California, officially the State of California, is a state in the western part of the United States. It is the third largest US state by total area (after Alaska and Texas) with 163,696 sq mi (423,970 km2) and the largest by population with over 39 million people as of 2019. Its largest cities are Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, and San Francisco. The capital is Sacramento. It is bordered by Arizona to the southeast, Oregon to the north, Nevada to the east and the Mexican state of Baja California to the south.
California is the US state with the largest economy. California’s Silicon Valley is home to some of the world’s most valuable technology companies, including Apple, Alphabet Inc., and Facebook. What is now California was first settled by Native Californian tribes. Before that, it was explored by Europeans in the 16th and 17th century. It became the 31st state of the United States in 1850.
The geography of California varies depending on region. Southwestern California has small mountain ranges and the cities of San Diego and Los Angeles. Southeastern California has the Mojave Desert and Death Valley, the lowest place in the United States. The eastern part of the state has the highest point in the United States outside of Alaska, Mount Whitney, in the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
The cities of Sacramento, Bakersfield, and Fresno are in the Central Valley. The valley has the Sierra Nevada to the east and the Pacific Coast Ranges to the west. It is California’s single most productive agricultural region and one of the most productive in the world. It produces more than half the fruit, vegetables, and nuts grown in the United States. More than seven million acres (28,000 km2) of the valley are irrigated by an extensive system of reservoirs and canals.
The west-central part of the state has some small mountains and the cities of San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland. Northern California has the Cascade Range, the Klamath Mountains, and the Modoc Plateau. Far northern California does not have many people, but the San Francisco region and the Sacramento region are often thought of as part of northern California.
The California grizzly bear was a common animal in the Santa Cruz Mountains until the 1880s when the last bear was killed. Bobcats and mountain lions are among the largest animals now in California. Coyotes, foxes, raccoons, skunks, weasels, rabbits and deer are also land mammals that live in California. Five different types of rattlesnake can be found in California including the sidewinder and Mojave rattlesnake. California is home to the endangered California condor.