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State of California !
State flag of California State seal of California
(Flag of California) (Seal of California)
State nickname: The Golden State
Map of the U.S. with California highlighted
Other U.S. States
Capital Sacramento
Largest city Los Angeles
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R)
Official languages English
Area 410,000 km² (3rd)
 - Land 404,298 km²
 - Water 20,047 km² (4.7%)
Population (2000)
 - Population 33,871,648 (1st)
 - Density 83.78 /km² (12th)
Admission into Union
 - Date September 9, 1850
 - Order 31st
Time zonePacific: UTC-8/-7
Latitude32°30'N to 42°N
Longitude114°8'W to 124°24'W
Width 402.5 km
Length 1,240 km
 - Highest 4421 m
 - Mean 884 m
 - Lowest -86 m
 - ISO 3166-2 US-CA
Web site

Template:US state symbols California is a U.S. state located on the west coast of the United States. California is the third largest state in the U.S. by area and the most populous state in the U.S., as well as the most physically diverse, with the highest and the lowest points in the lower 48 states located within 150 miles of each other. If California were an independent nation, it would have the sixth largest economy in the world (after the rest of the U.S., Japan, Germany, Britain and China; see economy of California). The state's official nickname is "The Golden State" in reference to California's 1849 Gold Rush. Template:Ref

As one of the most demographically diverse states in the nation, California is a dominant force in American culture as well as the nation's economy. It has some of the nation's most important cities, including Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, and San Francisco, and is responsible for many legal and technological innovations.

The entire region originally known as California was composed of the Mexican peninsula now known as Baja California and much of the land in the current states of California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and Wyoming, known as Alta California. In these early times, the boundaries of the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific coast were only partially explored and California was shown on early maps as an island. The name comes from Las sergas de Esplandián (Adventures of Splandian), a 16th century novel, by Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo, where there is an island paradise called California. (For further discussion, see: Origin of the name California.)



Main articles: History of California, History of California (20th century)

Pre-European California was one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse culture areas in Native North America. Large, settled populations lived on the West Coast and hunted sea mammals, fished for salmon, and gathered shellfish, while more mobile hunters and gathering groups in the California interior hunted terrestrial game and gathered nuts, acorns, and berries. California groups also were diverse in their political organization with bands, tribes, tribelets, and on the resource-rich coasts large chiefdoms, such as the Chumash, Pomo and Salinan. Trade, intermarriage, and military alliances fostered many social and economic relationships among the diverse groups.

The first European to explore parts of the coast was the Portuguese Juãn Rodrigues Cabrillo in 1542. The first to explore the entire coast and claim possession of it was Francis Drake in 1579. Beginning in the late 1700s, Spanish missionaries set up tiny settlements on enormous grants of land in the vast territory north of Baja California. The missions played a dominant role in the decimation of California's indigenous population. Upon Mexican independence from Spain, the chain of missions became the property of the Mexican government, and they were quickly dissolved and abandoned. For a quarter century after the achievement of Mexican independence in 1821, California was a remote northern province of the nation of Mexico. Huge cattle ranches, or ranchos, emerged as the dominant institutions of Mexican California. Traders and settlers from the United States began to arrive, harbingers of the great changes that would sweep California.

In this period, some nobles of Imperial Russia made brief attempts to explore and claim parts of California, but these were limited by a lack of Imperial interest.

California was poorly settled until modern public health eliminated the endemic outbreaks of yellow fever, malaria and plague, caused because the area lacks frosts to kill mosquitos and fleas.

In 1846, at the outset of the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), the California Republic was founded and the Bear Flag was flown, which featured a golden bear and a star. The Republic came to a sudden end, however, when Commodore John D. Sloat of the United States Navy sailed into San Francisco Bay and claimed California for the United States. Following the war, the region was divided between Mexico and the United States. The Mexican portion, Baja (lower) California was later divided into the states of Baja California and Baja California Sur. The western part of the U.S. portion, Alta (upper) California, was to become the U.S. state of California.

In 1848, the Spanish-speaking population of distant upper California numbered around 4,000. But after gold was discovered, the population burgeoned with Americans, Europeans, and other immigrants in the great California gold rush. In 1850, the state was admitted to the Union of the USA as a free state (one in which slavery was prohibited).

During the American Civil War, California officially entered on the side of the North, but there was significant support for the South as well and many went east to fight for the Confederacy.

At first, travel between the far Pacific West to the eastern population centers was time-consuming and dangerous, requiring either long ocean voyages, or difficult transcontinental passages by stagecoach and on foot. A more direct connection came in 1869 with the completion of the first transcontinental railroad. After this rail link was established, hundreds of thousands of Americans 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. Citrus, oranges in particular, were widely grown, and the foundation was laid for the state's prodigious agricultural production of today.

During the early 20th century, migration to California accelerated with the completion of major transcontinental highways like the Lincoln Highway 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. From 1965 to the present, the population demographic changed radically and became one of the most diverse in the world. The state is generally liberal-leaning, technologically and culturally savvy, and a world center of engineering businesses, the film and television industry, music industry, and as mentioned above, American agricultural production.

Law and government

Main article: California government and politics

California is governed as a republic, with three branches of government, the executive branch consisting of the Governor of California and the other independently elected constitutional officers, the legislative branch consisting of the Assembly and Senate, and the judicial branch consisting of the Supreme Court of California and lower courts. The state also allows direct participation of the electorate by referendum, recall, and ratification.

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 consists of a 40 member Senate and 80 member Assembly. Senators serve four year terms and Assembly members two. The terms of the Senators are staggered so that half the membership is elected every two years. The Senators representing the odd-numbered districts are elected in years evenly divisible by four, i.e., presidential election years. The Senators from the even-numbered districts are elected in the intervening even-numbered years, in the gubernatorial election cycle. California's legislature is organized in such a way that the party caucus leaders wield great power and can usually speak on behalf of their caucuses. Many important legislative decisions are thus not made on the floor of the legislature but in back-room deals by the "Big Five", which comprises the governor and the Democratic and Republican leaders of each chamber. Members of the Assembly are subject to term limits of 3 terms, and members of the Senate are subject to term limits of 2 terms.

For the 2005–2006 session, there are 48 Democrats and 32 Republicans in the Assembly. In the Senate, there are 25 Democrats and 15 Republicans. The current governor is action film star Arnold Schwarzenegger, Republican, whose current term lasts through January 2007. Schwarzenegger was only the second person in the history of the United States to be put into office by a recall of a sitting governor (the first was the 1921 recall of North Dakota Governor Lynn J. Frazier). Schwarzenegger replaced Governor Gray Davis (1999–2003), who was removed from office by the October 2003 California recall election.

The state's capital is Sacramento. During California's early history under European control, the capital was successively located in Monterey (1775–1849), San Jose (1849–1851), Vallejo (1852–1853), Benicia (1853–1854), and San Francisco (1862). The capital moved to Sacramento temporarily in 1852 when construction on a State House could not be completed in time in Vallejo. The capital's final move to Sacramento was on February 25, 1854 where it has been permanently, except for a four-month temporary move in 1862 to San Francisco, due to severe flooding in Sacramento.

California's giant judiciary 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. 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. Judges of the trial courts, the Superior Courts in each county, may be appointed by the Governor or elected directly by the voters, depending on when the vacancy occurs. Superior Court judges serve six-year terms, after which they may run for re-election. Unlike the retention elections for Supreme Court and Court of Appeal justices, Superior Court judges run for re-election in open races, in which other qualified candidates may run as challengers.

California's legal system is explicitly based on English common law but carries a few features from Spanish civil law. Capital punishment is a legal form of punishment and the state has the largest "Death Row" population in the country.

At the national level, California is represented by two senators and 53 representatives, as of 2005. It has 55 electoral votes in the U.S. Electoral College. (Since California is the most populous state in the Union, its counts of Congressmen and Presidential Electors are also the largest.) The two U.S. Senators from California are Democrats Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. 33 Democrats and 20 Republicans represent the state in the U.S. House of Representatives.

California is considered a strong Democratic state. Once very conservative, having elected conservatives such as Ronald Reagan as governor and William Knowland as Senator, California has flipped sides in recent decades and became a liberal bastion, having elected statewide liberals such as Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer to the Senate. The latter is known for being one of the most liberal members of the US Senate. Even some recent Republican politicians elected statewide, such as Governors Pete Wilson and Arnold Schwarzeneggar are considered members of the more moderate to liberal wing of the national Republican Party. While California is among the most Democratic and liberal states in the nation because of the large concentration of liberal voters in populous areas along the coast, much of California is politically very conservative, notably the Central Valley, the Inland Empire, Orange and San Diego counties, and most inland, eastern, and rural areas. Democratic bastions are mostly coastal and include the entire San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Salinas, Santa Barbara, and Imperial County. The state has supported Democrats in the last four presidential elections. In 2004, Republican President George W. Bush received a majority of votes in more than half the state's 58 counties, but still lost California's 55 electoral votes to John Kerry, who won 54.3% of the popular vote, by a margin of 10 percentage points.

Ballot qualified political parties

See also: List of California Governors, U.S. Congressional Delegations from California, List of California counties, List of California ballot propositions


Main article: Geography of California

Template:Ussm California borders the Pacific Ocean, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, and the Mexican state of Baja California. The state has strikingly beautiful natural features, including an expansive central valley, tall mountains, hot deserts, and hundreds of miles of scenic coastline. With an area of 411,000 km² it is the third largest state in the U.S and larger than Germany in size. Most major cities are at or near the Pacific coastline, notably Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, Long Beach, Oakland, Santa Ana/Orange County, and San Diego. However, the capital, Sacramento, is in the Central Valley.

California has extremely varied geography. In the center of the state lies the California Central Valley, a huge, fertile valley bounded by the coastal mountain ranges in the west, the granite Sierra Nevada to the east, the volcanic Cascade Range in the north and the Tehachapi Mountains in the south. Mountain-fed rivers, dams, and canals provide water to irrigate the Central Valley. Water supply for much of the state, particularly the more populous cities in Southern California, is provided by the State Water Project. The Central Valley Project also provides municipal water supply, though it primarily provides water supply to irrigated agriculture. With dredging, several of these rivers have become sufficiently large and deep that several inland cities, notably Stockton, are seaports. The hot, fertile Central Valley is California's agricultural heartland and grows a large portion of America's food, yet near freezing temperatures are not uncommon during winter which sometimes wipe out portions of crops. The southern part of the valley, which is part desert, is known as the San Joaquin Valley (drained by the San Joaquin River), while the northern half is known as the Sacramento Valley (drained by the Sacramento River). The Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta is major estuary that supports a brackish ecosystem, while serving as the water supply hub for much of the state's population.

In the center and east of the state are the Sierra Nevada (meaning Snowy Range in Spanish), containing the highest peak in the contiguous lower 48 states, Mount Whitney, at 14,505 feet (4421 m). Also located in the Sierra are the world famous Yosemite National Park and a deep freshwater lake, Lake Tahoe, the largest lake in the state by volume. To the east of the Sierra are Owens Valley and Mono Lake, an essential seabird habitat. To the west is Clear Lake, California's largest freshwater lake by area. The Sierra Nevada reaches arctic temperatures in the winter and holds several dozen small glaciers, including the most southern glacier in the United States (Palisade Glacier).

California has about 35% of its total surface area covered by forests. California's diversity of pine species is unmatched by any other state. Though other states have a higher percentage of their land area covered by forests, in terms of total area, California contains more forestland than any other state except Alaska. Most of the forest is found in 2 places. First, in the northwestern part of the state and along the western slope of the Sierra Nevada. Smaller forests, mainly consisting of oaks, can be found along the coast ranges of California closer to the coast, and also in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Smaller areas of pine forests can be found in the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountains of Southern California and also in the mountain areas of Central San Diego Country.

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Greetings from California

Deserts in California make up about 25% of the total surface area. In the south lie the Transverse Ranges and a large salt lake, the Salton Sea. The south-central desert is called the Mojave. To the northeast of the Mojave lies Death Valley, which contains the lowest, hottest point in North America. The lowest point of Death Valley and the peak of Mount Whitney are less than 200 miles apart. The hiking trek between the two points has been attempted, several times, most notably by Lee Bergthold. Indeed, almost all of southeastern California is arid, hot desert, with the Coachella Valley and Imperial Valley routinely experiencing extreme high temperatures during the summer.

Along the densely-populated and long California coast lie a number of major metropolitan areas, including those of San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, Los Angeles-Long Beach, Santa Ana-Irvine-Anaheim, and San Diego. Climates near the Pacific Ocean are remarkably moderate compared with inland climates. Winter temperatures never reach freezing (snow is virtually unheard of) and summer temperatures rarely reach above the high 80's Fahrenheit (low 30's Celsius).

California is famous for earthquakes due to the presence of a number of faults, in particular the San Andreas Fault. While powerful earthquakes in the United States have occurred in other states such as Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and the Midwestern state of Missouri, (along the New Madrid fault), people are more aware of California's earthquakes due to their frequency and tendency to strike in highly populated areas. Some people believe that a huge, inevitable earthquake will result in the splitting of coastal California from the continent, either to sink into the ocean or form a new island. Notable movies in which the possible destruction of much of California by an earthquake include the titles Earthquake, A View to a Kill, Escape from L.A. and Superman.

California is also home to several volcanoes, some active such as Mammoth Mountain. Other volcanoes include Lassen Peak, which erupted from 1914 and 1921, and Mount Shasta.


Different regions of California have very different climates, depending on their latitude, elevation, and proximity to the coast. Most of the state has a Mediterranean climate, with rainy winters and dry summers. The influence of the ocean generally moderates temperature extremes, creating warmer winters and substantially cooler summers, and the cold oceanic California Current offshore often creates summer fog near the coast. As one moves away from the coast, the climate becomes more continental, with colder winters and markedly hotter summers. The temperature gradient between immediate coast and low-lying inland valleys in the north is about 7 °F (4 °C) in winter, coast being warmer, and in summer roughly 25 °F (14 °C) but opposite. In the south, the figures are approximately 4 and 23 °F (2 °C and 13 °C), respectively; however 4 °F and 35 °F (2 °C and 20 °C) between Santa Barbara and Death Valley.

Westerly winds from the ocean also bring moisture, and the northern parts of the state generally receive higher rainfall than the south. California's mountain ranges influence the climate as well: moisture-laden air from the west cools as it ascends the mountains, dropping moisture; some of the rainiest parts of the state are west-facing mountain slopes. Northwestern California has a temperate climate with rainfall of 15–40 inches (400–1000 mm) per year. The Central Valley has a Mediterranean climate, but with greater temperature extremes than the coastal areas; parts of the valley are often filled with thick fog, similar to that found in the coastal valleys. The high mountains, including the Sierra Nevada, have a mountain climate with snow in winter and mild to moderate heat in summer.

On the east side of the mountains is a drier "rain shadow." California's desert climate regions lie east of the high Sierra Nevada and southern California's Transverse Ranges and Peninsular Ranges. The low deserts east of the southern California mountains, including the Imperial and Coachella valleys and the lower Colorado River, are part of the Sonoran Desert, with hot summers and mild winters; the higher elevation deserts of eastern California, including the Mojave Desert, Owens Valley, and the Modoc Plateau, are part of the Great Basin region, with hot summers and cold winters.

Death Valley, in the northern portion of the Mojave Desert on the east side of the state, is the hottest spot on the Western Hemisphere, with high temperatures over 120 °F common in the summer. The highest temperature in the Western Hemisphere, 134 °F (56.6 °C), was recorded in Death Valley on July 10, 1913. Temperatures of 130 °F or higher have been recorded as recently as 2005. The 24-hour average July temperature in Death Valley is 101 °F (38 °C) (1961--1990 standard).


Main article: Ecology of California

Ecologically, California is one of the richest and most diverse parts of the world, and includes some of the most endangered ecological communities. California's diverse geography, geology, soils and climate have generated a tremendous diversity of plant and animal life. The State of California is part of the Nearctic ecozone, and spans a number of terrestrial ecoregions, and is perhaps the most ecologically diverse state in the United States.

California has a rather high percentage of endemic species. California endemics include relict species that have died out elsewhere, including the redwoods and the Catalina Ironwood (Lyonothamnus floribundus). Many other endemics originated through differentiation or adaptive radiation, whereby multiple species develop from a common ancestor to take advantage of diverse ecological conditions. California's great abundance of species of California lilac (Ceanothus) is an example of adaptive radiation. Many California endemics have become endangered, as urbanization, logging, overgrazing, and the introduction of exotic species have encroached on their habitat. Furthermore, California is home to the largest trees in the world, the Giant Sequoias.

California's native grasses were perennials, which stayed green year-round in most of the state's subclimatesTemplate:Ref. After European contact, these were generally replaced by invasive species of European annual grasses; and, in modern times, California's hills turn a characteristic golden brown in summer and fall. California's nickname The Golden State is in reference to the California Gold Rush, and not to the golden brown summer hillsides as is sometimes stated.Template:Ref label


Main article: Economy of California

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The Hollywood Sign is the most well-known symbol of California's huge entertainment industry.
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Silicon Valley is the center of California's computer industry.

As of 2005, California has the fifth largest economy in the world. It is responsible for 13% of the United States' gross domestic product (GDP). The gross state product (GSP) is about $1.4 trillion ($1,400,000,000,000, as of 2005), making it greater than that of every other U.S. state, and most countries in the world (by Purchasing Power Parity).

The predominant industry, more than twice as large as the next, is agriculture, (including fruit, vegetables, dairy, and wine). This is followed by aerospace; entertainment, primarily television by dollar volume, although many movies are still made in California; and light manufacturing including computer hardware and software, and the mining of borax.

Per capita personal income was $33,403 as of 2003, ranking 12th in the nation. Per capita income varies widely by geographic region and profession. The Central Valley has the most extreme contrasts of income, with migrant farm workers making less than minimum wage. Recently, the San Joaquin Valley was characterized [1] ( as one of the most economically depressed regions in the U.S., on par with the region of Appalachia.

While some coastal cities include some of the wealthiest per-capita areas in the U.S., notably San Francisco and Marin County, the non-agricultural central counties have some of the highest poverty rates in the U.S. The high-technology sectors in Northern California, specifically Silicon Valley, in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, are currently emerging from economic downturn caused by the bust, which caused the loss of over 250,000 jobs in Northern California alone. Recent (Spring 2005) economic data ( indicate that economic growth has resumed in California, although still slightly below the national annualized forecast of 3.9%. The international boom in housing prices has been most pronounced in California, with the median property price in the state rising to about the half-million dollar mark in April 2005.




Historical populations

1850 92,597
1860 379,994
1870 560,247
1880 864,694
1890 1,213,398
1900 1,485,053
1910 2,377,549
1920 3,426,861
1930 5,677,251
1940 6,907,387
1950 10,586,223
1960 15,717,204
1970 19,953,134
1980 23,667,902
1990 29,760,021
2000 33,871,648

As of 2005, California has an estimated population of 36,132,147, which is an increase of 290,109, or 0.8%, from the prior year and an increase of 2,260,494, or 6.7%, since the year 2000, making California the 13th fastest-growing state (after Nevada, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Utah, Idaho, Texas, Colorado, North Carolina, Delaware, Virginia, and Washington State). This includes a natural increase since the last census of 1,557,112 people (that is 2,781,539 births minus 1,224,427 deaths) and an increase due to net migration of 751,419 people into the state. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 1,415,879 people, and migration within the country produced a net loss of 664,460 people.

California is the most populous state—more than 12 percent of Americans live in the state. California's population is larger than all but 33 countries. About two million more people live in California than in all of Canada.

Racial and Ancestral Makeup

The Census Bureau considers race and Hispanic origin to be two separate categories. Hispanics must not only select "Hispanic"; they must also select a race such as White or Asian, or, simply "some other race." This makes interpreting Census data difficult. Thus, for the sake of simplicity, the data below does consider Hispanic origin to be its own category. It therefore shows only non-Hispanic members of each group: non-Hispanic Whites, non-Hispanic Eskimos, non-Hispanic people of two or more races, etc. For more information on race and the Census, see here.
2000 Census [2] ( 2003 Estimate [3] (
White 47.4% 45.2%
Hispanic/Latino 32.4% 34.3%
Asian 11.0% 11.4%
Black 6.5% 6.3%
Two or More Races 1.9% 1.9%
Native American and Inuit 0.5% 0.5%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 0.3% 0.3%

California lacks a majority ethnic group. It is the third minority-majority state, after Hawaii and New Mexico. Non-Hispanic Whites are still the largest group, but are no longer a majority of the population due to high levels of immigration in recent years. Hispanics make up over one-third of the population; in order, other groups are Asians, Blacks, and Native Americans.

Because of high levels of immigration from Latin America, especially Mexico, and higher birth rates among the Hispanic population, Hispanics are predicted to become a majority in the state around 2040. California has the second-largest Asian population (percentage-wise) of any state, Hawaii having the largest.

The largest ancestries in California are Mexican (25%), Filipino, German, Irish, Italian, and Asian. Mexicans predominate in Southern California, the Central Valley, Salinas, and parts of the San Francisco Bay area. Irish and German ancestries are dominant in the eastern Sierra Nevada, the far north, and the North Coast. Italians are clustered near San Fransisco Bay, the wine country surrounding it, and Southern California. San Francisco has the greatest concentration of Asians in the continental United States, with Chinese numerous in San Francisco, Alameda, and Santa Clara counties and Filipinos particularly numerous in San Mateo county.


As of 2000, 60.5% of California residents age 5 and older speak English at home and 25.8% speak Spanish. Chinese is the third most spoken language at 2.6%, followed by Tagalog at 2.5% and Vietnamese at 1.3%. The indigenous languages of California number more than one hundred and show much diversity making California one of the most linguistically diverse areas in the world. Most are in danger of language death, despite revitalization efforts. Since 1986, the California Constitution has specified English as the common and official language of the state. The politics of language, particularly concerning language policy regarding the teaching and official use of immigrant languages is a major political issue in the state.


The religious affiliations of the people of California:

As with many other western states, the percentage of California's population identifying themselves as "non-religious" is high, relative to the rest of the U.S.

Important cities and towns

The state of California has 478 cities, the majority of which are within one of the large metropolitan areas. 68% of California's population lives in its two largest metropolitan areas, Greater Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Rank City Population
city limits
Land Area
sq. miles
per sq mi
1 Los Angeles 3,957,875 469.1 7,876.8 Los Angeles
2 San Diego 1,305,736 324.3 3,771.9 San Diego
3 San Jose 944,857 174.9 5,117.9 Santa Clara
4 San Francisco 799,263 46.7 16,634.4 San Francisco
5 Long Beach 491,564 50.5 9,149.8 Los Angeles
6 Fresno 464,727 104.4 4,097.7 Fresno
7 Sacramento 452,959 97.2 4,189.2 Sacramento
8 Oakland 412,318 56.1 7,126.6 Alameda
9 Santa Ana 351,697 27.1 12,451.9 Orange
10 Anaheim 345,317 48.9 6,702.0 Orange

Rank County Population
county limits
Land Area
sq. miles
per sq mi
Largest city
1 Los Angeles 10,226,506 4,061 2,344 Los Angeles
2 Orange 3,056,865 789 3,606 Santa Ana
3 San Diego 3,051,280 4,200 670 San Diego
4 San Bernardino 1,946,202 20,052 85 San Bernardino
5 Riverside 1,877,000 7,207 214 Riverside
6 Santa Clara 1,759,585 1,291 1,304 San Jose
7 Alameda 1,507,500 738 732 Oakland
8 Sacramento 1,369,855 966 1,267 Sacramento
9 Contra Costa 1,020,898 720 492 Concord
10 Fresno 883,537 5,963 134 Fresno

Note: table was compiled using California State estimates from 2005 ( for population and Census 2000 for area and density

For a list of important suburbs within the above areas, see List of urbanized areas in California (by population).

Template:See also

25 wealthiest places in California

Thanks to the state's powerful economy, certain California cities are among the wealthiest on the planet. The following list is ranked by per capita income:

  1. Belvedere, California – Marin County – $113,595
  2. Rancho Santa Fe, California – San Diego County – $113,132
  3. Atherton, California – San Mateo County – $112,408
  4. Rolling Hills, California – Los Angeles County – $111,031
  5. Woodside, California – San Mateo County – $104,667
  6. Portola Valley, California – San Mateo County – $99,621
  7. Newport Coast, California – Orange County – $98,770
  8. Hillsborough, California – San Mateo County – $98,643
  9. Diablo, California – Contra Costa County – $95,419
  10. Fairbanks Ranch, California – San Diego County – $94,150
  11. Hidden Hills, California – Los Angeles County – $94,096
  12. Los Altos Hills, California – Santa Clara County – $92,840
  13. Tiburon, California – Marin County – $85,966
  14. Sausalito, California – Marin County – $81,040
  15. Monte Sereno, California – Santa Clara County – $76,577
  16. Indian Wells, California – Riverside County $76,187
  17. Malibu, California – Los Angeles County – $74,336
  18. Del Monte Forest, California – Monterey County – $70,609
  19. Piedmont, California – Alameda County – $70,539
  20. Montecito, California – Santa Barbara County – $70,077
  21. Palos Verdes Estates, California – Los Angeles County – $69,040
  22. Emerald Lake Hills, California – San Mateo County – $68,966
  23. Loyola, California – Santa Clara County – $68,730
  24. Blackhawk-Camino Tassajara, California – Contra Costa County – $66,972
  25. Los Altos, California – Santa Clara County – $66,776


Note: Marin County ranks as the wealthiest county in the United States based on per capita personal income.

30 poorest places in California

Many California communities rank among the poorest in the western world. The following list is ranked by increasing per capita income, first number is state ranking:

1076 Tobin, California - Plumas County - $2,584
1075 Belden, California - Plumas County - $3,141
1074 East Orosi, California - Tulare County - $4,984
1073 London, California - Tulare County - $5,632
1072 Cantua Creek, California - Fresno County - $5,693
1071 Indian Falls, California - Plumas County - $5,936
1070 Westley, California - Stanislaus County - $6,137
1069 Cutler, California - Tulare County - $6,254
1068 Mecca, California - Riverside County - $6,389
1067 Richgrove, California - Tulare County - $6,415
1066 San Joaquin, California - Fresno County - $6,607
1065 Woodville, California - Tulare County - $6,824
1064 Kennedy, California - San Joaquin County $6,876
1063 Mettler, California - Kern County - $6,919
1062 Mendota, California - Fresno County - $6,967
1061 Terra Bella, California - Tulare County - $7,034
1060 Parlier, California - Fresno County -$7,078
1059 Orange Cove, California - Fresno County - $7,126
1058 Parksdale, California - Madera County - $7,129
1057 Earlimart, California - Tulare County - $7,169
1056 South Dos Palos, California - Merced County - $7,170
1055 Winterhaven, California - Imperial County - $7,220
1054 Shackelford, California - Stanislaus County - $7,250
1053 Palo Verde, California - Imperial County - $7,275
1052 Biola, California - Fresno County - $7,375
1051 Kettleman City, California - Kings County - $7,389
1050 Arvin, California - Kern County - $7,408
1049 Coachella, California - Riverside County - $7,416
1048 Bret Harte, California - Stanislaus County - $7,481
1047 Traver, California - Tulare County - $7,642



California's public educational system is supported by a unique constitutional amendment that requires 40% of state revenues to be spent on education.

The preeminent state university is the University of California, which employs more Nobel Prize winners than any other institution in the world and is considered one of the finest public higher-education systems in the country. The nine general UC campuses are in Berkeley, Los Angeles, San Diego, Davis, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, Irvine, Riverside, and Merced. The University of California, San Francisco, teaches only graduate health-sciences students, and the Hastings College of Law, also in San Francisco, is one of UC's four law schools. The UC system is intended to accept students from the top 12.5% of college-bound students, and provide most graduate studies and research. The University of California also administers federal laboratories for the Federal Department of Energy: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The California State University system includes 23 universities and provides education for teachers, the trades, engineering, agriculture and industry. With over 400,000 students, the CSU system is the largest university system in the United States. It is intended to accept most college-bound high-school students, while carrying out some research, especially in applied sciences. Lower-division course credits are frequently transferable to the University of California.

The California Community Colleges system provides vocational education, remedial education, and continuing education programs. It awards certificates and associate degrees and also provides lower division general-education courses, whose credit units are transferable to the CSU and UC systems. It is composed of 109 colleges organized into 72 districts, serving a student population of over 2.9 million.

Notable private universities include Stanford University, the University of Southern California (USC), Santa Clara University (SCU), the Claremont Colleges, and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) (which administers the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA).

California has hundreds more private colleges and universities, including many religious and special-purpose institutions. This leads to many unique entertainment and educational opportunities for residents. For example, Southern California, with one of the highest densities of post-secondary institutions in the world, has a very large base of classically trained vocalists that compete in large choir festivals. Near Los Angeles, there are numerous art and film institutes, including the CalArts Institute.

Public secondary education consists of high schools that teach elective courses in trades, languages and liberal arts with tracks for gifted, college-bound and industrial arts students. They accept students from roughly age 14 to 18, with mandatory education ceasing at age 16. In many districts, junior high schools or middle schools teach electives with a strong skills-based curriculum, for ages from 11 to 13. Elementary schools teach pure skills, history and social studies, with optional half-day kindergartens beginning at age 5. Mandatory full-time instruction begins at age 6.

The primary schools are of varying effectiveness. The quality of the local schools depends strongly on the local tax base, and the size of the local administration. In some regions, administrative costs divert a significant amount of educational monies from instructional purposes. In poor regions, literacy rates may fall below 70%. One thing they all have in common is a state mandate to teach fourth grade students about the history of California, including the role of the early missions; most schools implement this by requiring students complete a multiple medium project.


California's large population has helped to make it home to many professional sports teams, including fifteen major professional sports league franchises, far more than any other state. However, since the re-location of the Los Angeles Raiders and Los Angeles Rams in the 1990s, it could be argued that no one city is able to lay claim to a "Grand Slam" (i.e. having a team in each of the four leagues) unless Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose are counted as being in a single metropolitan area.

Major league teams

Template:Col-begin Template:Col-3 Major League Baseball

National Basketball Association

National Football League

Template:Col-3 National Hockey League

Other teams

Arena Football League

Major League Soccer

Women's National Basketball Association



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Caltrans builds tall "stack" interchanges whose soaring ramps offer stunning views.
California's vast terrain is connected by an extensive system of freeways, expressways, and highways, all maintained by Caltrans and patrolled by the California Highway Patrol, except for the numbered expressways in Santa Clara County which were built and maintained by the county itself. The main north-south arteries are U.S. Highway 101, which runs close to the coast from the state's border with Oregon to downtown Los Angeles, and Interstate 5, which runs inland from the Oregon to Mexico borders, bisecting the entire state. California is known for its car culture, and its residents typically take to the roads for their commutes, errands, and vacations, giving California's cities a reputation for severe traffic congestion. Almost all California highways are non-toll roads. Notable exceptions are any major bridges.

As for air travel, Los Angeles International Airport and San Francisco International Airport are major hubs for trans-Pacific and transcontinental traffic. There are about a dozen important commercial airports and many more general aviation airports throughout the state's 58 counties.

California also has several important seaports. The giant seaport complex formed by the Port of Los Angeles 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 handles most of the ocean containers passing through Northern California.

Intercity rail travel is provided by Amtrak. Los Angeles and San Francisco both have subway networks, in addition to light rail. San Jose and Sacramento have only light rail, though portions of San Jose light rail serve as EL Trains. Metrolink commuter rail serves much of Southern California, and Caltrain commuter rail connects San Jose and Gilroy (commute hour only) to San Francisco. Altamont Commuter Express (ACE) connects Tracy, Livermore and other edge cities with San Jose. BART, an express rail service, connects San Francisco and Oakland to Millbrae in the southwest, Fremont in the southeast, Dublin and Pleasanton in the east, Richmond in the north, and Pittsburg in the northeast. Despite its name, it does not encompass the entire Bay Area; the North Bay and South Bay regions are not currently included in the system. San Diego has Trolley light rail and Coaster commuter rail services. Nearly all counties operate bus lines, and many cities operate their own bus and light rail lines as well.

Both Greyhound and Amtrak provide intercity bus service.

The rapidly growing population of the state is straining all of its transportation networks. A regularly recurring issue in California politics is whether the state should continue to aggressively expand its freeway network or concentrate on improving mass transit networks in urban areas.

The California High Speed Rail Authority was created some years back by the state to implement an extensive 700 mile (1127 km) rail system. Construction is pending approval of the voters during next November's General Election where a 9 billion dollar state bond would have to be approved.

Pictures and Clipart

California Clipart and Pictures (

Lesson Plans, Printables and Activites


  1. Template:Note Template:Note label The California Secretary of State's statement on the origin of 'The Golden State' as California's nickname (
  2. Template:Note United States Department of Agriculture article on California's perennial native grasses (
  3. Template:Note Template:Web reference
  • Chartkoff, Joseph L.; & Chartkoff, Kerry Kona. (1984). The archaeology of California. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  • Fagan, Brian. (2003). Before California: An archaeologist looks at our earliest inhabitants. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
  • Moratto, Michael J.; & Fredrickson, David A. (1984). California archaeology. Orlando: Academic Press.

See also


External links

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