California

Cities

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California

California is a state in the Western United States. California borders Oregon to the north, Nevada and Arizona to the east, the Mexican state of Baja California to the south; and has a coastline along the Pacific Ocean to the west. With over 39.5 million residents across a total area of approximately 163,696 square miles (423,970 km2), it is the most populous and the third-largest U.S. state by area. It is also the most populated subnational entity in North America and the 34th most populous in the world.

 The Greater Los Angeles area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation’s second and fifth most populous urban regions respectively, with the former having more than 18.7 million residents and the latter having over 9.6 million. Sacramento is the state’s capital, while Los Angeles is the most populous city in the state and the second most populous city in the country (after New York City). Los Angeles County is the country’s most populous, while San Bernardino County is the largest county by area in the country (Alaska has some larger subdivisions, but they are not called counties). San Francisco, which is both a city and a county, is the second most densely populated major city in the country (after New York City) and the fifth most densely populated county in the country, behind four of New York City’s five boroughs. Map of the United States with California highlighted

 

Etymology

The Spaniards gave the name Las Californias to the peninsula of Baja California and to Alta California, the region that became the present-day state of California.

The name likely derived from the mythical island of California in the fictional story of Queen Calafia, as recorded in a 1510 work The Adventures of Esplandián by Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo. This work was the fifth in a popular Spanish chivalric romance series that began with Amadís de Gaula. Queen Calafia’s kingdom was said to be a remote land rich in gold and pearls, inhabited by beautiful Black women who wore gold armor and lived like Amazons, as well as griffins and other strange beasts. In the fictional paradise, the ruler Queen Calafia fought alongside Muslims and her name may have been chosen to echo the title of a Muslim leader, the Caliph. It is possible the name California was meant to imply the island was a Caliphate. Shortened forms of the state’s name include CA, Cal, Cali, Calif, Califas, and US-CA.

Geography

California is the third-largest state in the United States in area, after Alaska and Texas.  California is one of the most geographically diverse states in the union and is often geographically bisected into two regions, Southern California, comprising the ten southernmost counties, and Northern California, comprising the 48 northernmost counties. It is bordered by Oregon to the north, Nevada to the east and northeast, Arizona to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and it shares an international border with the Mexican state of Baja California to the south.

In the middle of the state lies the California Central Valley, bounded by the Sierra Nevada in the east, the coastal mountain ranges in the west, the Cascade Range to the north and by the Tehachapi Mountains in the south.

Climate

California is the third-largest state in the United States in area, after Alaska and Texas.  California is one of the most geographically diverse states in the union and is often geographically bisected into two regions, Southern California, comprising the ten southernmost counties, and Northern California, comprising the 48 northernmost counties. It is bordered by Oregon to the north, Nevada to the east and northeast, Arizona to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and it shares an international border with the Mexican state of Baja California to the south.

In the middle of the state lies the California Central Valley, bounded by the Sierra Nevada in the east, the coastal mountain ranges in the west, the Cascade Range to the north and by the Tehachapi Mountains in the south.

Cities and Towns

The state has 482 incorporated cities and towns, of which 460 are cities and 22 are towns. Under California law, the terms “city” and “town” are explicitly interchangeable; the name of an incorporated municipality in the state can either be “City of (Name)” or “Town of (Name)”.

Sacramento became California’s first incorporated city on February 27, 1850. San Jose, San Diego, and Benicia tied for California’s second incorporated city, each receiving incorporation on March 27, 1850. Jurupa Valley became the state’s most recent and 482nd incorporated municipality, on July 1, 2011.

Demographics

The United States Census Bureau reported that the population of California was 39,538,223 on April 1, 2020, a 6.13% increase since the 2010 United States census. The population was projected to reach forty million by 2020.

The Greater Los Angeles Area is the 2nd-largest metropolitan area in the United States, after the New York metropolitan area, while Los Angeles, with nearly half the population of New York City, is the second-largest city in the United States. Conversely, San Francisco, with nearly one-quarter the population density of Manhattan, is the most densely populated city in California and one of the most densely populated cities in the United States. Also, Los Angeles County has held the title of most populous United States county for decades, and it alone is more populous than 42 United States states. Including Los Angeles, four of the top 20 most populous cities in the U.S. are in California: Los Angeles (2nd), San Diego (8th), San Jose (10th), and San Francisco (17th). The center of population of California is located four miles west-southwest of the city of Shafter, Kern County.

Languages

Non-English Languages Spoken in California by more than 100,000 persons In total, 16 languages other than English were spoken as primary languages at home by more than 100,000 persons, more than any other state in the nation. New York State, in second place, had nine languages other than English spoken by more than 100,000 persons. The most common language spoken besides English was Spanish, spoken by 28.46% (9,696,638) of the population. With Asia contributing most of California’s new immigrants, California had the highest concentration nationwide of Vietnamese and Chinese speakers, the second highest concentration of Korean, and the third highest concentration of Tagalog speakers.

 

Religion

The largest religious denominations by number of adherents as a percentage of California’s population in 2014 were the Catholic Church with 28 percent, Evangelical Protestants with 20 percent, and Mainline Protestants with 10 percent. Together, all kinds of Protestants accounted for 32 percent. Those unaffiliated with any religion represented 27 percent of the population. The breakdown of other religions is 1% Muslim, 2% Hindu and 2% Buddhist. This is a change from 2008, when the population identified their religion with the Catholic Church with 31 percent; Evangelical Protestants with 18 percent; and Mainline Protestants with 14 percent. In 2008, those unaffiliated with any religion represented 21 percent of the population. The breakdown of other religions in 2008 was 0.5% Muslim, 1% Hindu and 2% Buddhist.

Mass Media and Entertainment

Two prominent California landmarks representing the state’s mass media and entertainment: the Hollywood Sign (l) symbolizes the Los Angeles entertainment industry, while San Francisco’s Sutro Tower (r) transmits numerous TV and radio stations across the Bay Area. Hollywood and the rest of the Los Angeles area is a major global center for entertainment, with the U.S. film industry’s “Big Five” major film studios (Columbia, Disney, Paramount, Universal, and Warner Bros.) being based in or around the area.

The four major American television broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC) all have production facilities and offices in the state. All four, plus the two major Spanish-language networks (Telemundo and Univision) each have at least two owned-and-operated TV stations in California, one in Los Angeles and one in the San Francisco Bay Area. The San Francisco Bay Area is home to several prominent internet media and social media companies, including three of the “Big Five” technology companies (Apple, Facebook, and Google) as well as other services such as Netflix, Pandora Radio, Twitter, Yahoo!, and YouTube.

Economy

California’s economy ranks among the largest in the world. As of 2019, the gross state product (GSP) was $3.2 trillion ($80,600 per capita), the largest in the United States.  California is responsible for one seventh of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). As of 2018, California’s nominal GDP is larger than all but four countries (the United States, China, Japan, and Germany). In terms of Purchasing power parity (PPP), it is larger than all but eight countries (the United States, China, India, Japan, Germany, Russia, Brazil and Indonesia). California’s economy is larger than Africa and Australia and is almost as large as South America. The state recorded total, non-farm employment of 16,677,800 as of September 2021 among 966,224 employer establishments (as of 2019).

Transportation

California’s vast terrain is connected by an extensive system of controlled-access highways (‘freeways’), limited-access roads (‘expressways’), and highways. California is known for its car culture, giving California’s cities a reputation for severe traffic congestion. Construction and maintenance of state roads and statewide transportation planning are primarily the responsibility of the California Department of Transportation, nicknamed “Caltrans”. The rapidly growing population of the state is straining all of its transportation networks, and California has some of the worst roads in the United States. The Reason Foundation’s 19th Annual Report on the Performance of State Highway Systems ranked California’s highways the third-worst of any state, with Alaska second, and Rhode Island first.

The state has been a pioneer in road construction. One of the state’s more visible landmarks, the Golden Gate Bridge, was the longest suspension bridge main span in the world at 4,200 feet (1,300 m) between 1937 (when it opened) and 1964. With its orange paint and panoramic views of the bay, this highway bridge is a popular tourist attraction and also accommodates pedestrians and bicyclists. The San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge (often abbreviated the “Bay Bridge”), completed in 1936, transports about 280,000 vehicles per day on two-decks.

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