Wednesday, September 19, 2012


California, the Golden State, is on the west coast of the USA.  After Alaska and Texas it is the the 3rd largest state.  With ~37.7 million people it has the country's largest population.  Eight of the country's 50 largest cities are here.  The capital is Sacramento.

Originally it had been colonized by the Spanish as part of New Spain.  Later it was part of Mexico.  After the Mexican-American War, the territory was surrendered to the USA and California became the 31st state on September 9, 1850.

California's geography is quite diverse.  The state has beaches, deserts, valleys, forests and mountains.  Mount Whitney is the highest point in the continental U.S., and it is less than 90 miles (140 km) from Death Valley which is home to the lowest point in North America.  California is the only place in the world I've lived where you can go snow skiing in the morning, go hiking in the mountains and in the evening be at a bonfire on the beach or in the desert - all in the same day!!

However, it does sit along the Pacific Ring of Fire so California is subject to tsunamis, floods, droughts, wildfires, landslides and the Santa Ana winds.  Heck!  There are even a few volcanoes.  The state gets hit with roughly 37,000 earthquakes per year.  Most of these are fairly minor.  I grew up in California and only remember maybe 4 or 5 big ones.  The biggest I recall was the Northridge quake in 1994.  The 6.7 quake killed 57 people, injured more than 8,700 and cost around $20 billion in damage.

Golden Gate Bridge
Like its geography, the state's economy is pretty diverse as well.  Los Angeles is the capital of the entertainment industry and Silicon Valley leads the IT industry.  Agriculture is also important as at least half of the country's fresh fruit comes from California.  Other important sectors of the economy are tourism, aerospace, manufacturing and education.  The state is responsible for 13% of the USA's GDP.  If California were its own country then it would be the 8th largest economy in the world.

In the USA, I consider Atlanta to be home.  But I will always be from California.  Specifically, from Southern California.  Although there is just one state, it really ought to be two.  There is a huge rivalry between Northern California and Southern California.  While I love to visit San Francisco and the Monterey Bay is great, not to mention Napa, give me the weather and SoCal's beaches any day.

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