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California, US (Population: 36,457,549)
State Capitol: Sacramento

Major Cities: Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Long Beach, Fresno, Oakland, Santa Ana, Anaheim

State Nickname/Motto: Golden State – Eureka: I have found it

Statehood Granted: September 9, 1850

History Settled by successive waves of arrivals during the last 10,000 years, California was one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse areas in pre-Columbian North America; the area was inhabited by more than 70 distinct groups of American Indians. Large, settled populations lived on the coast and hunted sea mammals, fished for salmon, and gathered shellfish, while groups in the interior hunted terrestrial game and gathered nuts, acorns, and berries. California groups also were diverse in their political organization with bands, tribes, villages, and on the resource-rich coasts, large chiefdoms, such as the Chumash, Pomo and Salinan. Trade, intermarriage, and military alliances fostered many social and economic relationships among the diverse groups. The first European to explore the coast was the Portuguese Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, in 1542, sailing for the Spanish Empire. Some 37 years later, the English explorer Francis Drake also explored and claimed an undefined portion of the California coast in 1579.

Geography: Highest point; Mt. Whitney; 14,494 feet. California's diverse geography ranges from the sandy beaches of the Pacific coast to the rugged, snow-capped Sierra Nevada Mountains in the east. The central portion of the state is dominated by the Central Valley, one of the most vital agricultural areas in the country. The Sierra Nevada contains Yosemite Valley, famous for its glacially-carved domes, and Sequoia National Park, home to the largest living organisms on Earth, the giant sequoia trees, and the highest point in the contiguous United States, Mount Whitney. The tallest living things on Earth, the ancient redwood trees, dot the coastline, mainly north of San Francisco. California is also home to the second lowest and hottest place in the Western Hemisphere, Death Valley. Bristlecone pines located in the White Mountains are the oldest known trees in the world; one has an age of 4,700 years.

Ethnic Diversity: One Race (96.9%), White (60.9%), Black or African American 6.1%), American Indian and Alaska Native (12.4%), Asian (0.9%), Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (0.4%), Some other race 16.4%), Two or more races (3.1%), Hispanic or Latino (35.5%)*

Famous State People:
  • Walt Disney (1901 - 1966) Creator of Mickey Mouse and founder of the Disneyland® and Walt Disney World® Theme Parks; lived in Hollywood.
  • Shirley Temple Black (1928 - ) 1930s child actress and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; born in Santa Monica.
  • Joe DiMaggio (1914 - 1999) Famous baseball player who won two batting championships and three MVP awards; born in Martinez.
  • Robert Frost (1874 - 1963) One of America's leading 20th-century poets and a four-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize; born in San Francisco.
  • Jack London (1876 -1916) Author of many novels about the vast Western frontiers, such as Call of the Wild; born in San Francisco.
  • Marilyn Monroe (1926 - 1962) Famous 1950's actress and considered one of the most famous woman of the 20th Century; born in Los Angeles.
  • Richard M. Nixon (1913 - 1994) 37th President of the U.S.; born in Yorba Linda.
  • Sally K. Ride (1951 -) Astronaut and first American woman in space; born in Los Angeles.
  • Marcus Allen (1960 -) Football player. A six-time Pro Bowler, Allen was also the MVP of Super Bowl XVIII; born in San Diego.
  • Robert Bower (1936 - ) Inventor; born in Santa Monica.
  • James H. Doolittle (1896 - 1993) Air force general who led the first carrier-based bomber attack on mainland Japan in 1942; born in Alameda.
  • George Lucas (1944 - ) Filmmaker and the mastermind behind the Star Wars features; born in Modesto.
  • John Steinbeck (1902 -1968) Author known for famous works such as Tortilla Flat and Of Mice and Men; born in Salinas.
  • Eldrick "Tiger" Woods (1975 - ) Famous golfer who has revolutionized the sport since becoming a pro in 1996; born in Cypress.
  • Major Colleges/Universities: University of California, California State University, Stanford University, University of Southern California, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and Claremont Colleges

    State and National Parks: California State Park, Angel Island, Armstrong Redwoods, Calavernas Big Trees, Candlestick Point, Caswell Memorial State Park, Donner Memorial, Empire Mine State Historic Park, Fort Humboldt State Historic Park, Fort Teton State Historic Park, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, Little River State Beach, Mandalay State Beach, San Simeon State Park, Santa Cruz Mission, Santa Monica State Beach, Shasta State Historic Park, and Sonoma State Historic Park. The U.S. National Park System controls a large and diverse group of California parks. The best known are Yosemite National Park, Kings Canyon-Sequoia National Park, Redwood National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Golden Gate National Recreation Area (home of Alcatraz Island), and the largest, Death Valley National Park.

    Misc In 1969, a group of American Indians from many different tribes, calling themselves Indians of All Tribes – a majority of them who had been relocated to the Bay Area under the Federal Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, occupied the island. They proposed an education, ecology, and cultural center. According to the occupants, the 1868 Fort Laramie treaty between the US and the Sioux conceded all retired, abandoned or out-of-use federal land to the Native people from whom it was acquired. Several attempts to remove them from the island failed, to include a blockade that restricted food and other vital supplies. After 18 months of occupation, the government succeeded in forcing the group off the island. But the end of the Termination policy and the new policy of self-determination were established in 1970, in part as a result of the publicity and awareness created by the occupation. Graffiti from the period of American Indian occupation is still visible at many locations on the island.

    *U.S. Census - 2005