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Origin of name: From a book, Las Sergas de Esplandián, by Garcia Ordóñez de Montalvo, c. 1500. The book was about an island of women ruled by Queen Califa.

Racial Makeup as of 2000: White-47%, People of color-53% (6% black, 32% latino, 11% asian, 3% mixed race, .5% native american)

State Population as of 2003: 35,484,453 (largest in size)

Geographical area: 156,297 square miles (3rd in size)

Coastline milage: 840 miles, tidal shoreline (including small bays and inlets) is 3,427 miles

Geographic Center: 35 miles NE of Madera. N/S crossing point marked in center median on the 99 freeway by a fir tree and a palm tree planted right next to one another.

State Symbols

State Bird: California Valley Quail
State Capital: Sacramento
State Colors: Blue ((for the sky) and gold (for the gold found).
State Dance: West Coast Swing- Originated in CA in the 1930's.
State Fife and Drum Band: California Consolidated Drum Band
State Fish: Golden Trout
State Flag
State Flower: Golden Poppy
State Folk Dance: Square Dancing
State Fossil: Saber-Toothed Cat
State Gem: Benitoite
State Ghost Town: Bodie
State Ghost Town (silver rush): Calico
State Grass: Purple Needlegrass
State Insect: Dog Face Butterfly
State Mammal: California Grizzly
State Marine Fish: Garibaldi
State Marine Mammal: California Gray Whale (Migrates from Alaska to Mexico)
State Military Museum: California State Military Museum
State Mineral: Gold
State Motto: "Eureka" (I have found it!). Relates to the discovery of gold.
State Nickname: "The Golden State" (named after the discovery of gold)
State Poet Laureate: Al Young
State Prehistoric Artifact: Chipped Stone Bear
State Quarter: California Quarter
State Reptile: Desert Tortoise
State Rock: Serpentine
State Seal
State Song: I Love You California
State Tall Ship: The Californian
State Tartan: Muir Tartan
State Theater: Pasadena Playhouse
State Tree: Coast Redwood

State Biggest or First

First Govenor: Peter H. Burnett, Independent Democrat, 1849-1851
Highest Mountain: Mt. Whitney
Largest City: Los Angeles
Lowest Elevation/Hottest temperature: Death Valley
Tallest Waterfall: Ribbon Falls
Donner Pass Deaths: 41

History in Pictures

California's License Plates

California's Capital:

Between 1850 and 1854, San Jose, Vallejo, and San Francisco (Benecia) served as the temporary capital cities. In 1854, the capital city was permanently moved to Sacramento. The dome on the capitol rises 247 feet above the ground. The original capital of California was Monterey.

Meaning of the State Seal:

The State Seal was adopted a year before California was admitted to the union. It was designed by Major R. S. Garnett of the United States Army and the design was approved in 1849. The grizzly bear on the seal is the symbol of determination and fierceness. The bear stands near Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom. The miner in the background represents the state's mining industry. There is also a gold mining cradle and shovel near the miner. The ships in the harbor symbolize commercial greatness. The peaks in the background are the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The thirty-one stars show that California was the thirty first state. The significance of the presence of Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom, is that she sprang full grown from the forehead of her father, Jupiter. This represents the fact that California was admitted to the Union directly as a state, without having first been a territory. The motto, Eureka, meaning "I found it" probably comes from Archimedes, the great mathematician, when he is said to have exclaimed "Eureka!" when he discovered a method for determining the purity of gold.

    State Facts:

  • California is the 3rd largest state in area and the largest state in population.
  • California has the largest population of Native Americans, more than any other state.
  • Prior to the Gold Rush, California had more Native Americans than all the other states combined.
  • California has one of the largest Chinese communities outside Asia in the entire world (San Francisco).
  • The Los Angeles area has more people of Mexican ancestry than any other urban area in the world, outside of Mexico.
  • California has the largest Armenian population outside Armenia (Glendale).
  • California is the largest producer of goods of all the states and the largest agricultural state in the Union.
  • The California redwood is a prehistoric tree. All trees are descended from the redwood. The coastal climate protected them from the great ice sheets during previous ice ages.