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California (pronounced /kælɨˈfɔrnjə/ ( listen)) is the most populous state in the United States,[2] and the third largest by area. California is the second most populous sub-national entity in the Americas, behind only São Paulo, Brazil. It is located on theWest Coast of the United States, and is bordered by Oregon to the north, Nevada to the northeast, Arizona to the southeast, theMexican state of Baja California to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Its four largest cities are Los AngelesSan Diego,San Jose, and San Francisco.[5] The state is home to the nation's second and sixth largest census statistical areas as well as eight of the nation's fifty most populous cities. California has a varied climate and geography, and a diverse population.

California is the third-largest U.S. state by land area, after Alaska and Texas. Its geography ranges from the Pacific coast to theSierra Nevada mountain range in the east, to Mojave desert areas in the southeast and the RedwoodDouglas fir forests of the northwest. The center of the state is dominated by the Central Valley, one of the most productive agricultural areas in the world. California is the most geographically diverse state in the nation, and contains the highest (Mount Whitney) and lowest (Death Valley) points in the contiguous United States. Almost 40% of California is forested,[6] a high amount for a relatively arid state.

Beginning in the late 18th century, the area known as Alta California was colonized by the Spanish Empire. In 1821, Mexico, including Alta California, became the First Mexican Empire, beginning as a monarchy, before shifting to a republic. In 1846 a group of American settlers in Sonoma declared the independence of a California Republic. As a result of the Mexican-American War, Mexico ceded California to the United States. It became the 31st state admitted to the union on September 9, 1850.

In the 19th century, the California Gold Rush brought about dramatic social, economic, and demographic change in California, with a large influx of people and an economic boom that caused San Francisco to grow from a hamlet of tents to a world-renownedboomtown. Key developments in the early 20th century included the emergence of Los Angeles as center of the Americanentertainment industry, and the growth of a large, state-wide tourism sector. In addition to California's prosperous agriculturalindustry, other important contributors to the economy include aerospacepetroleum, and information technology. If California were a country, it would rank among the ten largest economies in the world, with a GDP similar to that of Italy. It would be the 35th mostpopulous country. 
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Quick Tip by . April 20, 2011
Based solely on the parts of California that I've been too (San Diego and Temecula), California gets a five star rating from me. Some of the friendliest people I've ever met were in the Temecula area, and to be honest, I never expected that from California.
review by . January 20, 2000
Pros: A really rather pretty town     Cons: Snotty attitude spoils a lot of the pros     Warning to the sensitive: rants and folk song lyrics appear below.   --   There is a nifty small-town feel to Ojai; it seems to have escaped the chain store rampage that's overtaken most of the continent. Small boutiques and independent stores and restaurants abound.      This is a debatable advantage. Endless boutique shops with …
review by . October 21, 1999
Pros: Cute, distinctly foreign look, some unique shops and sights     Cons: Cute, distinctly fake look, some expensive shops and sights     Quotation time:      "Founded in 1911 as a Danish-American colony, Solvang has developed into one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country. And contrary to Disneyland and Sea World, Solvang is not an amusement park. Though it's aimed at tourists, there's a genuine Danish heritage …
review by . September 16, 1999
Pros: Inexpensive, relaxing, California beach town vibe     Cons: No attractions, isolated-small-town vibe     'Here we are, Pismo Beach and all the clams you can eat' -- so quoth Bugs Bunny (after taking a 'wrong turn at Albuquerque.') The town managed to lock on to this somehow; the main landmarks are large cement clams, and we actually did see a 'Wed -- All-you-can-eat clams $5.99' sign. No clamming is allowed on the beach, though. We couldn't figure that …
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