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Seal of California.
Location of California within the United States.
Flag of California.svg

California (/ˌkælˈfɔːrnjə/ KAL-ə-FORN-yə, /ˌkælˈfɔːrniə/ KAL-ə-FAWR-nee-ə) is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is the most populous U.S. state, with 39 million people, and the third largest state by area (after Alaska and Texas). California is bordered by Oregon to the north, Nevada to the east, Arizona to the southeast, and the Mexican state of Baja California to the south. It contains the nation's second most populous census statistical area (Greater Los Angeles Area) and the fifth most populous (San Francisco Bay Area), and eight of the nation's 50 most populated cities (Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Fresno, Sacramento, Long Beach, and Oakland). Sacramento has been the state capital since 1854.

What is now California was first settled by various Native American tribes before being explored by a number of European expeditions during the 16th and 17th centuries. It was then claimed by the Spanish Empire as part of Alta California in the larger territory of New Spain. Alta California 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 western portion of Alta California was organized as the State of California, which was admitted as the 31st state on September 9, 1850. The California Gold Rush starting in 1848 led to dramatic social and demographic change, with large-scale immigration from the east and abroad with an accompanying economic boom.

California's diverse geography ranges from the Sierra Nevada in the east to the Pacific Coast in the west, from the redwoodDouglas fir forests of the northwest, to the Mojave Desert areas in the southeast. The center of the state is dominated by the Central Valley, a major agricultural area. California contains both the highest point (Mount Whitney) and the lowest point (Death Valley), in the contiguous United States and it has the 3rd longest coastline of all states (after Alaska and Florida). Earthquakes are common because of the state's location along the Pacific Ring of Fire. About 37,000 earthquakes are recorded each year, but most are too small to be felt.

California's economy is centered on technology, finance, real estate services, government, and professional, scientific and technical business services; together comprising 58% of the State economy. Although only 1.5% of the State's economy, California's agriculture industry has the highest output of any U.S. State. If it were a country, California would be the 8th or 9th largest economy in the world and the 34th most populous.

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Eureka Mine and Cashier Mill in Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park is a mostly arid United States National Park located east of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in southern Inyo County and northern San Bernardino County in California, with a small extension into southwestern Nye County and extreme southern Esmeralda County in Nevada. The park covers 5,262 square miles (13,630 km2), encompassing Saline Valley, a large part of Panamint Valley, almost all of Death Valley, and parts of several mountain ranges. Death Valley National Monument was proclaimed in 1933, placing the area under federal protection. In 1994, the monument was redesignated a national park, as well as being substantially expanded to include Saline and Eureka Valleys. It is the hottest and driest of the national parks in the United States. It also features the second-lowest depression in the Western Hemisphere and the lowest point in North America at Badwater Basin at 279 feet (85 m) below sea level. It is home to many species of plants and animals that have adapted to this harsh desert environment. Death Valley National Park is visited annually by more than 770,000 visitors who come to enjoy its diverse geologic features, desert wildlife, historic sites, scenery, clear night skies and the solitude of the extreme desert environment.


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The Walton Lighthouse in Santa Cruz, California
Credit: Murderbike

Walton Lighthouse, also known as the Santa Cruz West Breakwater Light or the Santa Cruz Harbour Light, is a lighthouse in California, on the west side of the entrance to Santa Cruz Harbor.

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An aerial view of the San Ardo Oil Field

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Gavin Newsom
Gavin Christopher Newsom (born October 10, 1967) is the current Lieutenant Governor of California and a former mayor of San Francisco, California. A Democrat, Newsom was elected mayor in 2003, succeeding Willie Brown and becoming San Francisco's youngest mayor in 100 years. In 2004, Newsom gained national attention when he issued a directive to the San Francisco city-county clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The unexpected move brought national attention to the issues of gay marriage and gay rights, solidifying political support for Newsom in San Francisco and in the gay community, and causing several other states to change their laws concerning marriage and gay rights.

Before his political career, Newsom graduated from Santa Clara University in 1989 with a Bachelor of Arts in political science. He started the PlumpJack Winery Shop in 1992 which eventually grew into a multi-million dollar enterprise. He was first appointed by Willie Brown to serve on San Francisco's Parking and Traffic Commission in 1996, and was appointed the following year as Supervisor. Newsom drew voter attention with his Care Not Cash program, designed to move homeless people into city assisted care. He defeated Matt Gonzales by 6% in his race for mayor in 2003. Newsom was reelected in the November 7 2007 mayoral election with 72 percent of the vote.

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Gloria Swanson
All creative people should be required to leave California for three months every year.

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Kern River
Credit: Rogerroger.org

The Kern River is a river in the U.S. state of California, approximately 164 miles (264 km) long. It drains an area of the southern Sierra Nevada mountains northeast of Bakersfield. Fed by snowmelt near Mount Whitney, the river passes through scenic canyons in the mountains and is a popular destination for whitewater rafting and kayaking.

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