Welcome to California, the land of dreams, innovation and endless possibilities! This US State is nestled on the Western edge of the contintental United States,
This captivating state enthralls visitors and locals alike with its diverse landscapes, vibrant cities, and rich cultural heritage. From the sun-kissed beaches of the Pacific Coast to the majestic peaks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, California offers a tapestry of experiences that is as varied as its population.
There’s probably a lot that you don’t know about this US State, but today my aim is to change to that…
Here are 22 Interesting Facts You Might Not Know about California
1. California is the most populous state in the USA, with an estimated population of 39 million (according to 2021 statistics). That’s one-eighth of the US population (by the way). It’s also the third largest state in the USA (by area). The state occupies an area of 163,696 square miles (423,970 square kilometres) – that’s about 1/3 the size of South Africa.
2. California boasts the most robust economy among all states in the United States, and in fact, it ranks as the fifth-largest economy worldwide. Surpassing the combined gross domestic product (GDP) of all African nations, California’s economic output outshines them all.
3. The state’s comes from a 16th-century Spanish novel that describes a mythical paradise called California.
4. The gold rush of 1849 and the golden poppies (the state flower) probably helped California to earn the nickname “The Golden State”.
5. California is bordered by the Pacific Ocean in the West, Oregon in the North, Nevada and Arizona in the East, and Mexico in the South.
6. In the 16th century, European explorers set foot on this land, with Spanish explorers taking the lead. However, when Mexico achieved independence from Spain in 1821, California came under Mexican control. However, this period was short-lived.
Following the conclusion of the Mexican-American War in 1848, California transitioned into a United States territory. Eventually, in 1850, the territory attained the status of a fully-fledged state within the United States.
7. Los Angeles holds the title of the most populous city in California, boasting a population exceeding 3.8 million people. Following Los Angeles, San Diego stands as the state’s second largest city, with a population surpassing 1.3 million.
San Jose follows as the third largest city, with a population exceeding 980,000, while San Francisco holds the fourth position, with a population of over 815,000. Serving as the state capital, Sacramento has a population surpassing 500,000.
8. There is a grizzly bear on the state’s flag, but there are no more grizzly bears left in the state. The last bear was actually shot in 1922. The animals were tracked and hunted after the California Gold Rush brought a higher population to the area.
9. It’s no secret that California has its fair share of earthquakes. People have been talking about “The Big One” for ages. The state has over 500 fault lines. The biggest earthquake that’s ever hit California measured 7.9 on the richter scale and was recorded at Fort Tejon in 1857. San Fransisco’s 1906 earthquake measured 7.8 on the richter scale.
10. Silicon Valley is located in the state. The Californian cities that make up this tech corner of the world are San Jose, Palo Alto, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Menlo Park, Mountainview, and Redwood City. Adobe, Alphabet (the parent company for Google), Apple, Cisco, eBay, HP, Intel, LinkedIn, Meta (the parent company for Facebook), Nvidia, Paypal and Zoom have their headquarters somewhere in Sillicon Valley.
11. The oldest operating McDonald’s restaurant in the world is located in Downey, California. It was opened in 1953 and is now a museum.
12. Renowned as the inaugural “moving landmark” in the United States, the San Francisco cable cars embody the true essence of the city.
These iconic vehicles stand as the sole remaining old-fashioned cable cars that continue to operate within the USA. Remarkably, they also hold the distinction of being the world’s last manually operated cable car system.
13. The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most recognizable symbols of the Golden State. The 1.6 km (1 mile) bridge spans San Francisco Bay, but it is not actually gold. It was painted “International Orange” to help it stand out in the fog.
Construction of the bridge took 4 years. It officially opened in April 1937. The bridge also carries pedestrian and bicycle traffic.
14. The origins of Los Angeles, which derives its name from the Spanish term meaning “The Angels,” trace back to 1781. It was during this year that a group of 44 settlers from central New Spain, which is present-day Mexico, founded a lasting settlement in what we now know as Downtown LA. Over time, the town gradually evolved, and in 1850, it officially became incorporated when its population numbered approximately 1,600 residents.
Los Angeles experienced significant growth throughout the years. By the turn of the 20th century, in 1900, the city’s population had surged to 100,000 individuals. This trend continued, with the population reaching 1.2 million by 1930 and further skyrocketing to 2.9 million by 1980.
15. California is home to what is believed is the tallest tree in the world, Hyperion (a coastal redwood in Humboldt County). The tree has a height of 115.92 metres (380.3 feet). That’s taller than the Statue of Liberty by the way.
16. The state is also the home of Methuselah, a 4,854-year-old Great Basin bristlecone pine tree growing high in the White Mountains of Inyo County. It’s believed to be the oldest tree in the world.
17. The original Hollywood sign was constructed in 1923. From 1923 to 1949 the sign the full text of the sign read “Hollywoodland”. The sign wasn’t created to advertise movies and starlets; it was created to advertise real estate. It was declared as a Cultural and Historical Monument in 1973.
18. San Francisco (Spanish for Saint Francis) was founded on 29 June 1776, when colonists from Spain established Presidio of San Francisco at the Golden Gate and Mission San Francisco de Asís named for St. Francis of Assisi.
19. California’s towns and cities have some crazy laws. Permanent markers cannot be sold anywhere within the city of Fresno. It’s also against the law to hold a private bingo game or play bingo drunk in Fresno.
In Redondo Beach, it’s illegal for dogs to bark after 6:00 PM. It’s also illegal to walk backwards after sunset. In Eureka, California it’s against the law for a man with a mustache to kiss a woman and it’s also illegal to sleep in the middle of the road.
In Los Angeles, the act of licking a toad is deemed unlawful, and the wearing of zoot suits is prohibited. Engaging in shooting at any form of game from a moving vehicle is considered a misdemeanor, with the exception being when the intended target is a whale. Additionally, dogs are restricted from mating within a 500-yard radius of churches.
In San Francisco, it is illegal to employ used underwear for wiping cars in a car wash. Elephants walking down Market Street must wear leashes. You are also not allowed to pile horse manure higher than 6 feet on any street corner and prostitutes are not obliged to make change for bills larger than $50.
20. The Golden State is by far the largest producer of American wine, making 81% of all US wine and clocking in as the world’s fourth leading wine producer. According to the 2021 California Crush Report, 3,632 thousand tons of wine grapes were harvested in 2021. There are more than 4000 wineries in the state.
21. The highest point in California (and the 48 continental US states) is Mount Whitney. It reaches 4418 metres (14,494 feet) above sea level and is located in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range in the East of the state.
22. 80% of the World’s Almonds are produced in California. They are grown in the Central Valley of the state.
Well, there you have it, 22 Interesting Facts you might not have known about California. If I’ve left something important out, feel free to comment below.
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