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

California (/ˌkælɪˈfɔːrnjə/ (About this sound listen) KAL-ə-FORN-yə, /ˌkælɪˈfɔːrniə/ 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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The current touring lineup of The Beach Boys, 2008
The Beach Boys are an American rock band. Formed in 1961, the group gained popularity for its close vocal harmonies and lyrics reflecting a Southern California youth culture of cars and surfing. Brian Wilson's growing creative ambitions later transformed them into a more artistically innovative group that earned critical praise and influenced many later musicians.

The group was initially composed of singer-musician-composer Brian Wilson, his brothers, Carl and Dennis, their cousin Mike Love, and friend Al Jardine. This core quintet, along with early member David Marks and later bandmate Bruce Johnston, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 1988. The Beach Boys have often been called "America's Band", and Allmusic.com has stated that "the band's unerring ability... made them America's first, best rock band." The group has had thirty-six U.S. Top 40 hits (the most of any U.S. rock band) and fifty-six Hot 100 hits, including four number one singles. Rolling Stone magazine listed The Beach Boys as number 12 in the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. According to Billboard, in terms of singles and album sales, The Beach Boys are the No. 1-selling American band of all time.


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The Huntington Library
Credit: Aaron Logan

The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens (or The Huntington) is an educational and research institution established by Henry E. Huntington in San Marino, California, USA. In addition to the library, the site houses an art collection strong in English portraits and French eighteenth-century furniture and botanical gardens that feature North America's strongest collection of cycads.

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A map of the Pasadena Freeway

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 (31th)

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Winfield Scott Hancock
Winfield Scott Hancock (February 14, 1824 – February 9, 1886) was a career U.S. Army officer and the Democratic nominee for President of the United States in 1880. He served with distinction in the Army for four decades, including service in the Mexican–American War and as a Union general in the American Civil War. Known to his Army colleagues as "Hancock the Superb," he was noted in particular for his personal leadership at the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. One military historian wrote, "No other Union general at Gettysburg dominated men by the sheer force of their presence more completely than Hancock." As another wrote, "his tactical skill had won him the quick admiration of adversaries who had come to know him as the 'Thunderbolt of the Army of the Potomac.'" His military service continued after the Civil War, as Hancock participated in the military Reconstruction of the South and the Army's presence at the Western frontier. After the Civil War, Hancock's reputation as a soldier and his dedication to conservative constitutional principles made him a quadrennial Presidential possibility.

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Jimmy Smits in 1987
I've been in California for about 15 years now. You're always in your car and insulated. I miss New York so much.

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Crystal Mountains
Credit: Phreakdigital

The Crystal Range is a small group of mountains located within the Desolation Wilderness in the U.S. state of California. It is a subrange of the Sierra Nevada. The highest and most southerly peak is Pyramid Peak at 9987 ft; Mount Agassiz is next north at 9967 ft, with Mount Price (9975 ft) rounding out the southern group of peaks. Tells Peak is the northernmost named peak in the range.

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