The western U.S. state of California stretches almost 900 miles from the Mexican border to the Pacific Ocean. The region has cliff-lined beaches, redwood forests, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Central Valley farmlands, and the Mojave Desert. Hollywood is the entertainment capital of the world. The Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, and cable cars are some of the most iconic sights of hilly San Francisco.
QUICK FACTS ABOUT CALIFORNIA
- Capital City: Sacramento
- Largest City: Los Angeles
- Nickname: Golden State
- Statehood: September 9, 1850; 31st state
- Population (as of 2020): 39,538,223
- Abbreviation: CA
- State bird: California valley quail
- State flower: California poppy
- Total Size Of The State: 163,696 sq mi (423,970 km2)
In what is now California, the first people arrived more than 20,000 years ago. They crossed a strip of land from Asia through the Bering Strait, a body of water between Russia and the United States. Hundreds of Native American tribes for thousands of years inhabited this land.
Spaniards were the first Europeans to reach the region in the 16th century. Mexico gained control of California when it gained independence from Spain in 1821. California became a U.S. territory at the end of the Mexican-American War in 1848. Over 100,000 people, nicknamed “forty-niners,” rushed to California in 1849 to find their fortunes after gold was struck at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma in 1848. 1850 was the year California became a state.
Why Does It Have That Name?
California is the name of a mythical paradise described in a 16th-century Spanish novel.
Gold rushes and golden poppies, the state flower, may have contributed to California’s nickname, the Golden State.
Geographic Features and Landforms
The Pacific Ocean borders California in the west, Oregon in the north, Nevada and Arizona in the east, and Mexico in the south.
Explore the coast’s 1,100 miles of sandy beaches, cliffs, and mountains. Go northeast to find forests with redwood trees that are as tall as a football field-about 380 feet tall. Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the 48 contiguous states and part of the Sierra Nevada range, lies east of the redwoods. Are you interested in hot weather? Visit the Mojave Desert, which stretches 25,000 square miles. You can find miles of farmland in the Central Valley, located in the state’s center.
The Natural World
Remember to look for wild pigs, mountain lions, bighorn sheep, deer, and elk. You may also catch a glimpse of a bald eagle, a California condor, or a California quail, the state bird. Blue whales, California sea lions, and green turtles swim close to the coast. California sea lions, leatherback sea turtles, and sea otters are also there.
California is home to more than 6,500 types of plants. Joshua trees, which grow only in the Mojave Desert, fragrant magnolia trees, thorny coral trees, purple-flowered jacaranda trees, and lots of cacti can be seen here.
California is likely to have grown the fruit you’re eating. California is the top U.S. producer of lemons, apricots, avocados, dates, figs, grapes, nectarines, peaches, raspberries, strawberries, and other fruits. In addition to fruit, California also produces almonds, pistachios, and walnuts, leading the nation in production. In addition, more than 90 percent of the broccoli grown in the United States comes from there.
Timber, cement, natural gas, and petroleum are also produced in the state.
Some Fun Facts About California
- California’s Death Valley has an average daily high of 115.5°F in June, making it North America’s hottest desert. Fill up before you go. You may have to travel 50 miles to find a gas station.
- In Sequoia National Park, a giant sequoia tree named General Sherman is the world’s largest tree by volume. There may be as many as 2,700 years old in this rock with a diameter of 102, feet-bigger than a basketball court.
- California has been the setting for more movies than any other state.
- Surfers flock to the state because of the 50-foot-high waves. Anaheim opened Disneyland in 1955. Since then, the park has been visited by 750 million people.
- Like New York and Texas, California has many sports teams, including the world-renowned Los Angeles Lakers of the NBA.