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California is a state located in the western United States, bordering the Pacific Ocean. It is the most populous and third largest state in the U.S., has a population roughly the size of Canada and it is the sixth largest economy in the world. California is both physically and demographically diverse. The state′s official nickname of "The Golden State" is often thought to be a reference to California’s 1849 gold rush but is in fact reference to the native grasses that turn a golden color during the dry season. California′s U.S. postal abbreviation is CA, and its Associated Press abbreviation is Calif.

Southern California is highly populated, while the larger northern California is less densely populated. The vast majority of the population lives within 50 miles (80 km) of the Pacific Ocean. California dominates American culture and economy, contributing significant advances in technology and legal reform, in addition to paying significantly more to the federal system than it receives in benefits.

The entire region originally known as California was composed of the Mexican peninsula now known as Baja California and the land in the current states of California, Nevada, Utah, and parts of Arizona and Wyoming, known as Alta California. In these early times, the boundaries of the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific coast were only partially explored and California was shown on early maps as an island. The name comes from Las sergas de Espladián (Adventures of Spladian), a 16th century novel, by Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo, where there is an island paradise called California.

History

The first European to explore parts of the coast was the Portuguese Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1542. The first to explore the entire coast and claim possession of it was Francis Drake in 1579. Beginning in the late 1700s, Spanish missionaries set up tiny settlements on enormous grants of land in the vast territory north of Baja California. Upon Mexican independence from Spain, the chain of missions became the property of the Mexican government, and they were quickly dissolved and abandoned.

In 1846, at the outset of the Mexican-American War, a California Republic was founded and the Bear Flag was flown that featured a golden bear and a star. The Republic came to a sudden end when Commodore John D. Sloat of the United States Navy sailed into San Francisco Bay and claimed California for the United States. Following the Mexican-American War, the region was divided between Mexico and the United States. The Mexican portion, Baja (lower) California was later divided into the states of Baja California and Baja California Sur. The western part of the U.S. portion, Alta (upper) California, was to become the state of California.

In 1848, the Spanish-speaking population of distant upper California numbered around 4,000. But after gold was discovered, the population burgeoned with Americans and a few Europeans in the great California gold rush. In 1850, the state was admitted to the Union.

During the American Civil War, popular support was divided 70% for the South and 30% for the North, and although California officially entered on the side of the North, many troops went east to fight with the Confederacy.

The connection of the far Pacific West to the eastern population centers came in 1869 with the completion of the first transcontinental railroad. Out West, residents were discovering that California was extremely well suited to fruit cultivation and agriculture in general. Citrus, oranges in particular, were widely grown, and the foundation was laid for the state′s prodigious agricultural production of today.

In the period from 1900 to 1965 the population grew from fewer than one million to become the most populous state in the Union, sending the most electors to the Electoral College to elect the President. From 1965 to the present, this population completely changed and became one of the most diverse in the world. The state is liberal-leaning, technologically and culturally savvy, and a world center of engineering businesses, the film and television industry and, as mentioned above, American agricultural production.

CALIFORNIA COUNTIES


Los Angeles
Orange
Ventura
San Bernardino
Riverside
San Diego
Imperial
Inyo
Santa Barbara
Tulare
Kings
Kern
Fresno
San Luis Obispo
Monterey
Mono
Madera
Merced
Mariposa
San Mateo
Santa Clara
San Francisco
Sacramento
Alameda
Napa
Contra Costa
Solano
Marin
Sonoma
Santa Cruz
San Benito
San Joaquin
Calaveras
Tuolumne
Stanislaus
Mendocino
Lake
Humboldt
Trinity
Del Norte
Siskiyou
Amador
Placer
Yolo
El Dorado
Alpine
Sutter
Yuba
Nevada
Sierra
Colusa
Glenn
Butte
Plumas
Shasta
Modoc
Lassen
Tehama

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