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Capital: Sacramento
State motto: Eureka !
Official language : English
(Official documents also in Chinese , Korean , Persian , Russian , Spanish , Tagalog , Thai and Vietnamese )
Surface: 423,970 km²
Residents: 39,536,653 (estimate 2017) (92.6 E. / km²)
Member since: September 9, 1850
Time zone: UTC − 8 ( PST )
UTC − 7 (daylight saving time)
The highest point: 4,418 m ( Mount Whitney )
Average Height: 884 m
Deepest point: −86 m ( Badwater , Death Valley )
Governor : Gavin Newsom ( D )
Post  / Office /  ISO CA / / US-CA
California map
California map

California ( English California ? / I [ kælɪˈfɔɹnjə ] and Spanish California [ kaliˈfoɾnja ]) is the third largest and by far the most populous state in the United States of America . It is located in the west of the country and borders the Pacific Ocean , the states of Oregon , Nevada and Arizona as well as the Mexican state of Baja California on the peninsula of the same name . The official nickname of California is Golden State (Golden State). Audio file / audio sample

origin of the name

The origin of the name California is controversial. According to a well-known hypothesis, the name already existed before it was discovered in European literature. In 1510, the Spaniard Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo published a novel that featured an island full of gold called California , inhabited by beautiful Amazons ruled by Queen Califia . When Hernán Cortés ' soldiers came to Baja California in 1535 , they believed it was an island and named it after Montalvo's book.

The Germanized name California is the only one that has survived to this day. Other Germanized place names such as New York, Virginia or Pennsylvania are uncommon today, but were used until the 1960s.

California itself is the namesake for the chemical element californium , which was discovered there in 1950.


California Geographic Map

California lies at the junction of two tectonic plates, the so-called San Andreas Fault , which is why earthquakes frequently occur in the entire region .

With an area of ​​423,970 square kilometers, California is the third largest state in the United States after Alaska and Texas . As an independent state , it would be larger than Germany and would be the 59th largest state in the world in terms of area, between Iraq and Paraguay . The state extends for over 1,231 kilometers between 32 ° 30 'N and 42 ° N and a latitude of 400 kilometers between 114 ° 8' W and 124 ° 24 'W.

With Mount Whitney (4418 meters) is the highest mountain in the USA outside of Alaska in California. At the foot of the mountain is the place Lone Pine , where a well-known film festival takes place every year. About 100 kilometers away is the desert area of Death Valley ("Valley of Death") with the lowest point in the USA, Badwater , 85.5 meters below sea level. The valley got its name from the time of the first settlers on the west coast, who not infrequently had to experience the agony of heat and thirst when crossing the area. In addition, there are numerous nature parks and beaches of various types in California. One of the most famous parks is Yosemite National Park .

Pacific coast at Big Sur


While California is bounded by the Pacific Ocean on around 1350 kilometers of coastline in the west , on the continental side it has borders with the US state of Oregon in the north, Nevada in the east and Arizona in the southeast and the Mexican state of Baja California in the south.

Geographic regions

The geography of California is extremely diverse for the size of the state. There are alpine mountains, foggy coasts, hot deserts and the fertile long valley . California has the tallest coastal sequoia , the thickest giant sequoia and the oldest awning pines in the world.

The state is often divided into Northern and Southern California . The US Geological Survey defines California's geographic center in North Fork in Madera County .

Earth scientists divide the state into eleven different geomorphological areas with clearly defined boundaries. These are from north to south: the Klamath Mountains , the Cascade Range (Cascade Range), the Modoc Plateau , the Basin and Range (Great Basin), the California coastal mountains , the Central Valley ( Central Valley ), the Sierra Nevada , the Transverse Ranges , the Mojave Desert , the Peninsular Ranges, and the Colorado Desert .

Klamath Mountains

The Klamath Mountains are a mountain range in northwest California and southwest Oregon . The highest peak is Thompson Peak (2,744 m) in Trinity County . The mountains have a very different geology with major areas of serpentine and marble stones . There is limited rainfall in summer. Due to their geology , they have unique flora, including several endemic plants such as Lawson's cypress , foxtail pine , siskiyou spruce, and kalmiopsis .

Cascade chain

The Cascade Range (Cascade Range) is a mountainous region stretching from the Canadian British Columbia extends to northern California. The cascades are part of the Pacific Ring of Fire , a ring of volcanoes surrounding the Pacific Ocean. All known volcanic eruptions in the United States came from the Cascade region. The last volcano in California to erupt was Lassen Peak (1921). Lassen is the southernmost volcano in the Cascade Range.

This region is located in northeastern California on the border with Oregon and Nevada north of the Sierra Nevada and the Long Valley . The center of the area is Mount Shasta near the Trinity Alps . Mount Shasta is a dormant volcano, but there is evidence that it or Shastina , a small neighboring mountain, erupted in the 18th century.

Modoc plateau

In northeast California is the Modoc Plateau , which also extends into parts of Oregon and Nevada.

Large basin and range

The Great Basin ( English Great Basin ) is a dischargeless, arid Great landscape east of the Sierra Nevada. It is largely in the neighboring state of Nevada. When Basin and Range (English for pools and mountains ) refers to a large geological region where a similar vegetation such as prevails in the Great Basin. This also includes the Mojave - and the Sonoran Desert in Mexico.

In the large basin there are many large and small mountain ranges and valleys, with Mono Lake the oldest lake in North America, with Owens Valley the deepest valley on the continent (more than 3000 meters deep, measured from the tip of Mount Whitney ).

In the Great Basin there are a number of dried up lakes that were filled with water during the last ice age . Many of these lakes have left various salts in the desert landscape, most notably borax , for which Owens Lake and the Valley of Death are known.

In the area of White Mountains ( White Mountains ) grow with the Durable pines , the oldest trees in the world.

Coastal mountains

The California coastal mountains delimit the California long valley from the Pacific coast and cover about 109,000 km². They also include the Diablo Range east of San Francisco and the Santa Cruz Mountains south of the city. The coast north of San Francisco is almost always foggy and rainy . The coastal mountains are known for their coastal redwoods , the tallest trees on earth.

California Long Valley

The California Long Valley ( English Central Valley ) is a large, fertile valley between the Sierra Nevada and the coastal mountains. The valley, between 35 ° and 40 ° 40 ' north latitude , has an area of ​​77,700 km², which is slightly larger than Bavaria . The northern part of the long valley forms the Sacramento Valley , named after the river of the same name . The southern part is called the San Joaquin Valley , also named after the river of the same name . In addition to these two rivers, the Kings River, a larger river, flows through the valley that is drained by the San Francisco Bay . The rivers are sufficiently large and deep that there are several inland ports. There is a seaport in Stockton .

Sierra Nevada

In the east of California lies the Sierra Nevada (Spanish for snow-covered mountains ). The mountain range extends over a length of 600 kilometers from north to south. The highest peak in the heartland of the United States (excluding Alaska and Hawaii ) is Mount Whitney (4421 m) near the village of Lone Pine . The topography of the Sierra is characterized by uplift and glaciers .

The sierra has 200 to 250 days of sunshine a year with warm summers and cold winters, so a typical continental climate . The famous Yosemite Valley is located in the central Sierra Nevada. The large and deep freshwater lake Lake Tahoe is north of Yosemite National Park . Giant sequoias grow in the mountain range .

Inspired by this beauty, the Sierra Club , a conservation organization , and the American Alpine Club were founded. The latter is committed to maintaining hiking trails, huts and organized excursions. The most famous hiking trail in the Sierra is the John Muir Trail , which leads from Mount Whitney into the Yosemite Valley and is part of the Pacific Crest Trail , which runs from Mexico to Canada.

The three largest national parks in this region are Yosemite National Park , Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park .

Transverse ranges

The Transverse Ranges (also known as Los Angeles Ranges) are a mountain range that extends in an east-west direction, and not, like most of the California mountains, from north to south. The Tehachapi Mountains are part of the Transverse Ranges.

Mojave Desert

The Mojave Desert is a desert in southeastern California. It is approximately 35,000 km² and extends to the territories of Nevada , Utah and Arizona . The Mojave Desert is bounded by the Tehachapi Mountains and the high plains of San Bernardino . To the west, the desert is clearly delineated by the San Andreas Fault and the Garlock Fault Zone .

Peninsular Ranges

The southernmost mountains in California are the Peninsular Ranges , which extend east of San Diego and on the Mexican Baja California peninsula . The Sierra San Pedro Mártir in Mexico belongs to the Peninsular Ranges . The Peninsular Ranges include the Laguna Mountains , the San Jacinto Mountains , the Santa Ana Mountains, and the Palomar Mountain Range , best known for the Palomar Observatory .

Colorado desert

The Colorado desert ( English Colorado desert ) is about 39,000 km² and is located in southern California and Mexico. A feature of the desert is the Salton Sea . It was not formed until 1905 when a dam on the Colorado River broke and the water masses pushed into the arid area. Today the Salton Sea is the largest lake in California, close to the border with Mexico . The desert forms the remainder of a former sea bay, which is now up to 100 meters below sea level.


Climate in Los Angeles

The climate in California can be divided into three zones:

  • The temperatures on the coast are lower than in the interior of the country due to the influence of the cool Pacific . In the north there are often rainy winters. In addition, there is often fog in summer, which accordingly ensures cooler temperatures.
  • In mountains like the Sierra Nevada , it often gets quite hot in summer, but due to the altitude, temperatures drop quickly after sunset. In winter, very large amounts of snow must be expected.
  • In the desert it is mostly sunny and warm during the day all year round, but at night it cools down a lot.

California is also known as the " Fruit Belt ", whose climate is ideal for growing grapes , oranges , lemons and avocados .


Population density, given in square miles (1 mi² = 2.6 km²)

The population of California is growing rapidly. It has been the most populous US state since 1962, and today it has twice as many inhabitants as New York , which was the most populous until then. Along with Texas , New Mexico and Hawaii, California is one of four so-called majority minority states , i.e. states in which non-Spanish-speaking whites make up less than 50% of the population. More than 200 languages ​​are spoken in California, with Spanish being the second most widely spoken language after English. Spanish is widely used, especially in Southern California , where Hispanic immigrants are particularly strong due to the border with Mexico.

Demographic projections assume that California will have a Hispanic majority population in 2020, due to both higher birth rates and higher immigration rates.

California is the second most populous (member) state in the western hemisphere, second only to the state of São Paulo . If California were its own country, it would be the 34th most populous state in the world, ahead of Canada and Australia , which are significantly larger in area.


California had a population of 37,253,956 as of the 2010 census . Between 2000 and 2010, the population grew by 3,382,308, an increase of 10%. The US Census Bureau estimates the population at 39,536,653 in mid-2017 . About 12% of all Americans live in California.

California is home to eight of the 50 largest cities in the country. Los Angeles is the second largest city in the United States with 3,792,621 inhabitants ( 2010 Census ), followed by San Diego (8th), San José (10th), San Francisco (14th), Fresno (35th), Long Beach (36th), Sacramento (37th) and Oakland (45th).

One of the North American cultural areas for dividing the Indian population according to (mostly historical) cultural characteristics is also called "California". Although the Californian Indians have very small reservations , many of them strive to preserve their traditions.

age structure

The age structure of California is composed as follows:

  • up to 18 years: 9,531,046 (26.1%)
  • 18 to 64 years: 22,998,673 (63.1%)
  • from 65 years: 3,927,830 (10.8%)

The median age is 34.4 years.


California has 37,253,956 inhabitants (as of: US Census 2010), of which 61.6% are white , 14.9% Asians , 7.2% black and African-American , 1.9% Indians , 0.8% Hawaiians (multiple answers were authorized). Regardless of the “ race ”, 37.6% identify as Hispanics . There are 12,577,498 households.

California has the largest number of white Americans in the United States, 22,953,374. The state has the fifth largest African American population in absolute terms (2,683,914). California has approximately 5.56 million citizens of Asian descent, approximately one-third of the total Asian population in the United States. The Native Americans are with 723,225 people representing more than in any other state.

According to estimates from 2006, 57% of the population belong to minorities. The proportion of the non-Hispanic, white population fell from 80% (1970) to 43% now. Only New Mexico and Texas have a higher percentage of Hispanics, but California has the most in absolute terms. Hawaii is the only state that has a higher percentage of Aso-Americans than California. New York has just replaced California as the largest state, especially for Americans of Japanese and Chinese descent.

25% of the population are of Mexican descent. Mexico is the largest country of origin of the Californians. They make up the largest group within the Hispanic / Latin American descent population, totaling 32.4% of the total population.

Almost 10.0% of the population are of German descent , making them the largest group within the white population, which in the 2000 Census made up 59.5% of the total population. This is followed by the groups of Irish (7.8%), English (7.1%) and Italian (4.3%) of origin.

Mexican-Americans live primarily in Southern California . Los Angeles has been the largest Mexican community in the United States since 1900. The Imperial Valley on the border with Mexico also has a high proportion (70 to 75%) of Latinos. Riverside County has a high Hispanic population, especially in the east. Many Hispanics also live in the Long Valley and in the San Francisco Bay Area .

Most Hispanics are of Mexican background, but many are from Central America , the Caribbean ( Cuba or Puerto Rico ) or South America . In Los Angeles County , Hispanics make up 40% of the population.

By 2020, Hispanics will make up the majority of the population in California. Some demographers assume that California and the entire southwest of the United States will become a Latin American, predominantly Spanish-speaking area. However, other demographers assume that Hispanics in the USA will integrate like other immigrant groups and will be English-speaking and assimilated by the third generation at the latest.

Population development

Population development
Census Residents ± in%
1850 92,597 -
1860 379.994 310.4%
1870 560.247 47.4%
1880 864.694 54.3%
1890 1,213,398 40.3%
1900 1,485,053 22.4%
1910 2,377,549 60.1%
1920 3,426,861 44.1%
1930 5,677,251 65.7%
1940 6,907,387 21.7%
1950 10,586,223 53.3%
1960 15,717,204 48.5%
1970 19,953,134 27%
1980 23,667,902 18.6%
1990 29,760,021 25.7%
2000 33,871,648 13.8%
2010 37.253.956 10%
2017 estimate 39,536,653 6.1%
Before 1900

1900–1990 2000 + 2010

California has been the most populous state in the United States since 1962, replacing New York . Since then, the population has more than doubled, which, in addition to the economic dynamism, is largely due to the change in the laws governing immigration to the United States .


According to the United States Census 2000 , 60.5% of Californians speak English and 25.8% Spanish as their first language. In third place is Mandarin Chinese with 2.6% of speakers, followed by Tagalog (2.0%) and Vietnamese (1.3%). In total, more than 200 languages ​​are spoken in California.

More than 100 Indian languages are spoken in California. Many of them are at risk, but efforts are being made to revitalize them .

Since 1986, English has been an official language according to the constitution. Language policy is a major issue in California.


In absolute terms, most Catholics live in the United States and the second most Mormons after Utah are in California. The state has one of the largest Jewish communities in the western United States, clustered primarily in Los Angeles , Beverly Hills , San Francisco , Oakland , Sacramento, and Palm Springs . The number of Muslims in California is about one million.

Most Catholics are of Irish, Italian, Hispanic, and Filippino descent. With the immigration of Latin Americans and Filipinos, the number of Catholics in California has grown dramatically recently. While the proportion of Catholics in the black population is low, as they mostly come from the Protestant southern states , it is highest among the Hispanics.

Due to the high proportion of Aso-Americans, there are numerous Asian religions such as Hinduism , Buddhism and Taoism in California .

The Wilshire Boulevard Synagogue in Los Angeles

The religious communities with the largest number of members in 2000 were the Roman Catholic Church with 10,079,310, Jewish communities with 994,000 members, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with 529,575 and the Southern Baptist Convention with 471,119 followers.

According to a Pew Research Center poll, Californians are less religious than the populations of other states in the United States. Of those surveyed, 62% said they were very religious, compared to 71% across the country. Furthermore, 48% of Californians care about religion, while 56% of Americans say so.

Big cities

The largest city in California is by far Los Angeles , which is also the second largest city in the United States. The metropolitan area around Los Angeles is one of the largest in the world with 17.8 million inhabitants. Other major cities are San Francisco and San José , both of which are part of the San Francisco Bay Area , an urban area of ​​around 7.5 million people around the Bay of San Francisco .

With a population of around 1.3 million and around three million in the agglomeration , San Diego , located in southern California , is the second largest city in California and the third largest metropolitan area in the state.

Sacramento , the capital of California since 1854, is about 120 km inland at the level of the Bay of San Francisco. Sacramento itself has a population of just under 500,000 and around two million people live in the metropolitan area.

Other major cities are Oakland and Berkeley , both located in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as Santa Barbara , Modesto , Fresno , Bakersfield and Stockton . Also important are Ventura , Anaheim , Long Beach , Irvine , Santa Ana , Riverside and San Bernardino , all of which are in the greater Los Angeles area.

Modesto San Bernardino (Kalifornien) Irvine (Kalifornien) Fremont (Kalifornien) Chula Vista Stockton (Kalifornien) Riverside (Kalifornien) Santa Ana (Kalifornien) Anaheim Bakersfield Oakland Long Beach (Kalifornien) Sacramento Fresno San Francisco San José (Kalifornien) San Diego Los Angeles


Early history

Map of the Channel Islands off the coast of California

Until a few years ago, the assumption that the earliest inhabitants of the region were able to reach the Channel Islands off the coast of California by sea-going vehicles met with resistance. However, since traces of human presence up to 13,000 years old could be detected there, it was assumed that the islands, which were closer to the coast towards the end of the last Ice Age than they are today, were comparatively easy to reach. In fact, the Northern Channel Islands were an island during the last glacial maximum 20,000 years ago, and this island, known as Santarosae Island , was perhaps only 6 to 8 km from the mainland. But around 13,000 BP, the time of the oldest human traces, it was already considerably further away due to the melting glaciers and the resulting rise in sea levels after the end of the Ice Age. The large island eventually broke up into several smaller islands by 10,000 BP. Driving on islands even further from the coast can be proven from around 9000 BP. The latest research has shown that the "antiquity of New World seafaring and maritime adaptations back to 13,000-12,000 years ago" extended (analogously, the age of New World seafaring and adaptation to maritime conditions extended to 13 to 12,000 years). In addition, it turned out that at the time of the earliest traces of settlement, the island was about 8.5 km off the coast, 12,500 BP already 9.5 km, 11,000 BP 10.75 km.

The first traces of human presence can be found in the Daisy Cave , in the north of the Channel Islands, around 10,300–9100 BC. Prove. but also further south, on Isla de Cedros in Baja California.

The remains of the wife of La Brea, c. 7000 BC. Chr.

Already before 8000 BC As found at the Arlington Spring Site in Arlington Canyon , small groups hunted game, mountain sheep, and birds. They also went fishing and collected acorns and wild grasses. Soil construction and basketry were well developed by some groups. A little younger, from around 7000 BC. Chr., Is the woman from the tar pits of La Brea , which are known for their numerous animal skeleton finds.

Before the arrival of the Europeans, more than 70 different Indian tribes ( list ) can be distinguished, making California one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse regions in the world. The total number of residents is estimated at over 300,000.

European explorers

After the landings of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo in 1542 and Sir Francis Drake in 1579, who claimed the territory for Spain and England (cf. Francis Drake's brass plaque ), the European colonial powers largely lost sight of the territory of California again. For the Indians, however, the Cabrillos expedition possibly meant a severe slump in population due to smallpox .

Other explorers such as Pedro de Unamuno (1587), Sebastian Rodriguez Cermeno (1595) and Sebastián Vizcaíno (1602–1603) explored the coast.

Spanish colonial rule

California as Upper California ( Alta California ), later the northernmost part of the viceroyalty of New Spain , was only colonized from 1769 under the leadership of the Franciscan Junípero Serra . He founded the first of a total of 21 missions . In addition to these missions, military fortifications (Spanish: presidios ) and civil settlements were also built. Meanwhile, the trade contacts of the Indians with the north during the severe smallpox epidemic from 1775 on.

Sacramento , 1849

In 1812, Fort Ross, a Russian base in what is now Sonoma County in northern California, was built as a continuation and rounding off of the Russian possessions in Alaska . After Mexican independence in 1821, California became a Mexican province. The government returned to the mission system until the Democratic Party completely ended missionary work by decree on March 17, 1833 and dissolved the stations. At the same time, settlement was promoted by immigration. The first immigrants, however , were driven out again after Santa Anna came to power to keep the mission stations. These events laid the foundation for decades of hostility among Californians against the Mexican government. In 1836 a rebellion broke out under the former customs inspector Alvarado , who had to be confirmed as governor of California by the impotent government. At that time the country only had about 150,000 Indians and 5,000 Europeans as inhabitants.

In 1842 Santa Anna deposed governor Alvarado, who was hated as a despot by the population , and made General Manuel Micheltorena the new governor, who, however, was soon as unpopular as his predecessor. In the spring of 1846 the residents of Upper California rebelled and elected Don José Castro , a born Californian, to the commandant general.

Johann August Sutter , who has been in California since 1839, received permission to build a branch, which he named " New Helvetia ". It quickly became a flourishing colony with 20,000 head of cattle, three horse mills, two water mills , a sawmill , a tannery and over 50 houses. Sutter ruled like a little “emperor” over his “empire”, which was built on agriculture, cattle breeding, timber trade and hunting. In 1841 he acquired Fort Ross from Russia. He lost his possessions a few years later in the wake of the gold rush .

American annexation and gold rush

Oakland , 1900

In 1845 the US annexed the Republic of Texas , which led to a very tense relationship with Mexico, which rejected the American offer to buy California. The Monterey junta formed by Californios under José Castro tried to keep Alta California out of the war by splitting off from Mexico. But while the junta was still debating whether independence or joining another state should be given preference, American settlers declared the independence of California ( Bear Flag Republic ) in May 1846 and proclaimed their own Republic of California .

Without the actors in California knowing about it, the Mexican-American War over the disputed area between the Rio Grande and Nueces River had already begun. An army under Stephen W. Kearny was sent from Santa Fe to San Diego and Alta California and conquered what is now California against little Mexican resistance. In the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo , Mexico was forced to cede not just Texas, but the entire north, i.e. California, Arizona , Nevada and New Mexico and all formally Mexican areas far beyond its actual influence in Utah , Colorado and Wyoming .

Numerous soldiers of fortune now attracted the gold discoveries that began in January 1848 and triggered the California gold rush . President James K. Polk's speech to Congress on December 5, 1848, not only made the gold discoveries in Sutter's area well known, but also intensified immigration. Sutter had tried to keep the find a secret, but the news spread quickly. Gold seekers and soldiers of fortune came to California in large numbers, which helped to largely collapse public order. Hundreds of thousands searched the earth, the valley of the Sacramento River had become the "golden" west. Ultimately, the government recognized the illegal conditions as the United States had become an important gold exporting country. The Indians were persecuted and driven out. Of the around 150,000 Indians around 1850, only around 30,000 were still alive around 1870.


Downtown San Francisco 1969

Finally, on September 9, 1850, California became the thirty-first state to join the United States. In 1854 Sacramento was named the capital of California. Since no slaves were kept in California, it adhered to the Union during the Civil War , but played practically no role because of the great distance from the theater of war.

With the construction of the transcontinental railroad completed in 1869 and the Panama Canal completed in 1914, California moved closer to the rest of the United States. The construction of roads like Route 66 did not strengthen connections with the rest of the United States until decades later.

Attracted by the continuous light and the relatively cheap land prices, the film industry settled here in the 1920s, and the Hollywood film studios emerged.

During the Great Depression , numerous farmers moved from the Prairie States, v. a. from Oklahoma , whose livelihoods had been destroyed by the drought , went to California in search of work. The fate of these “Oakies” was immortalized in literature in John Steinbeck's novel The Fruits of Wrath .

The industrialization of the previously agricultural state began during the Second World War with the construction of numerous shipyards and military facilities on the Pacific coast. California became the most populous state and an important location for the aerospace industry, electronics and information technology.



The Capitol in Sacramento , home of the California legislature and governor's office

Gavin Newsom of the Democratic Party has been the governor of the state since January 7, 2019 . He replaced his party colleague Jerry Brown , who held the office from 1975 to 1983.

The governor has executive power at the state level, that is, he leads the California state government and determines the guidelines of the policy. He has the right to pardons , appoints senior civil servants and judges to the state constitutional court, and plays a central role in lawmaking by signing or vetoing bills. He is also commander in chief of the state's National Guard and represents the state externally. The governor is elected directly by the people every four years. Other important members of the executive are the lieutenant governor , the attorney general , the secretary of state and the state treasurer (roughly equivalent to a finance minister).

legislative branch

State-level legislative power is exercised through the California State Legislature . It consists of a state senate with 40 directly elected senators and the state assembly with 80 directly elected representatives. The terms of office are four or two years. The Democratic Party has clear majorities in both houses of parliament. The seat of the state legislature is the Capitol in Sacramento , the capital of the state.

Unlike most other states, the California State Legislature is not an after-work parliament , but a full-time parliament with several sessions a month.

Representation of California in the US Congress

The incumbent US senators of the state are Kamala Harris , who tends to be part of the left wing of her party, and the more moderate Dianne Feinstein , former mayor of San Francisco . Both belong to the Democratic Party.

The office of Speaker in the United States House of Representatives is Democratic MP Nancy Pelosi from California's 12th  Congressional District , which covers most of San Francisco. Pelosi had held this office from 2007 to 2011.

The state delegation to the 116th Congress House of Representatives consists of 46 Democrats and 7 Republicans.

Political geography

The republican strongholds in the poorly populated northeast, in the San Joaquin Valley and the surrounding area of Orange County , the political home of Richard Nixon , have recently failed to achieve democratic dominance in the cities around the Bay Area , in the city of Los Angeles and parts of their surroundings to weigh in the northwest of the state. That is why the Democrats have not lost California, which until then had mostly voted Republican majority, in presidential elections since 1992 .

Presidential election

Due to its size and the resulting high number of electors (55 in the 2016 election), California plays an important role in every presidential election. If the state was still dominated by the Republican into the 1970s and 1980s, it is now a reliable stronghold of the Democrats, who last voted for the Republican candidate in 1988. Due to the strongly liberal character of California, there have been increasing conflicts in recent years with conservative administrations of the central government regarding questions of economic, social and environmental policy.

California was home to three American presidents: Herbert Hoover , Ronald Reagan, and Richard Nixon.

year Candidate (winner) percent be right Candidate (loser) percent be right
2016 Hillary Clinton (D) 61.48 8,753,792 Donald Trump (R) 31.49 4,483,814
2012 Barack Obama (D) 60.16 7,854,285 Mitt Romney (R) 37.07 4,839,958
2008 Barack Obama (D) 60.92 8,274,473 John McCain (R) 36.90 5,011,781
2004 John Kerry (D) 54.30 6,745,485 George W. Bush (R) 44.40 5,509,826
2000 Al Gore (D) 53.45 5,861,203 George W. Bush (R) 41.65 4,567,429
1996 Bill Clinton (D) 51.10 5,119,835 Bob dole (r) 38.21 3,828,380
1992 Bill Clinton (D) 46.01 5,121,325 George HW Bush (R) 32.61 3,630,574
1988 George HW Bush (R) 51.13 5,054,917 Michael Dukakis (D) 47.56 4,702,233
1984 Ronald reagan (r) 57.51 5,467,009 Walter Mondale (D) 41.27 3,922,519
1980 Ronald reagan (r) 52.69 4,524,858 Jimmy Carter (D) 35.91 3,083,661
1976 Gerald Ford (R) 49.35 3,882,244 Jimmy Carter (D) 47.57 3,742,284
1972 Richard Nixon (R) 55.00 4,602,096 George McGovern (D) 41.54 3,475,847
1968 Richard Nixon (R) 47.82 3,467,664 Hubert H. Humphrey (D) 35.02 3,244,318
1964 Lyndon B. Johnson (D) 59.11 4,171,877 Barry goldwater (r) 40.79 2,879,108
1960 Richard Nixon (R) 50.10 3,259,722 John F. Kennedy (D) 49.55 3,224,099
1956 Dwight D. Eisenhower (R) 55.39 3,027,668 Adlai Ewing Stevenson (D) 44.27 2,420,135
1952 Dwight D. Eisenhower (R) 56.83 3,035,587 Adlai Ewing Stevenson (D) 42.27 2,257,646
1948 Harry S. Truman (D) 47.57 1,913,134 Thomas E. Dewey (R) 47.13 1,895,269
1944 Franklin D. Roosevelt (D) 56.48 1,988,564 Thomas E. Dewey (R) 42.97 1,512,965
1940 Franklin D. Roosevelt (D) 57.44 1,877,618 Wendell Willkie (R) 41.34 1,351,419
1936 Franklin D. Roosevelt (D) 66.95 1,766,836 Alf Landon (R) 31.70 836.431
1932 Franklin D. Roosevelt (D) 58.39 1,324,157 Herbert Hoover (R) 37.39 847.902
1928 Herbert Hoover (R) 64.69 1,162,323 Alfred E. Smith (D) 34.19 614.365
1924 Calvin Coolidge (R) 57.20 733.250 John W. Davis (D) 8.23 * 105,514
1920 Warren G. Harding (R) 66.20 624.992 James M. Cox (D) 24.28 229.191
1916 Woodrow Wilson (D) 46.65 466.289 Charles Evans Hughes (R) 46.27 462,516
1912 Theodore Roosevelt (U) 41.83 283.610 Woodrow Wilson (D) 41.81 283,436

* The candidate Robert M. La Follette junior of the Socialist Party of America received 33.1% of the vote.

Legalization of marijuana

In November 2016, a majority of a referendum voted to legalize the cultivation, sale and possession of marijuana in small quantities for adults over the age of 21 ( California Proposition 64 ).

At the beginning of 2018, the legal sale of cannabis began in California. Observers expect the market in California alone to grow to 7 billion dollars annually by 2020, which is the equivalent of around 5.8 billion euros.

Culture and sights


The Kronos Quartet , founded in 1973, is one of the world's leading quartets for contemporary music.

The most famous musical representatives of California in pop music are the Beach Boys . The group formed in Hawthorne in 1961 from five young musicians between the ages of 14 and 20. In their early years, their texts sang about life in California, especially on the beach, surfing , the pretty girls in California and the car cult.

In more mature years, they campaigned for the preservation of ocean life and the preservation of the beaches, praising and paying homage to the land of California. From the 1970s onwards, her texts repeatedly conveyed the message of the beauty of the country and the effects of the destruction of nature through human interference.

In 1995 the band member Brian Wilson and the musician Van Dyke Parks set a musical monument with their joint album Orange Crate Art California. In 2008, Brian Wilson followed suit with his concept album That Lucky Old Sun (A Narrative) about California.

In addition, thrash metal bands such as Metallica , Slayer and Exodus come from the San Francisco Bay Area in California . The rock group The Doors and the crossover bands Red Hot Chili Peppers and Linkin Park were founded in Los Angeles . Bakersfield also produced the influential nu-metal band Korn .

Other famous bands from California (in alphabetical order): Blink-182 , Canned Heat , Creedence Clearwater Revival , Green Day , Guns n 'Roses , Huey Lewis & the News , Incubus , Jefferson Airplane , Journey , Mötley Crüe , No Doubt , Pennywise , Santana , Steely Dan , Sublime , The Byrds , The Doobie Brothers , The Eagles , The Grateful Dead , The Offspring , Van Halen .


Some of the original 21 historic missions from the time of the Spanish Conquest are located along the California part of the Camino Real . Some of them are still very well preserved and restored, but they are top tourist attractions. On the Pacific coast, California's lighthouses are also a popular tourist destination.

Memorial stone in the cemetery of the Manzanar War Relocation Center

The National Park Service (NPS) maintains five National Historic Sites , one National Memorial, and two National Historical Parks for California :

In total, California has 147 National Historic Landmarks and 2,810 structures and sites that are registered on the National Register of Historic Places (as of September 30, 2017).


National park location view
Channel Islands National Park
  • California
  • 537,716 visitors (2004)
  • founded March 5, 1980
Channel Islands National Park
United States map
Channel Islands np.jpg
Death Valley National Park
  • California
  • 853,553 visitors (2003)
  • founded October 31, 1994
Death Valley National Park
United States map
Death Valley Zabriskie Point.jpg
Joshua Tree National Park
  • California
  • 1,219,379 visitors (2004)
  • founded October 31, 1994
Joshua Tree National Park
United States map
Joshua Park.JPG
Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park
  • California
  • 1,520,835 visitors (2004)
  • founded March 4th 1940
Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park
United States map
Cloud Canyon.jpg
Lassen Volcanic National Park
  • California
  • 1,250,000 visitors (2003)
  • founded August 9, 1916
Lassen Volcanic National Park
United States map
Chaos Crags and Lassen Peak at Manzanita Lake.jpg
Pinnacles National Park
  • California
  • 393,219 visitors (2011)
  • Area: 107 km²dep1
  • founded January 16, 1908
Pinnacles National Park
United States map
Redwood National Park
  • California
  • 390,000 visitors (2004)
  • founded October 2nd, 1968
Redwood National Park
United States map
Redwood slope.jpg
Yosemite National Park
  • California
  • 3,280,911 visitors (2004)
  • founded October 1, 1890
Yosemite National Park
United States map
Yosemite Valley with Half Dome in the distance.jpg

California is also one of the states with the most National Monuments :

In addition, a large number of state parks were established in California ; see the article State Parks in California .

The NPS also manages four National Historic Trails , three National Recreation Areas , a National Preserve, and a National Seashore in California :

There are also 36 National Natural Landmarks (as of September 30, 2017).


In California there are several teams in each of the major sports leagues:


Location of the teams in California





Economy and Infrastructure

With 2.6 trillion US dollars (as of 2016) California contributes 14% of the generated annual gross domestic product ( gross domestic product in) the United States. As a single state separated from the USA , California would be the fifth largest economic power worldwide after the USA itself, China, Japan and Germany. The gross domestic product per capita GDP was 66,310 US dollars in 2016 (national average of the 50 US states: 57,118 US dollars; national ranking: 7th). However, due to the high cost of living and inequality, a large number of Californians lived in poverty. In 2016, just under 15% of the population was living below the poverty line, which was one of the highest rates in the United States.

Last but not least, the south, which is favored by the weather for industrial agriculture, and the catchment area of ​​cheap Mexican farm workers there, help California achieve this prosperity. However, the water supply requires great efforts. Huge reservoirs on the rivers in the neighboring state of Arizona , the construction of canals (with lengths as between Hamburg and Munich) from north to south and the aqueducts of the lakes east of the Sierra Nevada and mountain snow glaciers that deliver meltwater are of great importance here. Since the neighboring states (Arizona, Nevada ) also want to draw from the natural resources to which they are entitled, agriculture is coming under increasing pressure. Nature conservation requirements increase this further. Nevertheless, there is intensive agriculture in California with the cultivation of cotton, barley, wheat, corn, rice, oats, beans and sugar beets. The cultivation of tropical fruit and vegetables in California's long valley with the help of artificial irrigation, as well as cattle and poultry breeding and fishing are also important. The California Wine is also significant. About 90% of all US wine production comes from California.

California has rich deposits of natural resources (including oil, natural gas, boron salts, mercury, magnesite, gold) and has a highly developed industry: aerospace, electronics and computer industries ( Silicon Valley ), vehicle construction, food industry, metallurgical plants and the like. a. The headquarters of the American film industry ( Hollywood ) is located in California . Many of the largest and best-known companies in the world were founded in California and are based there. a. Apple , Alphabet Inc. , Chevron , Walt Disney and Facebook Inc.

In 2018, the Californian parliament decided that to protect the climate, electricity supplies should be completely switched to carbon dioxide-free, renewable energy sources by 2045 . As an interim goal, it was also decided that by 2030 at least 60% of the electricity mix should be covered by renewable energies. The law was signed by Governor Jerry Brown in September 2018.

The state's unemployment rate was 4.1% in October 2018 (national average: 3.8%).


California's public transportation has traditionally been underdeveloped. Car traffic is the focus and makes the individual the “slave of the car”, as the writer TC Boyle puts it. The exception is the San Francisco Bay Area with a leading regional transport system not only for California but for the entire United States, which is based on the backbone of the BART system . There are also individual approaches to the development of local public transport in Los Angeles with the Los Angeles Metro, which has been in operation since 1990 . California is connected to the US rail network over several routes to the east and north. The railroad is mainly used for freight traffic, most of the routes, apart from shorter shortlines, belong to one of the two large railway companies Union Pacific Railroad (UP) and Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF). National Amtrak passenger trains only run sporadically on some UP and BNSF routes, such as the Coast Starlight from Seattle to Los Angeles. Exceptions are three more frequently used routes:

The Caltrain local trains run at frequent intervals between San Francisco and San Jose . There are other suburban trains with the San Diego Coaster in San Diego, with Metrolink in Los Angeles and with the Altamont Corridor Express between San Jose and Stockton. Metro and / or light rail vehicles exist in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, and Sacramento. The San Francisco Cable Cars are world famous .

A high-speed network is to be completed by 2029, a. connects the cities of Sacramento, San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The cost of the controversial project is estimated to be approximately $ 64 billion in 2016.

See also

Web links

Commons : California  - collection of pictures, videos, and audio files
Wiktionary: California  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikivoyage: California  Travel Guide

Individual evidence

  1. a b United States Census 2010 - California
  2. ^ Rudolf Köster: Proper names in the German vocabulary: A lexicon . Walter de Gruyter, March 30, 2012, ISBN 978-3-11-089620-6 , p. 28.
  3. USA: States and Major Cities - Population Statistics, Maps, Charts, Weather, and Web Information. Retrieved February 6, 2018 .
  4. United States Census 2010 - California
  5. UScensus California selected social characteristics
  7. ^ US Census Bureau _ Census of Population and Housing . Retrieved February 28, 2011
  8. Extract from . Retrieved February 28, 2011
  9. Extract from (2000 + 2010). Accessed April 2, 2012
  10. ^ The Association of Religion Data Archives | Maps & Reports
  11. Michael J. Moratto contradicts the dates of finds on Santa Rosa and San Miguel, which go back much further: California Archeology , Academic Press, 2014, pp. 54–59.
  12. ^ Troy W. Davis, Jon M. Erlandson, Gerrit L. Fenenga, Keith Hamm: Chipped Stone Crescents and the Antiquity of Maritime Settlement on San Nicolas Island, Alta California , in: California Archeology 2.2 (December 2010) 185-202 , here: p. 186. The authors refer to Leslie A. Reeder, Torben C. Rick, Jon M. Erlandson: Forty Years Later: What Have We Learned About the Earliest Human Occupations of Santa Rosa Island California? , in: North American Archaeologist 29 (2008) 37-64 and Jon M. Erlandson, Todd J. Braje: Five Crescents from Cardwell: Context and Chronology of Chipped Stone Crescents at CA-SMI-679, San Miguel Island, California , in : Pacific Coast Archaeological Society Quarterly 40 (2008) 35-45.
  13. Nicholas Jew: Paleocoastal Resource Use and Human Sedentism in Island Environments: A Case Study from California's Northern Channel Islands , PhD, University of Oregon, June 2013, p. 52.
  14. He is referring to the distance from “Anacapa Island to the adjacent Ventura Coast.” (Nicholas Jew: Paleocoastal Resource Use and Human Sedentism in Island Environments: A Case Study from California's Northern Channel Islands , PhD, University of Oregon, June 2013 , P. 170).
  15. Torben C. Rick, Jon M. Erlandson, Rene L. Vellanoweth: Paleocoastal Marine Fishing on the Pacific Coast of the Americas: Perspectives from Daisy Cave, California , in: American Antiquity 66/4 (2001) 595-614. Nicholas P. Jew, Jon M. Erlandson1, Frances J. White: Paleocoastal Lithic Use on Western Santarosae Island, California , in: North American Archaeologist 34.1 (2013) 49-69, also go from 10,000 BC. Chr. From. See Daisy Cave (California, US) at
  16. ^ Leslie A. Reeder, Jon M. Erlandson, Torben C. Rick: Younger Dryas environments and human adaptations on the West Coast of the United States and Baja California , in: Quaternary International 242 (2011) 463-478.
  17. Phil C. Orr: The Arlington Spring Site, Santa Rosa Island, California , in: American Antiquity 27/3 (January 1962) 417-419, a site that Orr discovered in 1959 (burial sites: CA-SRI-3, -4 , -5). See also: John R. Johnson: Ancient Bones May Rewrite History ( Memento of March 9, 2009 in the Internet Archive ), Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.
  18. The skeleton that the Page Museum doesn't want you to see , in: Los Angeles Times, November 24, 2009.
  19. Michael J. Moratto: The California Culture Area , in: The Masterkey 59/2 and 3 (1985) 4-11.
  20. Jon M. Erlandson, Torben C. Rick, Douglas J. Kennett, and Phillip L. Walker: Disease: Cultural Contacts and Possible Evidence for Old World. Epidemics Among the Protohistoric Island Chumash , in: Pacific Coast Archaeological Society Quarterly 37/3 (2001) 11-26.
  21. ^ A b Tad Beckman: Historical Sketch of the California Indians: Statehood . Harvey Mudd College, 1997
  22. Manuel Micheltorena, Brigadier General of the Mexican Army, Adjutant-General of the same, Governor, Commandant-General and Inspector of the Department of the Californias , American Memory, The Library of Congress
  23. Birgitt Oldopp 2005: The political system of the USA , p. 33f
  24. ^ Nancy Pelosi Biography. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on June 1, 2011 ; Retrieved June 4, 2011 .
  25. ^ Election 2004
  26. ^ David Leip: Dave Leip's Atlas of US Presidential Elections. Retrieved December 2, 2018 .
  27. ^ California Proposition 64, Marijuana Legalization (2016) - Ballotpedia . ( [accessed February 13, 2017]).
  28. California will begin legal marijuana sales in 2018. Retrieved January 2, 2018 .
  29. ^ California. In: Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  30. ^ California. In: Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  31. ^ US Department of Commerce, BEA, Bureau of Economic Analysis: Bureau of Economic Analysis. Retrieved August 24, 2017 (American English).
  32. Gross Domestic Product by State. Retrieved December 17, 2011 .
  33. Peter Unfried: The dream is over . In: The daily newspaper: taz . December 15, 2018, ISSN  0931-9085 , p. 20–22 ( [accessed December 19, 2018]).
  34. Poverty in California - PPIC . In: PPIC . ( [accessed August 28, 2017]).
  35. California's top companies 2016, by revenue | Statistic. Retrieved August 28, 2017 .
  36. California moves towards 100% carbon-free electricity after landmark vote . In: The Guardian , August 29, 2018. Retrieved August 29, 2018.
  37. California wants to use only green electricity from 2045 . In: , September 10, 2018. Retrieved September 11, 2018.
  38. ^ Unemployment Rates for States. Retrieved January 8, 2018 .
  39. TC Boyle in an interview with stern: “The collapse will come. Man will die out ”. In: . July 15, 2009, accessed December 25, 2014 .
  40. ^ California high-speed rail: Everything you need to know (update) . In: Curbed SF . ( [accessed February 6, 2018]).

Coordinates: 37 ° 0 ′  N , 120 ° 0 ′  W