France, Sr...

 sports car event. The drag strip hosts a yearly NHRA event. Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is a paved road racing track used for both auto racing and motorcycle racing, originally constructed in 1957 near both Salinas and Monterey, California, USA....

 is a roadcourse that currently hosts an ALMS event, and formerly hosted CART events. The Auto Club Raceway at Pomona
Auto Club Raceway at Pomona
Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, formerly known as Pomona Raceway, is a racing facility located in Pomona, California that features a quarter-mile dragstrip. The dragstrip is most famous for hosting the NHRA's Winternationals event since 1961, the traditional season opener, as well as the seasons last...

 has hosted NHRA drag racing for over 50 years.

Below is a list of major sports teams in California:
Club Sport League
Oakland Raiders
Oakland Raiders
The Oakland Raiders are a professional American football team based in Oakland, California. They currently play in the Western Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League...

American football
American football
American football is a sport played between two teams of eleven with the objective of scoring points by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone. Known in the United States simply as football, it may also be referred to informally as gridiron football. The ball can be advanced by...

National Football League
National Football League
The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...

San Diego Chargers
San Diego Chargers
The San Diego Chargers are a professional American football team based in San Diego, California. they were members of the Western Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League...

American football National Football League
San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers are a professional American football team based in San Francisco, California, playing in the West Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League . The team was founded in 1946 as a charter member of the All-America Football Conference and...

American football National Football League
Sacramento Mountain Lions American football United Football League
Los Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers are a professional baseball team based in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers are members of Major League Baseball's National League West Division. Established in 1883, the team originated in Brooklyn, New York, where it was known by a number of nicknames before becoming...

Baseball
Baseball
Baseball is a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams of nine players each. The aim is to score runs by hitting a thrown ball with a bat and touching a series of four bases arranged at the corners of a ninety-foot diamond...

Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are a professional baseball team based in Anaheim, California, United States. The Angels are a member of the Western Division of Major League Baseball's American League. The "Angels" name originates from the city in which the team started, Los Angeles...

Baseball Major League Baseball
Oakland Athletics
Oakland Athletics
The Oakland Athletics are a Major League Baseball team based in Oakland, California. The Athletics are a member of the Western Division of Major League Baseball's American League. From to the present, the Athletics have played in the O.co Coliseum....

Baseball Major League Baseball
San Diego Padres
San Diego Padres
The San Diego Padres are a Major League Baseball team based in San Diego, California. They play in the National League Western Division. Founded in 1969, the Padres have won the National League Pennant twice, in 1984 and 1998, losing in the World Series both times...

Baseball Major League Baseball
San Francisco Giants
San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants are a Major League Baseball team based in San Francisco, California, playing in the National League West Division....

Baseball Major League Baseball
Golden State Warriors
Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors are an American professional basketball team based in Oakland, California. They are part of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association...

Basketball
Basketball
Basketball is a team sport in which two teams of five players try to score points by throwing or "shooting" a ball through the top of a basketball hoop while following a set of rules...

National Basketball Association
National Basketball Association
The National Basketball Association is the pre-eminent men's professional basketball league in North America. It consists of thirty franchised member clubs, of which twenty-nine are located in the United States and one in Canada...

Los Angeles Clippers
Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers are a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, United States. They play in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference of the National Basketball Association...

Basketball National Basketball Association
Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers are an American professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California. They play in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association...

Basketball National Basketball Association
Sacramento Kings
Sacramento Kings
The Sacramento Kings are a professional basketball team based in Sacramento, California, United States. They are currently members of the Western Conference of the National Basketball Association...

Basketball National Basketball Association
Anaheim Ducks
Anaheim Ducks
The Anaheim Ducks are a professional ice hockey team based in Anaheim, California, USA. They are members of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League...

Ice hockey
Ice hockey
Ice hockey, often referred to as hockey, is a team sport played on ice, in which skaters use wooden or composite sticks to shoot a hard rubber puck into their opponent's net. The game is played between two teams of six players each. Five members of each team skate up and down the ice trying to take...

National Hockey League
National Hockey League
The National Hockey League is an unincorporated not-for-profit association which operates a major professional ice hockey league of 30 franchised member clubs, of which 7 are currently located in Canada and 23 in the United States...

Los Angeles Kings
Los Angeles Kings
The Los Angeles Kings are a professional ice hockey team based in Los Angeles, California. They are members of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League...

Ice hockey National Hockey League
San Jose Sharks
San Jose Sharks
The San Jose Sharks are a professional ice hockey team based in San Jose, California, United States. They are members of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League...

Ice hockey National Hockey League
Chivas USA Soccer Major League Soccer
Major League Soccer
Major League Soccer is a professional soccer league based in the United States and sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation . The league is composed of 19 teams — 16 in the U.S. and 3 in Canada...

Los Angeles Galaxy
Los Angeles Galaxy
The Los Angeles Galaxy are an American professional soccer team, based in the Los Angeles suburb of Carson, California, which competes in Major League Soccer , the top professional soccer league in the United States and Canada. It is one of the ten charter clubs of MLS, and the league's second...

Soccer Major League Soccer
San Jose Earthquakes
San Jose Earthquakes
The San Jose Earthquakes professional soccer team is located in the San Jose, California, United States suburb of Santa Clara, and participates in Major League Soccer , the top level soccer league in the United States and Canada....

Soccer Major League Soccer
Los Angeles Sparks
Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks is a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began...

Basketball Women's National Basketball Association
Women's National Basketball Association
The Women's National Basketball Association is a women's professional basketball league in the United States. It currently is composed of twelve teams. The league was founded on April 24, 1996 as the women's counterpart to the National Basketball Association...

California Cougars
California Cougars
The California Cougars are an indoor soccer team, founded in 2004. The team is a charter member of the Professional Arena Soccer League , the first division of arena soccer in North America....

Soccer Professional Arena Soccer League
Professional Arena Soccer League
The Professional Arena Soccer League is an North American indoor soccer league recognized by FIFRA ....

FC Gold Pride
FC Gold Pride
FC Gold Pride was an American professional soccer club based in Santa Clara, California which participated in Women's Professional Soccer. The club replaced the San Jose CyberRays of the defunct Women's United Soccer Association as the top-level women's soccer team in the San Francisco Bay Area...

Soccer Women's Professional Soccer
Women's Professional Soccer
Women's Professional Soccer is the top level professional women's soccer league in the United States. It began play on March 29, 2009. The league was composed of seven teams for its first two seasons and fielded 6 teams for the 2011 season, with continued plans for future expansion...

San Jose SaberCats
San Jose SaberCats
The San Jose SaberCats are a professional arena football team in the Arena Football League. They began play as a 1995 expansion team. They played in the Western Division of the American Conference. Their final coach in the original Arena Football League was Darren Arbet, who will be a part of the...

American football Arena Football League
Arena Football League
The Arena Football League is the highest level of professional indoor American football in the United States. It is currently the second longest running professional football league in the United States, after the National Football League. It was founded in 1987 by Jim Foster...


See also




External links