California ("The Golden State") is a large state in the western United States. It has more people than any other US state (more than 33 million people). Its most famous cities are Los Angeles (Hollywood, famed world-wide for movie-making, is a district within Los Angeles) and San Francisco. The capital is Sacramento.
The current governor of California is Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has gained fame as a popular actor. Before his acting career, he was a bodybuilder. He was the actor who acted as the terminator in the terminator movie series.
There are two senators: Barbara Boxer, and Dianne Feinstein.
The state is a leader in three businesses: farming, movie-making, and high technology, namely software and Web sites.
It is near a transformant boundary (also known as a fault line) which means a lot of earthquakes happen. People in California have to be prepared for earthquakes.
It has more people than any other state in the United States. If California were a country it would have the sixth largest total production in the world, more than many other countries put together. California is probably the state with the most different kinds of people and types of land â€' mountains, deserts, coasts â€' than any other state in America. It is often called "The Golden State", possibly because of the Gold Rush back in 1849. Also, however, the grasses become golden during the summertime. The post office uses "CA" to mark California and the Associated Press uses "Calif." or "Cali."
California is a major power in American culture as well as the business life of the nation. Many of the great changes in technology and law come from California, and the state pays more to the U.S. government than it gets back. It also has some of the country's largest cities, such as Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, and San Francisco.
In the past, the whole area we now call "California" was not just today's California, but also covered the Mexican lands south of it, as well as Nevada, Utah, and parts of Arizona and Wyoming. The Spaniards called the part of the territory that eventually became part of the United States "Alta California" (Upper California) when it was split from what became "Baja California" (Lower California). In these early times, the borders of the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific coast were not well known, so the old maps wrongly showed California to be an island. The name comes from "Las sergas de Espladián" (Adventures of Spladian), a 16th century book by Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo, where there is an island paradise called California.
The first European who visited parts of the coast, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, came from Portugal in 1542, just fifty years after Christopher Columbus made his first trip. The first European who saw the entire coast was Sir Francis Drake, in 1579, and he decided that the British owned it. But starting in the late 1700s, Spanish religious leaders of the Roman Catholic Church ("missionaries") got large gifts of land in the area north of Baja California, from the Spanish king and queen. These religious people set up small towns and villages, the famous California Missions. When Mexico was no longer controlled by Spain, the Mexican government took over the villages, and they soon emptied out.
In 1846, as the Mexican-American War was starting, some Americans in California hoped to create a California Republic. These men flew a "Bear flag" that had a golden bear with a star on it. This Republic ended suddenly, however, when Commodore John D. Sloat of the United States Navy sailed into San Francisco Bay. He said that California was now part of the United States. After the war with Mexico ended, California was split between the two countries. The Mexican portion became the Mexican states of Baja California Norte (north) and Baja California Sur (south). ("Baja" means "lower" in Spanish.) The western part of the part given to the United States became today's state of California.
In 1848, there were about 4,000 Spanish-speaking people in today's California on the American side. (Today the state has a total of nearly 40,000,000 people.) In 1849, gold was suddenly found and the number of people went up very fast as the Gold Rush took hold. In 1850, California became a state in the Union (the United States).
During the American Civil War (1861-1865), about 70% of the people in California believed that the South was right, and only 30% were for the North. But California joined the war effort on the side of the North (the Union) and sent many troops east to fight the Confederacy.
At first, travel between the far west and the east coast of the United States was dangerous and took a lot of time. Going by land was very difficult, because there were no roads and no trains, and many Native Americans were attacking American settlers heading West in wagons. The only other way was to travel by boat around the Cape of Good Hope, at the southern end of South America. This took months, since the trip was thousands of miles long and the Panama Canal had not yet been built either. But in 1869, the connection got better quickly, because the first railroad across the continent was finished. Meanwhile, more people in California were learning that the land there was very good to grow fruit and other crops. Oranges were grown in many parts of California. This was the beginning of the huge farming business that California has today.
California today.
In 1900, there were still "only" a million people in California; Los Angeles â€' which today has more than 3,000,000 and another 12,000,000 around it â€' had only 100,000. Today, California has more people than any other U.S. state. It is the only state that has more people than the country of Venezuela. Starting in 1965, the variety of people became much greater as many different people from around the world came to the United States and often decided to live in California. Many, but by no means all, of the people in California tend to be liberal. Technology is very advanced and many new cultural trends begin there. Engineering and computers play a big part in the state's life. For over a hundred years, film has been one of the most important businesses in California. By the 1950s, television had also become an important business in California.

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