California, California, abbreviated CA, state of the
western United States, by the Pacific; 411,000 km2, 39.6 million
inhabitants (2018).California, whose acreage is significantly smaller than
Sweden's, is the United States most populous state, and from an economic point
of view a very rich area. The capital is Sacramento.
California. State Map.
California's nature and climate vary greatly. At the far west is a narrow
coastal plain. To the east of this, the coastal mountains rise with peaks
exceeding 2,000 m above sea level. Between these mountains and the Sierra Nevada
mountain range lies the Central Valley, which is drained by the Sacramento and
San Joaquin rivers and is California's most important agricultural area.
California. Winery in the southern part of the
The Central Valley was probably formed during the tertiary period, when the
bedrock was folded. The earthquakes that hit San Francisco are caused by
movements along the San Andreas fault.
The mainly coniferous forested Sierra Nevada, which passes north into the
Cascade Mountains, has the highest mountain in the United States outside Alaska,
Mount Whitney (4,418 m asl). To the east of the Sierra Nevada lies Death Valley
(86 m uh) and the Mojave Desert.
In the coastal area there is a Mediterranean climate with dry summers and
some winter rain. The summer heat is somewhat mitigated in the north by the cold
California stream. The mountain peaks of Sierra Nevada are snow-covered
year-round, while Death Valley is one of the world's hottest and driest areas.
California. Death Valley National Park.
Since 2011, California has been hit by a dry season that has caused several
rivers, lakes and reservoirs to sink. The drought has also had major negative
consequences for agriculture. In order to alleviate the water shortage, the
state in 2015 imposed restrictions on the use of fresh water.
Vegetation varies greatly between different parts of California. In the north
and along the Sierra Nevada, coniferous forests with Douglas fir and yellow pine
grow and on the northern coast American sequoia, the tallest tree in the
world. Along the coastal regions the rest are mostly macchia-like Mediterranean
vegetation, so-called chaparral.
The fauna is very rich with black-tailed deer, black bear, cougar, sea otter,
California sea lion (Zaʹlophus californiaʹnus), coyote, ground
squirrel, turtles and rattlesnakes. California condor is endemic but on the
verge of extinction; now it is only in captivity.
California's population of twenty was doubled during the 20th century; during
the period 1980-90, the population increase was over 25 percent. Since then it
has fallen slightly and during the 2000s the increase was just over 5 per cent,
which is slightly higher than the US as a whole. Population growth was mainly
based on strong immigration, both from other states and from abroad.
Ethnically, the population is mixed. Many are of Mexican origin, and the
number of African Americans is the second largest (after New York) in any
state. The Asian element is also significant.
California has the highest degree of urbanization in the United States. About
50 percent of the population lives in the Los Angeles region, and in the four
largest metropolitan areas (Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and
Sacramento), over 80 percent of California's residents live. The largest cities
are Los Angeles (4 million inhabitants, 2016) and San Diego (1.4 million
From an economic point of view, California is one of America's leading
states; GDP is highest among US states and in 2015, California accounted for
just over 13 percent of US total GDP. In 2015, the state had roughly the same
GDP as Italy. Just over 85 percent of GDP comes from the service and service
industries, while the manufacturing industry accounts for 10 and agriculture for
Agricultural production is the largest in the country, and it is complemented
by a very significant food industry. Fruits (citrus and grapes), vegetables and
cotton are grown on a large scale, mainly in the Central Valley and Imperial
Valley (at the border with Mexico). The majority of the area is irrigated. Meat
and dairy products play an important role; forestry and fishing have been of
great importance. Gold was once the foremost mineral resource, but it has long
been sought after by oil and natural gas.
California primarily has a lighter and high-tech manufacturing industry such
as the aerospace and electronics and data industries with downtown Silicon
Valley southeast of San Francisco. Other important activities are the federal
military operations as well as the entertainment industry, with the film and TV
industry concentrated around Hollywood and with Disneyland in Anaheim as one of
many major tourist destinations. Research and development activities are of
great importance. Stanford University (in Palo Alto) and the University of
California (in, for example, Berkeley and Los Angeles) are prominent research
Both passenger and freight transport are primarily by car, and California has
the world's best developed road system. With few exceptions, however, public
transport is lacking. Despite stringent environmental requirements, California
has very difficult problems with air pollution.
Tourism and gastronomy
Tourists looking for nature experiences, recreation and entertainment can
choose from a variety of attractive destinations in California. However, the
historical monuments are limited. Of interest are the 20 Spanish mission
stations which, after 1769, were built from the current Mexican border and north
along the coast to the area around San Francisco and connected by the so-called
King's Road (El Camino Real). It corresponded to roughly present
Highway 1, which is considered one of the most scenic roads in the country. Some
of the most visited old mission stations are in San Diego, Santa Barbara and
Carmel. Memories from the Great Gold Rush can be studied inland east of San
Francisco along Route 49, which is bordered by a series of old gold digging
With its varied and partly grand nature, California can offer visitors the
most diverse experiences. The main areas have the status of national parks or
are otherwise protected. Yosemite is one of America's most visited national
parks with several million long-term visitors per year. The nearby Kings Canyon
and Sequoia also have magnificent scenery and high visitor numbers. Further
north in Sierra Nevada lies Lassen Volcanic with a very diverse and exciting
nature as well as many hiking trails. The desert areas of Southern California
can be studied from Los Angeles eastern suburbs or more in depth through visits
to Death Valley. Pleasant recreation offers the many fine beaches along the
Pacific coast, especially in the southern part of the state. Swimming and
boating opportunities are also available around Lake Tahoe on the Nevada border.
Los Angeles and San Francisco are California's major tourist center, where
attractions with a focus on cultural life and the entertainment industry are
concentrated. There are large museums, cultural events and numerous
entertainment and recreation facilities. Popular tourist destinations in Los
Angeles are Disneyland, Hollywood with movie studios and Beverly Hills with its
luxury buildings. In San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, cable trams, the
former prison island of Alcatraz, the tourist-dominated Fisherman's Wharf, and
Chinatown are attracted. Also the capital of Sacramento and San Diego on the
border with Mexico attracts many tourists, as well as smaller towns such as
Monterey and Carmel south of San Francisco as well as Santa Barbara northwest of
Los Angeles. Many Nordic visitors are also drawn to "Danish" Solvang (50 km west
of Santa Barbara) and "Swedish" Kingsburg (30 km south of Fresno).
With its incredible wealth of all kinds of fruits and vegetables, California
has long held a position as the United States Experimental Kitchen. Here you
have not to a significant extent been bound by inherited traditions, by any
pronounced lack of money and raw materials, here you have been able to mix
well. Some surprising combinations may have occurred at first (peppers with
orange, chicken with anchovies, crab with artichoke hearts), but many classics
have sprung from this cornucopia (for example, Ceasar's salad on
binder salad, bread, parmesan cheese, anchovy fillets and Worcestershires fillets). with
avocado, tabasco and chicken broth). Cioppino is a fish and shellfish
stew with Italian roots, deviled crabbreaded crab meat seasoned with
tabasco and mustard and then grilled. Of more traditional origin is the upside
down peach cake and of course the ubiquitous sourdough bread, the
sourdough bread which was a must for the golden eaters and which has retained
its place as favorite bread. California is the United States leading state for
wine production; see further American wines.
Already in the middle of the 16th century, sailors of different nationalities
visited California, but only in the 1770s did the Spaniards begin to colonize
the area. Then, among other things, 21 mission stations, which started farming
with the help of the Indian people.
In 1822, California attacked Mexico in connection with this country's
liberation from Spain. Yet in 1846, the non-Native American population was only
about 7,000, some of whom were North Americans.
The United States had begun to show interest in the area and took control of
California in 1847, which formally joined the United States in 1848 after the
victory in the war against Mexico. In the same year, a violent gold rush
started, which in one year increased the population to over 70,000, which meant
that California met the requirements to become a state. A dispute over whether
slavery would be allowed ended with the inclusion of California in the Union in
1850 as a non-slave state. Subsequently, California developed rapidly with the
mining industry and agriculture as the most important industries, especially
since the transcontinental railroad in 1869 was completed and connected
California with the rest of the United States. California had severe problems
during the depression in the 1930s, but after 1945 a sharp increase in
population has taken place, which in the 1960s made California the most populous
state in the United States.
Politically, Republicans have long dominated, but since the 1950s,
Republicans and Democrats have come to be relatively even.