62 Interesting Facts About California

Last updated on February 21st, 2020

California is the most populous and the 3rd most extensive of the 50 states 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 shares its border with three states Oregon, Arizona, and Nevada. California (nicknamed: the Golden State) has 58 counties. The state’s capital is Sacramento. California is also famous for Disneyland and beaches. With these 62 facts about California, let us learn more about its history, culture, people, geography, gold rush, mountains, valleys, etc.

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 (in red) on the U.S. map with bordering states.

3. Kimberly Anyadike is a pilot from Compton, California. In 2009, at the age of 15, she became the youngest African American woman to complete a transcontinental flight across the United States, from Los Angeles, California to Newport News, Virginia. 

4. The world’s oldest male bodybuilder Jim Arrington is from Venice, California. He was born in 1932 and has been bodybuilding for the past 70 years.[34]

5. Alex Honnold, born in Sacramento, California is an American rock climber. He is best known for his free-solo ascents of big walls. On June 3, 2017, he became the first climber to free solo Yosemite’s 3,000-foot El Capitan wall.[37]

El Capitan
El Capitan in Yellowstone National Park in California U.S.A. Photo via Shutterstock.

6. Over a third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts are grown in California. In 2018, California’s farms and ranches received almost $50 billion in cash receipts for their output. It is also the leading US state for cash farm receipts. The state’s agricultural produce includes more than 400 commodities. 

Flag of California (Click to read facts about the flag)

Flag of California. California fact file

7. 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]

8. 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]

9. 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.

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

11. 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]

California on the map

12. Pauline Potter from Sacramento, California is the world’s heaviest woman alive. She weighed more than 600 lbs at the time of setting this world record.[35]

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

Arnold Schwarzenegger statue
Interior of Arnold Schwarzenegger Museum on May 3, 2014 in Thal, Austria. The Museum opened near Graz in 2011 on the birthplace of the actor. Photo via Shutterstock.

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

Golden Gate Bridge, California.
Famous Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California. Image via Shutterstock.

15. 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]

16. 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 – Wikipedia.org

17. 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. A tree as old as 5,067 years was also found in California (it the longest living non-clonal organism on Earth).[15,16,17]

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

19. The first ever supersonic flight was achieved over lake Muroc, California in a Bell-XS 1 rocket aircraft. The captain of the flight reached Mach 1.06 at an altitude of 42,000 ft. The flight happened on 14 October 1947.[36]

The Bell X-1 rocket powered aircraft
The Bell X-1 rocket-powered experimental aircraft (known for becoming the first piloted aircraft to fly faster than Mach 1, or the speed of sound, on October 14, 1947) photographed during a test flight. Image via Wikipedia.org

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

21. 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] 

22. Another interesting fact about California is that that after the gold rush, California was nicknamed the “Golden State.”[4]

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

The State Quarter

California State Quarter

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

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

Death Valley’s very rare ‘super bloom’ of 2016.
Death Valley’s very rare ‘super bloom’ of 2016. This was the biggest bloom in a decade, triggered by several heavy fall storms. Photo via Shutterstock.

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

27. The largest surfboard measuring 12.83 m in length, 3.37 m in width and 0.41 m in thickness, was ridden by 66 people on Huntington Beach, California on 20 June 2015.[37]

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

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

The Grizzly Bear
The Grizzly Bear. Image via Shutterstock.

30. The Grizzly bear is one of the state’s most notable symbols. It is found on both the state flag and seal. It was designated as the official state animal in 1953.[12]

About Yosemite National Park

a) Yosemite Falls is one of tallest on the planet and the tallest waterfall in the U.S. It is actually made up of three separate falls: Upper Yosemite Fall (1,430 feet), the middle cascades (675 feet), and Lower Yosemite Fall (320 feet).[48]

b) Almost 75% of the visitors come to the park may through October.[49]

c) The park is also one of the only few places in the U.S. where one can see a rainbow at night. During the spring and early summer, with enough clear skies, the moon can produce enough light to produce a rainbow from a waterfall’s mist.[49]

31. 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]

32. 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]

33. 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]

34. 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]

35. 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]

36. About one-half of the state’s land is federally owned.[9]

37. 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]

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

39. The list of the facts about California would not be complete unless it is mentioned that California is the most biologically diverse state in the U.S. It has more than 40,000 plant and animal species.[9]

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

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

42. 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]

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

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

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