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Cool, Fun California Facts

Cool Facts and Fun Things to Know About the State of California


You may be surprised to know some of these things about California

Barbra Handler, daughter of Ruth Handler and namesake inspiration for the Barbie doll, places the doll's footprints in cement at Hollywood's Egyptian Theatre.

Photo by Robert Mora/Getty Images. Used by Permission.
  • California is the USA's most populous state with almost 40,000,000 residents, more than Canada as of 2008. One of eight United States residents live here.1

  • California is a "minority majority" state, with 58% of its population Asian, Hispanic, Native American or other groups. 26% of its people were born outside the U.S.1

  • Only Alaska and Texas have more land than California2

  • Three out of the ten largest U. S. cities are in California: Los Angeles, San Diego and San Jose3

  • California was the country's top state in cash farm receipts in 2008, growing nearly half of all fruits, nuts and vegetables. Almonds are the biggest export (in dollars), followed by dairy products, wine, table grapes, cotton, walnuts, pistachios and rice4

  • California contains the lowest and the highest points in the continental U. S. You can travel from 282 feet below sea level in Death Valley to 14,494-foot Mt. Whitney in less than a day5

  • California is home to the world's largest tree (General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park)6 and the tallest (a coastal redwood whose identity is withheld)7.

  • Some California plants live a long time. The eastern Sierras' Bristlecone pines are 4,600 years old, but a Mojave Desert creosote bush is among the world's oldest living things at 43,000 years.8

  • Invented in California: fortune cookies, Apple computers, theme parks (Disneyland), blue jeans and the Barbie doll

Common Questions about California

When did California become a state? Sept. 9, 18509

What was California named for? Queen Califia, a character in the book written by Garcia de Montalvo10

What is California's population? 36,961,664 in 20091

What time is it in California? California is in the Pacific Time Zone and observes Daylight Savings Time. Check the current time

What year was gold discovered in California? 184911

Why is California called the Golden State? The State Museum says: "California's modern development can be traced back to the discovery of gold in 1848 and fields of golden poppies can be seen each spring"10

Who found California? Native people lived in California for thousands of years. In 1542, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo led the first European expedition to what is now California12


1U.S. Census Bureau
4California Department of Food and Agriculture
6National Park Service
7Extreme Science
8San Francisco Chronicle
10California State Library
11San Francisco Museum
12Cabrillo National Monument

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