California


    California
    Introduction to California
    California, state in the western United States, bordering the Pacific Ocean. The third largest state in the Union, California covers an area of great physical diversity in which uplands dominate the landscape. The mountains, hills, ridges, and peaks of California flank the coastline, rise to nearly 4,600 m (15,000 ft) in the towering Sierra Nevada, encircle the great fertile basin of the Central Valley, and separate the desert into innumerable basins. However, despite the physical dominance and economic value of the uplands, California’s urban areas and economic production are concentrated in the valleys and lowlands, such as in the huge metropolitan region centered on Los Angeles, the state’s largest and the nation’s second largest city. Manufacturing, agriculture, and related activities are the principal sources of income. They are based in large part on the state’s wealth of natural resources, its productive farmlands, its large and highly skilled labor force, and its ability to market its output both at home and abroad. California’s size, complexity, and economic productivity make it preeminently a state of superlatives. It has the lowest point in the country, in Death Valley, and the highest U.S. peak outside of Alaska, Mount Whitney. Among the 50 states it has the greatest number of national parks and national forests, and the only stand of giant sequoias. Its annual farm output is greater in value than that of any other state, and it leads the rest of the nation in the production of many crops. It is the leading state in volume of annual construction and manufacturing. California has more people than any other state and more automobiles, more civil aircraft, and more students enrolled in universities and colleges. United States State Capitals Between the late 1940s and late 1980s the rate of growth and actual growth of California’s population and economy were phenomenal compared with other states. However, this growth also gave rise to, or aggravated, several major problems that now face Californians. Much of the growth occurred in the dry south where water shortages must be offset by vast, expensive public projects delivering water from the wetter north. Urban centers extended outward into good farmland, forever removing it from food production. In addition, as population continues to increase, California is faced with the problem of providing its inhabitants with more schools, hospitals, water, highways, recreational facilities, and other services. The name California was first used to designate the region by the Spanish expedition led by Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, as it sailed northward along the coast from Mexico in 1542. The name itself was probably derived from a popular Spanish novel published in 1510 in which a fictional island paradise named California was described. The state’s official nickname is the Golden State, referring to the gold rush, which played a central role in California’s entry into the Union on September 9, 1850, as the 31st state. The nickname also suggests the state’s golden fields and sunshine.

    California Geography



    California facts
    Geography
    California, the third largest state in the Union, has a total area of 423,971 sq km (163,696 sq mi), including 6,926 sq km (2,674 sq mi) of inland water and 575 sq km (222 sq mi) of coastal waters over which it has jurisdiction. The state is roughly rectangular in shape, although the southern two-thirds bends in a dogleg toward the east. It has a maximum distance north to south of 1,052 km (654 mi) and an east-to-west extent of 945 km (587 mi), although even locations along the state’s eastern border are less than 350 km (220 mi) from the ocean. California’s mean elevation is about 880 m (2,900 ft). Much of California lies in a geologically unstable area, crisscrossed by fault, or fracture, lines in the Earth’s crust. The great San Andreas Fault extends for 1,000 km (600 mi) northwestward from the Imperial Valley to Point Arena and out to sea. This fault line has caused several notable earthquakes in the recorded history of California. The most widely publicized was that of April 18, 1906, which resulted in the destruction of central San Francisco. Although major earthquakes are rare, landslides, mudflows, minor tremors, and cracks in the ground occur regularly.

    California rivers


    California facts
    California rivers
    California’s principal river systems are formed by the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers and their tributaries, which drain the Great Central Valley. The Sacramento, the longest river within the state, flows generally southward for 607 km (377 mi) from its source at the base of Mount Shasta in the southern Cascade Mountains to its junction with the San Joaquin. The Pit River is the longest tributary of the Sacramento, but shorter tributaries, such as the Feather and American rivers, carry larger volumes of water. The San Joaquin River rises in the Sierra Nevada near Yosemite National Park and flows generally northward for 560 km (350 mi) to join the Sacramento River. The Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers unite to form a large inland delta that drains to Suisun Bay, the eastern arm of San Francisco Bay. Numerous mountain streams descend from the Sierra Nevada to join the two rivers. A number of short streams rise on the eastern flanks of the Coast Ranges, but they usually run dry before reaching either river. The rivers of the Coast Ranges in California are relatively short, except for the 400-km (250-mi) long Klamath River, which rises in Oregon and flows through northwestern California. Farther south the Salinas River rises in the Coast Ranges and flows northwestward, roughly parallel to the coast, through a broad fertile valley to Monterey Bay. The major river in southern California is the Colorado River, one of the chief rivers of the western United States. It follows the Arizona-California state line before flowing into the Gulf of California, in Mexico. California has several thousand lakes, most of which are small. The largest is the Salton Sea, a salty lake in the south that lies 71 m (233 ft) below sea level and covers 943 sq km (364 sq mi). Lake Tahoe, high in the Sierra Nevada, is on the California-Nevada state line and is one of the deepest lakes in the United States. Numerous other lakes have been created by the damming of rivers. These include Folsom Reservoir on the American River, Lake Oroville on the Feather River, and Pine Flat Reservoir on the Kings River, all in the Sierra Nevada, and Clair Engle Lake on the Trinity River, in the Klamath Mountains. Shasta Lake, behind Shasta Dam on the upper Sacramento River, is the largest reservoir in the state, and along with Clair Engle and Whiskeytown lakes, forms one of the largest national recreation areas in the nation.

    California Plant Life


    California facts
    California Plant Life
    Forest lands cover 40 percent of California’s land area. The most densely forested areas are the Klamath Mountains, the Coast Ranges north of San Francisco, and the Sierra Nevada. Tree growth is heaviest on the wet, westward-facing slopes. The coast redwood grows in dense forests on the lower mountain slopes along the coast between the Santa Lucia Range south of Monterey Bay and the Oregon state line (see Sequoia). The redwood, the official state tree, grows to more than 60 m (200 ft). The world’s tallest tree is said to be a coast redwood in Redwood National Park that is 111 m (365 ft) tall. Redwoods in California grow in pure stands and also with Douglas fir, canoe cedar, and Port Orford cedar. Douglas fir predominates on the slopes immediately above the redwood areas. Farther inland the Douglas fir forests give way to a more open forest of broadleaved trees, such as Tanoak madrone, Oregon maple, California bay tree, and several species of oak. In the Klamath Mountains and Coast Ranges above 1,500 m (5,000 ft), ponderosa pine predominates. A close cousin of the redwood, the giant sequoia grows in groves at somewhat higher elevations along the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada in what is known as the yellow pine belt. Some giant sequoias exceed 2,000 years of age, while some bristlecone pines in eastern California’s White Mountains are more than 4,500 years old. These conifers, along with some species of desert shrub such as creosote at more than twice that age, are among the oldest living things in the world. The yellow, or ponderosa, pine is the most valuable commercial conifer logged in the Sierra, and thrives at elevations between 900 and 2,400 m (3,000 to 8,000 ft). Above the pine forests are stands of red fir and Jeffrey pine. They give way above 2,700 m (9,000 ft) to lodgepole pine, other species of pine, Engelmann spruce, and firs. In the Coast Ranges south of San Francisco and on the low mountain slopes around the Central Valley, grasslands, woodlands of mixed evergreen and broadleaved species and areas of shrub growth predominate. Grasslands, which once covered most of the Central Valley, are now limited to a discontinuous belt around the rim of the valley and in the foothills. The golden poppy, the state flower, grows abundantly in the Central Valley. Grasses and sedges also form meadows above 3,500 m (11,500 ft), the timberline, in the Sierra Nevada. The mixed evergreen and broadleaved woodlands occupy the low western slopes of the Sierra Nevada and extensive areas in the Coast Ranges inland from the coast. These relatively open woodlands include oak, pine, and juniper. Large areas of the uplands along the southern coast are covered with chaparral, a low, and in places almost impenetrable, shrub growth of manzanita, mountain mahogany, California scrub oak, chamise, buckbrush, and other evergreen species. The lower western slopes of the Sierra Nevada are covered partly with chaparral. Chaparral is prone to fire and poses a major threat to expanding urban development, especially in Southern California. Shrub growth also characterizes the vegetation of the Californian deserts. However, plant growth tends to be sparse throughout these areas. On well-drained slopes and in open spaces, creosote bush, burroweed, and many species of cacti predominate. Deeper-rooted shrubs and small trees, such as mesquite, desert ironwood, and desert willow, occur along watercourses. The Joshua tree, juniper, piñon, and sagebrush are found at higher elevations with slightly more rainfall.

    California animal life


    California facts
    California animal life
    The grizzly bear, designated as the state animal of California, disappeared from the state in the 1920s. Many of the other large animals of California, such as the cougar and bobcat, are mainly sighted in the foothills and woodlands throughout the state, wherever deer herds exist. More abundant are the black bear, mule deer, and wapiti, or Roosevelt elk, of the mountains, the black-tailed jackrabbit, bighorn sheep, and pronghorn of the deserts, and the marmot, beaver, raccoon, red fox, weasel, chipmunk, and western gray squirrel of the forests. The native Sierra Nevada fox is only seen in the Sierra Nevada while its counterpart, the red fox, an introduced species, is prolific throughout the state. Although some natural predators, such as the grizzly bear, have long since disappeared from the state, the population of other predators, such as the mountain lion, has remained stable or increased slightly during the past 20 years. Likewise, populations of the species that are preyed upon, such as mule deer, have also remained stable. Birds of the Sierra Nevada include Steller’s jay, the black-headed grosbeak, western bluebird, western tanager, acorn woodpecker, and several warblers. The golden eagle and the bald eagle are sometimes seen soaring among the crags of the Sierra Nevada. The wren-tit and the California quail, which is the state bird, are characteristic of the chaparral country, as are the cactus wren and the canyon wren of the desert. In the wild, rugged mountains behind Santa Barbara live the few remaining wild specimens of America’s largest bird, the California condor. Gulls, terns, cormorants, pelicans, and murres are common residents along the coast. The reptiles of California include many species of snakes, lizards, and turtles. Most abundant in the deserts, they include the western diamond rattlesnake, sidewinder, desert tortoise, horned toad, and gila monster. California’s temperate coastal waters support a great variety of marine life. Although a variety of species are seen, primarily Gray whales visit these waters. The islands and rocky capes serve as sea lion rookeries, and there are a few small colonies of sea otter and elephant seals. Marine fish include tuna, salmon, bass, anchovies, sardines, squid, and herring, which are preyed upon by predatory species such as mackerel, barracuda, rockfish, sole, and grunion, which is found only off the shores of California. Shellfish include abalones, clams, lobsters, shrimp, and oysters. Many species of freshwater fish inhabit the lakes and rivers. Golden trout are native to Sequoia National Park, as are rainbow trout to the Lassen Volcanic National Park. Brook trout and brown trout have been introduced into Californian streams. Salmon and steelhead (sea-going rainbow trout) also swim the streams of California. Newly hatched fish, called fingerlings, make their way downstream at the beginning of their long trek far out into the Pacific Ocean. When mature, the fish return to their ancestral streams to spawn. However, the numbers of fish making the migration has diminished to a mere fraction of what it once was. Causes of the decline include warming stream waters associated with logging, the construction of dams, pollution, and periodic droughts, as well as the pressures of commercial and sport fisheries.

    California National Parks


    California facts

    California National Parks
    Among California’s eight national parks are some of the most frequently visited parks in the country. Yosemite National Park covers 3,100 sq km (1,200 sq mi) of scenic wild lands, including alpine wilderness, three groves of giant sequoias, and the glacially carved Yosemite Valley, with its impressive waterfalls, cliffs, and unusual rock formations. Sequoia National Park, located in central California, is home to the 84-m (275-ft) General Sherman giant sequoia, considered the most massive tree in the world. Its circumference measured directly above the ground flare is 25 m (83 ft). Some of the world’s tallest trees grow in the Redwood National Park in the northwestern portion of the state. Joshua Tree National Park has a representative stand of Joshua trees and other desert vegetation. More of California’s dramatically beautiful landscapes can be found in Kings Canyon National Park, located in the Sierra Nevada and containing two enormous canyons of the Kings River. In stark contrast is Death Valley National Park, which encompasses the lowest land surface in the Western Hemisphere and the place where the country’s record high temperature was recorded. Before the 1980 eruption of Mount Saint Helens in Washington, Lassen Peak, located in Lassen Volcanic National Park, was the most recently active volcano in the contiguous 48 states, erupting periodically from 1914 to 1921. Other signs of volcanic activity, including cinder cones, lava flows, lava tube caves, pit craters, and steam vents, can be found in Lava Beds National Monument, near the Oregon border, and in the Mammoth Mountain area of the eastern Sierra Nevada. Devils Postpile National Monument, also near Mammoth Mountain, contains lava columns up to 18 m (60 ft) high, and Pinnacles National Monument, in the Diablo Range, has rock spires, caves, and a variety of volcanic features. Five of the eight islands in the Santa Barbara channel comprise the Channel Islands National Park. A portion of the park is under water and provides habitat for marine life ranging from microscopic plankton to the world’s largest creature, the blue whale. Also preserving a section of California’s coastal environment is Point Reyes National Seashore about 60 km (about 40 mi) north of San Francisco. Other national sites commemorate the rich history of California. Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego’s Point Loma district marks the spot where in 1542 Europeans first set foot upon what is now California. Fort Point National Historic Site, which is part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area, contains the fort built in the mid-1800s to prevent any hostile fleets from entering San Francisco Bay. San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park contains a square-rigged sailing ship, steam schooner, three-masted schooner, steam tug, and a paddle wheel tug. Manzanar National Historic Site, located in the southern Owens Valley of eastern California, commemorates the internment beginning in 1942 of Japanese Americans during World War II. The area from Manzanar south through the Alabama Hills to Lone Pine with the highest part of the Sierra Nevada as a backdrop is one of the most popular film-making locations in the world, and now hosts the Lone Pine Film Festival every October. Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site, in Danville, commemorates the only Nobel Prize winning playwright from the United States and the architect of modern American theater. One of the country’s earliest crusaders for national parks is remembered in two parks in California. John Muir National Historic Site, in Martinez, preserves the mansion where the naturalist lived. Also recognizing the explorer is Muir Woods National Monument, in Marin County, a peaceful grove of coastal redwoods.

    California History

    California facts
    California History
    Prehistoric inhabitants of California practiced complex religions, hunted with arrowheads made of flint, and subsisted largely on the abundant available acorns supplemented by numerous small animals; coastal peoples ate fish and shellfish. California has many different local climates. Native houses varied accordingly. Indigenous Californians often lived in small communities of about 150 people whom the Spanish called rancherias. Within the boundaries of present-day California there were once 22 different linguistic families with 135 regional dialects. At the time of European discovery there may have been 100,000 to 150,000 native inhabitants in California, but diseases brought by the Europeans would markedly reduce the population. The Spanish explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo was the first European in the area of present-day California. In 1542 Cabrillo sailed into San Diego Bay and then continued north along the California coast, making frequent trips ashore to claim land for Spain. In 1579 the English explorer Sir Francis Drake sailed along the coast of northern California, which he named Nova Albion and claimed for England. However, no Europeans settled in California for nearly 200 years thereafter. In the 1740s and 1750s Russian traders in search of seal and sea otter pelts began hunting along the Pacific coastline north of California. As Spain wanted to prevent Russian claims to the area, in 1769 Governor Gaspar de Portolá of Lower California (now Baja California, Mexico) led an expedition to settle California. Accompanied by Junípero Serra, a Franciscan missionary, in July they reached the site of San Diego. There they set up a presidio, or military post, as well as a mission, where the native inhabitants were brought to be taught Christianity and to be prepared to become subjects of the Spanish king. Between 1769 and 1823 the Franciscans, a religious order of the Roman Catholic Church, built 20 more missions near the coast of California. Before long the missions controlled so much land that they formed a continuous chain from San Diego to north of San Francisco Bay. Most of the native peoples in the coastal region were taken to the missions and were forced to work as farm laborers under the direction of the missionaries. The Spanish built a number of presidios in addition to their first one at San Diego and created small farming settlements, known as pueblos. The first pueblo was established as early as 1777. The pueblos were inhabited for the most part by poor settlers from Mexico whom the Spanish had induced to go to the California region. Spain, however, could not prevent foreigners from entering California. British, French, and United States ships traded with the Spanish coastal settlements in violation of Spanish regulations prohibiting such trade. In 1812 Russian fur traders built an outpost, now known as Fort Ross, less than 160 km (100 mi) north of San Francisco. They also built several settlements in the vicinity of Bodega Bay, and refused to withdraw from California until 1824, when the region was no longer under Spanish control. In 1821 Mexico gained its independence from Spain. In 1825, after several years of local provisional government, Alta California, as the region was then called, formally became a territory of the Republic of Mexico. A number of influential Californians had disliked the wealth and power of the missions during Spanish rule, and after Mexican independence protested to the Mexican authorities against the missions. Eventually the new republic agreed to reduce the power of the missions, and in 1833 the Mexican congress released Native Americans from the control of the missions and opened mission lands for settlement by Californians. Most of the former mission lands were given as grants to several hundred long-established families. Huge semifeudal estates, known as ranchos, replaced the missions as the dominant institution in California. Cattle raising, developed during the mission days, was the main economic activity on the ranchos. Ranchos traded cattle hides, tallow, horns, and pickled beef for processed food and manufactured goods from foreign ships, including some from the United States. During the period of Mexican rule, which lasted into the 1840s, a series of largely bloodless uprisings broke out in California. Sometimes these pitted the rancheros, or ranch owners, against the Mexican authorities, but at other times they involved feuds between rancheros themselves, who fought over land or issues of pride. Most U.S. citizens who went to California before 1840 were sailors, fur trappers, and adventurers. A number of trappers, including James Ohio Pattie and Jedediah Smith, arrived by overland routes from the East, and in 1840 several hundred settlers from the United States lived in California, in addition to several thousand Hispanic, or Spanish-speaking, settlers. United States settlers sent out exaggerated reports of the easy life in California. In the 1840s emigrant parties in the Midwest began to organize for the overland trip to California and other regions along the Pacific Coast. In 1841 John Bidwell and John Bartleson led the first group of settlers overland, and in the next five years about 800 settlers traveled to California over the western portion of the Santa Fe Trail, the Oregon Trail, and the California Trail. These travelers endured a long, arduous trek across plains, deserts, and mountains, and often faced hostile native peoples and bad weather. One group, the Donner party, became stranded in the Sierra Nevada during the winter of 1846 and 1847; some ate dead members of the party to survive. Most of the new Californians, many of them farmers, settled in the fertile Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys, rather than along the coast. The Mexican government regarded the United States settlers with hostility and suspicion, fearing that they would encourage the United States to attempt to annex California, but the Mexican government was too weak and divided to expel them. In 1845 Mexico ruled vast areas of what became the western and southwestern United States, including California. U.S. President James K. Polk was committed to the expansion of the United States and favored the annexation of Texas, which occurred in December 1845. The month before, Polk had sent an envoy to Mexico City in an attempt to purchase California and other parts of the Southwest. In May 1846 Mexico refused the offer. This refusal was one factor—along with the Texas annexation and lawsuits against the Mexican government by U.S. citizens—that led to the Mexican War (1846-1848) between Mexico and the United States. United States settlers in California had become increasingly uncomfortable with Mexican rule. On June 14, 1846, they captured the presidio at Sonoma, north of San Francisco, and proclaimed the independence of the settlements. The uprising is known as the Bear Flag Revolt, because the rebels raised a homemade flag that carried the figure of a grizzly bear, as well as a star and the words California Republic. John Charles Frémont, an explorer and future Republican candidate for U.S. president, lent support to these rebels, but the republic was short-lived. On July 7, 1846, Commodore John D. Sloat, commander of U.S. naval forces along the Pacific Coast, ordered the U.S. flag raised at Monterey and formally claimed California for the United States. In August, Sloat’s replacement, Commodore Robert F. Stockton, set up a new government in California with himself as governor. In September, however, Mexicans led by Captain José Maria Flores attacked the new republic and gained control over much of California south of San Luis Obispo. Several months later, in December 1846, a U.S. force under Brigadier General Stephen W. Kearny arrived in California. They were defeated at the Battle of San Pasqual, near what is now Escondido, but Kearny’s men, in cooperation with Stockton’s troops, captured Los Angeles on January 10, 1847. At Los Angeles, the Mexicans, under the so-called Cahuenga Capitulation, agreed to accept United States rule. On February 2, 1848, California was ceded to the United States by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which formally ended the Mexican War. Scarcely more than a week before the signing of the treaty, on January 24, 1848, New Jersey-born carpenter James W. Marshall inspected a sawmill that he was building with his partner, John A. Sutter, on the South Fork of the American River, 56 km (35 mi) northeast of Sacramento. Marshall noticed flakes of yellow metal that later proved to be gold. By the end of that year, Marshall’s discovery had set off the greatest gold rush in United States history. In 1849 gold seekers, known as Forty-Niners, came to California from every part of the United States and from all over the world. The search for gold was concentrated on the Mother Lode country, in the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada. California’s population now rose to more than 90,000 by the end of 1849 and to 220,000 by 1852, the year in which gold production reached its peak. In the next two years, the gold rush ended almost as quickly as it began. Gold mining became a fairly stable and more organized enterprise. Most prospectors either became farmers, merchants, or left the state, as large mining companies took their place. The flood of settlers following the discovery of gold created a need for effective civil government in California. The Congress of the United States had failed to organize California as a territory because of a deadlock over whether slavery would be permitted in the new states. Finally, Californians acted on their own. In September 1849 a convention met at Monterey and adopted a state constitution, including a clause prohibiting slavery. The constitution was approved by popular vote on November 13, and on December 15 the first legislature met at San Jose to create an unofficial state government. The Compromise Measures of 1850, a series of congressional acts passed during August and September 1850, admitted California as a free, or nonslave, state. On September 9, 1850, California became the 31st state in the Union. Peter H. Burnett, a Democrat, was its first governor. The state capital was moved successively from San Jose to Monterey, Vallejo, and Benicia. In 1854 it was located permanently at Sacramento. During the Spanish and Mexican periods, over 800 huge grants of land had been given to Hispanics and some whites who settled in California. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo explicitly guaranteed that these land grants would be honored by the United States. Several were larger than 40,500 hectares (100,000 acres). With the beginning of the Gold Rush and the influx of new settlers, Americans complained about the size of such land claims. The U.S. Senate sympathized with the new immigrants, not the rancheros, most of whom were Hispanic, and passed legislation that allowed multiple appeals on land claim decisions. Thus, most claims remained unresolved for years. Owners had to prove ownership, a difficult task because few accurate surveys had ever been made. The cost of court proceedings often consumed more than the property was worth. After Native Americans left the California missions, they found the land had changed with settlement. European settlers along the coast now owned much of the land that had previously supported the indigenous Californians. With little choice, many former mission residents turned to the ranchos for work herding cattle. Rancheros advanced them some money, food, and alcohol on credit, and when they were unable to repay their debts, forced them to continue working. Some were quickly reduced to begging and petty crime for survival. The native Californians were often rounded up to work during peak seasons. Following the Gold Rush, white settlers and miners flooded their traditional lands. As some newcomers had been attacked on their way to California by other native peoples, some were hostile to the local tribes. After 1848 a series of encounters between whites and Native Americans resulted in several massacres of which whites were often the perpetrators. The worst atrocities took place in northern California, and culminated in the Modoc War of 1872 and 1873. In 1864 the Modoc had been forced to move to a reservation in Oregon. They returned to California twice, but each time they were told to move back. On the second occasion, the Modoc took refuge in lava beds near Tule Lake. After a three-month battle in which the armed Modocs killed about 75 men while losing only 5, they were defeated and their chief, Kintpuash (known as Captain Jack), was hanged. By 1900, only about 5,000 Native Americans remained in the state. Japanese workers had begun immigrating to California in the 1890s and experienced racial discrimination, as had the Chinese before them. In 1906 the San Francisco Board of Education announced that Japanese students would have to attend a Chinese school, which was renamed the Oriental School. President Theodore Roosevelt arranged to have the policy rescinded in exchange for Japanese limits on immigration to the United States. In 1924 Asian immigration was shut off entirely. As World War II approached, anti-Japanese feelings increased further. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, on December 7, 1941, public groups in California argued that the Japanese should be removed from the state. On February 19, 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which ordered the removal of 112,000 Californians of Japanese descent, two-thirds of them U.S. citizens, to internment camps in the interior of the United States. After the war, although they were allowed to return, a large number settled in other areas. In 1988 the Congress of the United States passed a bill to compensate those who had been detained. California’s varied economy provided its new residents with a personal income substantially above the national average. The decade after the war saw especially rapid urban residential growth. In those ten years, California’s population increased almost 50 percent—from almost 9 million to 13 million. By 1970 the state numbered 19.9 million residents, bypassing New York to become the most populous state. Earl Warren, a liberal Republican, served as governor for ten years until September 1953, when he was appointed chief justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. In 1959 Edmund G. Brown, Sr., became the state’s second Democratic governor since 1899. But by 1966 California had become more conservative, and Brown was defeated in his bid for a third term by Republican Ronald Reagan, a former movie actor. Many California voters saw government activity related to social and economic problems as too much interference in the concerns of private individuals. Conservatism in California was especially strong in populous southern California and in rural areas. Reagan, who was reelected governor in 1970, also became a leading spokesman nationwide for conservative issues, and in 1980 was elected president of the United States, defeating Democratic President Jimmy Carter. Racial politics were also part of the conservative trend. Blacks had migrated to California in large numbers during and after World War II seeking jobs. Their growing resentment against discrimination in housing and labor unions accompanied the destructive August 1965 riots in the Watts section of Los Angeles. These outbreaks helped turn many whites against the policies of Governor Brown. Brown’s administration had cracked down on racial discrimination by employers. In the 1970s many conservative voters also began to resent the large influx into the state of Mexican immigrants, many of them illegal. Dissident protests took place on California’s college campuses in the late 1960s. Students demonstrated against U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War (1959-1975). One major center of public demonstrations was the University of California at Berkeley. The protests alarmed many voters, who generally supported measures to suppress the disturbances and to reduce funds for higher education. Labor issues also confronted the state in the 1960s and 1970s, especially in the important fruit and vegetable industry. During World War II the United States had reached an agreement with Mexico to allow large numbers of workers, called braceros, to work in the United States. They had been joined by illegal immigrants from Mexico who were looking for work. Many of these immigrants became farm workers in California. The United Farm Workers Union, headed by César Chávez, struggled to unionize agricultural laborers, largely Hispanic, despite the determined opposition of farm owners. In 1975 all farm workers were guaranteed the right to collective bargaining by the Agricultural Labor Relations Act, and in 1978 a majority of grape growers, whom the United Farm Workers had been boycotting, signed contracts with the union. Californians also faced the problem of protecting both their physical resources and their environment. The state’s extraordinary growth in the years after World War II required the development of huge projects to supply residential, agricultural, and industrial water needs, particularly in arid and heavily populated southern California. The exploding population and growing economy also contributed to pollution of the air and of the environment. In the 1950s and 1960s the smog for which Los Angeles had become notorious spread to other urban areas, even to the Central Valley, as well as to Lake Tahoe and Yosemite National Park in the summers. California now began seriously to attack its environmental problems, and in 1976 the legislature created a commission to control development along the coastline. Reagan was succeeded as governor in 1975 by Democrat Edmund G. Brown, Jr., the son of Reagan’s predecessor. Brown, Jr., also supported government involvement in social and economic activities. His administration supported civil rights legislation, programs to protect the state’s environment, and completion of his father’s huge California Water Project. But Brown, Jr., also argued that government could only do so much. In 1978 a “taxpayers’ revolt” in California offered Brown, Jr., an opportunity to put his theories of smaller government into practice. The state’s voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment, known as Proposition 13, that severely reduced local property tax rates by more than two-thirds. This amendment created a financial crisis for local governments, and the state legislature was forced to provide emergency aid from the treasury. Following the Vietnam War, the federal government admitted many Asians from countries like Cambodia and Singapore. In addition, a growing number of legal and illegal immigrants from Mexico, the Caribbean, and Latin America have complicated the urban tensions that California already faced. Pete Wilson was elected governor of California in 1990. A former U.S. senator and a Republican, Wilson faced declining state revenues and serious unemployment problems. These were partly due to the decrease of federal defense spending following the end of the Cold War, the economic and diplomatic struggle between the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). In addition, new business growth had been affected by more stringent environmental regulations. Many parts of California were buffeted by serious natural disasters in the late 1980s and 1990s. Earthquakes caused major damage in the San Francisco area in 1989 as well as east of Los Angeles in 1992, and again in the Los Angeles area in 1994. Brush fires destroyed more than 1,000 homes in southern California in 1993. By early 1995 winter storms caused flood damage throughout the state. Extensive flooding and mudslides also resulted from above-average rainfall in the winter of 1998 caused by El Niño, a warming of the atmosphere and oceans that periodically disturbs weather patterns. Racial tensions also increased in the 1990s. In 1991 white Los Angeles police officers were videotaped while beating a black motorist named Rodney King. When the officers were found not guilty during their criminal trial in 1992, the acquittal set off yet another riot in south-central Los Angeles. Some 58 people were killed and many homes and businesses were destroyed or looted. In April 1993 a court convicted two of the police officers for violating Rodney King’s civil rights.
    California facts - Page 1 of 3
    California facts