Set your curiosity free with richer, better connected information.

California

State of the United States of America

Top 10 California related articles

Coordinates: 37°N 120°W / 37°N 120°W / 37; -120

California
California[1]
Nickname(s): 
Golden State[2]
Motto(s): 
Anthem: "I Love You, California"
Map of the United States with California highlighted
CountryUnited States
Before statehoodCalifornia Republic
Admitted to the UnionSeptember 9, 1850 (31st)
CapitalSacramento[2]
Largest cityLos Angeles
Largest metroGreater Los Angeles
Government
 • GovernorGavin Newsom (D)
 • Lieutenant GovernorEleni Kounalakis (D)
LegislatureState Legislature
 • Upper houseState Senate
 • Lower houseState Assembly
JudiciarySupreme Court of California
U.S. senatorsDianne Feinstein (D)
Kamala Harris (D)
U.S. House delegation
  • 45 Democrats
  • 7 Republicans
  • 1 Vacant
(list)
Area
 • Total163,696 sq mi (423,970 km2)
 • Land155,959 sq mi (403,932 km2)
 • Water7,737 sq mi (20,047 km2)  4.7%
Area rank3rd
Dimensions
 • Length770 mi (1,240 km)
 • Width250 mi (400 km)
Elevation
2,900 ft (880 m)
Highest elevation14,505 ft (4,421.0 m)
Lowest elevation−279 ft (−85.0 m)
Population
 (2019)
 • Total39,512,223[9][10]
 • Rank1st
 • Density253.6/sq mi (97.9/km2)
 • Density rank11th
 • Median household income
$71,228 (2,018)[11]
 • Income rank
9th
Demonym(s)Californian
Language
 • Official languageEnglish
 • Spoken languageLanguage spoken at home[12]
Time zoneUTC-08:00 (PST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-07:00 (PDT)
USPS abbreviation
CA
ISO 3166 codeUS-CA
Trad. abbreviationCalif., Cal.
Latitude32°32′ N to 42° N
Longitude114°8′ W to 124°26′ W
Websitewww.ca.gov
California state symbols
Living insignia
AmphibianCalifornia red-legged frog
BirdCalifornia quail
Fish
FlowerCalifornia poppy
GrassPurple needlegrass
InsectCalifornia dogface butterfly
Mammal
ReptileDesert tortoise
TreeCoast redwood & giant sequoia[13]
Inanimate insignia
ColorsBlue & gold[14]
DanceWest Coast Swing
Folk danceSquare dance
FossilSabre-toothed cat
GemstoneBenitoite
MineralNative gold
RockSerpentine
SoilSan Joaquin
SportSurfing
TartanCalifornia state tartan
State route marker
State quarter
Released in 2005
Lists of United States state symbols

California is a state in the Pacific Region of the United States. With 39.5 million residents across a total area of about 163,696 square miles (423,970 km2), California is the most populous U.S. state and the third-largest by area, and is also the world's thirty-fourth most populous subnational entity. California is also the most populated subnational entity in North America, and has its state capital in Sacramento. The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation's second- and fifth-most populous urban regions, with 18.7 million and 9.7 million residents respectively.[15] Los Angeles is California's most populous city, and the country's second-most populous, after New York City. California also has the nation's most populous county, Los Angeles County, and its largest county by area, San Bernardino County. The City and County of San Francisco is both the country's second most densely populated major city after New York City and the fifth most densely populated county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs.

California's economy, with a gross state product of $3.0 trillion, is the largest sub-national economy in the world.[16] If it were a country, California would be the fifth-largest economy in the world,[17] and the 37th-most populous as of 2020.[18] The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation's second- and third-largest urban economies ($1.3 trillion and $1.0 trillion respectively as of 2020), after the New York metropolitan area ($2.0 trillion).[19] The San Francisco Bay Area PSA had the nation's highest gross domestic product per capita in 2018 ($106,757) among large primary statistical areas,[20] and is home to four of the world's ten largest companies by market capitalization[21] and four of the world's ten richest people.[22]

California culture is considered a global trendsetter in popular culture, communication, information, innovation, environmentalism, economics, politics, and entertainment. As a result of the state's diversity and migration, California integrates foods, languages, and traditions from other areas across the country and around the globe. It is considered the origin of the American film industry, the hippie counterculture, barbecue, fast food, beach and car culture, the Internet,[23] and the personal computer,[24] among others.[25][26] The San Francisco Bay Area and the Greater Los Angeles Area are widely seen as centers of the global technology and entertainment industries, respectively. California's economy is very diverse: 58% of it is based on finance, government, real estate services, technology, and professional, scientific, and technical business services.[27] Although it accounts for only 1.5% of the state's economy,[27] California's agriculture industry has the highest output of any U.S. state.[28][29][30]

California shares a border with Oregon to the north, Nevada and Arizona to the east, and the Mexican state of Baja California to the south. The state's diverse geography ranges from the Pacific Coast in the west to the Sierra Nevada mountain range in the east, and from the redwood and Douglas fir forests in the northwest to the Mojave Desert in the southeast. The Central Valley, a major agricultural area, dominates the state's center. Although California is well-known for its warm Mediterranean climate, the large size of the state results in climates that vary from moist temperate rainforest in the north to arid desert in the interior, as well as snowy alpine in the mountains. Over time, drought and wildfires have become more frequent.[31][32]

What is now California was first settled by various Native Californian tribes before being explored by a number of Europeans during the 16th and 17th centuries. The Spanish Empire then claimed and colonized it. In 1804 it was included in Alta California province, within the Viceroyalty of New Spain. The area became a part of Mexico in 1821 following its successful war for independence but was ceded to the United States in 1848 after the Mexican–American War. The western portion of Alta California was then organized and admitted as the 31st state on September 9, 1850. The California Gold Rush starting in 1848 led to dramatic social and demographic changes, with large-scale emigration from the east and abroad with an accompanying economic boom.

California Intro articles: 158

Etymology

The Spaniards gave the name Las Californias to the peninsula of Baja California and to Alta California, the region that became the present-day states of California, Nevada, and Utah, and parts of Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Wyoming.[33]

The name likely derived from the mythical island of California in the fictional story of Queen Calafia, as recorded in a 1510 work The Adventures of Esplandián by Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo.[34] This work was the fifth in a popular Spanish chivalric romance series that began with Amadis de Gaula.[34][35][36][37] Queen Calafia's kingdom was said to be a remote land rich in gold and pearls, inhabited by beautiful black women who wore gold armor and lived like Amazons, as well as griffins and other strange beasts.[34][38][39] In the fictional paradise, the ruler Queen Calafia fought alongside Muslims and her name may have been chosen to echo the title of a Muslim leader, the Caliph. It is possible the name California was meant to imply the island was a Caliphate.[34][40]

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.

— Chapter CLVII of The Adventures of Esplandián[41]

Shortened forms of the state's name include CA, Cal., Calif., and US-CA.

California Etymology articles: 13

History

A map of California tribal groups and languages at the time of European contact

First inhabitants

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. Various estimates of the native population range from 100,000 to 300,000.[42] The indigenous peoples of California included more than 70 distinct ethnic groups of Native Americans, ranging from large, settled populations living on the coast to groups in the interior. 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 and Salinan. Trade, intermarriage and military alliances fostered many social and economic relationships among the diverse groups.

Spanish rule

Mission San Diego de Alcalá drawn as it was in 1848. Established in 1769, it was the first of the California Missions.
The Russian Empire established their largest settlement in California at Fort Ross in 1812.

The first European to explore the California coast as far north as the Russian River was a Spanish sailing expedition, led by Portuguese captain Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, in 1542. Some 37 years later privateer and explorer Francis Drake also explored and claimed an undefined portion of the California coast in 1579. Spanish traders made unintended visits with the Manila galleons on their return trips from the Philippines beginning in 1565.[43] The first Asians to set foot on what would be the United States occurred in 1587, when Filipino sailors arrived in Spanish ships at Morro Bay.[44] Sebastián Vizcaíno explored and mapped the coast of California in 1602 for New Spain.

Despite the on-the-ground explorations of California in the 16th century, Rodríguez's idea of California as an island persisted. That depiction appeared on many European maps well into the 18th century.[45]

After the Portolà expedition of 1769–70, Spanish missionaries led by Junipero Serra began setting up 21 California Missions on or near the coast of Alta (Upper) California, beginning in San Diego. During the same period, Spanish military forces built several forts (presidios) and three small towns (pueblos). The San Francisco Mission grew into the city of San Francisco, and two of the pueblos grew into the cities of Los Angeles and San Jose. Several other smaller cities and towns also sprang up surrounding the various Spanish missions and pueblos, which remain to this day.

The Spanish colonization began decimating the natives through epidemics of various diseases for which the indigenous peoples had no natural immunity, such as measles and diphtheria.[46] The establishment of the Spanish systems of government and social structure, which the Spanish settlers had brought with them, also technologically and culturally overwhelmed the societies of the earlier indigenous peoples.

During this same period, Russian ships also explored along the California coast and in 1812 established a trading post at Fort Ross. Russia's early 19th-century coastal settlements in California were positioned just north of the northernmost edge of the area of Spanish settlement in San Francisco Bay, and were the southernmost Russian settlements in North America. The Russian settlements associated with Fort Ross were spread from Point Arena to Tomales Bay.[47]

Mexican rule

Map showing Alta California in 1838, when it was a sparsely populated Mexican province[48]

In 1821, the Mexican War of Independence gave Mexico (including California) independence from Spain. For the next 25 years, Alta California remained as a remote, sparsely populated, northwestern administrative district of the newly independent country of Mexico.

After Mexican independence from Spain, the missions, which controlled most of the best land in the state, were secularized by 1834 and became the property of the Mexican government.[49] The governor granted many square leagues of land to others with political influence. These huge ranchos or cattle ranches emerged as the dominant institutions of Mexican California. The ranchos developed under ownership by Californios (Hispanics native of California) who traded cowhides and tallow with Boston merchants. Beef did not become a commodity until the 1849 gold Rush.

From the 1820s, trappers and settlers from the United States and the future Canada arrived in Northern California. These new arrivals used the Siskiyou Trail, California Trail, Oregon Trail and Old Spanish Trail to cross the rugged mountains and harsh deserts in and surrounding California.

The flag used by Juan Bautista Alvarado in his 1836 independence movement

The early government of the newly independent Mexico was highly unstable, and in a reflection of this, from 1831 onwards, California also experienced a series of armed disputes, both internal and with the central Mexican government.[50] During this tumultuous political period Juan Bautista Alvarado was able to secure the governorship during 1836–1842.[51] The military action which first brought Alvarado to power had momentarily declared California to be an independent state, and had been aided by American and British residents of California,[52] including Isaac Graham.[53] In 1840, one hundred of those residents who did not have passports were arrested, leading to the Graham affair.[52]

One of the largest ranchers in California was John Marsh. After failing to obtain justice against squatters on his land from the Mexican courts, he determined that California should become part of the United States. Marsh conducted a letter-writing campaign espousing the California climate, the soil, and other reasons to settle there, as well as the best route to follow, which became known as "Marsh's route". His letters were read, reread, passed around, and printed in newspapers throughout the country, and started the first wagon trains rolling to California.[54] He invited immigrants to stay on his ranch until they could get settled, and assisted in their obtaining passports.[55]

After ushering in the period of organized emigration to California, Marsh helped end the rule of the last Mexican governor of California, thereby paving the way to California's ultimate acquisition by the United States.[56]

California Republic and conquest

The original Bear Flag, photographed in 1890

In 1846, a group of American settlers in and around Sonoma 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 only president was William B. Ide,[57] who played a pivotal role during the Bear Flag Revolt. This revolt by American settlers served as a prelude to the later American military invasion of California and was closely coordinated with nearby American military commanders.

The California Republic was short lived;[58] the same year marked the outbreak of the Mexican–American War (1846–48).[59] When Commodore John D. Sloat of the United States Navy sailed into Monterey Bay and began the military occupation of California by the United States, Northern California capitulated in less than a month to the United States forces.[60] After a series of defensive battles in Southern California, the Treaty of Cahuenga was signed by the Californios on January 13, 1847, securing American control in California.[61]

Early American period

Miners during the California Gold Rush
California being Admitted to the Union under the Compromise of 1850
Merchant ships at San Francisco harbor; c. 1850–51
Guidon of the California 100 Company (Company A) during the Civil War
Depiction of the 1869 completion of the first transcontinental railway. The Last Spike (1881) by Thomas Hill.

Following the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (February 2, 1848) that ended the war, the westernmost portion of the annexed Mexican territory of Alta California soon became the American state of California, and the remainder of the old territory was then subdivided into the new American Territories of Arizona, Nevada, Colorado and Utah. The even more lightly populated and arid lower region of old Baja California remained as a part of Mexico. In 1846, the total settler population of the western part of the old Alta California had been estimated to be no more than 8,000, plus about 100,000 Native Americans, down from about 300,000 before Hispanic settlement in 1769.[62]

In 1848, only one week before the official American annexation of the area, gold was discovered in California, this being an event which was to forever alter both the state's demographics and its finances. Soon afterward, a massive influx of immigration into the area resulted, as prospectors and miners arrived by the thousands. The population burgeoned with United States citizens, Europeans, Chinese and other immigrants during the great California Gold Rush. By the time of California's application for statehood in 1850, the settler population of California had multiplied to 100,000. By 1854, more than 300,000 settlers had come.[63] Between 1847 and 1870, the population of San Francisco increased from 500 to 150,000.[64] California was suddenly no longer a sparsely populated backwater, but seemingly overnight it had grown into a major population center.

The seat of government for California under Spanish and later Mexican rule had been located in Monterey from 1777 until 1845.[49] Pio Pico, last Mexican governor of Alta California, had briefly moved the capital to Los Angeles in 1845. The United States consulate had also been located in Monterey, under consul Thomas O. Larkin.

In 1849, a state Constitutional Convention was first held in Monterey. Among the first tasks of the Convention was a decision on a location for the new state capital. The first full legislative sessions were held in San Jose (1850–1851). Subsequent locations included Vallejo (1852–1853), and nearby Benicia (1853–1854); these locations eventually proved to be inadequate as well. The capital has been located in Sacramento since 1854[65] with only a short break in 1862 when legislative sessions were held in San Francisco due to flooding in Sacramento.

Once the state's Constitutional Convention had finalized its state constitution, it applied to the U.S. Congress for admission to statehood. On September 9, 1850, as part of the Compromise of 1850, California became a free state and September 9 a state holiday.

During the American Civil War (1861–1865), California was able to send gold shipments eastwards to Washington in support of the Union cause;[66] however, due to the existence of a large contingent of pro-South sympathizers within the state, the state was not able to muster any full military regiments to send eastwards to officially serve in the Union war effort. Still, several smaller military units within the Union army were unofficially associated with the state of California, such as the "California 100 Company", due to a majority of their members being from California.

At the time of California's admission into the Union, travel between California and the rest of the continental United States had been a time-consuming and dangerous feat. Nineteen years afterwards, in 1869, shortly after the conclusion of the Civil War, a more direct connection was developed with the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad in 1869. California was then easy to reach.

Much of the state 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.

Indigenous peoples

Yokayo, a village of Pomo people, in Ukiah, Mendocino County; c. 1916.

Under earlier Spanish and Mexican rule, California's original native population had precipitously declined, above all, from Eurasian diseases to which the indigenous people of California had not yet developed a natural immunity.[67] Under its new American administration, California's harsh governmental policies towards its own indigenous people did not improve. As in other American states, many of the native inhabitants were soon forcibly removed from their lands by incoming American settlers such as miners, ranchers, and farmers. Although California had entered the American union as a free state, the "loitering or orphaned Indians" were de facto enslaved by their new Anglo-American masters under the 1853 Act for the Government and Protection of Indians. There were also massacres in which hundreds of indigenous people were killed.

Between 1850 and 1860, the California state government paid around 1.5 million dollars (some 250,000 of which was reimbursed by the federal government)[68] to hire militias whose purpose was to protect settlers from the indigenous populations. In later decades, the native population was placed in reservations and rancherias, which were often small and isolated and without enough natural resources or funding from the government to sustain the populations living on them. As a result, the rise of California was a calamity for the native inhabitants. Several scholars and Native American activists, including Benjamin Madley and Ed Castillo, have described the actions of the California government as a genocide.[69]

1900–present

Hollywood film studios, 1922
The "Birthplace of Silicon Valley" garage, where Stanford University graduates William Hewlett and David Packard developed their first product in the 1930s

Migration to California accelerated during the early 20th century 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 the greatest in the Union. In 1940, the Census Bureau reported California's population as 6.0% Hispanic, 2.4% Asian, and 89.5% non-Hispanic white.[70]

To meet the population's needs, major engineering feats like the California and Los Angeles Aqueducts; the Oroville and Shasta Dams; and the Bay and Golden Gate Bridges were built across the state. The state government also adopted the California Master Plan for Higher Education 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 in Hollywood in the 1920s. California manufactured 8.7 percent of total United States military armaments produced during World War II, ranking third (behind New York and Michigan) among the 48 states.[71] California however easily ranked first in production of military ships during the war (transport, cargo, [merchant ships] such as Liberty ships, Victory ships, and warships) at drydock facilities in San Diego, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area.[72][73][74][75] After World War II, California's economy greatly expanded due to strong aerospace and defense industries,[76] whose size decreased following the end of the Cold War.[76][77] Stanford University and its Dean of Engineering Frederick Terman 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.[78] As a result of these efforts, California is regarded as a world center of the entertainment and music industries, of technology, engineering, and the aerospace industry, and as the United States center of agricultural production.[79] Just before the Dot Com Bust, California had the fifth-largest economy in the world among nations.[80] Yet since 1991, and starting in the late 1980s in Southern California, California has seen a net loss of domestic migrants in most years. This is often referred to by the media as the California exodus.[81]

During the 20th century, two great disasters happened in California. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake and 1928 St. Francis Dam flood remain the deadliest in U.S history.[82]

Although air pollution problems have been reduced, health problems associated with pollution have continued. The brown haze known as "smog" has been substantially abated after the passage of federal and state restrictions on automobile exhaust.[83][84]

An energy crisis in 2001 led to rolling blackouts, soaring power rates, and the importation of electricity from neighboring states. Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas and Electric Company came under heavy criticism.[85]

Housing prices in urban areas continued to increase; a modest home which in the 1960s cost $25,000 would cost half a million dollars or more in urban areas by 2005. More people commuted longer hours to afford a home in more rural areas while earning larger salaries in the urban areas. Speculators bought houses they never intended to live in, expecting to make a huge profit in a matter of months, then rolling it over by buying more properties. Mortgage companies were compliant, as everyone assumed the prices would keep rising. The bubble burst in 2007-8 as housing prices began to crash and the boom years ended. Hundreds of billions in property values vanished and foreclosures soared as many financial institutions and investors were badly hurt.[86][87]

California History articles: 126