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Seal of California.
Location of California within the United States.
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California is a state in the Pacific Region of the United States. With 39.6 million residents, 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 global centers of the 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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An 1843 map of Rancho San Francisco
Rancho San Francisco was a land grant of 48,612 acres (197 km2) by Governor Juan B. Alvarado to Antonio del Valle, a Spanish army officer, in recognition for his service to the state of Alta California. The rancho was the location of the first documented discovery of gold in California in 1842. The current cities of Santa Clarita, Valencia, and Piru lie within the boundaries of Rancho San Francisco, later known as Newhall Ranch. The rancho is a designated California Historical Landmark.

After Mission San Fernando Rey de España was established in 1797, the administrators there realized they would need more land for agriculture and livestock, and they looked north to the Santa Clarita Valley to establish their estancia, or mission rancho. Subsequently, the Tataviam Indians who had been living there were relocated to the Mission, where they were baptized and put to work. The Estancia de San Francisco Xavier was built in 1804 at the confluence of Castaic Creek and the Santa Clara River.


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Barker Dam
Credit: Tarret

Barker Dam is a water-storage facility located in Joshua Tree National Park in California. The dam was constructed by early cattlemen, and is situated between Queen Valley and the Wonderland of Rocks near the Wall Street Mill. It is a gathering place for desert wildlife, including many species of birds and Desert Bighorn Sheep.

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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Frederick Russell Burnham, DSO (May 11, 1861September 1, 1947), was an American scout and world traveling adventurer best known for his service as Chief of Scouts to the British Army in Colonial Africa and for teaching woodcraft (i.e., scoutcraft) to Robert Baden-Powell, becoming one of the inspirations to the founding of the Scouting Movement. Burnham was born to a missionary family on an Indian Reservation in Tivoli, Minnesota (near Mankato). His family moved to Los Angeles, California in 1870, and his father, the Rev. Edwin Otway Burnham died when the young Fred was only 11. While the rest of the family moved to Iowa, the young Burnham stayed in California to make his own way, working as a messenger, scout, and professional hunter. In 1923, Burnham struck oil at Dominguez Hills, California, and his family moved to the new housing development of Hollywoodland. He was one of the original members of the first California State Parks Commission, serving from 1927 to 1934, and he was president of the Southwest Museum of Los Angeles from 1938 until 1940. At 86, he died at his home in Santa Barbara and was buried near his former ranch at Three Rivers. Mount Burnham was dedicated in his name in 1952.

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The Hollywood Sign

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An aerial view of the San Ardo Oil Field

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Woody Allen
In California, they don't throw their garbage away - they make it into TV shows.

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Air pollution over the City of Los Angeles
Credit: Diliff

Los Angeles, California is the second-largest city in the United States, with an estimated population of 3.85 million people. Los Angeles is one of the cultural, economic, scientific and entertainment centers of the country.

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