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California Facts


California has a Mediterranean-type climate that is characterized by general sun and warmth with rain mainly in the winter. Climate varies greatly based on distance from the ocean and elevation. There are five main climatic zones in the state.

Coastal: This area contains most of the state’s

population. It varies greatly up and down the coast.

Desert: Characterized by great daily and annual

variations in temperature with very little rainfall.

Foothill: 1,000 to 3,000 ft. in elevation with climate

similar to valley regions but with more rain and less fog. Mountain: This is the sole region for heavy snow,

accented with fairly cold winters and bright, sunny summers. Valley: Characterized by high temperature and low

humidity in the summer and low temperature and high humidity in the winter. Both the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys exhibit this type of climatology.

Rainfall varies from 80 inches in Del Norte County (North Coast) to as low as 3 inches in Imperial County (Desert).


California is one of the most ethnically diverse regions in the world.

American Indian/Eskimo/Aleut 0.8%

Asian/Pacific Islander 9.1%

Black (non-Hispanic) 7.0%

Hispanic 25.8%

Caucasian (non-Hispanic) 57.2%

Other (non-Hispanic) 0.2%


If California were a separate country, its economy

would rank among the top 8 countries in the world.

California leads the nation with 85 of the nation’s 500

fastest growing private companies, according to INC. magazine. California added 500,000 manufacturing jobs in the last 15 years, more than the next three states combined.

California’s top industries include: tourism,

manufacturing, construction, agriculture, telecommunications, engineering services, aerospace and entertainment (including motion pictures, TV, and recording). The state is geared for the future with continuing advances in microelectronics, bio-technology and environmental technology. California produces $900 billion worth of goods and services each year.

California generates 12% of the United States Gross

National Product.

Currently, California has the seventh largest economy

in the world.


California, the third largest state in land area,

covers 158,693 square miles.

The average width of the state is 150 to 200 miles.

California has a coastline 1,264 miles long.

At 14,495 feet, Mt. Whitney in Sequoia National Park is

the highest point in the contiguous United States.

Bad Water in Death Valley National Park, at 282 feet

below sea level, is the lowest elevation point in the United States.

California has three active volcanoes: In the Cascade

Mountain range are Mt. Lassen (elevation 10,457 feet), a plug-dome volcano surrounded by volcanic hot springs; and Mt. Shasta (elevation 14,162 feet), which is characterized by strong granite peaks; and Mt. Mammoth (elevation 11,000 feet), found in the Sierra Nevada, offers fantastic skiing.

The nation’s 11th National Marine Sanctuary extends

along California’s coast from just north of the Golden Gate south past Big Sur to San Simeon in Monterey County. The Monterey sanctuary encompasses 5,312 square miles (4,024 square nautical miles), making it the largest marine sanctuary in the United States.

California has more than 420 recreational lakes. The

largest natural lake, Clearlake, often referred to as “The Bass Capital of the West,” has 43,000 acres of surface area

and a shoreline of 100 miles, at an elevation of 1,320 feet.

California has 4.1 million acres in National Park

acreage and 1.3 million acres in State Park acreage.

The largest trees in the world, a species of Redwood

known as Sequoia gigantea, can be found in the Sierra Nevada.

The oldest living thing in the world, the Bristlecone

Pine tree, aged at nearly 5,000 years, can be found at an altitude of 11,000 feet in California.

The tallest living thing in the world is the California

Redwood found along the North and Central Coast area.


State Animal: Grizzly Bear

The Grizzly Bear appears on the State Flag and the Great Seal, but is now extinct in California.

State Bird: California Quail

The California Quail, noted for its strength and adaptability, is found throughout the state.

State Colors: Yale Blue and Golden Yellow

The Blue and Gold ribbons which are used to adorn the Great State Seal are also the spirit colors of the prestigious University of California education system.

State Dance: The West Coast Swing

This dance form came into being in the early 1930s in response to the new era of music that was sweeping the nation.

State Fish: California Golden Trout

This trout species (Salmo agua bonita) is only found in the icy streams of the High Sierra and is native to no other state.

State Flag: The Bear Flag

The great flag was first raised in 1846 by American settlers during an uprising against Mexican rule. Although the California Republic – which the flag represented – was short lived, the flag still symbolizes love of freedom and perseverance.

State Flower: Golden Poppy

The Golden Poppy can be found thriving in some part of the state throughout the year.

State Fossil: The Saber-toothed Cat

The fossilized remains of this meat-eating cat are abundantly found in Southern California at the Rancho La Brea tarpits.

State Gemstone: Benitoite

This spectacular sapphire blue gemstone is found in gem quality crystals at only one site in the entire world, at a small deposit in a remote area of the Diablo range in San Benito, California. It is one of the world’s rarest and most beautiful gems.

State Marine Mammal: California Gray Whale

The majestic California Gray Whale measures 30 to 50 feet in length and weighs up to 40 tons. Whales can be sighted during their annual 14,000 mile migration from the Arctic to the lagoons of Baja California and back, December through April.

State Mineral: Native Gold

California has produced more gold than any other state in the union and it can still be found in stream beds.

State Motto: “Eureka!”

The Greek word meaning “I have found it!” refers to the great discovery of gold in 1848.

State Nickname: The Golden State

This name is highly appropriate because California’s development and remarkable prosperity began with the discovery of gold.

State Reptile: The Desert Tortoise

An endangered species, it lives to be 100-125 years old and is a California native, contemporary to the Woolly Rhinoceros and Mammoth.

State Tree: The California Redwood

The California Redwood, which can be found in both Coastal and Sierra provinces of the Golden State, is among the most ancient of all living things in the world. These giant trees exist in large forested areas predominantly in California.

State Song: “I Love You, California”

I Love You, California, written by F.B. Silverwood, was designated the state song in 1951 and became official in 1988.