Welcome To California

Aditi Saraswat

California is located on the west coast of North America. It is the largest US state by population, and the third largest by area. California offers something for everyone: Southern California is home to such popular attractions as Disneyland, Hollywood and the beaches in Malibu that inspired the television show Baywatch, while the northern part of California offers the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, the hills of San Francisco, the vineyards of Napa Valley, Silicon Valley, and the capital, Sacramento. Outside California's major cities one finds some of North America's most rugged national parks, incredible skiing/snowboarding opportunities, and quiet and ancient northern forests including the highest mountain peak in the contiguous USA, Mt. Whitney. In Tulare County, 32 percent of residents were illiterate in 2003 when the California average was 23 percent of the population, according to the U.S. Department of Education. And in 2008, the County of Tulare put the adult functional illiteracy rate in the county at 41%,as to that , India's literacy rate is at 74.04%
California varies greatly, ranging from the forested northern coastal regions to the rugged interior mountains to the harsh southern desert. Sandwiched in the center of California is the fertile Central Valley, home to a massive amount of agriculture.
Human occupation in California goes back 50,000 years; California was home to thirty different tribal groups prior to the arrival of European explorers in the 1500s and now over 120 tribes are left. The first Europeans were the Spanish and Portuguese, who built a settlement in California, establishing twenty-one missions in California by the late 1700s. Many of these missions survive today, including that in Santa Barbara.
After the Mexican War for Independence in 1821, California became a part of Mexico for 25 years until 1846 where it briefly became a sovereign nation, California Republic, before it was annexed by the United States in 1846. In 1848 the discovery of gold in the Sierra Nevada mountains kicked off the California Gold Rush, and California's non-native population surged from 15,000 to over 300,000 within two years.
California was recognized as a state in 1850, and its population increased steadily since then. Today California is the most populous state in the US with over 38 million residents.

With over 160,000 square miles (411,000 km2) the landscape of California is vast and varied. The state contains extremes in elevation, with Mount Whitney at 14,505 feet (4,421 m) being the tallest mountain in the lower-48 states, while less than 200 miles away Death Valley, at 282 feet (-82 m) below sea level, is North America's lowest point.
California's border to the west is made up of a rugged coastline along the Pacific Ocean. The coastal mountains rise up from the ocean and are home to redwood trees in the northern half. The Central Valley bisects California from north-to-south before giving way to the Sierra Nevada mountains, home of Yosemite National Park, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and other natural wonders. The
southeastern part of California is dominated by desert, which covers 25% of California's total area. The Mojave is a high desert, with elevations ranging from 3,000 to 6,000 feet above sea level. This area receives less than six inches of rain each year.

The state's climate varies from temperate at the coast to the brutal winters of the mountains to one of the world's hottest regions in the deserts. Rainfall is more common in the northern part of the state than in the south, and snow is rare except in the mountains.
The hottest temperature ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere, 134°F (56.6°C) was at Death Valley in 1913, and temperatures regularly exceed 120°F (49°C) during the summer. In contrast, winter temperatures in the mountains can drop below 0°F.

California is a very diverse state with many ethnic groups. California has large populations of people of varied backgrounds such as Mexican, Salvadoran, Guatemalan, Armenian, Iranian, Jewish, Chinese, Russian, Filipino, Eastern Indian, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Thai, Hmong and illegal aliens. California also has large populations of African Americans and Native Americans.
Californians have a wide variety of political views. The Central Valley, Orange County, San Diego, and Palm Springs area tend to be more conservative, while Los Angeles County and the San Francisco Bay area tend to be more liberal.
California is a very large and populous state, with very different cultures in each region.

California Admission Day September 9, 1850
In February of 1848, Mexico and the United States signed a treaty which ended the Mexican War and yielded a vast portion of the Southwest, including present day California, to the United States. Several days earlier, January 24, 1848, gold had been discovered on the American River near Sacramento, and the ensuing gold rush hastened California’s admittance to the Union.  With the Gold Rush came a huge increase in population and a pressing need for civil government.
In 1849, Californians sought statehood and, after heated debate in the U.S. Congress arising out of the slavery issue, California entered the Union as a free, nonslavery state by the Compromise of 1850.

California became the 31st state on September 9, 1850. The Golden State’s rich history has since been shaped by people of every ethnic background who traveled here seeking economic, social and educational opportunity, and a life of quality and breathtaking beauty.
California situated its first capital in San Jose. The city did not have facilities ready for a proper capital, and the winter of 1850 - 1851 was unusually wet, causing the dirt roads to become muddy streams. The legislature was unsatisfied with the location, so former General and State Senator Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo donated land in the future city of Vallejo for a new capital; the legislature convened there for one week in 1852 and again for a month in 1853.
Again, the facilities available were unsuitable to house a state government, and the capital was soon moved three miles away to the little town of Benicia, inland from the San Francisco Bay. The strait links San Pablo Bay to Grizzly and Suisun Bays deep in the interior. A lovely brick statehouse was built in old American style complete with white cupola. Although strategically sited between the Gold Rush territory of the Sierra Foothills and the financial port of San Francisco, the site was too small for expansion, and so the capital was moved further inland past the Sacramento River Delta to the riverside port of Sacramento in 1854.
The current California State Flag, adopted by the state legislature in 1911, is based on the original Bear Flag raised by pioneering Americans over Sonoma in 1846. The Bear was representative of the numerous Grizzly Bears in the state and the words "California Republic" testify to the fiesty American pioneers who settled in the territory.

California becomes the 31st state in record time
Though it had only been a part of the United States for less than two years, California becomes the 31st state in the union (without ever even having been a territory) on this day in 1850.
Mexico had reluctantly ceded California and much of its northern territory to the United States in the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo,. When the Mexican diplomats signed the treaty, they pictured California as a region of sleepy mission towns with a tiny population of about 7,300-not a devastating loss to the Mexican empire. Their regret might have been much sharper had they known that gold had been discovered at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California, nine days before they signed the peace treaty. Suddenly, the greatest gold rush in history was on, and “forty-niners” began flooding into California chasing after the fist-sized gold nuggets rumored to be strewn about the ground just waiting to be picked up. California’s population and wealth skyrocketed.
Most newly acquired regions of the U.S. went through long periods as territories before they had the 60,000 inhabitants needed to achieve statehood, and prior to the Gold Rush, emigration to California had been so slow that it would have been decades before the population reached that number. But with gold fever reaching epidemic proportions around the world, more than 60,000 people from around the globe came to California in 1849 alone. Faced with such rapid growth, as well as a thorny congressional debate over the question of slavery in the new territories, Congress allowed California to jump straight to full statehood without ever passing through the formal territorial stage. After a rancorous debate between the slave-state and free-soil advocates, Congress finally accepted California as a free-labor state under the Compromise of 1850, beginning the state’s long reign as the most powerful economic and political force in the far West.

Culture of California
California culture has also been greatly influenced by several other large immigrant populations, especially those from Latin America and East Asia. California is a true melting pot as well as an international gateway to the United States.
California has long been a subject of interest in the public mind and has often been promoted by its boosters as a kind of paradise. In the early 20th Century, fueled by the efforts of state and local boosters, many Americans saw the Golden State as an ideal resort destination, sunny and dry all year round with easy access to the ocean, deserts and mountains.
In terms of socio-cultural mores and national politics, Californians are perceived as more liberal than most other Americans, especially those who live in the inland states. The state, in whole, is perceived as liberal, though the northern region is seen as more liberal than the southern region, and the coast is seen as more liberal than the inland regions. California is also home to many prestigious universities including Stanford University, the California Institute of Technology, the University of California, the University of Southern California and the Claremont Colleges.

English is the main language of California's inhabitants. Spanish is a very common second language all over the state.
California English is a dialect of the English language spoken within California. California is the home to a highly diverse populace, and this is reflected in California's dialect of English, which integrates words from many other languages, especially Spanish. As is the case of English spoken in any state, not all features of California English are used by all speakers in the state, and not all features are restricted in use only to the state. However, there are some linguistic features which can be identified as either originally or predominantly Californian.

As the nation's major motion picture and television entertainment center, Hollywood has influenced English throughout the world, by making English speakers of many dialects very visible and by making known new terms and new meanings.[2] The media outlets and entertainment industry based in California also popularizes the California English accent and dialect to the rest of the country and the world.
The official language of California has been English since the passage of Proposition 63 in 1986.[3] However, many state, city, and local government agencies print official public documents in Spanish and other languages since Proposition 63 doesn't regulate how governments use other languages.[4]

Arts and Architecture
Apart from the architecture of the California missions and other colonial buildings, there are still many architectonic reminiscences of the Spanish period, especially in Southern California, where white stucco walls, red roof tiles, curvilinear gables, arched windows, balconies or even bell towers are incorporated into modern building styles in what is known as the Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, a United States architectural stylistic movement that came about in the early 20th century.
While Spanish architectural styles appear statewide, Northern Californian cities more prominently feature historic Victorian architecture, for which San Francisco is renowned, but which dominates the central historic districts of most Northern California towns. The towns of Eureka and Ferndale, in Humboldt County, are particularly noteworthy for their well-preserved Victorian building stock.
Today's architecture in California is a mixture of many other cultural influences that has resulted in groundbreaking modernist styles that have generated many other interesting and unusual building types.


California has a rich history of integrating diverse culinary styles. Chinese restaurants, Mexican restaurants, Italian restaurants, Filipino restaurants, Vietnamese restaurants, Indian restaurants and many other types can be found throughout the state. As early as 1903, The Landmarks Club Cookbook, which was published as a fundraiser to restore California's Spanish missions, hailed Los Angeles as the most diverse city from a culinary standpoint.
Produce plays an important role in California cuisine. California encompasses many diverse climates and therefore is able to grow many types of produce. Additionally, California's Central Valley contains some of the most fertile soil in the world. California is the number one U.S. producer of many common fruits and vegetables, including broccoli, spinach, tomatoes and avocados, amongst others. A health-conscious culture also contributes to the popularity of fresh produce. Fruit festivals, such as the National Orange Show Festival in San Bernardino County, are common throughout the state.
Avocados play a special role in California cuisine and many popular California dishes integrate avocados and/or guacamole. Avocados were unfamiliar to most Americans until the mid-20th century, when growers of the subtropical fruit successfully convinced many Americans to try it. In California, avocado is commonly used in sandwiches, hamburgers, salads and even on pizza, in addition to tacos, and other Mexican foods.
California is also an important producer of tomatoes. California tomatoes have become a staple ingredient in ketchup, though ketchup was originally made with everything from plums to mushrooms.
With Napa Valley in the north, Santa Barbara, and the Temecula Valley in the southern part of the state, California is the world's fourth largest producer of wines, and accounts for 90 percent of the wine production in the United States. Originally started by Spanish settlers to create wine for Mass in the 18th century, the wine industry in California rivals other wine-producing countries of the world, such as France, Australia and Chile, even winning the Judgment of Paris wine competition.


California has a reputation for environmentalism. Californians, especially those living on the coasts, are viewed as being conscious of the natural environment and environmental issues in general. The environmental culture of California can be partly attributed to public outrage at the major oil spill in the Santa Barbara Channel in 1969. The influential social conditions resulting from this oil spill are explained in detail by environmental sociologist Harvey Molotch.
In 1965, California became the first state to regulate vehicle exhaust by setting limits on hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide emissions. In 1967, the California EPA set the nation's first air quality standards for total suspended particulates, photochemical oxidants, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and other pollutants. The United States Congress has allowed California to set its own pollution standards, and the state's legislators have responded with some of the strongest environmental laws ever passed.

More recently with the issue of global warming, some Californians are worried the ice caps are melting and thereby increasing the water levels particularly along the coast. Additionally, with warming trends at their present rates, experts generally agree that the Sierra Nevada snowpack, which is crucial to the state's drinking water, could decline by approximately 50 percent.
California Festivals and Events Attractions
California Festivals are enjoyed by millions of people each year as a way to celebrate special foods, sports, cultures, cars, and fairs. The festivals provide entertainment and they bring people together for common enjoyment and causes. Ranging from wacky & weird events such as the Poison Ivy Contest, Bed Races and Golf Cart Parade, to tasty in Gourmet Chocolate Festivals, Olive Fests, Almonds & Wine, the festivals create a fan-base when they offer something that locals and visitors can sink their teeth into. California Festivals include thousands of cultural style festivals celebrating heritage, ethnicity and the lifestyle of the many people that make up California.

Top 5 California Festivals
California is known for many things, including gorgeous weather, breathtaking landscapes and my personal favorite, the year-round festivals. California obviously likes to party and they are known to commemorate everything under the sun from garlic and art to scarecrows and wine. The art and culture festivals are top-notch and the food and wine festivals are both palate pleasing and world renowned.

Sunset Savor the Central Coast
This four-day food, wine and lifestyle festival has made a name for itself as the place to see and be seen. Festival goers will be delighted to rub elbows with celebrity chefs, such as Chef Michael Voltaggio, Chef Nathan Lyon and Chef Marcela Valladolid while watching live demonstrations and experiencing culinary adventures for the memory books. Over the four day event, the entire county of San Luis Obispo comes together to offer adventure tours, which are designed to showcase the ruggedly beautiful and idyllic regions of this majestic coastline destination. In addition, attendees will discover the latest trends in food, wine, gardening and travel from the experts at Sunset Magazine.

 Annual Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival
Half Moon Bay celebrates its bountiful fall harvest with a fantastic lineup of rustic pumpkin patches, harvest-inspired crafts, home-style foods, expert pumpkin carvers, the Great Pumpkin Parade, a bone-chilling haunted house and a titanic weigh-off of champion pumpkins with the 2012 winner coming in at over 1,700 pounds! The entire town of Half Moon Bay is celebrating with pumpkin-inspired fun, such as pumpkin spa treatments, pumpkin brew and pumpkin-inspired menus that will leave you begging for more! Pumpkin lovers unite and head to Half Moon Bay!

Annual California Artisan Cheese Festival
Every March, Petaluma becomes a Mecca for cheese as it kicks off the Artisan Cheese
Festival. Now in its seventh year, the three-day event begins with visits to local farms and creameries and seminars, and then moves onto chef’s dinners pairing artisan-inspired cheese dishes with locally produced wine and beer. The pinnacle of the weekend is the Sunday Marketplace, when festival goers have the opportunity to taste more than 20 artisan cheeses, enjoy cooking demonstrations and learn about each cheese directly from the cheese-maker. There is something about the word “cheese” that makes smile!

 Annual Paso Robles Wine Festival
The folks in Paso Robles are serious about winemaking and year after year, they are moving up the ladder and taking the spotlight away from big brother, Napa Valley. During the Wine Festival, over 60 wineries come together in the picturesque Downtown Square to showcase the fruit of their labor. Travel beyond the Square to enjoy the lively festivities that take place at over 130 local wineries. For wine connoisseurs or those who simply like to have a good time, Paso Robles is the place to celebrate the taste, traditions and triumphs of the fine art of wine making. Along with fine wines, festival goers will delight in the finest food west of the Mississippi and unforgettable seminars at this three-day extravaganza.

 Annual Bacon & Barrels Festival
A first year sell-out, this event celebrates locally produced bacon, chefs and mixologists. Bacon & Barrels is sure to deliver a fun-filled weekend featuring creative bacon dishes and sampling from barrels of the best in wine, bourbon, and craft beer. This event brings together chefs from the most iconic Central Coast restaurants who will be preparing and serving small plates showcasing bacon in its most inventive forms, from pork belly and prosciutto, to cupcakes and ice cream. Over 40 mixologists, brewers, distilleries and wineries will feature bacon-based and bacon-inspired cocktails, wines and beers. Festival goers will embark on culinary and libatious adventures, interactive demonstrations and music.

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