California, known as the Golden State, is the third-largest state in the U.S. It covers 158,706 square miles of land area and houses 37,679,000 people, making it the country's most populous state as of 2015. California was founded on September 9, 1850, and its state animal is the grizzly bear.
The state of California features a highly varied geography throughout its borders, including the Pacific coastline, high mountains in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, wide-ranging forest land, and vast deserts including the Mojave. California contains the highest point in the contiguous United States, Mt. Whitney at 14,194 feet high, as well as the lowest point in the contiguous United States, Death Valley, which is 282 feet below sea level.
The flora and fauna of California reflect the diversity of its geography. They include ancient sequoia and redwood trees, which are the oldest living organisms on the planet. The southern desert zone of California is also home to more species of lupine flowers than anywhere else on earth. Black bears, cougars, bobcats and elk are common animal species found throughout the state.
The largest cities in California are Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco and Fresno. Its capital is Sacramento.