State of California
The Golden State[1]
Anthem: "I Love You, California"
Map of the United States with California highlighted
Map of the United States with California highlighted
CountryUnited States
Before statehoodMexican Cession unorganized territory
Admitted to the UnionSeptember 9, 1850 (1850-09-09) (31st)
Largest cityLos Angeles
Largest county or equivalentLos Angeles
Largest metro and urban areasGreater Los Angeles
 • GovernorGavin Newsom (D)
 • Lieutenant GovernorEleni Kounalakis (D)
LegislatureState Legislature
 • Upper houseState Senate
 • Lower houseState Assembly
JudiciarySupreme Court of California
U.S. senatorsDianne Feinstein (D)
Alex Padilla (D)
U.S. House delegation
 • Total163,696 sq mi (423,970 km2)
 • Land155,959 sq mi (403,932 km2)
 • Water7,737 sq mi (20,047 km2)  4.7%
 • Rank3rd
 • Length760 mi (1,220 km)
 • Width250 mi (400 km)
2,900 ft (880 m)
Highest elevation14,505 ft (4,421.0 m)
Lowest elevation−279 ft (−85.0 m)
 • TotalNeutral decrease 39,185,605[6]
 • Rank1st
 • Density251.3/sq mi (97/km2)
  • Rank11th
 • Median household income
 • Income rank
 • Official languageEnglish
 • Spoken language
Time zoneUTC−08:00 (PST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−07:00 (PDT)
USPS abbreviation
ISO 3166 codeUS-CA
Traditional abbreviationCalif., Cal., Cali.
Latitude32°32′ N to 42° N
Longitude114°8′ W to 124°26′ W
State symbols of California
List of state symbols
Flag of California.svg
Great Seal of California.svg
Living insignia
AmphibianCalifornia red-legged frog
BirdCalifornia quail
FlowerCalifornia poppy
GrassPurple needlegrass
InsectCalifornia dogface butterfly
ReptileDesert tortoise
TreeCoast redwood & giant sequoia[10]
Inanimate insignia
ColorsBlue & gold[9]
DanceWest Coast Swing
Folk danceSquare dance
FossilSabre-toothed cat
MineralNative gold
SoilSan Joaquin
TartanCalifornia state tartan
State route marker
Route marker
State quarter
California quarter dollar coin
Released in 2005
Lists of United States state symbols

California is a state in the Western United States, located along the Pacific Coast. With nearly 39.2 million residents[6] across a total area of approximately 163,696 square miles (423,970 km2),[11] it is the most populous U.S. state and the third-largest by area. It is also the most populated subnational entity in North America and the 34th most populous in the world. The Greater Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay areas are the nation's second and fifth most populous urban regions respectively, with the former having more than 18.7 million residents and the latter having over 9.6 million.[12] Sacramento is the state's capital, while Los Angeles is the most populous city in the state and the second most populous city in the country. San Francisco is the second most densely populated major city in the country. Los Angeles County is the country's most populous, while San Bernardino County is the largest county by area in the country. California borders Oregon to the north, Nevada and Arizona to the east, the Mexican state of Baja California to the south; and it has a coastline along the Pacific Ocean to the west.

California's economy is the largest of any state within the United States, with a $3.37 trillion gross state product (GSP) as of 2022.[13] It is the largest sub-national economy in the world. If California were a sovereign nation, it would rank as the world's fifth-largest economy as of 2022,[14][15] behind India and ahead of the United Kingdom, as well as the 37th most populous.[16] The Greater Los Angeles area and the San Francisco area are the nation's second- and fourth-largest urban economies ($1.0 trillion and $0.6 trillion respectively as of 2020), following the New York metropolitan area's $1.8 trillion.[17] The San Francisco Bay Area Combined Statistical Area had the nation's highest gross domestic product per capita ($106,757) among large primary statistical areas in 2018,[18] and is home to five of the world's ten largest companies by market capitalization[19] and four of the world's ten richest people.[20] Slightly over 84 percent of the state's residents hold a high school degree, the lowest high school education rate of all 50 states.

Prior to European colonization, California was one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse areas in pre-Columbian North America and contained the highest Native American population density north of what is now Mexico. European exploration in the 16th and 17th centuries led to the colonization of California by the Spanish Empire. 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 California Gold Rush started in 1848 and led to dramatic social and demographic changes. The western portion of Alta California was then organized and admitted as the 31st state on September 9, 1850 as a free state, following the Compromise of 1850.

Notable contributions to popular culture, ranging from entertainment, sports, music, and fashion, have their origins in California. The state also has made substantial contributions in the fields of communication, information, innovation, education, environmentalism, entertainment, economics, politics, technology, and religion.[21][22][23] California is the home of Hollywood, the oldest and the largest film industry in the world, profoundly influencing global entertainment. It is considered the origin of the American film industry, hippie counterculture, beach and car culture, the personal computer, the internet, fast food, diners, burger joints, skateboarding, and the fortune cookie, among other inventions.[24][25][26][27] Many full-service restaurants were also invented in the state. The state is also notable for being home to many amusement parks, including Disneyland, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Knott's Berry Farm, and Universal Studios Hollywood. The San Francisco Bay Area and the Greater Los Angeles Area are widely seen as the centers of the global technology and film industries, respectively. California's economy is very diverse.[28] California's agriculture industry has the highest output of any U.S. state.[29][30][31] California's ports and harbors handle about a third of all U.S. imports, most originating in Pacific Rim international trade.

The state's extremely diverse geography ranges from the Pacific Coast and metropolitan areas in the west to the Sierra Nevada mountains in the east, and from the redwood and Douglas fir forests in the northwest to the Mojave Desert in the southeast. Two-thirds of the nation's earthquake risk lies in California.[32] The Central Valley, a fertile agricultural area, dominates the state's center. California is well known for its warm Mediterranean climate along the coast and monsoon seasonal weather inland. 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. Drought and wildfires are a persistent issue for the state.[33]

  1. ^ "California". Retrieved July 3, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Chapter 2 of Division 2 of Title 1 of the California Government Code". California Office of Legislative Counsel. Retrieved February 23, 2019.
  3. ^ Cite error: The named reference Mount_Whitney was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  4. ^ Cite error: The named reference USGS was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  5. ^ "USGS National Elevation Dataset (NED) 1 meter Downloadable Data Collection from The National Map 3D Elevation Program (3DEP)—National Geospatial Data Asset (NGDA) National Elevation Data Set (NED)". United States Geological Survey. September 21, 2015. Archived from the original on March 25, 2019. Retrieved September 22, 2015.
  6. ^ a b Cite error: The named reference CaliforniaDecline2022 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  7. ^ "Median Annual Household Income". The US Census Bureau. Retrieved January 29, 2020.
  8. ^ "Languages Spoken at Home". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 5, 2022.
  9. ^ "California Government Code § 424". California Office of Legislative Counsel. Retrieved February 23, 2019.
  10. ^ "California Government Code § 422". California Office of Legislative Counsel. Retrieved February 23, 2019.
  11. ^ "United States by Area". 2022 World Population by Country. Retrieved December 17, 2022.
  12. ^ "American FactFinder—Results". U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on January 24, 2018. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  13. ^ "GDP by State | U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)" (PDF). September 30, 2022. Retrieved October 26, 2022.
  14. ^ "ICYMI: California Poised to Become World's 4th Biggest Economy". California Governor's Office. October 24, 2022. Retrieved October 26, 2022.
  15. ^ "California Poised to Overtake Germany as World's No. 4 Economy". Bloomberg. October 24, 2022. Retrieved October 26, 2022.
  16. ^ "World Population Prospects—Population Division—United Nations". Archived from the original on September 2, 2017. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  17. ^ Iman Ghosh (September 24, 2020). "This 3D map shows the U.S. cities with the highest economic output". World Economic Forum. Retrieved March 5, 2023. The New York metro area dwarfs all other cities for economic output by a large margin.
  18. ^ "GDP by Metropolitan Area | U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)". Retrieved September 19, 2018.
  19. ^ "Largest Companies by Market Cap Today • Dogs of the Dow". Dogs of the Dow. June 17, 2019. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  20. ^ "Bloomberg Billionaires Index". Bloomberg. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  21. ^ "Opinion: California is Still America's Future". NBC News. January 19, 2017. Retrieved December 31, 2020.
  22. ^ McNamara, Melissa (October 30, 2006). "California Is A Political Trendsetter". CBS News. Retrieved December 31, 2020.
  23. ^ Schwarz, Benjamin (July 1, 2009). "California Dreamers". The Atlantic. Retrieved December 31, 2020.
  24. ^ Post, Robert C. (January 1998). "Hot Rods and Customs: The Men and Machines of California's Car Culture, at the Oakland Museum of California". Technology and Culture. 39 (1): 116–121. doi:10.2307/3107006. ISSN 0040-165X. JSTOR 3107006. S2CID 112735878.
  25. ^ Weller, Chris (June 8, 2017). "The most important invention from every state". Business Insider.
  26. ^ "Some People Don't Know These 10 Things Came From Southern California". OnlyInYourState. June 18, 2016.
  27. ^ "15 Things the world needs to be thanking California for". Matador Network.
  28. ^ "California Gross domestic product (GDP) (millions of current dollars)". U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Archived from the original on August 6, 2016. Retrieved July 19, 2015.
  29. ^ Palmer, Brian (July 10, 2013). "The C-Free Diet". Slate.
  30. ^ "CDFA—Statistics". California Department of Food and Agriculture.
  31. ^ "California farms produce a lot of food—but what and how much might surprise you". Orange County Register. July 27, 2017.
  32. ^ "What is the Earthquake Risk in California?". California Earthquake Authority. Retrieved March 12, 2023. CALIFORNIA IS HOME TO TWO-THIRDS OF OUR NATION'S EARTHQUAKE RISK.
  33. ^ Elassar, Alaa (April 3, 2022). "California once prohibited Native American fire practices. Now, it's asking tribes to use them to help prevent wildfires". CNN. Retrieved January 4, 2023.

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