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California is the most populous state in the United States and the third most extensive by area. Located on the western coast of the U.S., California is bordered by the other U.S. states of Oregon, Nevada, and Arizona and shares an international border with the Mexican state of Baja California. The state capital is Sacramento. Los Angeles is California's most populous city, and the country's second largest after New York City. The state also has the nation's most populous county, Los Angeles County, and its largest county by area, San Bernardino County.

State of California
Flag of California State seal of California
Flag Seal
Nickname(s): The Golden State
Motto(s): Eureka
State song(s): "I Love You, California"
Map of the United States with California highlighted
Official language English
Spoken languages

Demonym Californian
Capital Sacramento
Largest city Los Angeles
Largest metro Greater Los Angeles Area
Area Ranked 3rd
 • Total 163,696 sq mi
(423,970 km)
 • Width 250 miles (400 km)
 • Length 770 miles (1,240 km)
 • % water 4.7
 • Latitude 32°32′ N to 42° N
 • Longitude 114°8′ W to 124°26′ W
Population Ranked 1st
 • Total 39,250,017 (2016 est)
 • Density 240/sq mi  (92.6/km)
Ranked 11th
 • Median household income $63,636 (13th)
Elevation
 • Highest point Mount Whitney
14,505 ft (4,421.0 m)
 • Mean 2,900 ft  (880 m)
 • Lowest point Badwater Basin
−279 ft (−85.0 m)
Before statehood California Republic
Admission to Union September 9, 1850 (31st)
Governor Jerry Brown (D)
Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom (D)
Legislature California State Legislature
 • Upper house California State Senate
 • Lower house California State Assembly
U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D)
Barbara Boxer (D)
U.S. House delegation 39 Democrats, 14 Republicans (list)
Time zones Pacific Time Zone
 • Standard time PST (UTC−8)
 • Summer time (DST) PDT (UTC−7)
ISO 3166 US-CA
Abbreviations CA, Calif., Cal.
Website www.ca.gov
California state symbols
Flag of California.svg
Seal of California.svg
Living insignia
Amphibian California red-legged frog
Bird California quail
Fish Golden trout
Flower California poppy
Grass Purple needlegrass
Insect California dogface butterfly
Mammal California grizzly bear (State animal)
Reptile Desert tortoise
Tree California redwood
Inanimate insignia
Colors Blue & gold
Dance West Coast Swing
Folk dance Square dance
Fossil Sabre-toothed cat
Gemstone Benitoite
Mineral Native gold
Motto Eureka
Nickname The Golden State
Rock Serpentine
Soil San Joaquin
Song "I Love You, California"
Tartan California State Tartan
State route marker
California state route marker
State quarter
California quarter dollar coin
Released in 2005
Lists of United States state symbols

California (/ˌkælˈfɔːrnjə/ KAL-ə-FORN-yə, /ˌkælˈfɔːrniə/ KAL-ə-FAWR-nee-ə) is the most populous state in the United States and the third most extensive by area. Located on the western (Pacific Ocean) coast of the U.S., California is bordered by the other U.S. states of Oregon, Nevada, and Arizona and shares an international border with the Mexican state of Baja California. The state capital is Sacramento. Los Angeles is California's most populous city, and the country's second largest after New York City. The state also has the nation's most populous county, Los Angeles County, and its largest county by area, San Bernardino County.

California's diverse geography ranges from the Pacific Coast in the west to the Sierra Nevada mountain range in the east; and from the redwoodDouglas fir forests in the northwest to the Mojave Desert in the southeast. The Central Valley, a major agricultural area, dominates the state's center. Though California is well-known for its warm Mediterranean climate, the large size of the state means it can vary from moist temperate rainforest in the north, to arid desert in the interior, as well as snowy alpine in the mountains.

What is now California was first settled by various Native American tribes before being explored by a number of European expeditions during the 16th and 17th centuries. The Spanish Empire then claimed it as part of Alta California in their New Spain colony. The area became a part of Mexico in 1821 following its successful war for independence, but was ceded to the United States in 1848 after the Mexican–American War. The western portion of Alta California then was organized as the State of California, and admitted as the 31st state on September 9, 1850. The California Gold Rush starting in 1848 led to dramatic social and demographic changes, with large-scale emigration from the east and abroad with an accompanying economic boom.

If it were a country, California would be the 6th largest economy in the world and the 35th most populous. It is also regarded as a global trendsetter in both popular culture and politics, and is the birthplace of the film industry, the hippie counterculture, the Internet, and the personal computer, among others. Fifty-eight percent of the state's economy is centered on finance, government, real estate services, technology, and professional, scientific and technical business services. The San Francisco Bay Area has the nation's highest median household income by metropolitan area, and is the headquarters of three of the world's largest 20 firms by revenue, Chevron, Apple, and McKesson. Although it accounts for only 1.5 percent of the state's economy, California's agriculture industry has the highest output of any U.S. state.

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