|Fullname:||State of California|
|Flaglink:||Flag of California|
|Nickname:||The Golden State|
|Mottoenglish:||I have found it|
|Borderingstates:||Arizona, Nevada, Oregon|
|Largestmetro:||Greater Los Angeles|
|Other Cities:||San Francisco, San Diego, San Jose, Oakland, Long Beach|
|Governor:||Arnold Schwarzenegger (R)|
|Lieutenant Governor:||John Garamendi (D)|
|Senators:||Dianne Feinstein (D)|
Barbara Boxer (D)
|Representative:||34 Democrats, 19 Republicans|
|2000Pop:||36,756,666 (2008 est.) |
|Admittancedate:||September 9, 1850|
|Latitude:||32° 32′ N to 42° N|
|Longitude:||114° 8′ W to 124° 26′ W|
|U.S. State Symbols ≪!-- Before Modifying These State Symbols Please Verify Your Changes Against Official California Government Code Sections 420-429.8, Http://Www.Leginfo.Ca.Gov/Cgi-Bin/Waisgate?Waisdocid:||06487414661+1+0+0&WAISaction=retrieve-->|
|Nickname:||The Golden State|
|Animal:||California grizzly bear http://www.library.ca.gov/history/symbols.html|
|Marine Mammal:||Gray Whale|
|Colors:||Blue & Gold|
|Dance:||West Coast Swing|
|Insect:||California Dogface Butterfly|
|Song:||"I Love You, California"|
|Tartan:||California State Tartan|
California () is a state on the West Coast of the United States, along the Pacific Ocean. It is bordered by Oregon to the north, Nevada to the east, Arizona to the southeast, and to the south the Mexican state of Baja California. California is the most populous U.S. state. Its four largest cities are Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, and San Francisco. It is known for its varied climate and geography as well as its diverse population.
The area known as Alta California was colonized by the Spanish Empire beginning in the late 18th century. It and the rest of Mexico became an independent republic in 1821. In 1846 California broke away from Mexico, and after the Mexican-American War, Mexico ceded California to the United States. California became the 31st state admitted to the United States on September 9, 1850.
California is the third-largest U.S. state by land area after Alaska and Texas, and preceding Montana. Its geography ranges from the Pacific coast to the Sierra Nevada mountain range in the east, to Mojave desert areas in the southeast and the Redwood-Douglas fir forests of the northwest. The center of the state is dominated by the Central Valley, one of the most productive agricultural areas in the world.
The California Gold Rush dramatically changed California with a large influx of people and an economic boom which caused San Francisco to grow from a tiny hamlet of tents to a world renowned boomtown in the 19th century. The early 20th century was marked by Los Angeles becoming the center of the American entertainment industry, in addition to the growth of a large tourism sector in the state. Along with California's prosperous agricultural industry, other industries include aerospace, petroleum, and computer and information technology. California ranks amongst the ten largest economies in the world, and were it a separate country, it would be 35th among the most populous countries, with a GDP similar to France.
See main article: Origin of the name California. The word California originally referred to the entire region composed of what is today the state of California, plus all or parts of Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and Wyoming, and the Mexican peninsula of Baja California.
The name California is most commonly believed to have derived from a storied paradise peopled by black Amazons and ruled by Queen Califia. The myth of Califia is recorded in a 1510 work The Exploits of Esplandian, written as a sequel to Amadís de Gaula by Spanish adventure writer García Ordóñez Rodríguez de Montalvo. The kingdom of Queen Califia or Calafia, according to Montalvo, was said to be a remote land inhabited by griffins and other strange beasts and rich in gold.
Know ye that at the right hand of the Indies there is an island named California, very close to that part of the terrestrial Paradise, which was inhabited by black women, without a single man among them, and that they lived in the manner of Amazons. They were robust of body, with strong and passionate hearts and great virtues. The island itself is one of the wildest in the world on account of the bold and craggy rocks. Their weapons were all made of gold. The island everywhere abounds with gold and precious stones, and upon it no other metal was found.
The name California is the fifth oldest surviving European place-name in the U.S. and was applied to what is now the southern tip of Baja California as the island of California by a Spanish expedition led by Diego de Becerra and Fortun Ximenez who landed there in 1533 at the behest of Hernando Cortes.
See main article: Geography of California. California adjoins the Pacific Ocean, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, and the Mexican state of Baja California. With an area of 160000-3NaN-3, it is the third largest state in the United States in size, after Alaska and Texas. If it were a country, California would be the 59th largest in the world in area.
In the middle of the state lies the California Central Valley, bounded by the coastal mountain ranges in the west, the Sierra Nevada to the east, the Cascade Range in the north and the Tehachapi Mountains in the south. The Central Valley is California's agricultural heartland and grows approximately one-third of the nation's food. Divided in two by the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the northern portion, the Sacramento Valley serves as the watershed of the Sacramento River, while the southern portion, the San Joaquin Valley is the watershed for the San Joaquin River; both areas derive their names from the rivers that transit them. With dredging, the Sacramento and the San Joaquin Rivers have remained sufficiently deep that several inland cities are seaports. The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta serves as a critical water supply hub for the state. Water is routed through an extensive network of canals and pumps out of the delta, that traverse nearly the length of the state, including the Central Valley Project, and the State Water Project. Water from the Delta provides drinking water for nearly 23 million people, almost two-thirds of the state's population, and provides water to farmers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. The Channel Islands are located off the southern coast.The Sierra Nevada (Spanish for "snowy range") include the highest peak in the contiguous forty-eight states, Mount Whitney, at 14,505 ft (4,421 m). The range embraces Yosemite Valley, famous for its glacially carved domes, and Sequoia National Park, home to the giant sequoia trees, the largest living organisms on Earth, and the deep freshwater lake, Lake Tahoe, the largest lake in the state by volume.
To the east of the Sierra Nevada are Owens Valley and Mono Lake, an essential migratory bird habitat. In the western part of the state is Clear Lake, the largest freshwater lake by area entirely in California. Though Lake Tahoe is larger, it is divided by the California/Nevada border. The Sierra Nevada falls to Arctic temperatures in winter and has several dozen small glaciers, including Palisade Glacier, the southernmost glacier in the United States.
About 45 percent of the state's total surface area is covered by forests, and California's diversity of pine species is unmatched by any other state. California contains more forestland than any other state except Alaska. Many of the trees in the California White Mountains are the oldest in the world; one Bristlecone pine has an age of 4,700 years.
In the south is a large inland salt lake, the Salton Sea. Deserts in California make up about 25 percent of the total surface area. The south-central desert is called the Mojave; to the northeast of the Mojave lies Death Valley, which contains the lowest, hottest point in North America, Badwater Flat. The distance from the lowest point of Death Valley to the peak of Mount Whitney is less than 200 miles (322 km). Indeed, almost all of southeastern California is arid, hot desert, with routine extreme high temperatures during the summer.
California is famous for earthquakes due to a number of faults, in particular the San Andreas Fault. It is vulnerable to tsunamis, floods, droughts, Santa Ana winds, wildfires, and landslides on steep terrain, and has several inactive volcanoes.
See main article: Climate of California. California climate varies from Mediterranean to subarctic. Much of the state has a Mediterranean climate, with cool, rainy winters and dry summers. The cool California Current offshore often creates summer fog near the coast. Further inland, one encounters colder winters and hotter summers.
Northern parts of the state average higher annual rainfall than the south. California's mountain ranges influence the climate as well: some of the rainiest parts of the state are west-facing mountain slopes. Northwestern California has a temperate climate, and the Central Valley has a Mediterranean climate but with greater temperature extremes than the coast. The high mountains, including the Sierra Nevada, have a mountain climate with snow in winter and mild to moderate heat in summer.
The east side of California's mountains has a drier rain shadow. The low deserts east of the southern California mountains experience hot summers and nearly frostless mild winters; the higher elevation deserts of eastern California see hot summers and cold winters. In Death Valley, the highest temperature in the Western Hemisphere, 134°F, was recorded July 10, 1913.
See main article: Ecology of California.
Ecologically, California is one of the richest and most diverse parts of the world and includes some of the most endangered ecological communities. California is part of the Nearctic ecozone and spans a number of terrestrial ecoregions.
California's large number of endemic species includes relict species which have died out elsewhere, such as the Catalina Ironwood (Lyonothamnus floribundus). Many other endemics originated through differentiation or adaptive radiation, whereby multiple species develop from a common ancestor to take advantage of diverse ecological conditions such as the California lilac (Ceanothus). Many California endemics have become endangered, as urbanization, logging, overgrazing, and the introduction of exotic species have encroached on their habitat.
California boasts several superlatives in its collection of flora; the largest trees, the tallest trees, and the oldest trees. California's native grasses are perennial plants.  After European contact, these were generally replaced by invasive species of European annual grasses; and, in modern times, California's hills turn a characteristic golden brown in summer.
See main article: List of California rivers.
The two most prominent rivers within California are the Sacramento River and the San Joaquin River, which drain the Central Valley and flow to the Pacific Ocean through San Francisco Bay. Two other important rivers are the Klamath River, in the north, and the Colorado River, on the southeast border.
See main article: History of California to 1899 and History of California 1900 to present. Settled by successive waves of arrivals during the last 10,000 years, California was one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse areas in pre-Columbian North America; the area was inhabited by more than 70 distinct groups of Native Americans. Large, settled populations lived on the coast and hunted sea mammals, fished for salmon, and gathered shellfish, while groups in the interior hunted terrestrial game and gathered nuts, acorns, and berries. California groups also were diverse in their political organization with bands, tribes, villages, and on the resource-rich coasts, large chiefdoms, such as the Chumash, Pomo and Salinan. Trade, intermarriage, and military alliances fostered many social and economic relationships among the diverse groups.
The first European to explore the coast as far north as the Russian River was the Portuguese João Rodrigues Cabrilho, in 1542, sailing for the Spanish Empire. Some 37 years later, the English explorer Francis Drake also explored and claimed an undefined portion of the California coast in 1579. Spanish traders made unintended visits with the Manila Galleons on their return trips from the Philippines beginning in 1565. Sebastián Vizcaíno explored and mapped the coast of California in 1602 for New Spain.
Spanish missionaries began setting up twenty-one California Missions along the coast of what became known as Alta California (Upper California), together with small towns and presidios. The first mission in Alta California was established at San Diego in 1769. In 1821, the Mexican War of Independence gave Mexico (including California), independence from Spain; for the next twenty-five years, Alta California remained a remote northern province of the nation of Mexico. Cattle ranches, or ranchos, emerged as the dominant institutions of Mexican California. After Mexican independence from Spain, the chain of missions became the property of the Mexican government and were secularized by 1832. The ranchos developed under ownership by Californios (Spanish-speaking Californians) who had received land grants and traded cowhides and tallow with Boston merchants.
Beginning in the 1820s, trappers and settlers from the United States and Canada began to arrive in Northern California, harbingers of the great changes that would later sweep the Mexican territory. These new arrivals used the Siskiyou Trail, California Trail, Oregon Trail, and Old Spanish Trail to cross the rugged mountains and harsh deserts surrounding California. In this period, Imperial Russia explored the California coast and established a trading post at Fort Ross.
In 1846, settlers rebelled against Mexican rule during the Bear Flag Revolt. Afterwards, rebels raised the Bear Flag (featuring a bear, a star, a red stripe, and the words "California Republic") at Sonoma.The Republic's first and only president was William B. Ide, who played a pivotal role during the Bear Flag Revolt. His term lasted twenty-five days and concluded when California was occupied by U.S. forces during the Mexican-American War.
The California Republic was short lived. The same year marked the outbreak of the Mexican-American War (1846–1848). When Commodore John D. Sloat of the United States Navy sailed into Monterey Bay and began the military occupation of California by the United States. Northern California capitulated in less than a month to the U.S. forces. After a series of defensive battles in Southern California, including The Siege of Los Angeles, the Battle of Dominguez Rancho, the Battle of San Pascual, the Battle of Rio San Gabriel, and the Battle of La Mesa, the Treaty of Cahuenga was signed by the Californios on January 13, 1847, securing American control in California. Following the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that ended the war, the region was divided between Mexico and the United States; the western territory of Alta California, was to become the U.S. state of California, and Arizona, Nevada, Colorado and Utah became U.S. Territories, while the lower region of California, Baja California, remained in the possession of Mexico.
In 1848, the non-native population of California has been estimated to be no more than 15,000. But after gold was discovered, the population burgeoned with U.S. citizens, Europeans, and other immigrants during the great California Gold Rush. On September 9, 1850, as part of the Compromise of 1850, California was admitted to the United States as a free state (one in which slavery was prohibited).
The seat of government for California under Mexican rule was located at Monterey from 1777 until 1835, when Mexican authorities abandoned California, leaving their missions and military forts behind. In 1849, the Constitutional Convention was first held there. Among the duties was the task of determining the location for the new State capital. The first legislative sessions were held in San Jose (1850–1851). Subsequent locations included Vallejo (1852–1853), and nearby Benicia (1853–1854), although these locations eventually proved to be inadequate as well. The capital has been located in Sacramento since 1854 with only a short break in 1861 when legislative sessions were held in San Francisco due to flooding in Sacramento.
Travel between California and the central and eastern parts of the United States was time-consuming and dangerous. A more direct connection came in 1869 with the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad through Donner Pass in the Sierra Nevada mountains. After this rail link was established, hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens came west, where new Californians were discovering that land in the state, if irrigated during the dry summer months, was extremely well-suited to fruit cultivation and agriculture in general. Vast expanses of wheat and other cereal crops, vegetable crops, cotton, and nut and fruit trees were grown (including oranges in Southern California), and the foundation was laid for the state's prodigious agricultural production in the Central Valley and elsewhere.
During the early 20th century, migration to California accelerated with the completion of major transcontinental highways like the Lincoln Highway and Route 66. In the period from 1900 to 1965, the population grew from fewer than one million to become the most populous state in the Union. The state is regarded as a world center of technology and engineering businesses, of the entertainment and music industries, and as the U.S. center of agricultural production.
See main article: Demographics of California.
By 2008, California's population is estimated by the US Census Bureau at 36,756,666, making it the most populous state. This includes a natural increase since the last census of 2,549,081people (4,498,700 births minus 1,949,619 deaths). Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 1,825,697 people, and migration within the country produced a net decrease of 1,378,706.
However, the state of California's own statistics show a figure of 38,148,493 for July 1, 2008.
California is the second most populous state of the Western Hemisphere, exceeded only by São Paulo, Brazil. More than 15 percent of U.S. citizens live in California and its population is greater than that of all but 34 countries of the world.
California has eight of the top 50 U.S. cities in terms of population. Los Angeles is the nation's second-largest city with a population of 3,849,378 people, followed by San Diego (8th), San Jose (10th), San Francisco (14th), Fresno (35th), Long Beach (36th), Sacramento (37th) and Oakland (44th). Los Angeles County has held the title of most populous county for decades and is more populous than 42 U.S. states. 
According to the 2006 ACS Estimates, California's population is:
In terms of number of individuals, California has the largest population of White Americans in the U.S., an estimated 21,810,156 residents. The state has the fifth largest population of African Americans in the U.S., an estimated 2,260,648 residents. California's Asian population is estimated at 4.5 million, approximately one-third of the nation's 14.9 million Asian Americans. California's Native American population of 376,093 is the most of any state.
According to estimates from 2005, California has the largest minority population in the United States, making up 57 percent of the state population. Non-Hispanic whites decreased from 80 percent of the state's population in 1970 to 43 percent in 2006. While the population of minorities accounts for 100.7 million of 300 million U.S. residents, 21 percent of the national total live in California.
As of 2005, 57.59 percent of California residents age five and older spoke English as a first language at home, while 28.21 percent spoke Spanish. In addition to English and Spanish, 2.04 percent spoke Filipino, 1.59 percent spoke Chinese (which included Cantonese [0.63 percent] and Mandarin [0.43 percent]), 1.4 percent spoke Vietnamese, and 1.05 percent spoke Korean as their mother tongue. In total, 42.4 percent of the population spoke languages other than English.  Over 200 languages are known to be spoken and read in California. Including indigenous languages, California is viewed as one of the most linguistically diverse areas in the world (the indigenous languages were derived from 64 root languages in 6 language families). About half of the indigenous languages are no longer spoken, and all of California's living indigenous languages are endangered, although there are some efforts toward language revitalization.
The official language of California has been English since the passage of Proposition 63 in 1986. However, many state, city, and local government agencies still continue to print official public documents in numerous languages.
The largest Christian denominations by number of adherents in 2000 were the Roman Catholic Church with 10,079,310; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with 529,575; and the Southern Baptist Convention with 471,119. Jewish congregations had 994,000 adherents.
With a Jewish population estimated at more than 550,000, Los Angeles has the second-largest Jewish community in North America.
California also has the largest Muslim community population in the United States, an estimated 3.4 percent of the population, mostly residing in Southern California. According to figures, approximately 100,000 Muslims reside in San Diego.
As the twentieth century came to a close, forty percent of all Buddhists in America resided in Southern California. The Los Angeles Metropolitan Area has become unique in the Buddhist world as the only place where representative organizations of every major school of Buddhism can be found in a single urban center. The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in Northern California and Hsi Lai Temple in Southern California are two of the largest Buddhist temples in the Western Hemisphere. It also has a growing Hindu population.
California has more members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Temples than any state except Utah. Latter-day Saints (Mormons) have played important roles in the settlement of California throughout the state's history. For example, a group of a few hundred Mormon converts from the Northeastern United States and Europe arrived at what would become San Francisco in the 1840s aboard the ship Brooklyn, more than doubling the population of the small town. Before being called back to Utah by Brigham Young these settlers helped build up the city of Yerba Buena. A group of Mormons also established the city of San Bernardino in Southern California in 1851. According to the LDS Church 2007 statistics, just over 750,000 Mormons reside in the state of California, attending almost 1400 congregations statewide.
However, a Pew Research Center survey revealed that California is somewhat less religious than the rest of the US: 62 percent of Californians say they are "absolutely certain" of the belief in God, while in the nation 71 percent say so. The survey also revealed 48 percent of Californians say religion is "very important", while the figure for the United States is 56 percent.
See main article: Economy of California.
As of 2007, the gross state product (GSP) is about $1.812 trillion, the largest in the United States. California is responsible for 13 percent of the United States gross domestic product (GDP).As of 2006, California's GDP is larger than all but eight countries in the world (all but eleven countries by Purchasing Power Parity). However, California is facing a $16 billion budget deficit for the 2008-09 budget year. While the legislative bodies had appeared to address the problem in 2008 with the three-month delayed passage of a budget they in fact only postponed the deficit to 2009 and due to the late 2008 decline in the economy and the credit crisis the problem became urgent in November 2008. One problem is that a substantial portion of the state income comes from income taxes on a small proportion of wealthy citizens. For example, in 2004, the richest 3% of state taxpayers paid approximately 60% of all state taxes. The taxable income of this population is highly dependent upon capital gains, which has been severely impacted by the stock market declines of this period. The governor has proposed a combination of extensive program cuts and tax increases to address this problem, but owing to longstanding problems in the legislature these proposals are likely to be difficult to pass as legislation.
By 2008, California had the 6th highest tax burden of any state, when measured as a percentage of GDP. State spending increased from $56 billion in 1998 to $131 billion in 2008, and the state was facing a budget deficit of $40 billion in 2008.
California is also the home of several significant economic regions, such as Hollywood (entertainment), Southern California (aerospace), the Central Valley (agriculture), Silicon Valley (computers and high tech), and wine producing regions, such as the Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley and Southern California's Santa Barbara, Temecula Valley and Paso Robles areas.
In terms of jobs, the five largest sectors in California are trade, transportation, and utilities; government; professional and business services; education and health services; and leisure and hospitality. In terms of output, the five largest sectors are financial services, followed by trade, transportation, and utilities; education and health services; government; and manufacturing. California currently has the 4th highest unemployment rate in the nation at 9.3% in December 2008, up significantly from 5.9% a year earlier.
California's economy is very dependent on trade and international related commerce accounts for approximately one-quarter of the state’s economy. In 2007 California exported $134 billion worth of goods, up from $127 billion in 2006 and $117 billion in 2005, surpassing the 2000 peak of $125 billion for two consecutive years.Computers and electronic products are California's top export, accounting for 36 percent of all the state's exports in 2007.
Although agriculture contributes the least toward employment and output, it remains a very important sector in California's economy. Farming-related sales have more than quadrupled over the past three decades, from $7.3 billion in 1974 to nearly $31 billion in 2004. This increase has occurred despite a 15 percent decline in acreage devoted to farming during the period. Factors contributing to the growth in sales-per-acre include more intensive use of active farmlands and technological improvements in crop production.
Per capita personal income was $38,956 as of 2006, ranking 11th in the nation. Per capita income varies widely by geographic region and profession. The Central Valley is the most impoverished, with migrant farm workers making less than minimum wage. Recently, the San Joaquin Valley was characterized as one of the most economically depressed regions in the U.S., on par with the region of Appalachia.
Many coastal cities include some of the wealthiest per-capita areas in the U.S. The high-technology sectors in Northern California, specifically Silicon Valley, in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, have emerged from economic downturn caused by the dot.com bust. In spring 2005, economic growth had resumed in California at 4.3 percent.
California levies a 9.3 percent maximum variable rate income tax, with six tax brackets. It collects about $40 billion per year in income taxes. California's combined state, county and local sales tax rate is from 7.25 to 8.75 percent. The rate varies throughout the state at the local level. In all, it collects about $28 billion in sales taxes per year. All real property is taxable annually, the tax based on the property's fair market value at the time of purchase. This tax does not increase based on a rise in real property values (see Proposition 13). California collects $33 billion in property taxes per year.
See also: California unemployment statistics.
See main article: Energy usage in California.
See main article: Transportation of California. California's vast terrain is connected by an extensive system of freeways, expressways, and highways. California is known for its car culture, giving California's cities a reputation for severe traffic congestion. Construction and maintenance of state roads and statewide transportation planning are primarily the responsibility of the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans).
One of the state's more visible landmarks, the Golden Gate Bridge was completed in 1937. With its orange paint and panoramic views of the bay, this highway bridge is a popular tourist attraction and also accommodates pedestrians and bicyclists. It is simultaneously designated as U.S. Route 101 which is part of the El Camino Real (Spanish for Royal Road or King's Highway), and State Route 1 which is also known as the Pacific Coast Highway. Another of the seven bridges in the San Francisco Bay Area is the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge, completed in 1936. This bridge transports approximately 280,000 vehicles per day on two-decks, with its two sections meeting at Yerba Buena Island.
Los Angeles International Airport and San Francisco International Airport are major hubs for trans-Pacific and transcontinental traffic. There are about a dozen important commercial airports and many more general aviation airports throughout the state.
California also has several important seaports. The giant seaport complex formed by the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach in Southern California is the largest in the country and responsible for handling about a fourth of all container cargo traffic in the United States. The Port of Oakland, fourth largest in the nation, handles trade from the Pacific Rim and delivers most of the ocean containers passing through Northern California to the entire USA.
Intercity rail travel is provided by Amtrak California, which manages the three busiest intercity rail lines in the US outside the Northeast Corridor. Integrated subway and light rail networks are found in Los Angeles (Metro Rail) and San Francisco (MUNI Metro). Light rail systems are also found in San Jose (VTA), San Diego (San Diego Trolley), Sacramento (RT Light Rail), and Northern San Diego County (Sprinter). Furthermore, commuter rail networks serve the San Francisco Bay Area (ACE, BART, Caltrain), Greater Los Angeles (Metrolink), and San Diego County (Coaster). Nearly all counties operate bus lines, and many cities operate their own bus lines as well. Intercity bus travel is provided by Greyhound and Amtrak Thruway Coach.
The rapidly growing population of the state is straining all of its transportation networks. A regularly recurring issue in California politics is whether the state should continue to aggressively expand its freeway network or concentrate on improving mass transit networks in urban areas.
The California High Speed Rail Authority was created in 1996 by the state to implement an extensive 700 mile (1127 km) rail system. Construction was approved by the voters during the November 2008 general election, a $9.95 billion state bond will go toward its construction.
See main article: Government of California.
California is governed as a republic, with three branches of government: the executive branch consisting of the Governor of California and the other independently elected constitutional officers; the legislative branch consisting of the Assembly and Senate; and the judicial branch consisting of the Supreme Court of California and lower courts. The state also allows direct participation of the electorate by initiative, referendum, recall, and ratification. California follows a closed primary system. The state's capital is Sacramento.
The Governor of California and the other state constitutional officers serve four-year terms and may be re-elected only once. The California State Legislature consists of a 40 member Senate and 80 member Assembly. Senators serve four year terms and Assembly members two. Members of the Assembly are subject to term limits of three terms, and members of the Senate are subject to term limits of two terms.
California's judiciary is the largest in the United States (with a total of 1,600 judges, while the federal system has only about 840). It is supervised by the seven Justices of the Supreme Court of California. Justices of the Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal are appointed by the Governor, but are subject to retention by the electorate every 12 years.
|2008||37.10% 4,902,278||61.08% 8,063,473|
|2004||44.36% 5,509,826||54.40% 6,745,485|
|2000||41.65% 4,567,429||53.45% 5,861,203|
|1996||38.21% 3,828,380||51.10% 5,119,835|
|1992||32.61% 3,630,574||46.01% 5,121,325|
|1988||51.13% 5,054,917||47.56% 4,702,233|
|1984||57.51% 5,467,009||41.27% 3,922,519|
|1980||52.69% 4,524,858||35.91% 3,083,661|
|1976||49.35% 3,882,244||47.57% 3,742,284|
|1972||55.01% 4,602,096||41.54% 3,475,847|
California has an idiosyncratic political culture. It was the second state to legalize abortion and the second state to legalize marriage for gay couples (the latter later elminated by Proposition 8).
Since 1990, California has generally elected Democratic candidates; however, the state has had little hesitance in electing Republican Governors, though many of its Republican Governors, such as Governor Schwarzenegger, tend to be considered "Moderate Republicans" and tend to be more liberal than the party itself.
Democratic strength is centered in coastal regions of Los Angeles County and the San Francisco Bay Area. The Democrats also hold a majority in Sacramento. The Republican strength is greatest in the San Joaquin Valley, which includes the growing cities of Stockton and Modesto. Orange County and San Diego remain mostly Republican.
Overall, the trend in California politics has been towards the Democratic Party and away from the Republican Party. The trend is most obvious in presidential elections. Additionally, the Democrats have easily won every U.S. Senate race since 1992 and have maintained consistent majorities in both houses of the state legislature. In the U.S. House, the Democrats hold a 34-19 edge for the 110th United States Congress. The U.S senators are Dianne Feinstein (D), a native of San Francisco, and Barbara Boxer (D). The districts in California are usually dominated by one or the other party with very few districts that could be considered competitive. Once very conservative having elected Republicans, California is now a reliable Democratic state. According to political analysts, California should soon gain three more seats, for a total of 58 electoral votes - the most electoral votes in the nation.
California's legal system is explicitly based on English common law (as is the case with all other states except Louisiana) but carries a few features from Spanish civil law, such as community property. Capital punishment is a legal form of punishment and the state has the largest "Death Row" population in the country (though Texas is far more active in carrying out executions). California's "Death Row" is in San Quentin State Prison situated north of San Francisco in Marin County. Executions in California are currently on hold indefinitely as human rights issues are addressed.
For lists of cities, towns, and counties in California, see List of cities in California (by population), List of cities in California, List of urbanized areas in California (by population), and California locations by per capita income.
The state's local government is divided into 58 counties and 480 incorporated cities and towns; of which 458 are cities and 22 are towns. Under California law, the terms "city" and "town" are explicitly interchangeable; the name of an incorporated municipality in the state can either be "City of (Name)" or "Town of (Name)".
Sacramento became California's first incorporated city on February 27, 1850. San Jose, San Diego and Benicia tied for California's second incorporated city, each receiving incorporation on March 27, 1850.   Menifee became the state's most recent and 480th incorporated municipality on October 1, 2008.
The majority of these cities and towns are within one of five metropolitan areas. Sixty-eight percent of California's population lives in its three largest metropolitan areas, Greater Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area and the Riverside-San Bernardino Area, known as the Inland Empire. Although smaller, the other two large population centers are the San Diego and the Sacramento metro areas. California is home to the largest county in the contiguous United States by area, San Bernardino County.
The state recognizes two kinds of cities: charter and general law. General law cities owe their existence to state law and consequentially governed by it; charter cities are governed by their own city charters. Cities incorporated in the 19th century tend to be charter cities. All of the state's ten most populous cities are charter cities.
Public secondary education consists of high schools that teach elective courses in trades, languages, and liberal arts with tracks for gifted, college-bound and industrial arts students. California's public educational system is supported by a unique constitutional amendment that requires a minimum annual funding level for grades K-14 (kindergarten through community college) which grows with the economy and student enrollment figures.
California's public postsecondary education offers a unique three tiered system:
California is also home to such notable private universities such as Stanford University, the University of Southern California (USC), the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and the Claremont Colleges (including Harvey Mudd College and Pomona College). California has hundreds of other private colleges and universities, including many religious and special-purpose institutions.
See main article: Sports in California and List of professional sports teams in California. California hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley Ski Resort, the 1932 and 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, as well as the 1994 FIFA World Cup.
California has nineteen major professional sports league franchises, far more than any other state. The San Francisco Bay Area has seven major league teams spread in three cities, San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose. While the Greater Los Angeles Area is home to ten major league franchises, it is also the largest metropolitan area not to have a team from the National Football League. San Diego has two major league teams, and Sacramento also has two.
Home to some of the most prominent universities in the United States, California has long had many respected collegiate sports programs. In particular, the athletic programs of UC Berkeley, USC, UCLA, Stanford and Fresno State are often nationally ranked in the various collegiate sports. California is also home to the oldest college bowl game, the annual Rose Bowl, and the Holiday Bowl, among others.
Below is a list of major sports teams in California:
|Oakland Raiders||American Football||National Football League|
|San Diego Chargers||American Football||National Football League|
|San Francisco 49ers||American Football||National Football League|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||Baseball||Major League Baseball|
|Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim||Baseball||Major League Baseball|
|Oakland Athletics||Baseball||Major League Baseball|
|San Diego Padres||Baseball||Major League Baseball|
|San Francisco Giants||Baseball||Major League Baseball|
|Golden State Warriors||Basketball||National Basketball Association|
|Los Angeles Clippers||Basketball||National Basketball Association|
|Los Angeles Lakers||Basketball||National Basketball Association|
|Sacramento Kings||Basketball||National Basketball Association|
|Modesto Bearcats||Basketball||American Basketball Association (2000-)|
|Anaheim Ducks||Ice Hockey||National Hockey League|
|Los Angeles Kings||Ice Hockey||National Hockey League|
|San Jose Sharks||Ice Hockey||National Hockey League|
|Chivas USA||Soccer||Major League Soccer|
|Los Angeles Galaxy||Soccer||Major League Soccer|
|San Jose Earthquakes||Soccer||Major League Soccer|
|Los Angeles Avengers||American Football||Arena Football League|
|San Jose SaberCats||American Football||Arena Football League|
|Los Angeles Sparks||Basketball||Women's National Basketball Association|
|Sacramento Monarchs||Basketball||Women's National Basketball Association|
|Los Angeles Riptide||Lacrosse||Major League Lacrosse|
|San Francisco Dragons||Lacrosse||Major League Lacrosse|
|San Jose Stealth||Lacrosse||National Lacrosse League|
|California Cougars||Soccer||Professional Arena Soccer League|