California is a state located on the West Coast of the
United States. It is the most populous
state, home to one out of eight Americans (38 million people), and is the third
largest state by area (after Alaska
is bordered by Oregon to the
north, Nevada to the east,
to the southeast, and the
of Baja California to the south.
It is home to the nation's second and fifth most populous census statistical
areas (Greater Los Angeles area and San Francisco Bay Area, respectively), and
eight of the nation's 50 most populated cities (Los Angeles, San Diego, San
Jose, San Francisco, Fresno, Sacramento, Long Beach, and Oakland). Sacramento is
the state capital.
was first settled by various Native American tribes before being explored by a
number of European expeditions throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. It was
then claimed by the Spanish Empire as part of Alta California
in the larger
territory of New Spain.
became a part of Mexico
in 1821 following its successful war for independence, but would later be ceded
to the United States
in 1848 after the Mexican-American War. The western portion of Alta
California was soon organized as the State of
California, which was admitted as the 31st state on
September 9, 1850. The California Gold Rush started in 1848 and led
to dramatic social and demographic change, with large-scale immigration from the
and abroad and an accompanying economic boom.
California's diverse geography ranges from the
in the west, to the Sierra Nevada in the east – from the
Redwood–Douglas-fir forests of the northwest, to the Mojave Desert
areas in the southeast. The center of the state is dominated by the
Central Valley, a major agricultural area.
contains both the highest and lowest points in the contiguous
United States (Mount Whitney
and Death Valley), and has the 3rd longest coastline of
all states (after Alaska and
Florida). Earthquakes are a common occurrence because of
the state's location along the Pacific Ring of Fire: about 37,000 are recorded
annually, but most are too small to feel.
At least half of the fresh fruit produced in the
are now cultivated in
and the state also leads in the production of vegetables. Other important
contributors to its economy include aerospace, education, manufacturing, and
high-tech industry. If it were a country, it would be the 9th largest economy in
the world and the 34th most populous.
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