The Golden State, California takes its name from a make-believe island filled with gold in a Spanish novel.California is located on the along the Pacific Coast and is bordered by Nevada on the east, Arizona (southeast), Mexico (south), Pacific Ocean (west), and Oregon (north).
At 158,648 square miles, California is the 3rd largest state. The highest elevation is Mt. Whitney in Inyo-Tulare County at 14,494 feet. The lowest elevation is Death Valley in Inyo County at -282 feet below sea level (lowest elevation in the United States).Entertainment and Tourism. Hollywood has long been the world capital of motion-picture and television film production, in turn drawing numerous tourists. Other popular California tourist attractions include Disneyland, Sea World, the San Diego Zoo and other theme parks, San Francisco, Tijuana (just across the Mexican border from San Diego), and California's spectacular national parks and miles of beautiful beaches.With mountains to the east and deserts to the south, California has the best of all worlds. You can Snow Ski in mountains then drive less then two hours and be in soaring high temperatures all in the same day.The highest temperature recorded was 134° while the lowest was -45°.National Parks & Monuments include Channel Islands, Death Valley, Joshua Tree, Kings Canyon, Lassen Volcanic, Mojave, Redwood, Sequoia, Yosemite, Cabrillo, Devil's Postpile, Lava Beds, Muir Woods, Pinnacles.
Spain claimed and occupied California in the interest of increasing Spanish and Catholic influence. The Spanish colonization was highly authoritarian and subject to all the inefficiencies of centralized planning. To their credit, the Spanish envisioned the native population as playing an important role as Catholic citizens, but the mission/presidio system failed to adopt the Indians to this role and failed to attract a sufficient number of Spanish settlers. When Mexico fought and obtained independence, California lost virtually all its centralized support. As members of an isolated community, Californians spent three decades in political confusion (at one point, a Californian-based republic was declared). The richest families turned to the one industry guaranteed to earn a comfortable living -- selling hides and tallow generated from the virtually free cattle that roamed vast ranchos. In an attempt to increase the non-Indian population, foreigners of all types were admitted.Soon a sizable minority of Yankees grew, dominating the merchant class and entering into important positions in the political and social structure. The defense of California, completely neglected by Mexico and lacking support from unstable California administrations, led to the unusual condition where any of several world powers could have easily occupied California. In point of fact, the Yankee residents themselves were the first to do it, in the Bear Flag revolt of June 1846. Just one month after, due to the Mexican-American war that in turn stemmed from the Yankee takeover of Texas, the American Navy took control of California without firing a shot.Most Californians were resigned to inevitable Yankee rule, though a revolt at Los Angeles led to a pocket of Californian resistance lasting from September 1846 to January 1847. California was officially made a territory with the end of the Mexican-American war February 2, 1848, nine days before gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill.Through some local PR efforts, and support in late 1848 from President Polk himself, a gold mania swept the States and the world resulting in the remarkable 49er migration. The population soared, quickly (and brutally) overwhelming the Californian and Indians. Political leaders seized the moment to obtain a constitution and voter's ratification by November 1849, with recognition by the U.S. congress in October 1850.Meanwhile, the great influx of miners was redirected to farming, trade, and business. The beauty, richness, and climate of California -- as well as a lack of options for bankrupt miners -- kept the population here long after the gold mania died down. The State of California, a chaotic mix of ethnicitys and incomes, hopes and cynicism, was born. During World War II, U.S. citizens of Japanese descent were rounded up and confined in internment camps. Though the government claimed it was necessary for security reasons, the effort was driven largely by greed. While the Japanese Americans were locked up, their farms were sold to white farmers. Today, thousands of Mexicans contribute to the seasonal migrant labor hired to gather and pack crops.
Not all Californian's have cement pools or are movie stars but with a State population that just exceeds the entire population of Canada, California has the largest percentage of millionaires in the U.S.More immigrants settle in California than any other state, more than one third of the nation's total in 1994. The most numerous group of immigrants are Asians and Pacific Islanders, though many Mexicans emigrate to California, either legally or by illegally crossing the border between California and Texas. Whites remain the largest ethnic group but, for the first time, no longer constitute the majority. Hispanics make up one third of the population in California, which also saw a boom in Asian immigration.The 2000 census put California's population at 33,871,648. The State Capital is Sacramento, other major cities or towns include Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Long Beach, Fresno, Oakland, Santa Ana, Anaheim.