California, the Golden State, borders Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Mexico and the Pacific. Though mostly mountainous it is diverse, ranging from flat desert 282 feet below sea level to peaks over 14,000 feet. The Central valley is perfect for agriculture. The climate, though as diverse as the geography, is generally Mediterranean and mild.
The gold rush of 1848-9 brought many Americans to California, resulting in statehood in 1850. A century later a new rush to California made it the most populous state by 1963. Manufacturing is the biggest part of its economy, followed by agriculture, mining and tourism.
California's attractions are as varied as its geography. The glitter of Hollywood attracts tourists and hopeful actors. Theme parks, including the first, Disneyland, abound. Outdoor sports range from alpine skiing to beach volleyball. Every professional sport has at least one franchise in California. Indoors, all the arts are well-represented and the night life and cuisine are world-famous.