Interesting Facts About California

California is the 31st state to join the United States of America on September 9, 1850. It has a population of 39,368,078 people (as of 2020), making it the most populated US state. California is bordered by the states of Nevada, Arizona, and Oregon. It is the third-largest state with a total of 163,696 square miles (423,970 square kilometers) of land and water. The capital of California is Sacramento, which is located in the state’s north, just to the northeast of San Francisco.

If California was its own country, it would have the 6th largest economy in the world. It is commonly nicknamed “The Golden State” but also known as “The Land Of Milk and Honey,” “The El Dorado State,” and “The Grape State.”

Here are some interesting facts about California that you probably didn’t know!

People have lived in California for at least 11,000 years!

The Paleo-Indians crossed from the far east of modern-day Russia across the Bering Strait into modern-day Alaska and slowly made their way into North America. There are a number of archaeological sites in California which have been found to be evidence of Paleo-Indian presence. While the dates of some of these are under question, the oldest certain date on which Paleo-Indians lived in California is about 9,000 BC.

There were around 300,000 people living in California when Europeans first arrived.

The Native Americans of California developed in different ways from other Native Americans and had unique languages and cultures. By the time Europeans first arrived, there were at least 135 distinct language dialects spoken by more than a hundred unique tribes of Native Americans living and thriving off the land.

The first Europeans to explore California were Spanish.

The Spanish expedition was led by the Portuguese explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo. On September 28, 1542, the expedition sailed into San Diego Bay. From there, they explored a little of modern-day California’s south before deciding that the region was of no interest to Spain’s colonization of North America.

Members of Cabrillo’s expedition described the Native American people they made contact with as living rather simply, with crude tools and no real agriculture.

The people that the Europeans encountered were unaware that they didn’t need to farm like they did since the land was naturally abundant. The name California comes from a mythical island in a Spanish novel from the early 16th century. The novel, Las Sergas de Esplandián, described an island called California where only Amazonian women lived and adorned themselves with gold jewelry and weapons. While it’s not confirmed if the island was the inspiration for California’s name, it was a popular novel during Spain’s colonial attempts in the Americas, and explorers initially thought California was an island. Russia had a trading post north of San Francisco called Fort Ross, which was established in 1812 by the Russian-American Company. However, the colony was challenging due to the lack of suitable farming climate and the overhunting of otters. After failing to garner interest from Spain or Britain, the fort was sold to an American settler in 1841. California changed hands a few times before it became a US state in 1848 after Mexico lost control of Alta California in the Mexican-American War. During the California Gold Rush, the number of non-Native American people living in California increased from 1,000 to 100,000 after gold was discovered in the Sacramento Valley in 1848, just before the US gained ownership of the region.

The news of the discovery of gold in California quickly spread, attracting prospectors from around the globe. This Gold Rush transformed California, resulting in the emergence of gold mining towns, complete with various businesses and establishments for the wealthy. The initial years were chaotic and lawless, leading to the realization that the region needed more control. By the end of 1849, California had enough residents to apply for statehood. However, it wasn’t until 1850 that it gained statehood due to its proposed constitution being against slavery, balancing out Utah and New Mexico’s entry as undecided states. The California Gold Rush reached its peak in 1852, with approximately $80 million worth of gold being unearthed in less than three years.

During the early 19th century, American citizens illegally immigrated into California when it was still part of the Mexican territory of Alta California. Many saw plenty of opportunities in the region and crossed over illegally to take advantage of it, but some were unable to purchase or rent land. In 1846, a group of thirty-three unsuccessful illegal immigrants decided to rebel against the Mexican government and took control of a region north of San Francisco for 25 days. They called their movement the California Republic, with the aim of creating a republican government. However, their movement was short-lived as the US took control of California, including the occupied region.

If California were its own country, it would have the world’s sixth-largest economy. California has the largest economy in the US and relies heavily on the finance, government, manufacturing, and business service industries. Its economy’s diversity is one of its great successes, despite losing the title of the fifth-largest economy due to the Great Recession of 2012.

The California grizzly bear, the state’s animal, has been extinct since 1924. The bear was a subspecies of brown bears known as grizzly bears and was a threat to livestock that moved in with the new settlers. The population of California grizzly bears was estimated to be around 10,000 before European settlement, but their numbers soon declined. During the gold rush, the bears faced a new threat as gold prospectors hunted them down.

The last known sighting of a California grizzly bear took place in 1924, only eighty years after gold was discovered in California. Today, the bear can only be seen on the Californian state flag and seal. California boasts more National Parks than any other state, with nine out of the 59 National Parks in the United States being located there. The state is incredibly diverse, with the Joshua Tree National Park located in the south and the Redwoods National Park located in the north. The Death Valley National Park, one of California’s unique National Parks, is one of the hottest places in the world. The Sequoia National Park is home to the largest living tree in the world, General Sherman, standing at 52,508 cubic feet. In-N-Out, the world-renowned burger chain, originated in California and prides itself on using high-quality, freshly-prepared ingredients. Finally, California sold 43.6 billion dollars’ worth of wine to the US market in 2019, making it the fourth biggest producer of wine in the world.

California produces and sells an astonishing 60% of all wine in the United States, which equals to 241.5 million nine-liter wine cases. Moreover, 95% of US wine exports are from California. Interestingly, the US film industry did not originate in Hollywood, California, as Thomas Edison held most of the patents for filmmaking equipment and controlled who could make movies. Independent film producers who refused Edison’s control relocated to California, where Edison had less influence, and the climate was more suitable for the film industry. California is widely hailed as the best US state due to its numerous national parks, beautiful beaches, excellent cuisine, diverse culture, and thriving economy. It’s no surprise that it’s called the Golden State!


1. What is the origin of the name California?

California’s name is derived from a popular Spanish novel called “Las Sergas de Esplandián,” which tells the story of a mythical island paradise named California. The name was first used by Spanish explorers in the 16th century to refer to the territory they claimed in what is now California.

2. What is California’s largest city?

Los Angeles is California’s largest city, with a population of over 4 million people. It is also the second-largest city in the United States, after New York City.

3. What is California’s state flower?

The California poppy, also known as Eschscholzia californica, is the state flower of California. It is a bright orange flower that blooms in the spring and can be found throughout the state.

4. What is California’s state tree?

The California redwood, also known as Sequoia sempervirens, is the state tree of California. These massive trees can grow up to 379 feet tall, making them some of the tallest trees in the world.

5. What is California’s state motto?

California’s state motto is “Eureka,” which is a Greek word that means “I have found it.” The motto was adopted in 1849 during the California Gold Rush.

6. What is California’s largest industry?

The technology industry, including companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook, is California’s largest industry. The state is also a major producer of agriculture, with crops like almonds, grapes, and avocados being some of the top exports.

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