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Alternate uses: See California (disambiguation)

(In Detail[?]) (Full size)
State nickname: The Golden State

In Detail
Capital Sacramento
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water
 - % water
Ranked 3rd
410,000 kmē
404,298 kmē
20,047 kmē
 - Total (2000)
 - Density
Ranked 1st
Admittance into Union
 - Order
 - Date

September 9, 1850
Time zone Pacific: UTC-8/-7
32°30'N to 42°N
114°8'W to 124°24'W
402.5 km
1,240 km
4,418 meters
884 meters
86 meters below sea level
ISO 3166-2:US-CA
The state of California is located in the western United States with Sacramento as its capital. The state's official nickname is "The Golden State" and its U.S. Postal abbreviation is CA.

USS California was named in honor of this state.

Table of contents

History Main article: History of California.

California was the name given to the northwestern part of the Spanish Empire in North America. Following the Mexican-American War of 1847, the region was divided between the Mexican State of Baja California and "Alta California" which became the U.S. state of California in 1850.

Law and Government

Main article: California Government and Politics

See: List of California counties

The state's capital is Sacramento and its current Governor is Gray Davis (Democrat). Its two U.S. senators are Barbara Boxer (Democrat) and Dianne Feinstein (Democrat).

Geography Main article: Geography of California

California borders the Pacific Ocean, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, and the Mexican State of Baja California. The state has striking natural features, including a huge fertile central valley, high mountains, and hot dry deserts. With an area of 410,000 km² it is the third largest state in the U.S. Most major cities cling to the cool, pleasant seacoast along the Pacific, notably San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. The capital, however, is Sacramento in the Central Valley. California has many types of geography. Down the center of the state lies the Central Valley, a huge, fertile valley bounded by the coastal mountain ranges in the west, the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the east, the Cascade Mountains in the north and the the Tehachapi Mountains[?] in the south. Mountain-fed rivers naturally irrigate the Central Valley. With dredging, several of these rivers have become sufficiently large and deep that several inland cities, notably Stockton, California, are seaports.

In the center and east of the state are the Sierra Nevada Mountains, containing the highest peak in the continental U.S., Mt. Whitney[?], at 4,418 meters (14,495 ft). Also in the Sierras is the world famous Yosemite National Park and a deep freshwater lake, Lake Tahoe. To the east of the Sierras is the Owens Valley[?] which contains Mono Lake, an essential seabird habitat.

In the south lie the San Bernardino Mountains[?] and a large salt lake, the Salton Sea[?]. The south-central desert is called the Mojave[?]. Just to the north east of the Mojave, lies Death Valley, which contains the lowest, hottest point in North America.


The southern part of the state has a desert climate, with temperature extremes and 10 inches/year of rain. The coastal regions have a Mediterranean climate[?], with wet winters and dry summers. There is a temperate climate with 15-40 inches/year rainfall in the north. The Central Valley has a continental climate, with chilly winters and very hot summers. The high mountains, including the Sierra Nevada, have a mountain climate[?] with snow in winter and moderate heat in summer.

Biotopes: desert, savanna with scattered oaks, second-growth taiga (coniferous forest), especially in the north and at high altitudes. Mountain-tops contain tundra, fellfields (stoney ground with patches of meadow), and krumwald[?] (dwarf forests).

Modified Dept. of Commerce map with county divisions
For a larger version of this map click here

Note: Modified map released under the GNU FDL.


California is responsible for 14% of American gross domestic product, which at nearly $1.4 trillion is greater than that of every country in the world save for the United States, Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom.

The predominant industry, more than twice as large as the next largest, 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 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, contrasted with farmers who frequently manage multimillion-dollar farms. Most farm managers are highly educated, most with at least master's degrees. While cities include some of the wealthiest per-capita areas in the U.S., notably Irvine in Orange County, the non-agricultural central counties have some of the highest poverty rates in the U.S. The high-technology sectors in Orange County and Silicon Valley, in Santa Clara County are currently in a recession because of the dot.com bust, but medical systems[?], video games and animation are taking up the slack.

A particular problem with California's economy is that it does not attract manufacturing. The 8% sales tax makes it uneconomic to locate major factories in the state, because that tax must be paid on capital equipment[?]. California also has unusually high unemployment and worker's compensation (for on-the-job injury) taxes. Major manufacturers, especially aerospace, are also leaving the state or shifting production. For this reason, no major new factories have been built in California for many years, and the state suffers a severe lack of good-paying manufacturing jobs. This means that the middle class in California consists almost entirely of small businesspeople and construction and transportation workers, with a small leavening of knowledge workers -- a nearly pure service economy. Manufacturing costs are made even higher by high land and housing prices, which cause workers to need very high pay.

In 2001 the Small Business Survival Committee[?] ranked California among the worst states in the U.S. in which to run a small business. It was in 44th place.


With a 2000 population of 33,871,648, California is the most populous State in the U.S., having 12% of the total U.S. population.

According to the 2000 census, California lacks a clear ethnic majority. Hispanics lead, followed by whites, blacks, Asians[?] and Native Americans. The group with the largest birth rate are Spanish-speaking Catholics, who are expected to be the majority around 2040.

Important Cities and Towns


See: List of colleges and universities in California

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

The preeminent university is the University of California, which employs more Nobel Prize winners than any other institution in the world. It has several campuses, notably in Berkeley, Los Angeles, San Francisco[?] (no undergraduate programs), San Diego (includes Scripps Institution of Oceanography), Irvine, Riverside and Santa Barbara. It is intended to accept students from the upper 20% of college-bound students, and provide most graduate studies and research. The preeminent law school is Berkeley Law School. The preeminent medical school is the University of California at San Francisco. The University of California also administers federal laboratories for the Federal Department of Energy: Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, and Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory.

The California State Universities educate for teachers, the trades, agriculture and industry. They are intended to accept most college-bound high-school students, and give excellent value in education, while carrying out some research, especially in applied sciences. Lower-division course credits are frequently transferable to the University of California.

The community college system educates students in the trades, providing certificates, and associate-arts degrees. It also provides lower division general-education courses transferable to the State University and the University of California.

Preeminent private institutions include Stanford University, the University of Southern California (USC), and the California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech) (which administers the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA).

California has hundreds of excellent 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 prestigious Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Art Institute.

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 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%.

Golden State
State Animal:California grizzly bear
State Bird:California Quail
State Color:blue and gold
State Capital:Sacramento
State Dance:West Coast Swing Dancing
State Fish:Golden trout
State Flower:California Poppy
State Fossil:Sabertooth cat
State Insect:California dogface butterfly
State Motto:"Eureka!"
State Song:"I love you, California"
State Tree:California redwood
State Mineral:Gold
State Rock:Serpentine[?]
State Soil:San Joaquin Soil

Professional Sports Teams

See: List of professional sports teams in California

Miscellaneous Information

Major Highways

External Links

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