Although California was sighted by Spanish navigator Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1542, its first Spanish mission was not established until 1769. California became a United States territory in 1847 when Mexico surrendered it to John Charles Fremont. On Jan. 24, 1848, James Wilson Marshall discovered gold at Sutter's Mill, starting the California Gold Rush and bringing settlers to the state in large numbers. By 1964, California had surpassed New York to become the most populous state. One reason for this may be that more immigrants settle in California than any other state more than one-third of the nation's total in 1994. Asians and Pacific Islanders led the influx. Death Valley, in the southeast, is 282 ft below sea level, the lowest point in the nation. Mount Whitney (14,491 feet) is the highest point in the contiguous 48 states. Lassen Peak is one of two active United States volcanoes outside of Alaska and Hawaii; its last eruptions were recorded in 1917.
The culture of California is closely attached to the civilization of the United States as a whole. However, there are features that are unique to California. With roots in the culture of Spain, the culture of Mexico, and the culture of the eastern United States, California integrates foods, languages and traditions from all over the world. The California Gold Rush of the 1850s is still seen as a sign of California's modern economic style, a pioneering spirit that tends to generate technology, social ventures, entertainment, and economic fads and booms that, in many cases, are followed all around the globe. The hippie movement began in San Francisco, California, in the early 1960s and progressed into the late 1970s. Surfing has its own slang, which has coincided with Valspeak. Words like "tubular," "radical," and "gnarly" are associated with both. In the late 1960s Santa Cruz and Northern California developed their own slang like "groovy", "hella", and "tight."
Like its topography, California's climate is varied and tends toward extremes. Generally there are two seasons—a long, dry summer, with low humidity and cool evenings, and a mild, rainy winter—except in the high mountains, where four seasons prevail and snow lasts from November to April. The one climatic constant for the state is summer drought. California has four main climatic regions. Mild summers and winters prevail in central coastal areas, where temperatures are more equable than virtually anywhere else in the US; in the area between San Francisco and Monterey, for example, the difference between average summer and winter temperatures is seldom more than 10 degree F (6 degree Celsius). During the summer there are heavy fogs in San Francisco and all along the coast. Mountainous regions are characterized by milder summers and colder winters, with markedly low temperatures at high elevations. The Central Valley has hot summers and cool winters, while the Imperial Valley is marked by very hot, dry summers, with temperatures frequently exceeding 100°F (38 degree Celsius). Average annual temperatures for the state range from 47°F (8 degree Celsius) in the Sierra Nevada to 73 degree F (23 degree Celsius) in the Imperial Valley. The highest temperature ever recorded in the US was 134 degree (57 degree Celsius), registered in Death Valley on 10 July 1913. Death Valley has the hottest average summer temperature in the Western Hemisphere, at 98 degree F (37 degree Celsius). The state's lowest temperature was –45 degree F (–43 degree Celsius), recorded on 20 January 1937 at Boca, near the Nevada border.
California is like a paradise where the dream would come true. The beautiful state is blessed with a unique geological landscape offering a vast array of scenic attractions and variety of climates. There are sandy beaches, rugged rocky coasts, barren deserts, bountiful farmlands, barren deserts, dense forests and snowcapped mountains, all these things make the state attractive for US natives and tourists. The warm tropical beaches and the surf of Southern California attract many sun loving vacationers to the state. The most cities of California are really glamorous. Los Angeles is a big cosmopolitan center and a great multi-cultural metropolis with its dazzling suburbs of Hollywood and Beverly Hills that attract shoppers and sightseers, while the San Francisco’s colorful charm and beauty makes it a favorite tourist place.
The outstanding beauty of the craggy coastline at Big Sur, the impressive grandeur of the giant Sequoia forests, the alpine splendor of Yosemite Valley, all make this one of the adorable vacation destination for the bikers, hikers, campers, wilderness, backpackers, skiers and other tourists. San Francisco is the northern California city that lies about 400 miles up the coast from Los Angeles and is also considered to be one of the beautiful cities in USA. It is situated on the series of hills that overlooks a vast blue bay snuggled among the coastal mountains. San Francisco is popular for its Golden Gate Bridge and old cable cars, these ascend steeply inclined streets with the grand old Victorian houses. San Francisco is very near to the splendid coastal scenery of the Marin headlands and also to the world famous technology district known as “Silicon Valley”.
California is home to some of the most famous places in the world like Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Santa Barbara and Napa the wine country. Tourism in California is concentrated around Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Long Beach, Fresno, Sacramento, Oakland, Santa Ana and Anaheim. Mother Nature has blessed California with numerous forests and beaches. You can get a glimpse of the lavishness of Mother Nature when you drive through redwood trees along the National Highway 101. Some of the most beautiful beaches on the pacific coast are located here. The state is also dotted with museums and cultural centers of repute. No tourist will go disappointed from California because the variety it has to offer is mind boggling.
California is known for its car culture and extensive network of freeways and roads, the state also has a vast array of rail, sea, and air transport. However, in a state with over 37 million people, rapid population expansion, and diverse terrain and weather, that system is under pressure to stay ahead of population growth and transportation needs.
Intercity rail travel is provided by Amtrak California, which manages the three busiest intercity rail lines in the US outside the Northeast Corridor. The Capitol Corridor connects the San Francisco Bay Area to Sacramento. The Pacific Surf liner runs along the coast of Southern California from San Diego to San Luis Obispo. And the San Joaquin connects the major cities of the Central Valley. National Amtrak lines include the California Zephyr from Emeryville to Chicago, Illinois; the Coast Starlight from Los Angeles to Seattle, Washington; the Southwest Chief and the Texas Eagle from Los Angeles to Chicago; and the Sunset Limited from Los Angeles to New Orleans, Louisiana.
Integrated subway and light rail networks are found in Los Angeles (Metro Rail) and San Francisco (BART and MUNI Metro). Light rail systems are also found in San Jose, 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 (Cal train, ACE), Greater Los Angeles (Metro link), 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 Motor coach.
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's 58 counties.