Coordinates: 37°N 120°W / 37°N 120°W / 37; -120
California is the 3rd largest state in the United States in area, after Alaska and Texas. California is often geographically bisected into two regions, Southern California, comprising the 10 southernmost counties, and Northern California, comprising the 48 northernmost counties. It is bordered by Oregon to the north, Nevada to the east and northeast, Arizona to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and it shares an international border with the Mexican state of Baja California to the south (with which it makes up part of The Californias region of North America, alongside Baja California Sur).
In the middle of the state lies the California Central Valley, bounded by the Sierra Nevada in the east, the coastal mountain ranges in the west, the Cascade Range to the north and by the Tehachapi Mountains in the south. The Central Valley is California’s productive agricultural heartland.
Divided in two by the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the northern portion, the Sacramento Valley serves as the watershed of the Sacramento River, while the southern portion, the San Joaquin Valley is the watershed for the San Joaquin River. Both valleys derive their names from the rivers that flow through them. With dredging, the Sacramento and the San Joaquin Rivers have remained deep enough for several inland cities to be seaports.
The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is a critical water supply hub for the state. Water is diverted from the delta and through an extensive network of pumps and canals that traverse nearly the length of the state, to the Central Valley and the State Water Projects and other needs. Water from the Delta provides drinking water for nearly 23 million people, almost two-thirds of the state’s population as well as water for farmers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.
Suisun Bay lies at the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers. The water is drained by the Carquinez Strait, which flows into San Pablo Bay, a northern extension of San Francisco Bay, which then connects to the Pacific Ocean via the Golden Gate strait.
The Channel Islands are located off the Southern coast, while the Farallon Islands lie west of San Francisco.
The Sierra Nevada (Spanish for “snowy range”) includes the highest peak in the contiguous 48 states, Mount Whitney, at 14,505 feet (4,421 m). The range embraces Yosemite Valley, famous for its glacially carved domes, and Sequoia National Park, home to the giant sequoia trees, the largest living organisms on Earth, and the deep freshwater lake, Lake Tahoe, the largest lake in the state by volume.
To the east of the Sierra Nevada are Owens Valley and Mono Lake, an essential migratory bird habitat. In the western part of the state is Clear Lake, the largest freshwater lake by area entirely in California. Although Lake Tahoe is larger, it is divided by the California/Nevada border. The Sierra Nevada falls to Arctic temperatures in winter and has several dozen small glaciers, including Palisade Glacier, the southernmost glacier in the United States.
About 45 percent of the state’s total surface area is covered by forests, and California’s diversity of pine species is unmatched by any other state. California contains more forestland than any other state except Alaska. Many of the trees in the California White Mountains are the oldest in the world; an individual bristlecone pine is over 5,000 years old.
In the south is a large inland salt lake, the Salton Sea. The south-central desert is called the Mojave; to the northeast of the Mojave lies Death Valley, which contains the lowest and hottest place in North America, the Badwater Basin at −279 feet (−85 m). The horizontal distance from the bottom of Death Valley to the top of Mount Whitney is less than 90 miles (140 km). Indeed, almost all of southeastern California is arid, hot desert, with routine extreme high temperatures during the summer. The southeastern border of California with Arizona is entirely formed by the Colorado River, from which the southern part of the state gets about half of its water.
A majority of California’s cities are located in either the San Francisco Bay Area or the Sacramento metropolitan area in Northern California; or the Los Angeles area, the Riverside-San Bernardino-Inland Empire, or the San Diego metropolitan area in Southern California. The Los Angeles Area, the Bay Area, and the San Diego metropolitan area are among several major metropolitan areas along the California coast.
As part of the Ring of Fire, California is subject to tsunamis, floods, droughts, Santa Ana winds, wildfires, landslides on steep terrain, and has several volcanoes. It has many earthquakes due to several faults running through the state, the largest being the San Andreas Fault. About 37,000 earthquakes are recorded each year, but most are too small to be felt.
A topographic map of California
A forest of redwood trees in Redwood National Park
Köppen climate types in California
Aerial view of the California Central Valley
Big Sur coast, south of Monterey at Bixby Bridge
Yosemite National Park
Snow on the Sierra Nevada in eastern California
Death Valley, in the Mojave Desert
Potato Harbor, named for its distinctive ovular and bumpy shape, on Santa Cruz Island
The coastline along Laguna Beach in Southern California
Cylindropuntia bigelovii in the Joshua Tree National Park
Mojave National Preserve
The Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta viewed from above, with the Sacramento River above and San Joaquin River below
Zip Code Map
California neighborhoods include: Acampo, Acton, Adelaide, Adelanto, Adin, Agoura Hills, Agua Dulce, Aguanga, Ahwahnee, Alameda, Alamo, Albany, Albion, Alderpoint, Alhambra, Aliso Viejo, Alleghany, Alpaugh, Alpine, Alpine Meadows, Alta, Altadena, Altaville, Alturas, Alviso, Amboy, American Canyon, Anaheim, Anderson, Angels Camp, Angelus Oaks, Angwin, Annapolis, Antelope, Antioch, Anza, Applegate, Apple Valley, Aptos, Arbuckle, Arcadia, Arcata, Arden Arcade, Arleta, Armona, Arnold, Aromas, Arroyo Grande, Artesia, Arvin, Atascadero, Atherton, Atwater, Auberry, Auburn, Avalon, Avenal, Avila Beach, Azusa, Badger, Baker, Bakersfield, Baldwin Park, Ballico, Bangor, Banning, Barstow, Bass Lake, Bay Point, Bayside, Beale Afb, Beaumont, Bell, Bella Vista, Bell Canyon, Bellflower, Bell Gardens, Belmont, Belvedere, Benicia, Ben Lomond, Benton, Berenda, Berkeley, Bermuda Dunes, Berry Creek, Bethel Island, Beverly Hills, Big Bar, Big Bear City, Big Bear Lake, Biggs, Big Oak Valley, Big Pine, Big Sur, Birds Landing, Birds Lndg, Bishop, Blocksburg, Bloomington, Blue Jay, Blue Lake, Blythe, Bodega, Bodega Bay, Bodfish, Bolinas, Bonita, Bonsall, Boonville, Boron, Borrego Springs, Boulder Creek, Boulevard, Bradbury, Bradley, Branscomb, Brawley, Brea, Brentwood, Bridgeport, Bridgeville, Briones, Brisbane, Broadmoor Vlg, Brooks, Browns Valley, Brownsville, Buellton, Buena Park, Burbank, Burlingame, Burney, Burnt Ranch, Butte City, Buttonwillow, Byron, Cabazon, Calabasas, Calabasas Hills, Calexico, Caliente, California City, Calimesa, Calipatria, Calistoga, Callahan, Calpine, Camarillo, Cambria, Cameron Park, Camino, Campbell, Camp Nelson, Campo, Campo Seco, Camp Pendleton, Camptonville, Canby, Canoga Park, Cantil, Cantua Creek, Canyon Country, Canyon Lake, Capay, Capistrano Beach, Capitola, Cardiff By The Sea, Carlotta, Carlsbad, Carmel, Carmel Valley, Carmichael, Carnelian Bay, Carpinteria, Carson, Caruthers, Casmalia, Caspar, Cassel, Castaic, Castro Valley, Castroville, Cathedral City, Catheys Valley, Cayucos, Cazadero, Cedar Glen, Cedarpines Park, Cedarville, Ceres, Cerritos, Challenge, Chatsworth, Cherry Valley, Chico, Chinese Camp, Chino, Chino Hills, Chowchilla, Chualar, Chula Vista, Citrus Heights, City Of Industry, Claremont, Clarksburg, Clayton, Clearlake, Clearlake Oaks, Cloverdale, Clovis, Coachella, Coalinga, Coarsegold, Cold Springs, Coleville, Colfax, College City, Colma, Colton, Columbia, Colusa, Commerce, Comptche, Compton, Concord, Cool, Copperopolis, Corcoran, Corning, Corona, Corona Del Mar, Coronado, Corte Madera, Costa Mesa, Cotati, Cottonwood, Coulterville, Courtland, Covelo, Covina, Coyote, Crescent City, Crestline, Creston, Crockett, Crows Landing, Cudahy, Culver City, Cupertino, Cutler, Cuyama, Cypress, Daggett, Daly City, Dana Point, Danville, Davenport, Davis, Davis Creek, Death Valley, Deer Park, Delano, Delhi, Del Mar, Del Rey, Denair, Descanso, Desert Center, Desert Hot Springs, Diablo, Diamond Bar, Diamond Springs, Dillon Beach, Dinuba, Discovery Bay, Dixon, Dobbins, Dodgertown, Dorris, Dos Palos, Dos Rios, Douglas City, Downey, Downieville, Doyle, Drytown, Duarte, Dublin, Ducor, Dulzura, Dunlap, Dunnigan, Dunsmuir, Durham, Dutch Flat, Earlimart, Earp, East Palo Alto, East Rancho Dominguez, Echo Lake, Edwards, El Cajon, El Centro, El Cerrito, El Dorado, El Dorado Hills, El Granada, Elk, Elk Creek, Elk Grove, El Macero, El Monte, El Nido, El Portal, El Segundo, El Sobrante, Elverta, Emerald Hills, Emeryville, Emigrant Gap, Encinitas, Encino, Escalon, Escondido, Esparto, Essex, Etna, Eureka, Exeter, Fairfax, Fairfield, Fair Oaks, Fallbrook, Fall River Mills, Farmersville, Farmington, Felicity, Fellows, Felton, Ferndale, Fiddletown, Fillmore, Firebaugh, Fish Camp, Floriston, Folsom, Fontana, Foothill Ranch, Forbestown, Forest Falls, Foresthill, Forest Knolls, Forest Ranch, Forestville, Forks Of Salmon, Fort Bidwell, Fort Bragg, Fort Irwin, Fort Jones, Fortuna, Foster City, Fountain Valley, Fowler, Frazier Park, Freedom, Fremont, French Camp, French Gulch, Fresno, Friant, Fullerton, Fulton, Galt, Garberville, Gardena, Garden Grove, Garden Valley, Gasquet, Gazelle, Georgetown, Gerber, Geyserville, Gilroy, Glencoe, Glendale, Glendora, Glen Ellen, Glenhaven, Glenn, Glennville, Gold River, Gold Run, Goleta, Gonzales, Goodyears Bar, Goshen, Granada Hills, Grand Terrace, Granite Bay, Grass Valley, Graton, Greenbrae, Greenfield, Greenwood, Grenada, Gridley, Grizzly Flats, Groveland, Grover Beach, Guadalupe, Gualala, Guerneville, Guinda, Gustine, Hacienda Heights, Half Moon Bay, Hamilton City, Hammil Valley, Hanford, Happy Camp, Harbor City, Harmony, Hat Creek, Hawaiian Gardens, Hawthorne, Hayfork, Hayward, Healdsburg, Heber, Helendale, Helm, Hemet, Herald, Hercules, Heritage Ranch, Herlong, Hermosa Beach, Hesperia, Hickman, Hidden Hills, Hidden Valley Lake, Highland, Hillsborough, Hilmar, Hinkley, Hollister, Holtville, Homeland, Homewood, Hoopa, Hopland, Hornbrook, Hornitos, Horse Creek, Hughson, Hume, Huntington Beach, Huntington Park, Huron, Hyampom, Hydesville, Idyllwild, Igo, Imperial, Imperial Beach, Independence, Indian Wells, Indio, Inglewood, Inverness, Inyokern, Ione, Iowa Hill, Irvine, Irwindale, Isleton, Ivanhoe, Jackson, Jacumba, Jamestown, Jamul, Janesville, Jenner, Johannesburg, Johnson Valley, Joshua Tree, Julian, Junction City, June Lake, Keene, Kelseyville, Kensington, Kentfield, Kenwood, Kerman, Kernville, Kettleman City, King City, Kings Beach, Kingsburg, Kings Canyon National Pk, Kirkwood, Klamath, Klamath River, Kneeland, Knightsen, Knights Landing, Korbel, Kyburz, La Canada Flintridge, La Crescenta, Ladera Ranch, Lafayette, La Grange, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Lagunitas, La Habra, La Habra Heights, La Honda, La Jolla, Lake Arrowhead, Lake Balboa, Lake City, Lake Elsinore, Lake Forest, Lakehead, Lake Hughes, Lake Isabella, Lakeport, Lake Sherwood, Lakeside, Lakewood, La Mesa, La Mirada, Lamont, Lancaster, Landers, La Palma, La Puente, La Quinta, Larkspur, Lathrop, Laton, La Verne, Lawndale, Laytonville, Lebec, Lee Vining, Leggett, Le Grand, Lemon Cove, Lemon Grove, Lemoore, Leona Valley, Lewiston, Likely, Lincoln, Linden, Lindsay, Litchfield, Littleriver, Little River, Littlerock, Live Oak, Livermore, Livingston, Llano, Lockeford, Lockwood, Lodi, Loleta, Loma Linda, Loma Mar, Lomita, Lompoc, Lone Pine, Long Barn, Long Beach, Lookout, Loomis, Los Alamitos, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Los Angeles, Los Banos, Los Gatos, Los Molinos, Los Olivos, Los Osos, Lost Hills, Lotus, Lower Lake, Loyalton, Lucerne, Lucerne Valley, Ludlow, Lynwood, Lytle Creek, Macdoel, Madeline, Madera, Madison, Mad River, Magalia, Malibu, Mammoth Lakes, Manchester, Manhattan Beach, Manteca, Manton, March Air Reserve Base, Maricopa, Marina, Marina Del Rey, Mariposa, Markleeville, Marshall, Martinez, Marysville, Mather, Maxwell, Maywood, McArthur, McClellan, McCloud, Mc Farland, McKinleyville, Mc Kittrick, Meadow Vista, Mecca, Mendocino, Mendota, Menifee, Menlo Park, Mentone, Merced, Meridian, Middletown, Midpines, Midway City, Milford, Millbrae, Mill Creek, Mill Valley, Millville, Milpitas, Mineral, Mira Loma, Miramonte, Mission Hills, Mission Viejo, Mi Wuk Village, Modesto, Mojave, Mokelumne Hill, Monrovia, Montague, Montara, Montclair, Montebello, Monterey, Monterey Park, Monte Rio, Monte Sereno, Montgomery Creek, Montrose, Moorpark, Moraga, Moreno Valley, Morgan Hill, Morongo Valley, Morro Bay, Moss Beach, Moss Landing, Mountain Center, Mountain Ranch, Mountain View, Mount Hamilton, Mount Shasta, Mt Baldy, Mt Madonna, Muir Beach, Murphys, Murrieta, Myers Flat, Napa, National City, Needles, Nevada City, Newark, Newberry Springs, Newbury Park, Newcastle, New Cuyama, Newhall, Newman, Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Nicasio, Nice, Nicolaus, Niland, Nipomo, Nipton, Norco, Norden, North Edwards, North Fork, North Highlands, North Hills, North Hollywood, Northridge, North San Juan, Norwalk, Novato, Nuevo, Oakdale, Oak Hills, Oakhurst, Oakland, Oakley, Oak Park, Oak Run, Oak View, Oakville, Occidental, Oceano, Oceanside, Ocotillo, Ojai, Old Station, Olivehurst, Olympic Valley, O Neals, Ono, Ontario, Onyx, Orange, Orange Cove, Orangevale, Orcutt, Oregon House, Orick, Orinda, Orland, Orleans, Oro Grande, Orosi, Oroville, Oxnard, Pacheco, Pacifica, Pacific Grove, Pacific Palisades, Pacoima, Paicines, Pala, Palermo, Palmdale, Palm Desert, Palm Springs, Palo Alto, Palo Cedro, Palomar Park, Palos Verdes Estates, Palos Verdes Peninsula, Palo Verde, Panorama City, Paradise, Paramount, Parker Dam, Parlier, Pasadena, Paso Robles, Patterson, Pauma Valley, Paynes Creek, Pearblossom, Pebble Beach, Penngrove, Penn Valley, Penryn, Perris, Pescadero, Petaluma, Petrolia, Phelan, Philo, Pico Rivera, Piedmont, Piercy, Pilot Hill, Pinecrest, Pine Grove, Pine Mountain Club, Pine Valley, Pinole, Pinon Hills, Pioneer, Pismo Beach, Pittsburg, Pixley, Placentia, Placerville, Platina, Playa Del Rey, Playa Vista, Pleasant Grove, Pleasant Hill, Pleasanton, Plumas Lake, Plymouth, Point Arena, Point Mugu Nawc, Point Reyes Station, Point Richmond, Pollock Pines, Pomona, Pope Valley, Poplar, Port Costa, Porter Ranch, Porterville, Port Hueneme, Port Hueneme Cbc Base, Portola Valley, Posey, Potrero, Potter Valley, Poway, Prather, Princeton, Rackerby, Raisin City, Ramona, Ranchita, Rancho Cordova, Rancho Cucamonga, Rancho Dominguez, Rancho Mirage, Rancho Murieta, Rancho Palos Verdes, Rancho Santa Fe, Rancho Santa Margarita, Randsburg, Ravendale, Raymond, Red Bluff, Redcrest, Redding, Redlands, Redondo Beach, Redway, Redwood City, Redwood Valley, Reedley, Rescue, Reseda, Rialto, Richgrove, Richmond, Ridgecrest, Rio Dell, Rio Linda, Rio Nido, Rio Oso, Rio Vista, Ripley, Ripon, Riverbank, Riverdale, Riverside, Rocklin, Rodeo, Rohnert Park, Rolling Hills, Rolling Hills Estates, Rosamond, Rosemead, Roseville, Rosewood, Rough And Ready, Rowland Heights, Royal Oaks, Rumsey, Running Springs, Sacramento, Saint Helena, Salida, Salinas, Salyer, Samoa, San Andreas, San Anselmo, San Ardo, San Bernardino, San Bruno, San Carlos, San Clemente, San Diego, San Dimas, San Fernando, San Francisco, San Gabriel, Sanger, San Geronimo, San Gregorio, San Jacinto, San Joaquin, San Jose, San Juan Bautista, San Juan Capistrano, San Leandro, San Lorenzo, San Luis Obispo, San Marcos, San Marino, San Martin, San Mateo, San Miguel, San Pablo, San Pedro, San Quentin, San Rafael, San Ramon, San Simeon, Santa Ana, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Clarita, Santa Cruz, Santa Fe Springs, Santa Margarita, Santa Maria, Santa Monica, Santa Paula, Santa Rosa, Santa Rosa Valley, Santa Ynez, Santa Ysabel, Santee, San Ysidro, Saratoga, Sattley, Sausalito, Scotia, Scott Bar, Scotts Valley, Seal Beach, Seaside, Sebastopol, Seeley, Seiad Valley, Selma, Sequoia National Park, Shafter, Shandon, Shasta, Shasta Lake, Shaver Lake, Sheep Ranch, Shell Beach, Sheridan, Sherman Oaks, Shingle Springs, Shingletown, Shoshone, Sierra City, Sierra Madre, Sierraville, Signal Hill, Silverado, Simi Valley, Skyforest, Sloughhouse, Smartsville, Smith River, Snelling, Soda Springs, Solana Beach, Soledad, Solvang, Somerset, Somes Bar, Somis, Sonoma, Sonora, Soquel, Soulsbyville, South El Monte, South Gate, South Lake Tahoe, South Pasadena, South San Francisco, Spring Valley, Springville, Squaw Valley, Standish, Stanford, Stanton, Stevenson Ranch, Stevinson, Stewarts Point, Stinson Beach, Stockton, Stonyford, Stratford, Strathmore, Strawberry, Strawberry Valley, Studio City, Sugarloaf, Suisun City, Summerland, Sun City, Sunland, Sunnyvale, Sunol, Sunset Beach, Sun Valley, Surfside, Susanville, Sutter, Sutter Creek, Swall Meadows, Sylmar, Taft, Tahoe City, Tahoe Vista, Tahoma, Tarzana, Tecate, Tecopa, Tehachapi, Temecula, Temple City, Templeton, Termo, Terra Bella, Thermal, The Sea Ranch, Thousand Oaks, Thousand Palms, Three Rivers, Tiburon, Tipton, Tollhouse, Toluca Lake, Tomales, Topanga, Topaz, Torrance, Trabuco Canyon, Tracy, Tranquillity, Traver, Travis Afb, Trinidad, Trinity Center, Trona, Trowbridge, Truckee, Tujunga, Tulare, Tulelake, Tuolumne, Tupman, Turlock, Tustin, Twain Harte, Twentynine Palms, Twin Bridges, Ukiah, Union City, Universal City, Upland, Upper Lake, Vacaville, Valencia, Vallecito, Vallejo, Valley Center, Valley Ford, Valley Springs, Valley Village, Valyermo, Van Nuys, Venice, Ventura, Vernalis, Vernon, Victorville, Vidal, Villa Park, Visalia, Vista, Volcano, Walnut, Walnut Creek, Walnut Grove, Warner Springs, Wasco, Washington, Waterford, Watsonville, Weaverville, Weed, Weldon, Wendel, West Covina, West Hills, West Hollywood, Westlake Village, Westminster, Westmorland, West Point, Westport, West Sacramento, Westwood, Wheatland, Whitethorn, Whitewater, Whitmore, Whittier, Wildomar, Williams, Willits, Willow Creek, Willows, Wilmington, Wilseyville, Wilton, Winchester, Windsor, Winnetka, Winterhaven, Winters, Winton, Wishon, Witter Springs, Wofford Heights, Woodacre, Woodbridge, Woodlake, Woodland, Woodland Hills, Woodside, Woodville, Woody, Wrightwood, Yorba Linda, Yorkville, Yosemite National Park, Yountville, Yreka, Yuba City, Yucaipa, Yucca Valley, Zamora, Zenia
For more information, see California wiki