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California (CA): State Guide and Fun Facts

When was California First Settled?

Who Founded California?
Hernando de Soto

First settlers:
Karok, Maidu, Cahuilleno, Mojave, Yokuts, Pomo, Paiute and Modoc Native American Tribes

Square Miles:

US Rank:

State Flower:
Golden Poppy

State Bird:
California Valley Quail

State Motto:
Eureka (I have found it)

Capital City


What is California famous for?

1. Disney Land
Disney Land was the vision of Walt Disney during World War II. He imagined it as a place where families could spend time together without taking extravagant vacations. He wanted to locate it as close to metropolitan Los Angeles as possible. After almost 10 years of dreaming, planning and studying, Disney had selected a site in nearby Anaheim, California. It began as a 160-acre park that was to have rivers, waterfalls, mountains, a train and dozens of amusement park rides. The park was originally broken up into five different ‘lands’, which included Main Street USA, Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. The park opened in 1955 and was a huge success. It remains today, as a legacy of the man who quite likely had one of the biggest imaginations that humans have ever seen.

2. Hollywood
Hollywood California is known throughout the world as the center of the movie and television entertainment industries. It is located in the northwest area of the city of Los Angeles. The history of Hollywood, although it seems timeless, is actually quite young. The area began to be a center for movie production and filming at the beginning of the 20th century. The first move that was filmed in a Hollywood studio was The Squaw Man. Within ten years, the city trailed only New York in its motion picture production status, and in another ten years, it solidified itself as the worldwide center for movie and television production. The well-known Hollywood Boulevard was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985, thus protecting many buildings from possible demolition in future generations.

3. Napa Valley
Napa Valley, California is known today as perhaps the best wine producing area in the country. Each year, wine enthusiasts make pilgrimages to the area to explore the hundreds of wineries, tasting new and vintage wines. When did it all begin? Before the land was covered in grapevines, it was inhabited by the Wappo Indians. These people knew the value of the land, calling it “Napa”, which meant “land of plenty”. George Calvert was one of the earliest settlers in the area that realized its potential value as a wine-producing location. Charles Krug opened Napa Valley’s first winery in 1861, and within a decade, the number had ballooned to almost 150 wineries.
The area today is comprised of about 400 wineries, some of which use age-old techniques to produce their wines, and some of which use new technology to bottle the wine.

What is California’s economy?

1. Agriculture
Although agriculture is nowhere near the state’s largest economic driver, California produces more agricultural products that any other state in the US. 73% of the agricultural revenue is generated from crops, while the rest is accounted for by livestock.

The major crops that the state produces are grapes, almonds, strawberries, oranges, lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli, carrots, asparagus, cauliflower, celery, garlic, mushrooms, onion, cotton, peppers, hay, rice, corn, sugar beets, wheat and walnuts. The major livestock products are beef cattle, sheep, turkeys, hogs and horses.

2. Services
California’s service industry is the largest income-producing sector in the state. The major service businesses included in this category are small businesses, personal services, private health care, law firms, engineering and high technology companies, hotels, real estate, finance, insurance, food product sales, medical supplies and car sales.

3. Mining
California is one of the country’s leading producers of oil. In addition, it is the only mining state that gathers boron. It is the country’s highest producer/miner of diatomite, sand and gravel, sodium compounds, tungsten, gold, gypsum, magnesium compounds and pumice.

California Historical Landmarks
1. Muir Woods National Monument
The Muir Woods National Monument is located on the coast of California near to San Francisco. The area was dedicated as a Historical Landmark so that 560 acres, include 240 acres of Redwood trees, would be protected from development or clear cutting. The location of the forest, which is close to the ocean, means that it is often shrouded in dense fogs that encourage lush greenery to cover every surface. Due to logging, the 2 million acres of redwoods that used to exist have been vastly reduced, endangering the species and putting it in line for extinction. Because the area is a national monument, it is well taken care of, ensuring that the trees will remain for quite some time, perhaps another 150 million years.

2. Ahwahnee Hotel
The Ahwahnee Hotel is located in Yosemite National Park. It was built in 1926 and 1927, designed by Gilbert Stanley Underwood. The hotel is located beneath the soaring rock cliffs called the Royal Arches. From the hotel, guests can see views of the Half Dome, Yosemite Falls and Glacier Point. The hotel was briefly occupied by the United States Navy during World War II, as they needed the building to use as a hospital for veterans of the war. The building was added to the National Register of Historical Places on February 15, 1977. It remains in service today as a luxurious accommodation for those staying in the Yosemite National Park area.

3. Hale House
The Hale House was built by George W. Morgan in 1885 in Los Angeles, California. It originally cost only $4,000 to construct. The life of the house hung in the balance briefly in 1966, when the niece of the previous owner inherited the house and wished to demolish it. Odena Johnson wanted badly to build a gas station at the location of the house, but the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission stopped her plans. Johnson cared so little about the house that she sold it for one dollar, with the promise that it would be removed from the site on which she wished to build a gas station. It remains today, completely restored to its original grandeur. It is entirely adorned in Victorian style decorations on both the interior and the exterior.