Area, 158,693 sq mi (411,015 sq km). Pop. (2000) 33,871,648, a 13.8% increase since the 1990 census. Capital, Sacramento. Largest city, Los Angeles. Statehood, Sept. 9, 1850 (31st state). Highest pt., Mt. Whitney, 14,491 ft (4,417 m); lowest pt., Death Valley, 282 ft (86 m) below sea level. Nickname, Golden State. Motto, Eureka [I Have Found It]. State bird, California valley quail. State flower, golden poppy. State tree, California redwood. Abbr., Calif.; CA
Ranking third among the U.S. states in area, California has a diverse topography and climate. A series of low mountains known as the Coast Ranges extends along the 1,200-mi (1,930-km) coast. The region from Point Arena, N of San Francisco, to the southern part of the state is subject to tremors and sometimes to severe earthquakes caused by tectonic stress along the San Andreas fault. The Coast Ranges receive heavy rainfall in the north, where the giant cathedrallike redwood forests prevail, but the climate of these mountains is considerably drier in S California, and S of the Golden Gate no major rivers reach the ocean. Behind the coastal ranges in central California lies the great Central Valley, a long alluvial valley drained by the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers. In the southeast lie vast wastelands, notably the Mojave Desert, site of Joshua Tree National Park.
Rising as an almost impenetrable granite barrier E of the Central Valley is the Sierra Nevada range, which includes Mt. Whitney, Kings Canyon National Park, Sequoia National Park, and Yosemite National Park. The Cascade Range, the northern continuation of the Sierra Nevada, includes Lassen Volcanic National Park. Lying E of the S Sierra Nevada is Death Valley National Park. The drier portions of the state especially are subject periodically to large, wind-driven fires; in certain hilly areas sometimes devastating mudslides occur, particularly in the rainy season after large fires.
California has an enormously productive economy, which for a nation would be one of the ten largest in the world. Although agriculture is gradually yielding to industry as the core of the state's economy, California leads the nation in the production of fruits and vegetables, including carrots, lettuce, onions, broccoli, tomatoes, strawberries, and almonds. The state's most valuable crops are grapes, cotton, flowers, and oranges; dairy products, however, contribute the single largest share of farm income, and California is again the national leader in this sector. The state also produces the major share of U.S. domestic wine. California's farms are highly productive as a result of good soil, a long growing season, and the use of modern agricultural methods. Irrigation is critical, especially in the San Joaquin Valley and Imperial Valley. The gathering and packing of crops is done largely by seasonal migrant labor, primarily Mexicans. Fishing is another important industry.
Much of the state's industrial production depends on the processing of farm produce and upon such local resources as petroleum, natural gas, lumber, cement, and sand and gravel. Since World War II, however, manufacturing, notably of electronic equipment, computers, machinery, transportation equipment, and metal products, has increased enormously. Defense industries, a base of the economy especially in S California, have declined following the end of the cold war, a serious blow to the state. But many high-tech companies and small low-tech, often low-wage, companies remain in S California, in what is said to be the largest manufacturing belt in the United States. Farther north, "Silicon Valley," between Palo Alto and San Jose, so called because it is the nation's leading producer of semiconductors, is also a focus of software development.
California continues to be a major U.S. center for motion-picture, television film, and related entertainment industries, especially in Hollywood and Burbank. Tourism also is an important source of income. Disneyland, Sea World, and other theme parks draw millions of visitors each year, as do San Francisco with its numerous attractions and several entertainment-dominated Los Angeles-area communities. California also abounds in natural beauty, seen especially in its many national parks and forests—home to such attractions as Yosemite Falls and giant sequoia trees—and along miles of Pacific beaches.
One of the state's most acute problems is its appetite for water. The once fertile Owens valley is now arid, its waters tapped by Los Angeles 175 mi (282 km) away. In the lush Imperial Valley, irrigation is controlled by the All-American Canal, which draws from the Colorado River. In the Central Valley the water problem is one of poor distribution, an imbalance lessened by the vast Central Valley project. Cutbacks in federally funded water projects in the 1970s and 80s led many California cities to begin buying water from areas with a surplus, but political problems associated with water sharing continue. California's failure to develop a long-term plan to end surplus withdrawals from the Colorado led the federal government to stop the release of surplus water to the state in 2003.
The state's first constitution was adopted in 1849. The present constitution, dating from 1879, is noted for its provisions for public initiative and referendum—which have led at times to difficulties in governance—and for recall of public officials. The state's executive branch is headed by a governor elected for a four-year term. California's bicameral legislature has a senate with 40 members and an assembly with 80 members. The state elects 2 senators and 53 representatives to the U.S. Congress and has 55 electoral votes. In the 1980s and 1990s, California elected Republican governors—George Deukemejian (1982, 1986) and Pete Wilson (1990, 1994)— before the Democrat Gray Davis was elected in 1998 (and reelected in 2002). In 2003, Davis was recalled and Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected to succeed him; Schwarzenegger was reelected in 2006. In 1992, California became the first state to simultaneously elect two women to the U.S. Senate—Democrats Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein.
Among the state's more prominent institutions of higher learning are the Univ. of California, with nine campuses; the California State University System, with 23 campuses; Occidental College and the Univ. of Southern California, at Los Angeles; Stanford Univ., at Stanford; the California Institute of Technology, at Pasadena; Mills College, at Oakland; and the Claremont Colleges, at Claremont. After a period from the 1960s through the 1970s when the state's well-financed public institutions were the envy of the nation, California's colleges have been forced to retrench by tax-cutting initiatives.
The first voyage (1542) to Alta California (Upper California), as the region north of Baja California (Lower California) came to be known, was commanded by the Spanish explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, who explored San Diego Bay and the area farther north along the coast. In 1579 an English expedition headed by Sir Francis Drake landed near Point Reyes, N of San Francisco, and claimed the region for Queen Elizabeth I. In 1602, Sebastián Vizcaíno, another Spaniard, explored the coast and Monterey Bay.
Colonization was slow, but finally in 1769 Gaspar de Portolá, governor of the Californias, led an expedition up the Pacific coast and established a colony on San Diego Bay. The following year he explored the area around Monterey Bay and later returned to establish a presidio there. Soon afterward Monterey became the capital of Alta California. Accompanying Portolá's expedition was Father Junipero Serra, a Franciscan missionary who founded a mission at San Diego. Franciscans later founded several missions that extended as far N as Sonoma, N of San Francisco. The missionaries sought to Christianize the Native Americans but also forced them to work as manual laborers, helping to build the missions into vital agricultural communities (see Mission Indians). Cattle raising was of primary importance, and hides and tallow were exported. The missions have been preserved and are now open to visitors.
In 1776, Juan Bautista de Anza founded San Francisco, where he established a military outpost. The early colonists, called the Californios, lived a pastoral life and for the most part were not interfered with by the central government of New Spain (as the Spanish empire in the Americas was called) or later (1820s) by that of Mexico. The Californios did, however, become involved in local politics, as when Juan Bautista Alvarado led a revolt (1836) and made himself governor of Alta California, a position he later persuaded the Mexicans to let him keep. Under Mexican rule the missions were secularized (1833-34) and the Native Americans released from their servitude. The degradation of Native American peoples, which continued under Mexican rule and after U.S. settlers came to the area, was described by Helen Hunt Jackson in her novel Ramona (1884). Many mission lands were subsequently given to Californios, who established the great ranchos, vast cattle-raising estates. Colonization of California remained largely Mexican until the 1840s.Russian and U.S. Settlement
Russian fur traders had penetrated south to the California coast and established Fort Ross, north of San Francisco, in 1812. Jedediah Strong Smith and other trappers made the first U.S. overland trip to the area in 1826, but U.S. settlement did not become significant until the 1840s. In 1839, Swiss-born John Augustus Sutter arrived and established his "kingdom" of New Helvetia on a vast tract in the Sacramento valley. He did much for the overland American immigrants, who began to arrive in large numbers in 1841. Some newcomers met with tragedy, including the Donner Party, which was stranded in the Sierra Nevada after a heavy snowstorm.
Political events in the territory moved swiftly in the next few years. After having briefly asserted the independence of California in 1836, the Californios drove out the last Mexican governor in 1845. Under the influence of the American explorer John C. Frémont, U.S. settlers set up (1846) a republic at Sonoma under their unique Bear Flag. The news of war between the United States and Mexico (1846-48) reached California soon afterward. On July 7, 1846, Commodore John D. Sloat captured Monterey, the capital, and claimed California for the United States. The Californios in the north worked with U.S. soldiers, but those in the south resisted U.S. martial law. In 1847, however, U.S. Gen. Stephen W. Kearny defeated the southern Californios. By the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848), Mexico formally ceded the territory to the United States.The Gold Rush
In 1848, the year that California became a part of the United States, another major event in the state's history occurred: While establishing a sawmill for John Sutter near Coloma, James W. Marshall discovered gold and touched off the California gold rush. The forty-niners, as the gold-rush miners were called, came in droves, spurred by the promise of fabulous riches from the Mother Lode. San Francisco rapidly became a boom city, and its bawdy, lawless coastal area, which became known as the Barbary Coast, gave rise to the vigilantes, extralegal community groups formed to suppress civil disorder. American writers such as Bret Harte and Mark Twain have recorded the local color as well as the violence and human tragedies of the roaring mining camps.Statehood and Immigration
With the gold rush came a huge increase in population and a pressing need for civil government. In 1849, Californians sought statehood and, after heated debate in the U.S. Congress arising out of the slavery issue, California entered the Union as a free, nonslavery state by the Compromise of 1850. San Jose became the capital. Monterey, Vallejo, and Benicia each served as the capital before it was moved to Sacramento in 1854. In 1853, Congress authorized the survey of a railroad route to link California with the eastern seaboard, but the transcontinental railroad was not completed until 1869. In the meantime communication and transportation depended upon ships, the stagecoach, the pony express, and the telegraph.
Chinese laborers were imported in great numbers to work on railroad construction. The Burlingame Treaty of 1868 (see Burlingame, Anson) provided, among other things, for unrestricted Chinese immigration. That was at first enthusiastically endorsed by Californians; but after a slump in the state's shaky economy, the white settlers viewed the influx of the lower-paid Chinese laborers as an economic threat. Ensuing bitterness and friction led to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 (see Chinese exclusion).
A railroad-rate war (1884) and a boom in real estate (1885) fostered a new wave of overland immigration. Cattle raising on the ranchos gave way to increased grain production. Vineyards were planted by 1861, and the first trainload of oranges was shipped from Los Angeles in 1886.Industrialization and Increased Settlement
By the turn of the century the discovery of oil, industrialization resulting from the increase of hydroelectric power, and expanding agricultural development attracted more settlers. Los Angeles grew rapidly in this period and, in population, soon surpassed San Francisco, which suffered greatly after the great earthquake and fire of 1906. Improvements in urban transportation stimulated the growth of both Los Angeles and San Francisco; the advent of the cable car and the electric railway made possible the development of previously inaccessible areas.
As industrious Japanese farmers acquired valuable land and a virtual monopoly of California's truck-farming operations, the issue of Asian immigration again arose. The bitter struggle for the exclusion of Asians plagued international relations, and in 1913 the California Alien Land Act was passed despite President Woodrow Wilson's attempts to block it. The act provided that persons ineligible for U.S. citizenship could not own agricultural land in California.
Successive waves of settlers arrived in California, attracted by a new real-estate boom in the 1920s and by the promise of work in the 1930s. The influx during the 1930s of displaced farm workers, depicted by John Steinbeck in his novel The Grapes of Wrath, caused profound dislocation in the state's economy. During World War II the Japanese in California were removed from their homes and placed in relocation centers. Industry in California expanded rapidly during the war; the production of ships and aircraft attracted many workers who later settled in the state.Growing Pains and Natural Disasters
Prosperity and rapid population growth continued after the war. Many African Americans who came during World War II to work in the war industries settled in California. By the 1960s they constituted a sizable minority in the state, and racial tensions reached a climax. In 1964, California voters approved an initiative measure, Proposition 14, allowing racial discrimination in the sale or rental of housing in the state, a measure later declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1965 riots broke out in Watts, a predominantly black section of Los Angeles, touching off a wave of riots across the United States. Also in the 1960s migrant farm workers in California formed a union and struck many growers to obtain better pay and working conditions. Unrest also occurred in the state's universities, especially the Univ. of California at Berkeley, where student demonstrations and protests in 1964 provoked disorders.
Republicans have generally played a more dominant role than Democrats in California politics during the 20th cent. From the end of World War II through the mid-1990s alone, five of the seven governors were Republicans, starting with Earl Warren (1943-53). Ronald Reagan, a former movie actor and a leading conservative Republican, was elected governor in 1966 and reelected in 1970; he later served two terms as U.S president. The two Democrats were liberals Edmund G. (Pat) Brown (1959-67) and his son Jerry Brown (1975-83). In the late 1970s, Californians staged a "tax revolt" that attracted national attention, passing legislation to cut property taxes.
During the 1970s and 80s California continued to grow rapidly, with a major shift of population to the state's interior. The metropolitan areas of Riverside-San Bernardino, Modesto, Stockton, Bakersfield, and Sacramento were among the fastest growing in the nation during the 1980s. Much of the state's population growth was a result of largely illegal immigration from Mexico; there was also a heavy infux of immigrants from China, the Philippines, and SE Asia.
Population growth and immigration contributed to growing economic pressures, as did cuts in federal defense spending; meanwhile, social tensions also increased. In Apr., 1992, four white Los Angeles police officers were acquitted of brutality charges after they had been videotaped beating a black motorist; the verdict touched off riots in South-Central Los Angeles and other neighborhoods, resulting in 58 deaths, thousands of arrests, and approximately $1 billion in property damage.
In addition to periodic heavy flooding and brushfires, earthquakes have caused widespread damage in California. In Oct., 1989, a major earthquake killed about 60 people and injured thousands in Santa Cruz and the San Francisco Bay area. In Jan., 1994, an earthquake hit the Northridge area of N Los Angeles, killing some 60 people and causing at least $13 billion in damage.
In a backlash against illegal immigration, California voters in 1994 approved Proposition 187, an initiative barring the state from providing most services—including welfare, education, and nonemergency medical care—to illegal immigrants. Federal courts found much of Proposition 187 unconstitutional; the appeal of their rulings was dropped in 1999, at a time when the state's economy had rebounded and a Democratic administration was in Sacramento.
In late 2000, California began experiencing an electricity crisis as insufficient generating capacity and increasing short-term wholesale prices for power squeezed the state's two largest public utilities, who, under the "deregulation" plan they had agreed to in the early 1990s, were not allowed to pass along their increased costs. As the state worked to come up with both short-term and long-time solutions to the situation, consumers experienced sporadic blackouts and faced large rate hikes under the terms of a bailout plan. The crisis was severe enough that it was expected to slow the state's economic growth. Evidence subsequently emerged of both price gouging and market manipulation by a number of energy companies.
The economic downturn in the early 2000s resulted in enormous budget shortfalls for California's state government, and made Governor Gray Davis increasingly unpopular. A recall petition financed mainly by a Republican congressman who withdrew from the subsequent election led to a vote (Oct., 2003) that removed Davis from office. The actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, was elected to succeed him. The year the state experienced devastating wildfires in the greater San Diego area; the area was again hit with particularly dangerous wildfires in 2007. The housing bubble that burst in 2007 and the significant recession that followed it had especially severe consequences in California, both for the state's economy (which experienced unemployment levels not seen since the early 1940s) and government (which again faced enormous budget shortfalls).
See L. Pitt, The Decline of the Californios: A Social History of the Spanish Speaking Californians, 1846-1890 (1967); R. Kirsch, West of the West: Witnesses to the California Experience, 1542-1906 (1968); R. J. Roske, Everyman's Eden: A History of California (1968); C. A. Hutchinson, Frontier Settlement in Mexican California (1969); W. Bean, California: An Interpretive History (2d. ed. 1973); M. W. Donley, Atlas of California (1979); D. W. Lantis, California: Land of Contrast (3d ed. 1981); C. Miller and R. S. Hyslop, California: The Geography of Diversity (1983); T. H. Watkins, California: An Illustrated History (1983); J. D. Hart, A Companion to California (1984); T. Muller, The Fourth Wave: California's Newest Immigrants (1985); A. F. Rolle, California: A History (4th ed. 1987); P. Schrag, Paradise Lost (1998).
The Los Angeles campus (est. 1881 as Los Angeles State Normal School, transferred to the university 1919) is known for its theater department. Its research institutes include programs on the brain and on nuclear medicine. At La Jolla is the San Diego campus, centered around the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (est. 1901, transferred to the university 1912), whose research facilities include several ships and marine laboratories; a comprehensive undergraduate program was added in 1964. At San Francisco are the medical campus (est. 1864 as Toland Medical College, transferred to the university 1934) and Hastings College of the Law. Other campuses are at Riverside (est. 1907 as the Citrus Experiment Station), Santa Barbara (est. 1891 as a private school, transferred to the university 1944), Davis (opened 1909 as the Univ. Farm School), Irvine (est. 1960, opened 1965), Santa Cruz (est. 1965), and Merced (opened 2005). The university also operates the Lawrence Livermore and, as a partner in Los Alamos National Security, the Los Alamos national laboratories, the Lick Observatory, numerous agricultural experiment stations, and a statewide extension service. Total enrollment in the Univ. of California system is over 165,000 students.
The area known as Alta California was colonized by the Spanish Empire beginning in the late 18th century. It and the rest of Mexico became an independent republic in 1821. In 1846 California broke away from Mexico, and after the Mexican-American War, Mexico ceded California to the United States. California was admitted to the United States on September 9, 1850.
It is the third-largest U.S. state by land area. Its geography ranges from the Pacific coast to the Sierra Nevada mountains in the east, to Mojave desert areas in the southeast and the Redwood-Douglas fir forests of the northwest. The center of the state is dominated by the Central Valley, one of the most productive agricultural areas in the world.
The California Gold Rush (1848-1855) dramatically changed California with a large influx of people and an economic boom. The early 20th century was marked by Los Angeles becoming the center of the entertainment industry, in addition to the growth of a large tourism sector in the state. Along with California's prosperous agricultural industry, other industries include aerospace, petroleum, and computer and information technology. California ranks amongst the ten largest economies in the world, and were it a separate country, it would be 35th among the most populous countries, just behind Kenya.
The name California is most commonly believed to have derived from a storied paradise peopled by black Amazons and ruled by Queen Califia. The myth of Califia is recorded in a 1510 work The Exploits of Esplandian, written as a sequel to Amadís de Gaula by Spanish adventure writer García Ordóñez Rodríguez de Montalvo. The kingdom of Queen Califia, according to Montalvo, was said to be a remote land inhabited by griffins and other strange beasts and rich in gold.
California adjoins the Pacific Ocean, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, and the Mexican state of Baja California. With an area of it is the third largest state in the United States in size, after Alaska and Texas. If it were a country, California would be the 35th largest in the world, between Iraq and Paraguay.
In the middle of the state lies the California Central Valley, bounded by the coastal mountain ranges in the west, the Sierra Nevada to the east, the Cascade Range in the north and the Tehachapi Mountains in the south. The Central Valley is California's agricultural heartland and grows approximately one-third of the nation's food. Divided in two by the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the northern portion, the Sacramento Valley serves as the watershed of the Sacramento River, while the southern portion, the San Joaquin Valley is the watershed for the San Joaquin River; both areas derive their names from the rivers that transit them. With dredging, the Sacramento and the San Joaquin Rivers have remained sufficiently deep that several inland cities are seaports. The Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta serves as a critical water supply hub for the state. Water is routed through an extensive network of canals and pumps out of the delta, that traverse nearly the length of the state, including the Central Valley Project, and the State Water Project. Water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta provides drinking water for nearly 23 million people, almost two-thirds of the state's population, and provides water to farmers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. The Channel Islands are located off the southern coast.
The Sierra Nevada (Spanish for "snowy range") include the highest peak in the contiguous forty-eight states, Mount Whitney, at 14,505 ft (4,421 m). The range embraces Yosemite Valley, famous for its glacially carved domes, and Sequoia National Park, home to the giant sequoia trees, the largest living organisms on Earth, and the deep freshwater lake, Lake Tahoe, the largest lake in the state by volume.
To the east of the Sierra Nevada are Owens Valley and Mono Lake, an essential migratory bird habitat. In the western part of the state is Clear Lake, the largest freshwater lake by area entirely in California. Though Lake Tahoe is larger, it is divided by the California/Nevada border. The Sierra Nevada falls to Arctic temperatures in winter and has several dozen small glaciers, including Palisade Glacier, the southernmost glacier in the United States.
About 35 percent of the state's total surface area is covered by forests, and California's diversity of pine species is unmatched by any other state. California contains more forestland than any other state except Alaska. Many of the trees in the California White Mountains are the oldest in the world; one Bristlecone pine has an age of 4,700 years.
In the south is a large inland salt lake, the Salton Sea. Deserts in California make up about 25 percent of the total surface area. 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, Badwater Flat. The distance from the lowest point of Death Valley to the peak of Mount Whitney is less than 200 miles (322 km). Indeed, almost all of southeastern California is arid, hot desert, with routine extreme high temperatures during the summer.
California is famous for Earthquakes in Californias due to a number of faults, in particular the San Andreas Fault. It is vulnerable to tsunamis, floods, droughts, Santa Ana winds, Wildfires in Californias, and landslides on steep terrain, and has several Volcanoes of California.
California climate varies from Mediterranean to subarctic. Much of the state has a Mediterranean climate, with cool, rainy winters and dry summers. The cool California Current offshore often creates summer fog near the coast. Further inland, one encounters colder winters and hotter summers.
Northern parts of the state average higher annual rainfall than the south. California's mountain ranges influence the climate as well: some of the rainiest parts of the state are west-facing mountain slopes. Northwestern California has a temperate climate, and the Central Valley has a Mediterranean climate but with greater temperature extremes than the coast. The high mountains, including the Sierra Nevada, have a mountain climate with snow in winter and mild to moderate heat in summer.
The east side of California's mountains has a drier rain shadow. The low deserts east of the southern California mountains experience hot summers and nearly frostless mild winters; the higher elevation deserts of eastern California see hot summers and cold winters. In Death Valley, the highest temperature in the Western Hemisphere, , was recorded July 10, 1913.
California's large number of endemic species includes relict species which have died out elsewhere, such as 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 such as the California lilac (Ceanothus). Many California endemics have become endangered, as urbanization, logging, overgrazing, and the introduction of exotic species have encroached on their habitat.
California boasts several superlatives in its collection of flora; the largest trees, the tallest trees, and the oldest trees. California's native grasses are perennial plants. 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.
The first European to explore the coast as far north as the Russian River was the Portuguese João Rodrigues Cabrilho, in 1542, sailing for the Spanish Empire. Some 37 years later, the English 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. Sebastián Vizcaíno explored and mapped the coast of California in 1602 for New Spain.
Spanish missionaries began setting up twenty-one California Missions along the coast of what became known as Alta California (Upper California), together with small towns and presidios. The first mission in Alta California was established at San Diego in 1769. In 1821, the Mexican War of Independence gave Mexico (including California), independence from Spain; for the next twenty-five years, Alta California remained a remote northern province of the nation of Mexico. Cattle ranches, or ranchos, emerged as the dominant institutions of Mexican California. After Mexican independence from Spain, the chain of missions became the property of the Mexican government and were secularized by 1832. The ranchos developed under ownership by Californios (Spanish-speaking Californians) who had received land grants and traded cowhides and tallow with Boston merchants.
Beginning in the 1820s, trappers and settlers from the United States and Canada began to arrive in Northern California, harbingers of the great changes that would later sweep the Mexican territory. These new arrivals used the Siskiyou Trail, California Trail, Oregon Trail, and Old Spanish Trail to cross the rugged mountains and harsh deserts surrounding California. In this period, Imperial Russia explored the California coast and established a trading post at Fort Ross.
In 1846, settlers 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 first and only president was William B. Ide, who played a pivotal role during the Bear Flag Revolt. His term lasted twenty-five days and concluded when California was occupied by U.S. forces during the Mexican-American War.
The California Republic was short lived. The same year marked the outbreak of the Mexican-American War (1846-1848). 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 U.S. forces. After a series of defensive battles in Southern California, including The Siege of Los Angeles, the Battle of Dominguez Rancho, the Battle of San Pascual, the Battle of Rio San Gabriel, and the Battle of La Mesa, the Treaty of Cahuenga was signed by the Californios on January 13, 1847, securing American control in California. Following the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that ended the war, the region was divided between Mexico and the United States; the western territory of Alta California, was to become the U.S. state of California, and Arizona, Nevada, Colorado and Utah became U.S. Territories, while the lower region of California, Baja California, remained in the possession of Mexico.
In 1848, the non-native population of California has been estimated to be no more than 15,000. But after gold was discovered, the population burgeoned with U.S. citizens, Europeans, and other immigrants during the great California Gold Rush. On September 9, 1850, as part of the Compromise of 1850, California was admitted to the United States as a free state (one in which slavery was prohibited).
The seat of government for California under Mexican rule was located at Monterey from 1777 until 1835, when Mexican authorities abandoned California, leaving their missions and military forts behind. In 1849, the Constitutional Convention was first held there. Among the duties was the task of determining the location for the new State capital. The first legislative sessions were held in San Jose (1850-1851). Subsequent locations included Vallejo (1852-1853), and nearby Benicia (1853-1854), although these locations eventually proved to be inadequate as well. The capital has been located in Sacramento since 1854.
Travel between California and the central and eastern parts of the United States was time-consuming and dangerous. A more direct connection came in 1869 with the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad through Donner Pass in the Sierra Nevada mountains. After this rail link was established, hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens 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. Vast expanses of wheat and 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.
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. Since 1965, the population has became one of the most diverse in the world. The state is regarded as a world center of technology and engineering businesses, of the entertainment and music industries, and as the U.S. center of agricultural production.
By 2007, California's population is estimated at 36,553,215, making it the most populated state and the 13th fastest-growing state. This includes a natural increase since the last census of 1,909,368 people (that is 3,375,297 births minus 1,465,929 deaths) and an increase due to net migration of 774,198 people into the state. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 1,724,790 people, and migration within the country produced a net decrease of 950,592.
California is the second most populous state of the Americas, exceeded only by São Paulo State, Brazil. More than 12 percent of U.S. citizens live in California and its population is greater than that of all but 34 countries of the world.
California has eight of the top 50 U.S. cities in terms of population. Los Angeles is the nation's second-largest city with a population of 3,849,378 people, followed by San Diego (8th), San Jose (10th), San Francisco (14th), Long Beach (34th), Fresno (36th), Sacramento (37th) and Oakland (44th). Los Angeles County has held the title of most populous county for decades and is more populous than 42 U.S. states.
California has the largest population of White Americans in the U.S., an estimated 21,810,156 residents. The state has the fifth largest population of African Americans in the U.S., an estimated 2,260,648 residents. California's Asian population is estimated at 4.5 million, approximately one-third of the nation's 14.9 million Asian Americans. California's Native American population of 376,093 is the most of any state.
According to estimates from 2006, California has the largest minority population in the United States, making up 57 percent of the state population. Non-Hispanic whites decreased from 80 percent of the state's population in 1970 to 43 percent in 2006. While the population of minorities accounts for 100.7 million of 300 million U.S. residents, 21 percent of the national total live in California.
The official language of California has been English since the passage of Proposition 63 in 1986. However, many state, city, and local government agencies still continue to print official public documents in numerous languages.
With a Jewish population estimated at more than 550,000, Los Angeles has the second-largest Jewish community in North America.
California also has the largest Muslim community population in the United States, an estimated 3.4 percent of the population, mostly residing in Southern California. According to figures, approximately 100,000 Muslims reside in San Diego.
As the twentieth century came to a close, forty percent of all Buddhists in America resided in Southern California. The Los Angeles Metropolitan Area has become unique in the Buddhist world as the only place where representative organizations of every major school of Buddhism can be found in a single urban center. The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in Northern California and Hsi Lai Temple in Southern California are two of the largest Buddhist temples in the Western Hemisphere. It also has a growing Hindu population.
California has more members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Temples than any state except Utah. Latter-day Saints (Mormons) have played important roles in the settlement of California throughout the state's history. For example, a group of a few hundred Mormon converts from the Northeastern United States and Europe arrived at what would become San Francisco in the 1840s aboard the ship Brooklyn, more than doubling the population of the small town. Before being called back to Utah by Brigham Young these settlers helped build up the city of Yerba Buena. A group of Mormons also established the city of San Bernardino in Southern California in 1851. According to the LDS Church 2007 statistics, just over 750,000 Mormons reside in the state of California, attending almost 1400 congregations statewide.
However, a Pew Research Center survey revealed that California is somewhat less religious than the rest of the US: 62 percent of Californians say they are "absolutely certain" of the belief in God, while in the nation 71 percent say so. The survey also revealed 48 percent of Californians say religion is "very important", while the figure for the United States is 56 percent.
As of 2007, the gross state product (GSP) is about $1.812 trillion, the largest in the United States. California is responsible for 13 percent of the United States gross domestic product (GDP). As of 2006, California's GDP is larger than all but eight countries in the world (all but eleven countries by Purchasing Power Parity). California is facing a $16 billion budget deficit for the 2008-09 budget year.
California is also the home of several significant economic regions, such as Hollywood (entertainment), Southern California (aerospace), the California Central Valley (agriculture), the Silicon Valley and Tech Coast (computers and high tech), and wine producing regions, such as the Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley and Southern California's Santa Barbara and Paso Robles areas.
In terms of jobs, the five largest sectors in California are trade, transportation, and utilities; government; professional and business services; education and health services; and leisure and hospitality. In terms of output, the five largest sectors are financial services, followed by trade, transportation, and utilities; education and health services; government; and manufacturing.
California's economy is very dependent on trade and international related commerce accounts for approximately one-quarter of the state’s economy. In 2007 California exported $134 billion worth of goods, up from $127 billion in 2006 and $117 billion in 2005, surpassing the 2000 peak of $125 billion for two consecutive years. Computers and electronic products are California's top export, accounting for 36 percent of all the state's exports in 2007.
Although agriculture contributes the least toward employment and output, it remains a very important sector in California's economy. Farming-related sales have more than quadrupled over the past three decades, from $7.3 billion in 1974 to nearly $31 billion in 2004. This increase has occurred despite a 15 percent decline in acreage devoted to farming during the period. Factors contributing to the growth in sales-per-acre include more intensive use of active farmlands and technological improvements in crop production.
Per capita personal income was $38,956 as of 2006, ranking 11th in the nation. Per capita income varies widely by geographic region and profession. The Central Valley is the most impoverished, with migrant farm workers making less than minimum wage. Recently, the San Joaquin Valley was characterized as one of the most economically depressed regions in the U.S., on par with the region of Appalachia.
Many coastal cities include some of the wealthiest per-capita areas in the U.S. The high-technology sectors in Northern California, specifically Silicon Valley, in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, have emerged from economic downturn caused by the dot.com bust. In spring 2005, economic growth had resumed in California at 4.3 percent.
California levies a 9.3 percent maximum variable rate income tax, with six tax brackets. It collects about $40 billion per year in income taxes. California's combined state, county and local sales tax rate is from 7.25 to 8.75 percent. The rate varies throughout the state at the local level. In all, it collects about $28 billion in sales taxes per year. All real property is taxable annually, the tax based on the property's fair market value at the time of purchase. This tax does not increase based on a rise in real property values (see Proposition 13). California collects $33 billion in property taxes per year.
California ranks third in the United States in petroleum refining capacity and accounts for more than one-tenth of total U.S. capacity. In addition to oil from California, California’s refineries process crude oil from Alaska and foreign suppliers. The refineries are configured to produce cleaner fuels, including reformulated motor gasoline and low-sulfur diesel, to meet strict Federal and State environmental regulations.
Most California motorists are required to use a special motor gasoline blend called California Clean Burning Gasoline (CA CBG). By 2004, California completed a transition from methyl tertiary butyl-ether (MTBE) to ethanol as a gasoline oxygenate additive, making California the largest ethanol fuel market in the United States. There are four ethanol production plants in central and southern California, but most of California’s ethanol supply is transported from other states or abroad.
Natural gas-fired power plants typically account for more than one-half of State electricity generation. California is one of the largest hydroelectric power producers in the United States, and with adequate rainfall, hydroelectric power typically accounts for close to one-fifth of State electricity generation. Due to strict emission laws, only a few small coal-fired power plants operate in California.
The Mojave Desert is one of the best sites in the United States for solar power plants. Solar insolation is very high and significant population centers are located in the area. Two prototype systems known as "Solar One" and "Solar Two" produced 10 MW each when they were in operation.
California’s two nuclear power plants account for almost one-fifth of total generation, these are:
California leads the United States in electricity generation from nonhydroelectric renewable energy sources, such as wind, geothermal, solar energy, fuel wood, and municipal solid waste/landfill gas resources. A facility known as “The Geysers,” located in the Mayacamas Mountains north of San Francisco, is the largest group of geothermal power plants in the world, with more than 750 megawatts of installed capacity. Due to high electricity demand, California imports more electricity than any other state, primarily hydroelectric power from states in the Pacific Northwest (via Path 15 and Path 66) and coal- and natural gas-fired production from the desert Southwest via Path 46.
California's vast terrain is connected by an extensive system of freeways, expressways, and highways. California is known for its car culture, giving California's cities a reputation for severe traffic congestion. Construction and maintenance of state roads and statewide transportation planning are primarily the responsibility of the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans).
One of the state's more visible landmarks, the Golden Gate Bridge was completed in 1937. With its orange paint and panoramic views of the bay, this highway bridge is a popular tourist attraction and also accommodates pedestrians and bicyclists. It is simultaneously designated as U.S. Route 101 which is part of the El Camino Real (Spanish for Royal Road or King's Highway), and State Route 1 which is also known as the Pacific Coast Highway. Another of the seven bridges in the San Francisco Bay Area is the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge, completed in 1936. This bridge transports approximately 280,000 vehicles per day on two-decks, with its two sections meeting at Yerba Buena Island.
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.
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, fourth largest in the nation, handles trade from the Pacific Rim and delivers most of the ocean containers passing through Northern California to the entire USA.
Intercity rail travel is provided by Amtrak California, which manages the three busiest intercity rail lines in the US outside the Northeast Corridor. Integrated subway and light rail networks are found in Los Angeles (Metro Rail) and San Francisco (BART and MUNI Metro). Light rail systems are also found in San Jose (VTA), San Diego (San Diego Trolley), Sacramento (RT Light Rail), and Northern San Diego County (Sprinter). Furthermore, commuter rail networks serve the San Francisco Bay Area (ACE, Caltrain), Greater Los Angeles (Metrolink), and San Diego County (Coaster). Nearly all counties operate bus lines, and many cities operate their own bus lines as well. Intercity bus travel is provided by Greyhound and Amtrak Thruway Coach. 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 in 1996 by the state to implement an extensive 700 mile (1127 km) rail system. Construction is pending approval of the voters during the November 2008 general election, in which a $9.95 billion state bond would have to be approved.
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 initiative, referendum, recall, and ratification. California follows a closed primary system. The state's capital is Sacramento.
|2006||55.88% 4,850,157||38.91% 3,376,732|
|2002||42.41% 3,169,801||47.28% 3,533,490|
|1998||38.38% 3,216,749||57.97% 4,858,817|
|1994||55.18% 4,781,766||40.62% 3,519,799|
|1990||49.25% 3,791,904||45.78% 3,525,197|
|1986||61.25% 4,505,601||37.58% 2,781,714|
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. Members of the Assembly are subject to term limits of three terms, and members of the Senate are subject to term limits of two terms.
California's 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.
|2004||44.36% 5,509,826||54.40% 6,745,485|
|2000||41.65% 4,567,429||53.45% 5,861,203|
|1996||38.21% 3,828,380||51.10% 5,119,835|
|1992||32.61% 3,630,574||46.01% 5,121,325|
|1988||51.13% 5,054,917||47.56% 4,702,233|
|1984||57.51% 5,467,009||41.27% 3,922,519|
|1980||52.69% 4,524,858||35.91% 3,083,661|
California is known for having a progressive political culture. In 2008, it was the second state in the country to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. In contrast, California had previously been the first state, via Proposition 22 in 2000, to pass a law declaring that only marriage between a man and a woman would be recognized. Yet, domestic partnerships were made available to citizens through a law created by the state legislature. Other contemporary values include California's leadership in renewable energy and climate change, as well as enacting statute to protect abortion rights.
Since 1990, California has generally elected Democratic candidates; however, the state has had little hesitance in electing Republican Governors, though many of its Republican Governors, such as Governor Schwarzenegger, tend to be considered "Moderate Republicans" and tend to be more liberal than the party itself.
Democratic strength is centered in coastal regions of Los Angeles County and the San Francisco Bay Area. The Democrats also hold a majority in Sacramento. The Republican strength is greatest in the San Joaquin Valley, which includes the growing cities of Stockton and Modesto. Orange County remains mostly Republican.
Overall, the trend in California politics has been towards the Democratic Party and away from the Republican Party. The trend is most obvious in presidential elections. Additionally, the Democrats have easily won every U.S. Senate race since 1992 and have maintained consistent majorities in both houses of the state legislature. In the U.S. House, the Democrats hold a 34-19 edge for the 110th United States Congress. The U.S senators are Dianne Feinstein (D), a native of San Francisco, and Barbara Boxer (D). The districts in California are usually dominated by one or the other party with very few districts that could be considered competitive. According to political analysts, California should soon gain three more seats, for a total of 58 electoral votes - the most electoral votes in the nation.
The state is divided into 58 counties.
California has 480 incorporated cities and towns, of which 458 are cities and 22 are towns. Under California law, the terms "city" and "town" are explicitly interchangeable; the name of an incorporated municipality in the state can either be "City of (Name)" or "Town of (Name)".
The majority of these cities and towns are within one of five metropolitan areas. Sixty-eight percent of California's population lives in its three largest metropolitan areas, Greater Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area and the Riverside-San Bernardino Area, known as the Inland Empire. Although smaller, the other two large population centers are the San Diego and the Sacramento metro areas. California is home to the largest county in the contiguous United States by area, San Bernardino County.
The state recognizes two kinds of cities--charter and general law. General law cities owe their existence to state law and consequentially governed by it; charter cities are governed by their own city charters. Cities incorporated in the 19th century tend to be charter cities. All of the state's ten most populous cities are charter cities.
California is also home to such notable private universities such as Stanford University, the University of Southern California (USC), and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). California has hundreds of other private colleges and universities, including many religious and special-purpose institutions.
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. California's public educational system is supported by a unique constitutional amendment that requires 40 percent of state revenues to be spent on education.
California has nineteen major professional sports league franchises, far more than any other state. The San Francisco Bay Area has seven major league teams spread in three cities, San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose. While the Greater Los Angeles Area is home to ten major league franchises, it is also the largest metropolitan area not to have a team from the National Football League. San Diego has two major league teams, and Sacramento also has two.
Home to some of the most prominent universities in the United States, California has long had many respected collegiate sports programs. In particular, the athletic programs of UC Berkeley, USC, UCLA, Stanford and Fresno State are often nationally ranked in the various collegiate sports. California is also home to the oldest college bowl game, the annual Rose Bowl, and the Holiday Bowl, among others.
Below is a list of major sports teams in California:
|Oakland Raiders||American Football||National Football League|
|San Diego Chargers||American Football||National Football League|
|San Francisco 49ers||American Football||National Football League|
|Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim||Baseball||Major League Baseball|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||Baseball||Major League Baseball|
|Oakland Athletics||Baseball||Major League Baseball|
|San Diego Padres||Baseball||Major League Baseball|
|San Francisco Giants||Baseball||Major League Baseball|
|Golden State Warriors||Basketball||National Basketball Association|
|Los Angeles Clippers||Basketball||National Basketball Association|
|Los Angeles Lakers||Basketball||National Basketball Association|
|Sacramento Kings||Basketball||National Basketball Association|
|Anaheim Ducks||Ice Hockey||National Hockey League|
|Los Angeles Kings||Ice Hockey||National Hockey League|
|San Jose Sharks||Ice Hockey||National Hockey League|
|Chivas USA||Soccer||Major League Soccer|
|Los Angeles Galaxy||Soccer||Major League Soccer|
|San Jose Earthquakes||Soccer||Major League Soccer|
|Los Angeles Avengers||American Football||Arena Football League|
|San Jose SaberCats||American Football||Arena Football League|
|Los Angeles Sparks||Basketball||Women's National Basketball Association|
|Sacramento Monarchs||Basketball||Women's National Basketball Association|
|Los Angeles Riptide||Lacrosse||Major League Lacrosse|
|San Francisco Dragons||Lacrosse||Major League Lacrosse|
|San Jose Stealth||Lacrosse||National Lacrosse League|
|California Cougars||Soccer||Major Indoor Soccer League|