California Facts

Our California Facts for Kids provide interesting and fun facts about the most populous state of the United States of America, its people, attractions and geographical superlatives and all other important facts about California you really should know.

California Facts for Kids

California number plateCalifornia number plate

Top 30 California Facts | USA

1. California is the most populous state of the USA and the country's third largest. The state on the West Coast of the United States is about a quarter of the size of the country's largest state Alaska. California is roughly the same size as Germany or slightly larger than Japan.

2. California is located in the Western United States and borders neighbouring country Mexico.

3. California’s capital is called Sacramento. The state capital is located about 145 km/ 90 miles to the northeast of San Francisco, the commercial center of the state. Sacramento is home to about half a million inhabitants.

California mapMap of California

4. The Pacific Ocean borders the state of California which has the third longest coastline of all US states with 1,350 km/ 840 miles.

5. California borders the US states of Oregon to the north, Nevada to the east and Arizona to the south east. 

California beach with surfersCalifornia is known for stunning beaches and great waves for surfing

6. California has a population of about 40 million people. The majority of the people in California live in western California and coastal regions of the state.

7. Los Angeles is California's largest and most populous city with about ten million inhabitants. 

Los Angeles in CaliforniaLos Angeles in California

8. California houses two of the most populous US cities: Los Angeles is the second most populous city of the USA - after New York City, which is located at the east coast of the USA. The other large city is San Francisco with a population of about 3.3 million people living in the metropolitan area.

California Facts | Geography

9. California has a varied topography. In California you can find rugged coastlines, sandy beaches, fertile valleys, snowy mountains and dry deserts with unique plants and wildlife such as in the Joshua Tree National Park.

Joshua Tree National Park in the Mojave DesertJoshua Tree National Park in the Mojave Desert

The most important geographical features are the coast along the Pacific Ocean, the fertile Central Valley, the Sierra Nevada mountains and the Mojave Desert which is the smallest and driest desert of North America.

The Sierra Nevada mountain range dominates the eastern parts of the state. The name Sierra Nevada is Spanish and means snowy mountains. 

California skiing in PradollanoCalifornia skiing in Pradollano

10. The highest mountain of California is located in the Sierra Nevada mountains and is called Mount Whitney with a height of 4,421 m/ 14,505 ft. The Palisade Glacier in the Sierra Nevada is the southernmost glacier of the USA.

California is the state with the highest point of the contiguous United States which is Mount Whitney and the lowest point which is the Death Valley. 

Death ValleyDeath Valley

11. The Death Valley is a place in the Mojave desert in Southern California, where the hottest temperatures on earth were ever measured. 54ºC or 130ºF were measured here in June 2021.

12. California is located along the Pacific Ring of Fire which means earthquakes happen regularly in this state. Several fault lines also run through the state, of these the largest and most prominent is the San Andreas Fault.

The 1,200 km/ 750 miles long San Andreas fault is formed by the boundaries of the North American tectonic plate and the Pacific Plate. The fault moves about 5 - 7 cm/ per year and is one of the most active fault zones on our planet.

San Andreas Fault as seen from Highway 138 in California - image by Joel Hensler/shutterstockSan Andreas Fault as seen from Highway 138 in California - image by Joel Hensler

California Facts | Geography Superlatives

13. There are more than 100 rivers in California. The longest river flowing entirely in California is the Sacramento River with a length of 640 km/ 400 miles. 

Sacramento, the state capital of California, on the Sacramento River.Sacramento, the state capital of California, on the Sacramento River.

The river flows through the California's Central Valley and runs into the Pacific Ocean at the San Francisco Bay.

14. The largest lake that is entirely situated in the state of California is Clear Lake and said to be one of the oldest lakes in North America.

15. The largest lake in California is Lake Tahoe and shared with the state of Nevada. The largest alpine lake in North America, Lake Tahoe is also the second deepest lake in the USA.

Lake TahoeLake Tahoe

 16. California is known for the country's largest, tallest and oldest trees. In the Sierra Nevada, you will find all of these! In Sequoia National Park you can admire the world's largest and tallest trees, the Giant Sequoia trees.

Sitting on a huge Sequoia treeSitting on a huge Sequoia tree

California Facts | Name and State Symbols

17. The name California is derived from a Spanish novel written by Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo, that was popular with the Spanish explorers who first set foot on the Baja California peninsula.

18. The state has a nickname: "The Golden State". This name refers to the first discovery of gold in the state in 1848.

The motto of the state is: "Eureka" (meaning "I have found it") and relates to the discovery of a new method to determine the purity of gold during the goldrush of the 1840s and 1850s.

19. California is the 31th state of the USA and gained statehood in 1850 under President Millard Fillmore.

20. The California state colours are gold and blue. The yellow poppy (cup of gold) is the state flower. The grizzly bear is the official state animal of California. The bear (ursus californicus) is shown also on the California state flag.

California state flag with grizzly bear, the official state animalCalifornia state flag with grizzly bear, the official state animal

California Facts | Animals

21. Common animals in California are amongst others the sea otters, the California sea lions, blue whales and fin whales, alligator lizards, the unique California newts, garter snakes, squirrels, bobcats, racoons and black bears. Among the common birds are the robin, gold finch, the Californian quail (which is the official state bird) and the golden eagle.

The Californian condor, however, is a critical endangered species. This condor has the largest wingspan of any North American bird and is the largest land bird on the North American continent.

Californian condorCalifornian Condor

California Facts | Californian People

22. Indigenous people have moved about and settled in the region of today's state of California for almost 20,000 years. The California Natives belong to various groups and once spoke many different languages and up to 135 dialects. Today California counts the largest percentage of First Peoples in their population with a population of over 330,000 Native Americans.

Over 110 Native American groups in California are recognised by the government. The Yurok form the largest group of Native Americans in California. Every fourth Friday in September is celebrated as California Native American Day.

California spring dance - image by Cassiohabib/shutterstock.comSpring dance - image by Cassiohabib

23. The first non-native settlers were Spanish colonizers. Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo who led the first European expedition of the Californian coastline arrived at San Diego Bay in 1542. The first permanent mission was established in 1769.

24. Gold was discovered in California in 1848. The gold rush brought many more new settlers to the region during the 1850s.

25. About 63% Californians say they are Christians, 28% of these are Catholics. But California is home to people of all different ethnic groups and different religions. 

Sikh Gurdwaras in San José/ California is the largest Sikh temple outside of India!Sikh Gurdwara in San José

26. The Sikh Gurdwara in San José is the largest gurdwara or Sikh temple outside of India! And the Yamahiro Pagoda is the oldest building in California. The Japanese pagoda is over 600 years old and was tranported from Japan to California in Hollywood. 

The oldest building remaining from colonial times is the chapel of the San Juan Capistrano mission building from 1782.

San Juan Capistrano missionSan Juan Capistrano mission

Facts about California | Economy

27. California's economy is very strong and in general larger than that of Australia or even the economy of the whole African continent! The most important industry sectors of California are the film industry, the high tech industry and the agricultural sector with its almond, grapes and dairy production.

California's film industry is the oldest and largest in the world and the Silicon Valley is known as the global center for innovation and world leading high tech companies.

Google headquarters in Silicon Valley - image by Uladzik Kryhin/ shutterstock.comGoogle headquarters in Silicon Valley - image by Uladzik Kryhin

California is also known for the cotton and jeans industry. About 75% of all designer jeans in the world come from California! 

28. California is the world's largest producer of almonds. Eight out of ten almonds eaten worldwide were grown in California. Besides almonds, other nuts such as pecans, walnuts and pistachios are also grown here.

99% of all walnuts grown in the USA come from California and constitute about ¾ of the world's walnuts!

Almond plantation in CaliforniaAlmond plantation in California

More Facts about California

29. California Facts | Time Zones Almost all regions of the large state apply one time zone. The Pacific Time Zone  (UTC-8:00) is shared also with bordering states of Nevada and Oregon. California also adheres to daylight saving time during the warmer summer months from second Sunday in March to first Sunday in November.

30. California Facts | Famous Landmarks: Among the most visited tourist sites and landmarks in California are:

  • Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco - California's most iconic attraction
Golden Gate Bridge in CaliforniaGolden Gate Bridge in California
  • Sequoia National Forest - highest and biggest redwood trees in the world - General Sherman tree
  • Yosemite National Park - granite cliffs and home to the Southern Sierra Miwok people
  • Pacific Coast Highway - cruising along the Pacific Ocean coast
  • Universal Studios Hollywood - Harry Potter's wizard world
  • Disneyland Adventure Park - Disney's original fantasy fun park
  • Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles - more than 2,700 stars
Hollywood Walk of Fame - image by Oneinchpunch/shutterstock.comHollywood Walk of Fame - image by Oneinchpunch

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Useful Resources for California Facts:

This page was last updated on 5 March 2024

  • California State Library. "State Symbols" Last accessed 5 March 2024
  • Jennifer Leman. "The Hottest Place on Earth." Popular Mechanics. 15 September 2021. Last accessed 5 March 2024
  • American Museum of Natural History. "The Power of Plate Tectonics." Ology. Last accessed 5 March 2024
  • National Parks Service. "Yosemite - Junior Ranger Guide Book." Last accessed 5 March 2024
  • SMBMI. "California Native American Day." Last accessed 5 March 2024
  • Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. "Walk of Fame - History". Walk of Fame. Last accessed 5 March 2024

Image Credits on California Facts page: and wikipedia commons; Hollywood Walk of Fame by Oninchpunch/; Native Americans image by Cassiohabib/; Google headquarters image by Uladzik Kryhin

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