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California: a wide variety of landscapes

California (The Golden State) is a state in the Western side of the United States, which borders on the south by Mexico, to the south-east  with Arizona, to the  east and north-east with Nevada, on to the north whit Oregon.

The city of Sacramento is the capital of California, but the state’s largest cities are Los Angeles and San Francisco, other major cities include San Diego, San Jose, Modesto and Fresno. California is the third largest state in the United States, after Alaska and Texas, but is the first in terms of population.

The territory of California presents a great variety of landscapes: densely forested (45 %) but it has also deserts (25%), between the formations that characterize the geography in California are, parallel to the coast, the mountains of the Coast Range.

To the east of this mountain, in the central region of the country, extends the Great Valley of California, the most densely cultivated area of the state, as well as, more to the east, are the peaks of the Sierra Nevada, whose highest  peaks outweigh the 4,000 meters, here is also the highest mountain in the state, Mount Whitney ( 4,421 meters). Along the border with Nevada are the White Mountains, whose highest peak is the White Mountain Peak (4,344 meters). North of the Sierra Nevada along the border with Oregon are the southern peaks of the mountains of the Cascade Range where is the massive bulk of Mount Shasta, a volcano 4,322 meters high.

The southern area of California is instead characterized by a vast desert plateau where is the Mojave Desert, along the border with Nevada is also the famous Death Valley, the lowest point in North America, 86 m below sea level. The famous San Andreas Fault extends for about 1,300 km along much of California, the area traversed by the fault is known for its high seismicity.

In the Pacific Ocean, in front of the city of Los Angeles, are the Channel Islands, an archipelago of eight islands part of the national park. The main rivers in northern California are the Sacramento and the San Joaquin that flow into San Francisco Bay, while to the south, Colorado marks the border with Arizona.

California was colonized by the Spaniards in the eighteenth century, they founded a series of missions from San Diego to San Francisco, alongside the missions were established even small military garrisons. In 1821 with the independence of Mexico from Spain, California became a province of Mexico. In 1848, after the war between Mexico and the United States, California was finally ceded to the United States.

  • Area: 423 970 sq. km. (3rd largest state of the United States of America)
  • Population: 36.76 million (update 2008) (Whites 59.5%, Asian 10.9%, Blacks 6.7%, Amerindian 1.0%. Hispanics (classified into different racial types) are 32.4%. Facts 2000).
  • State Capital: Sacramento.
  • Languages: The official language is English (spoken as a first language by 57.5% of the population). Spanish is spoken as a first language by 28.2% of the population, Filipino (Tagalog) by 2.0%. (Data 2005).
  • Religion: Christian 72% (Roman Catholic (31%), Evangelical (18%), Protestant (18%), Mormon (2%), Eastern Orthodox (1%), Jehovah’s Witnesses (1%)), Jewish (2% ), Buddhist (2%), Hindu (1%).
  • Time zone: (UTC-8, summer UTC-7).

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