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

California is a state in the Pacific Region of the United States. With 39.6 million residents across a total area of about 163,696 square miles (423,970 km2), California is the most populous U.S. state and the third-largest by area. The state capital is Sacramento. The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation's second- and fifth-most populous urban regions, with 18.7 million and 9.7 million residents respectively. Los Angeles is California's most populous city, and the country's second-most populous, after New York City. California also has the nation's most populous county, Los Angeles County, and its largest county by area, San Bernardino County. The City and County of San Francisco is both the country's second-most densely populated major city after New York City and the fifth-most densely populated county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs.

California's $3.0 trillion economy is larger than that of any other state; larger than those of Texas and Florida combined; and is the largest sub-national economy in the world. If it were a country, California would be the fifth-largest economy in the world (larger than the United Kingdom, France, or India), and the 36th-most populous . The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation's second- and third-largest urban economies ($1.253 trillion and $907 billion respectively ), after the New York metropolitan area. The San Francisco Bay Area PSA had the nation's highest GDP per capita in 2017 (~$94,000) among large PSAs, and is home to three of the world's ten largest companies by market capitalization and four of the world's ten richest people.

California culture is considered a global trendsetter in popular culture, innovation, environmentalism, and politics. As a result of the state's diversity and migration, California integrates foods, languages, and traditions from other areas across the country and around the globe. It is considered the origin of the American film industry, the hippie counterculture, fast food, beach and car culture, the Internet, and the personal computer, among others. The San Francisco Bay Area and the Greater Los Angeles Area are widely seen as centers of the global technology and entertainment industries, respectively. California has a very diverse economy: 58% of the state's economy is centered on finance, government, real estate services, technology, and professional, scientific, and technical business services. Although it accounts for only 1.5% of the state's economy, California's agriculture industry has the highest output of any U.S. state.

California is bordered by Oregon to the north, Nevada and Arizona to the east, and the Mexican state of Baja California to the south (with the coast being on the west). The state's diverse geography ranges from the Pacific Coast in the west to the Sierra Nevada mountain range in the east, and from the redwoodDouglas fir forests in the northwest to the Mojave Desert in the southeast. The Central Valley, a major agricultural area, dominates the state's center. Although California is well-known for its warm Mediterranean climate, 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. Over time, drought and wildfires have become more pervasive features.

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The Wilshire frontage of the Ebell of Los Angeles
The Ebell of Los Angeles is a women's club housed in a complex in the Mid-City section of Los Angeles that includes a clubhouse building and the renowned 1,270-seat Wilshire Ebell Theatre. The complex has been owned and operated since 1927 by the Ebell of Los Angeles women's club, which was formed in Los Angeles in 1894. Since 1927, the Wilshire Ebell Theatre has hosted musical performances and lectures by world leaders and top artists. Among other events, the Ebell was the site of aviator Amelia Earhart's last public appearance before attempting the 1937 around-the-world flight during which she disappeared, and the place where Judy Garland was discovered while performing as Baby Frances Gumm in the 1930s.

Ebell of Los Angeles was formed as a women's club in 1894, based on the principles and teachings of Adrian Ebell, a pioneer in women's education and organizing women's societies in the late 19th century. The minutes of the first meeting of Ebell of Los Angeles identify its purpose "to interest women in the study of all branches of literature, art and science and the advancement of women in every branch of culture." The club adopted as its motto, "I will find a way or make one -- I serve."


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The Golden Gate Bridge
Credit: Dschwen

The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate, the opening of the San Francisco Bay onto the Pacific Ocean. As part of both U.S. Route 101 and California State Route 1, it connects the city of San Francisco on the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula to Marin County.

State facts

  • Total area: 163,696 mi2
    • Land: 156,002 mi2
    • Water: 7,694 mi2
  • Highest elevation: 14,505 ft (Mount Whitney)
  • Population 39,250,017 (2016 est)
  • Admission to the Union: September 9, 1850 (31st)

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John D. Spreckels
John Diedrich Spreckels (August 16, 1853–June 7, 1926), the son of American industrialist Claus Spreckels, founded a transportation and real estate empire in San Diego, California in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The oldest of eleven children (only four of whom survived to adulthood), Spreckels was born in Charleston, South Carolina, though the family soon moved to New York and then went on to San Francisco, California, where he was raised. The entrepreneur's many business ventures in the City of San Diego, California which included the Hotel del Coronado and the San Diego and Arizona Railway Company, both of which are credited with helping the City develop into a major commercial center.

Spreckels attended Oakland College and then in Hanover, Germany, where he studied chemistry and mechanical engineering in the Polytechnic College until 1872. He returned to California and began working for his father, Claus Spreckels, who had grown extremely wealthy in the sugar business. In 1876 he went to the Hawaiian Islands, where he worked in his father's sugar business, Spreckels Sugar Company.

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The Hollywood Sign

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Looking north-east across the Laguna de Santa Rosa

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You haven't lived until you've died in California.

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The inside of the Senate Chambers at the Benicia Capitol State Historic Park
Credit: Leonard G.

Benicia Capitol State Historic Park is a state park in Benicia, California. The park is dedicated to California’s third capitol building, where the California State Legislature and bureaucracy convened from February 3, 1853 to February 24, 1854. It is the only pre-Sacramento capitol that survives.

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