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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 of America. With 39.5 million residents, California is the most populous state in the United States and the third most extensive 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 8.8 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; its largest county by area, San Bernardino County; and its fifth most densely populated county, San Francisco.

California's $2.8 trillion economy is larger than that of any other state. If it were a country, California would be the 5th largest economy in the world, and the 36th most populous as of 2017. The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation's second- and third-largest urban economies ($1.2 trillion and $821 billion respectively as of 2016), after the New York City metropolitan area. The San Francisco Bay Area PSA had the nation's highest GDP per capita in 2016 (~$94,000), and is home to four of the world's ten largest companies by market capitalization and four of the world's ten richest people. Furthermore, according to the Brookings Institute, the combined San Francisco and San Jose metropolitan areas (a.k.a. the San Francisco Bay Area) constituted the 3rd richest metropolitan area globally by GDP per capita in 2015, behind just Singapore and Hartford, CT.

California is considered a global trendsetter in popular culture, innovation, and politics. It is the origin of the film industry, the hippie counterculture, the Internet, and the personal computer, among others. The San Francisco Bay Area and the Greater Los Angeles Area are widely seen as the 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. 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. Though 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. Read more...

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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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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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Van Nuys Boulevard at the Metro Orange Line crossing

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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Clint Eastwood in 2007
Clinton Eastwood, Jr. (born May 31, 1930) is a 5-time Academy Award-winning American film director, actor, producer, and composer. He has won Academy Awards five times - twice each as Best Director and as producer of the Best Picture; he received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1995.

While his work as a director, on recent films like Letters from Iwo Jima and Million Dollar Baby, and also earlier films like High Plains Drifter and The Outlaw Josey Wales, have received a high degree of critical acclaim, Eastwood is best known for his tough guy, anti-hero acting roles. Examples of these are his performances in western films, such as in the Man with No Name in Sergio Leone's "Dollars trilogy" of Spaghetti Westerns, and as Inspector "Dirty" Harry Callahan in the Dirty Harry movies.

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The Hollywood Sign

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

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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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