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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.

Selected article

A 1946 Nixon campaign flyer
In California's 12th congressional district election, 1946, the candidates were five-term incumbent Democrat Jerry Voorhis, Republican challenger Richard Nixon, and former congressman and Prohibition Party candidate John Hoeppel. Nixon was elected with 56% of the vote, starting him on the road that would lead, almost a quarter century later, to the presidency. For the 1946 election, Republicans sought a candidate who could unite the party and run a strong race against Voorhis in the Republican-leaning district. After failing to secure the candidacy of General George Patton, they settled on Lieutenant Commander Richard Nixon, who had lived in the district prior to his World War II service. Various explanations have been put forward for Nixon's victory, from national political trends to red-baiting on the part of the challenger. Some historians contend that Nixon received large amounts of funding from wealthy backers determined to defeat Voorhis, while others dismiss such allegations.


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Sather Tower (the Campanile) looking out over the San Francisco Bay with Mount Tamalpais in the distance, from California Memorial Stadium at sunset, 2006.
Credit: Trisweb

Sather Tower on the University of California, Berkeley campus, overlooking the San Francisco Bay with Mount Tamalpais in the distance. Picture taken from California Memorial Stadium at sunset, 2006.

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The Brother Jonathan

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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Jolie in January 2005
Angelina Jolie (born Angelina Jolie Voight; June 4, 1975) is an American film actor and a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency. She is often cited by popular media as one of the world's most beautiful women and her off-screen life is widely reported. She has received three Golden Globe Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and an Academy Award.

Though she made her screen debut as a child alongside her father Jon Voight in the 1982 film Lookin' to Get Out, Jolie's acting career began in earnest a decade later with the low budget production Cyborg 2 (1993). Her first leading role in a major film was in Hackers (1995). She starred in the critically acclaimed biographical films George Wallace (1997) and Gia (1998), and won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the drama Girl, Interrupted (1999). Jolie achieved international fame as a result of her portrayal of videogame heroine Lara Croft in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), and since then has established herself as one of the best-known and highest-paid actresses in Hollywood. She had her biggest commercial success with the action-comedy Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005).

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California is like an artificial limb the rest of the country doesn't really need. You can quote me on that.

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Sierra Nevada (U.S.)
Credit: Urban

The Sierra Nevada (Spanish for "Snowy Range") is a mountain range located in the U.S. state of California. In a few places, it overlaps into neighboring Nevada. The range is also known informally as the Sierra, the High Sierra, and the Sierras.

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