California is ranked among the biggest states in the United States, occupying as much as 70% of the US West Coast. It’s probably the state showing the widest variance when it comes to geography and climatic conditions, as it encompasses lots of extremes when it comes to temperature, altitude, as well as biological diversity.
California includes 58 counties and several distinct regions. Due to its enormous length extending from north to south, sometimes it’s referred to as “Southern California” –or “So-Cal” in slang— and Northern California. Northern California is often recognized to include the following regions:
San Francisco Bay Area
Sacramento Valley (fragment of the Central Valley)
In contrast, the regions below supposedly belong to Southern California:
Greater Los Angeles Area
San Joaquin Valley (the other Central Valley part)
The Channel Islands
California is the state with the largest population in the country. Owing it to its pleasant climate, let alone the traditional saying that one will always find opportunity there, the state was always seen as the dream destination for many generations of Americans. There are over 37 million people residing there at the moment.
Many of America’s largest cities are in California. The Los Angeles Metropolitan Area, located in Southern California, is the most occupied place in the country, second only to NYC. Northern California has the San Francisco Bay Area, which ranks among the 10 most occupied places in the US. What’s more, San Diego and Sacramento are very populated areas as well.
Additional fun-facts about California
1. It was the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, which put an end to the war between Mexico and America, the event that brought California to the US. Mexico received $15,000,000 from the US as war reparations and, in turn, yielded almost half of its domain: Besides California, also Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, and segments of Nevada, Colorado and Utah changed hands. It wasn’t until 1850 that California was officially turned into the 31st stage.
2. Its first nickname was the Grizzly Bear State. However, as it started to flourish, while at the same time the grizzly population diminished, it became known as the Golden State.
3. The bear which is depicted on California’s state flag is a reference to Monarch, a huge grizzly bear caught by newspaper mogul W. R. Hearst (or, in all actuality, by Allen Kelley, his reporter) in 1899. Monarch was transferred to San Francisco, first at Woodward’s Garden and then at the Golden Gate Park, where he was the main attraction until 1911, when he died. The last time that a wild California grizzly was sighted was in 1924
4. The Monarch might be the dominant image on the official state flag since 1911, however it was more than 50 years earlier that a bear first made its appearance on the state’s flag, in 1846, two years before the end of the Mexican-American war. Some American settlers who were living in California at the time, which still belonged to Mexico, were afraid of being deported. So, they stormed a Mexican outpost at Sonoma and apprehended a retired Mexican general called Mariano Vallejo. After a couple of days, they put up a flag which displayed a red star and a hand-drawn bear, and announced the creation of the California Republic.
5. The designer of the original flag was William Todd, whose aunt was Mary Todd Lincoln. What a small world!
6. The single-word motto of the state, “Eureka” minus the exclamation mark, is a reference to the Gold Rush age. The exclamation in “Eureka!” belongs to the ancient Greek inventor Archimedes. As the legend has it, he was struck with inspiration as he put his foot into his bath and the water spilled over; he grasped that the volume of the excess water equalled to the volume of his foot. So excited he was, that he ran out to tell everyone about what he had found out… totally naked.
7. California is the only place in the US that both the Winter and the Summer Olympic Games have been hosted.
8. It is the state with the largest population in the country. It also is the 3rd largest in size.
9. It is the birthplace of the fortune cookie. This delicacy might be based on the Japanese tradition called o-mikuji, but it was first made in California.
10. State-approved fossils: 1973 was the year that Smilodon californicus, the sabre-tooth tiger, acquired the status of California state fossil. Just the year before, W. Craig Biddle had proposed the trilobite, a cockroach-resembling bug, for the title. His nomination was supported by almost two thousand fossil experts and curators, but it never reached the vote stage. That wasn’t the case with the sabre-tooth, who reached the vote and made it. Who voted against? Why, Senator Biddle.
11. Writer R. Bradbury never learned how to drive, despite living in a city notorious for its traffic – Los Angeles.
12. The Gold Rush is what California is most famous for. It started in 1848, while its Silver Rush took place in the Calico Mountains between 1881 and 1896. Eight years later, Calico was deserted.
13. The mineral benitoite, besides California, exists in Japan, and Arkansas, but it can be found in gemstone-quality precipitations only in San Benito County. People actually have permission from the California State Gem Mine in Coalinga to dig and take with them findings the size of a quart.
14. During the 1929 stock market crash, thousands of banks in the United States went bankrupt. Four years later, only 11,000 remained. However, all banks in San Francisco made it through.
15. Both extremes of geographical altitude in the country, the 14,494-foot Mount Whitney as the highest and Death Valley as the lowest, are in California – they are located just 76 miles apart!