If you don’t live in California, you’ve probably seen commercials about why you should visit California. With cool things for kids or adults, California has a lot to offer. Surfing, skiing, hiking, exploring, celebrity-spotting, landmark-chasing, or any number of things await you in California, the Golden State. After all, Californians are all just Average Joe’s.
The State of California
On September 9, 1850, Congress granted statehood to California and it became the 31st state in the Union. During the Gold Rush, residents wanted to make sure their state included all potential gold fields, so they drew their own borders. California borders the Pacific Ocean on the west for nearly 900 miles. It borders Mexico on the south, Oregon to the north, and Nevada and Arizona to the east.
You can find a bit of everything within California, including cliff-lined beaches, redwood forests, the Sierra Nevada mountains, farmland, and desert. With almost 156,000 square miles and major cities like San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and San Francisco, there’s something for everyone in California.
California gets its name from a book by Spanish author Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo, where warriors lived on a paradise island named California, covered in gold and precious stones. When Spanish explorers landed on the Pacific Caost, they believed they had found this mythical island and named it California.
San Jose was the original capital of California in 1850. Two years later, legislators became dissatisfied with their quarters and accepted an offer to move the capital to Vallejo. When they arrived, they discovered the new capitol building in Vallejo was still under construction and took temporary residence in Sacramento. In 1854, they permanently moved the state capital to Sacramento.
In 1846, before California became the 31st state, it declared itself an independent country – for a month. American settlers rose up against Mexican authorities, forming a makeshift flag with a lone red star and grizzly bear. Also during this time, the United States declared war on Mexico. When the U.S. seized Monterey, the rebels gave up their notion of independence and declared allegiance to the U.S.
California has both the highest and lowest point in the United States. Mount Whitney is the highest point in the contiguous United States at 14,505 feet. It’s just 85 miles away from Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park, the lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level.