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

California is a state in the Pacific Region of the United States. With 39.6 million residents across a total area of about 163,696 square miles (423,970 km2), 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 economy, with a gross state product of $3.0 trillion, is larger than that of any other U.S. state 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 gross domestic product per capita in 2017 (~$94,000) among large primary statistical areas, 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, communication, information, innovation, environmentalism, economics, politics, and entertainment. 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 centers of the global technology and entertainment industries, respectively. California's economy is very diverse: 58% of it is based 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 shares a border with 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 redwood and Douglas 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 frequent challenges.

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Panning for gold on the Mokelumne River
The California Gold Rush started in January 1848, when gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill. As news of the discovery spread, some 300,000 people came to California from the rest of the United States and abroad. These early gold-seekers, called "Forty-Niners," traveled to California by sailing ship and in covered wagons across the continent, often facing substantial hardship on the trip. Gold worth billions of today's dollars was recovered, leading to great wealth for some; others, however, returned home with little more than they started with. The effects of the Gold Rush were substantial. San Francisco grew from a tiny hamlet of tents to a boomtown, and roads, churches, schools and other towns were built. A system of laws and a government was created, leading to the admission of California as a state in 1850. New methods of transportation developed as steamships came into regular service and railroads were built. The business of agriculture, California's next major growth field, was started on a wide scale throughout the state. However, the Gold Rush also had negative effects: Native Americans were attacked and pushed off traditional lands, and gold mining caused environmental harm.


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Salton Sea Reflection
Credit: Rman 348

The Salton Sea is an inland saline lake, occupying the lowest elevations of the Salton Sink, part of the larger Colorado Desert in Southern California, north of the Imperial Valley. The lake covers a surface area of approximately 376 square miles (974 km²), the largest in California.

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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Sharon Marie Tate (January 24, 1943 – August 9, 1969) was a Golden Globe-nominated American actress. During the 1960s she had small television roles before starting her film career. She appeared in several films that highlighted her beauty, and after receiving positive reviews for her comedic performances, was hailed as one of Hollywood's promising newcomers. Tate's fame increased after her marriage to film director Roman Polański and her appearances in fashion magazines as a model and cover girl.

Tate was murdered, along with four others, on August 9, 1969, by followers of Charles Manson at her Benedict Canyon home. She was eight and a half months pregnant. A decade after the murders, her mother Doris Tate, appalled at the growing cult status of the killers and the possibility that any of them might be granted parole, joined a public campaign against what she considered shortcomings in the state corrections system.

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A map showing the route of California State Route 174

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As one went to Europe to see the living past, so one must visit Southern California to observe the future.

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The western end of State Route 166
Credit: Emin Eshacker

State Route 166 is a part of the California Freeway and Expressway System and is eligible for the State Scenic Highway System. It starts off in Guadalupe in northwestern Santa Barbara County and heads east towards the largest city on its eastern journey: Santa Maria.

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