California ( ( listen) KAL-ə-FORN-yə, 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 redwood–Douglas 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.
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.