The largest state in the United States in terms of population, and third largest in land area, California is perhaps the most famous state in America. California boasts eight of the largest cities in the U.S., including San Francisco and Los Angeles. The state is home to a diverse population including people of Hispanic descent, Asian descent, African descent, and many other ethnic groups and races.
The state's economy is powerful with strong agricultural, information technology, entertainment, aerospace and other industries present. In fact, if California were a country in its own right, its economy would rank among the top ten of the world.
California's natural beauty and diversity are legendary. California's Central Valley is surrounded by a number of mountain ranges, including the famed Sierra Nevada. The northern part of California is a natural wonder, with a variety of forests including the well-known giant sequoia trees. In the south, some of the state's deserts can be found, including the Mojave which is home to Death Valley, the lowest natural point in California and the United States.
California was originally colonized by Spain in the 1700's; its name actually came from a work of fiction by a Spanish author. Mexico acquired California in the 1800's after gaining independence from Spain, but eventually settlers from the U.S. and Canada moved in and won their own independence from the Mexicans, creating the California Republic. The California Republic was short-lived as the U.S. occupied it as part of the Mexican-American War and in 1850, California officially became a state.
Map of California