Many people travel to see the many sights that California has to offer. Some of the state’s landmarks include its eight national parks such as Yosemite National Park and Redwood National Park which are some of the most visited in the nation. Stanford, the University of California Los Angeles, and the University of Southern California are some of the state’s most well-known colleges. California is also home to twenty-one Spanish missions including the Mission San Juan Capistrano and Mission Santa Barbara. Many tourists visit other popular tourist attractions in the state such as the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz in San Francisco, Disneyland and Universal Studios in Southern California, or one of California’s many beautiful beaches. Other fun activities to do in the “Golden State” include watching one of its many professional sports teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers, the San Diego Chargers, or the San Francisco Giants. From sailing to mountain climbing and surfing to skiing, California has it all.
California’s economy is ranked ninth out of the fifty states with an average annual household income of $61,021. Even though it’s the country’s top agricultural state, only 3% of the state’s population works on farms. The top jobs in the state (18.6%) include work in educational services, health care, and social assistance. A total of 11.8 percent of the work force is in professional, scientific, management, administrative, and waste management services. Manufacturing and retail trade each make up 11.2% of jobs in the state. The top goods produced in the state are computer and electronic equipment including Intel and Hewlett-Packard. California also produces chemical products such as medicines and paint, and transportation equipment such as aircraft, missiles, and cars. The famous Jelly Belly factory can be found in Fairfield, California and produces more than 14 billion jelly beans each year. Farmland covers about one-third of the state. It produces numerous crops such as almonds, apricots, asparagus, avocados, bell peppers, cantaloupes, strawberries, and olives. Milk is the state’s leading farm product, while grapes which are sold fresh or made into wine, grape juice, or raisins, are the number two product.
The third largest state in the United States, California runs almost 800 miles from north to south and covers 163,707 square miles. Its land is divided into eight main land regions. The Klamath Mountains are in the northwest corner of the state and are covered with forests and divided by deep canyons. The Coastal Ranges extend from the northern part of the state south to Santa Barbara. They consist of smaller chains of mountain ranges as well as several valleys including Napa Valley. This land region is also home to California’s legendary Redwood trees. The Sierra Nevada region includes the Sierra Nevada mountain range that runs 430 miles north and south in the state. Within this range is Mount Whitney which stands at 14,494 feet and is the highest peak in the United States south of Alaska. One of the region’s most famous and breathtaking valleys is Yosemite. The Central Valley land region lies between the Coastal Range and the Sierra Nevada range and is home to the San Joaquin River and the Sacramento River. The Cascade Mountain region is the northernmost region of the state and was formed by volcanos. This region still has one active volcano known as Lassen Peak. The Basin and Range region contains the southeastern deserts of California, including the Mojave Desert and Death Valley. The final two land regions are the Los Angeles and San Diego Ranges which are groups of small mountain ranges that extend from east to west.
California has several different bodies of water. Besides being bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean, it has three main rivers – the Sacramento River, the San Joaquin River, and the Colorado River. The Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers can be found in the Central Valley of the state. The Colorado River, which originates in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains and acts as a border between California and Arizona, is a huge provider of water for the state’s southern deserts, providing water for both agriculture and people. Two of California’s major lakes are Lake Tahoe and the Salton Sea. Lake Tahoe is a large freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevadas, and the Salton Sea is a large, shallow lake that lies below sea level in California’s southern desert.
A trip through California offers a variety of different climates. The state has five climate regions: coastal, valley, foothill, mountain, and desert. From Southern California’s warm sunshine to San Francisco’s fog, and from frigid mountaintops to blazing hot deserts, each climate region is unique. The average January temperature is 57ºF in Los Angeles and 49ºF in San Francisco. Whereas, the average July temperature is 69ºF in Los Angeles and 63ºF in San Francisco. Not known for being a very rainy state, the average annual precipitation is twenty inches in the northern part of the state and only thirteen inches in the southern part.
Found in the southwestern part of the United States, California is bordered on the north by Oregon, Nevada and Arizona lie to the east, the country of Mexico shares its southern border, and the Pacific Ocean borders the state to the west.
California’s state history dates back to more than 11,000 years ago when people first started living there. Many Native Americans lived across the wide expanse of the state. The Tipai-Ipai people lived in Southern California and northern Baja California. Some of these natives lived in caves while others lived in dome-shaped homes made from poles covered with palm leaves. They ate whatever they could catch or gather in the forest including cactus, acorns, and berries. Another group of Native Americans who inhabited Southern California were the Cahuilla who lived in the San Bernardino Mountains. They lived in shelters made of brush or in rectangular thatched houses. They gathered food from the forest like the Tipai-Ipai, but they also ate squash, beans, and caught fish in the lakes and streams. The Karok natives lived in the northwestern part of the state near the Klamath River. Their houses were made of plants and built over pits.
The state was named by Spanish explorers who named it after California, a mythical island paradise in a 16th century book called Sergas de Esplandian. Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo explored California’s San Diego Bay in 1542. Thirty-seven years later, in 1579, Francis Drake claimed California for England. The Spanish continued to colonize the state, and many missions were established. The first mission was established by Junipero Serra in San Diego in 1769. Later, in 1821, California became part of Mexico. However, in 1841, the first group of U.S. settlers reached California and settled there. With the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill in 1848, the population of California boomed. On September 9, 1850, it became the thirty-first state to join the Union.
Sunny skies, snow-peaked mountains, sandy beaches, and rolling fields can all be found in the beautiful state of California. Known as the “Golden State”, California is famous for its mild weather. When visiting, people may see the California Valley Quail, the state bird, soaring through the sunny, blue skies.They may also enjoy the radiant state flower, the California poppy, growing wild across the state’s rolling hills.