California became the 31st state to enter the Union on September 9th, 1850, a mere 2 and a half years after the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Prior to the treaty, California's population mainly consisted of Native American Indians and those of Mexican descent, referred to as Californios. Before that, the coastal region from San Diego to San Francisco became a pathway for slow travel. Spanish missionaries traveled on foot and by horseback to spread the word of Catholicism. From 1769 to 1823, the construction of 21 California missions took place during the New Spain era. The northern part of the land remained virtually untouched until the California Gold Rush of 1849 and the near-simultaneous coincidence of a timely hostile takeover. From that point forward, California became the land of plenty as settlers came from all directions and found a place to hang their hats. Since that period in Californias history, progress and expansion remain front and center, not to mention the laid back lifestyles in Southern California and beyond.
California's population is the highest in the country, with an estimated 36 million people. The land mass totals 158,693 square miles; its capital city is Sacramento, yet its largest city is Los Angeles. California's highest peak is Mt. Whitney, measuring at 14,491 feet, while its lowest point is Death Valley, sinking down to 228 feet below sea level. California's nickname is The Golden State and its official bird is the California valley quail. The state flower is the golden poppy and the state tree is the California redwood, one of the tallest growing trees in the nation. The state motto, Eureka, comes from the Greek word huereka, meaning I have found it. California is also a major tourist attraction; Los Angeles is noted for a wide variety of entertainment, while San Diego's beach communities offer a multitude of activities. San Francisco has an amazing array of artistic expression and culture, and Santa Barbara is a popular destination for its vineyards, wine tasting, and picturesque coastal views.From Northern to Southern California, colleges and specialty institutions can be found easily. UC Berkley, the University of San Francisco, and Stanford University all have excellent programs that offer a plethora of educational opportunities, while the University of Santa Barbara and Pepperdine University match their northern counterparts. UCLA and USC are separated by a matter of minutes in proximity, and their sports rivalry is one of the most heated as well.
Written by Lyndsey Morgan