California Facts: 49 Facts About California [The Golden State] That You Should Know

Last updated on May 19th, 2018

California is the most populous and the 3rd most extensive of the United States. It is in the Pacific Region of the United States. The state attained statehood on September 9, 1850, becoming the 31st state to join the union. It has three (3) bordering states including Oregon, Arizona, Nevada. See the complete list of the states and their borders here. California (nicknamed: the Golden State) has 58 counties. The state’s capital is Sacramento. California is also famous for Disneyland and beaches. With these facts about California, let us learn more about its geography, history, people, economy, and more.

1. California is the home to the Silicon Valley (a region known the world over for high technology, innovation, and venture capital.) [18]

2. The first motion picture theater was opened in Los Angeles on April 02, 1902.[22]

California on the U.S. map with bordering states.
California on the U.S. map with bordering states.

3. California is the leading agricultural production house in the U.S. It also produces walnuts, pistachios, and almonds in the largest quantity in the U.S. [4]

4. California during the last 150 years has provided the United States of America with many new directions. Among these is the development of the computer science and the entertainment industry.[1]

5. In 1949, the income from agriculture in the state was around $2.3 million. However, after some forty-five years in 1995, the same income grew to a whopping sum of $2.6 billion.[1]

6. Gold was discovered in California in 1848 at Sutter’s Mill by James W. Marshall.[13] After the discovery of the gold, people visited the region from as far as China and Australia.[3]

7. Between 1st April 1940 and 1st July 1947, California gained 3,000,000 new residents through migration. This number is the largest of any kind of migration that ever took place in any of the U.S. states.[2]

8. Almost 5 million tourists were visiting California every year by the late 1990s and the travel and tourism industry generated approximately $75 billion annually.[2] California is the number one travel destination in the U.S.

9. California is also the birthplace of semiconductor and the Internet, which brought digital revolution in the world. The first of the three astronomical observatories was also constructed in California.[2]

10. Did you know that an activist named Julia Butterfly Hill ascended a thousand-year-old redwood tree in California in December 1997 and remained there for a period of next two years until her demands were met? If you are guessing what she was demanding, learn that she was against the harvesting of the old redwood trees in the Headwaters Forest of Humboldt County.[3]

11. Arnold Schwarzenegger became the governor of California on October 07, 2003.[19]

12. California is divided into two regions, Upper California (Alta California) and Lower California (Baja California).[4]

13. The northern part of California is home to the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, the hills of San Francisco, and the state’s capital Sacramento.[4]

14. In 1579, Sir Francis Drake visited California and took possession of the country in the name of Queen Elizabeth. He called the land New Albion.[4]

Boole tree, Sequoia National Forest, 2007.
Boole tree, Sequoia National Forest, 2007. Image source –

15. California is also home to the “giant sequoia” – arguably the largest living organism on earth and the world’s most massive tree. It is also one of the longest-lived of all organisms on earth. The estimated life-span of the tree is between 1800-2700 years.[15] A tree as old as 5,067 years was also found in California (it the longest living non-clonal organism on Earth).[16,17]

16. The Mojave Desert, at more than 25,000 square miles (65,000 square km), occupies one-sixth of the land area of California.[9]

17. Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo and his crew on September 28, 1542, were the first Europeans to enter California.[13]

18. The state produces a whopping 80% of the world’s almonds. The state is also the nation’s top producer of lemons, apricots, avocados, dates, figs, grapes, kiwi etc.[4] 

19. After the gold rush, California was nicknamed “The Golden State.”[4]

20. More than 6500 types of plants thrive in California.[4]

21. California has 41 mountains exceeding 10,000 m. It is the only state in the U.S. with an extensive seacoast, high mountains, and deserts.[14]

22. Central Valley in California is its single most productive region and one of the most productive in the world.[11]

23. California’s Death Valley is North America’s hottest desert and driest place. It is the lowest point in the western hemisphere.[6,9]

24. Mount Whitney in California is the highest point in the U.S. outside of Alaska.[11]

25. California is also the powerhouse of one of the biggest film industry in the world – Hollywood. It is estimated that more films are shot in California than in any other state.[4]

26. The Grizzly bear is one of the states most notable symbol. It is found on both the state flag and seal. It was designated the official state animal in 1953.[12]

27. California has 6 of the top 10 most polluted U.S. cities. Majority of the pollution caused in the state is because of the high number of cars and trucks in the region.[10]

28. There is a Volkswagen car graveyard in California. The automotive giant had to buy back its vehicles worth billions of dollars after the emission scandal it faced.[5]

29. In March 2018, a California Judge ruled that coffee companies must provide a cancer warning because of the presence of a cancer-causing chemical produced in the roasting process.[6]

30. On April 18, 1906, an earthquake hit California which resulted in the death of nearly 3000 people and a loss of over $500 million in property damages.[7]

31. The state is also home to the world’s tallest tree – Redwood. These trees can reach a height of over 300 feet. Particularly, a tree in the group named “Hyperion” is the tallest known living tree of all at 379.7 feet.[8]

32. About one-half of the states land is federally owned.[9]

33. The California state water project is the largest water-transfer system ever undertaken. It was launched in 1960. The system aims at delivering water to the communities in north-central California and those living as far south as the Mexican border.[9]

34. Clear Lake is the largest natural lake wholly within the state. It has a surface area of 68 square miles.[9]

35. California is the most biologically diverse state in the U.S. It has more than 40,000 plant and animal species.[9]

36. The California grizzly bear (state animal) is now extinct.[9]

37. The California Indians were the original inhabitants of the state and are now in a limited number left in the region.[9]

38. Midwestern farmers of European descent were the states earlier settlers. However, due to the discovery of gold, the equation changed and thousands of fortune seekers from the United States and across the world entered the region.[3]

39. San Bernardino County is the largest county in the U.S. with an area of nearly 20,105 sq mi (52,070 km2). It is actually larger than 9 U.S. states (Maryland, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island.)[20,21]

40 .California is referred as “The Land of Milk and Honey”. It is also known as “The El Dorado State”, “The Grape State” and “The Golden State”.[23]

41. California has two of the top ten most populous cities – Los Angeles and San Diego. [24]

42. Death Valley is the largest U.S. National Park outside Alaska at 3.4 million acres.[25]

43. The highest and the lowest point in continental U.S. are within 100 miles of each other. They are in fact 84.6 miles apart. They are Mount Whitney at 14,505 feet and the Badwater Basin in Death Valley at 282 feet below sea level.[26,27]

44. Interestingly, more Turkeys are raised in California than in any other state in the U.S. [28]

45. The California Gray Whale was designated as the State Marine Mammal in 1975. It measures 40 to 50 feet in length and weighs between 30 to 40 tons. The whale travels along to coast towards south during December and February and returns back through the same coastline during March and April. The whale travels in small groups called pods. Some of these whales swim more than 12,000 miles round-trip. Due to their good memory and vision they are able to cover such a vast amount of distance successfully.[29]

46. California is the only state in the U.S. to host summer (1932, 1984) and winter (1960) Olympics.[30]

47. The first McDonald’s fast food restaurant was opened in San Bernardino, California in 1940.[31]

48. San Francisco Bay is one of the world’s largest landlocked harbors and the Port of Oakland is one of the largest cargo ports in the United States.[32]

49. Furnace Creek in Death Valley is where the hottest temperature on Earth was recorded – 134.1 degree Fahrenheit (on July 10, 1913).[33]

California – quick facts and state symbols

State AbbreviationCA
State CapitalSacramento
List Of 50 U.S. States And Their Capital
Largest CityLos Angeles
State SizeTotal (Land + Water): 163,696 sq miles; Land Only: 155,959 sq miles
(Estimate July 1, 2017 from United States Census Bureau)
StatehoodSeptember 9, 1850
State rank by population1st
State rank by date of formation31st
State rank by area3rd
Number of Counties58
Bordering StatesArizona, Nevada, Oregon
Official LanguageEnglish
ReligionProtestantism - 32%
Roman Catholicism - 28%
No religion - 27%
Highest PointMount Whitney, 14,505 ft (4,421.0 m)
Lowest pointBadwater Basin
−279 ft (−85.0 m)
Length770 miles (1,240 km)
Width250 miles (400 km)
National ParksChannel Islands National Park
Death Valley National Park
Joshua Tree National Park
Kings Canyon National Park
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Redwood National Park
Sequoia National Park
Yosemite National Park
GovernorJerry Brown
Electoral Votes55
High school graduate or higher, percent of persons age 25 years+, 2012-201682.1%
Foreign born persons, percent, 2012-201627.0%
Persons per household, 2012-20162.95
Mean travel time to work (minutes), workers age 16 years+, 2012-201628.4
Total employment, 201614,600,349
Median gross rent, 2012-2016$1,297
State MottoEureka (I have found it)

State NicknameGolden State

% Water4.7
Nobel Prize WinnersThomas C. Schelling (Economic Sciences, 2005)
Andrew Z. Fire (Physiology or Medicine, 2006)
Elinor Ostrom (Economic Sciences, 2009)
Carol W. Greider (Physiology or Medicine, 2009)
Thomas J. Sargent (Economic Sciences, 2011)
William E. Moerner (Chemistry, 2014)Joseph Erlanger (Physiology or Medicine, 1944)
Edwin M. McMillan (Chemistry, 1951)
Willis E. Lamb (Physics, 1955)
Owen Chamberlain (Physics, 1959)
John Steinbeck (Literature, 1962)Luis Alvarez (Physics, 1968)
Dudley R. Herschbach (Chemistry, 1986)
Robert B. Laughlin (Physics, 1998)
Eric Cornell (Physics, 2001)
Leland Hartwell (Physiology or Medicine, 2001)
State Folk DanceSquare dance
State DanceWest Coast swing dance
State Song"I Love You, California"
State Prehistoric ArtifactChipped stone bear

State FlagThe Flag of California

Flag of California.svg

State sealThe Great Seal of the State of California

Seal of California.svg

State coat of arms

California state coat of arms (illustrated, 1876).jpg

State quarter

2005 CA Proof.png

State MineralGold

24 Caret Gold Rings
State LichenLace lichen

State BirdCalifornia Valley Quail

California quail.jpg

State AnimalCalifornia grizzly bear

Monarch the bear.jpg

State FlowerGolden poppy

Kaldari Eschscholzia californica 01.jpg

State FossilSaber-toothed cat

Smilodon Skeleton.jpg

State GemstoneBenitoite

Benitoite HD.jpg

State Gold Rush Ghost TownBodie


State Marine MammalCalifornia gray whale

Eschrichtius robustus 01-cropped.jpg

State Historical SocietyCalifornia Historical Society

California Historical Society

State TreeCalifornia redwood and sequoia

US 199 Redwood Highway.jpg

State FishGolden trout


State Military MuseumCalifornia State Military Museum

State InsectCalifornia dogface butterfly

Zerene eurydice m.jpg

State GrassPurple needlegrass


State Marine ReptilePacific leatherback sea turtle


State RockSerpentine


State Tall ShipThe Californian


State SoilSan Joaquin Soil

Valley of Abundance - San Joaquin Valley, California
State Silver Rush Ghost TownCalico

Calico view from lookout point.jpg

State Vietnam Veterans MemorialCalifornia Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Sacramento's Capitol Park

California Vietnam Veterans Memorial
State ReptileDesert tortoise

Gopherus agassizii.jpg

State Marine FishGaribaldi

Hypsypops rubicundus adult.jpg

State AmphibianCalifornia red-legged frog

Rana draytonii

State FruitAvocado

Persea americana fruit 2.JPG


Mandel Gr 99.jpg



Longitude114°8′ W to 124°26′ W
Latitude32°32′ N to 42° N
Time ZonePacific Time Zone
Area Codes209, 213, 310, 323, 341, 369, 408, 415, 424, 442, 510, 530, 559, 562, 619, 626, 627, 628, 650, 657, 661, 669, 707, 714, 747, 752, 760, 764, 805, 818, 831, 858, 909, 916, 925, 935, 949, 951
Data SourceWikipedia,,
Table last updatedMay 19, 2018


  1. Carey McWilliams. California: The Great Exception. University of California Press; Revised ed. edition (April 2, 1999)
  2. Kevin Starr. California: A History. Modern Library; Reprint edition (March 13, 2007)
  3. H.W. Brands. The age of gold. Anchor (October 14, 2003)