The "Golden State" California is one of the most famous US states and attracts many tourists and emigrants every year. From great beaches and the dream factory Hollywood to spectacular National Parks - find out now what California has to offer!

California Overview

Seal of US state California

  • Area: approx. 424.000 km²
  • Population: approx. 40 million
  • Time zone: GMT -8 hours
  • Capital: Sacramento
  • State motto: Eureka (Greek for "I found it")

History of California

Many centuries ago, between 9,000-10,000 B.C., about 70 different Indian tribes populated the former land of California. After 1500, the first European settlers came to California, such as Francis Drake or Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, to claim the state for themselves. In 1769 the first permanent settlement called 'Alta California' was built by Spanish missionaries.

With the discovery of larger quantities of gold, more than 250,000 settlers from all parts of the USA rushed to California around 1848 (California Gold Rush), among them mostly farmers from the Southern and Western states. They hoped not only to become rich through gold, but also to find better climatic conditions to achieve a greater harvest.

Image of Gold Rush settlement Bodie in California

California becomeS US state

During the Mexican-American War California gained its independence and was declared the 31st state of the USA in 1850 as a result of the "Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo". After the Civil War, California was better connected to the rest of the USA in 1869 with the construction of the Transcontinental Railway line, which contributed to the economic success of the Golden State.

In the 1920s, another industry grew in importance alongside agriculture. Due to the abundant sunlight and relatively cheap land prices, the film industry settled in California and the world-famous Hollywood film studios were established.

California Today

Today, California is mainly known as a very liberal state and democratic stronghold, which is also reflected in the presidential elections. With its almost 40 million inhabitants, it is the most populous state in the USA. Unfortunately, the cost of living and real estate prices have risen dramatically in the meantime, which makes living in California very expensive.

Population of California

California is also a "Minority Majority State", so almost 60% of the population consists of Asians, Latin Americans, Indians or other groups. A quarter of the people were born outside the USA. Apart from English, Spanish is spoken most frequently. The largest religious communities are the Protestants with 32 percent and the Catholic Church with 28 percent. A whole 27 percent of the population do not belong to any religion.

Image of Chinatown in San Francisco

Economy in California

The Golden State is the largest food producer in the USA and is considered the fifth largest supplier of food worldwide. Wine growing also plays an important role due to the good climatic conditions. In addition, California is nowadays globally known for Silicon Valley as the center of the IT and high-tech industry. It is also an important location for the aerospace industry.

Landscape & Location

The US state of California is located in the southwest of the USA by the Pacific Ocean and borders the US states of Oregon, Nevada and Arizona as well as the Mexican peninsula called Baja California. With its almost 424.000 km² it is the third largest state in the USA in terms of area.


Location of California in the USA

Location of California

The landscape in California is very diverse and has a lot to offer. In the West it borders the Pacific Ocean with about 1350 km of coastline, so there are many great beaches. In the East lies the high mountain range Sierra Nevada (Spanish: mountain range covered in snow), which stretches over 500 kilometers to the South. The Sierra Nevada offers up to 250 sunny days a year.

Map of California, USA

Map of the US state California

Mount Whitney, at around 4,418 meters, is the highest mountain in the continental USA and is only 80 kilometers from the lowest point in the USA in the Death Valley desert region. In addition, the tallest, thickest and oldest trees in the world grow in California (redwood and pine). The state also owns most of the National Parks in the USA - nine in total!

Climate in California

Although most of the state has a Mediterranean climate, the climate varies from moderate to subtropical due to the size of the country. Temperatures in the coastal regions are often somewhat lower than in the inland due to the cool Pacific Ocean, and fog often occurs in summer.

Graph of Temperatures in California USA


However, in the interior of the country, Sierra Nevada has hotter summers as well as colder winters with lots of snow on the mountains. In Northern California, more rain falls in winter. The desert regions are usually warm and sunny all year round, only at night it can get quite cool.

Graph of the Water temperatures in California USA


Best travel time to California

If you want to visit the big cities San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego in the best possible weather, you should make your trip between May and October. However, August should be avoided if possible due to the holiday season in the USA, as all beaches, hotels & sights are much more crowded or expensive then.

Image of the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles

All skiers can pursue their passion well in the winter months from October to April in the mountains of the Sierra Nevada. The desert region in Death Valley is also a good place to visit at this time of year, as it is pleasantly mild.

Places of Interest in California

California is known for its many National Parks and beaches and its sunny, mild weather. Those who prefer peace and nature can enjoy the breathtaking landscape or the extensive beaches along the Pacific coast.

National Parks

Whether for camping, hiking or comfortably by rental car... There is something for everyone in the numerous National Parks! In the following we have listed all the Parks in California for you:

Image of Death Valley in California, USA

Image of the Lassen Volcanic National Park in California

Image of a Sequioa Tree in California

More sights for active people

California is also one of the states with the most National Monuments and there are four National Historic Trails, such as the Old Spanish Trail - a historic trade route. For the adventurous, a visit to the famous high security prison Alcatraz in San Francisco is a must. For families with children, Disneyland or the Six Flags amusement park near Los Angeles are also recommended!

Image of Alcatraz in San Francisco

Active holidaymakers can choose between countless sports activities or immerse themselves in the flow of the big cities, which in turn offer their very own sights. All movie fans should of course take a closer look at L.A. and Hollywood. There you can, for example, go on a celebrity hunt and, if you plan early, even get a seat in the audience at a TV show!

Food & Culture in California

Museums in California

Culture lovers also get their money's worth in California. Especially in the bigger cities there are some interesting museums that are worth a visit. These include, for example:

  • California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento: a must for all railway fans
  • Cable Car Museum in San Francisco: exciting for children and fans of antique trams from the 19th century, free of charge!
  • Exploratorium in San Francisco: interactive science museum on human perception
  • Computer History Museum in Mountain View: Computer history from Silicon Valley for all IT freaks
  • Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley: Library & Museum about the life of the 40th US President
  • The Getty Center in Los Angeles: state-of-the-art artwork, sculpture garden and breathtaking views of L.A.
  • Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles: landmark and public observatory
  • USS Midway Museum in San Diego: floating naval museum ship from the Cold War era

Californian cuisine

Californian cuisine reflects the diverse culture of California and is significantly influenced by its Hispanic-American roots (Mexican, Latin American, Spanish). But there are also many Asian (Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese) and European influences (Italian, French, Portuguese).

Bild vom Napa Valley in California

Californian food culture also places great emphasis on fresh, light and health-conscious dishes, as well as on the local sourcing of Californian products and seafood, such as fresh vegetables from regional farms. Most California cities also have the popular Farmer's Markets, which offer fresh local produce.

In fact, California is very proud of its good wines, handmade cheese and organic vegetables. These delicious things appear on most menus in California restaurants and bistros.

Top 5 Beaches in California

With a 1350 km coastline along the Pacific Ocean, California has some beautiful beaches. Among our top 5 are definitely those ones:

  • Coronado Beach in San Diego: long family friendly beach with calm water
  • La Jolla Cove in San Diego: soft sand beach between sandstone cliffs formed by the sea

Image of the La Jolla Cove in San Diego

  • Carmel City Beach in Carmel-By-The-Sea: beach with soft white sand and great sunset views
  • Huntington Beach in Huntington Beach: great beach for surfing in the "Surf City USA"
  • Venice Beach & Santa Monica Beach in Los Angeles: people watching & cool shops in Venice or the famous pier with ferris wheel & roller coaster in Santa Monica

Don't forget to pack your swim trunks🙂!

Instagram Hot Spots

As already mentioned, California offers something for all tastes and makes every photographer's heart beat faster. From mountains, beaches, desert, lonely ghost towns to great big cities with a high celebrity density - there is something for everyone! We have listed the best Instagram Hot Spots for you:

  • Napa Valley: California wine region north of San Francisco
  • Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco: Famous red 1,280 m long suspension bridge in Art-deco style
  • Painted Ladies, San Francisco: famous historical Victorian houses in different colours

Bild der Painted Ladies in San Francisco

  • Hollywood Sign, Los Angeles: famous landmark on Mount Lee
  • Venice Canals, Los Angeles: cute little canals in Italian style with sidewalks and pedestrian bridges
  • Salvation Mountain: artistic mountain of clay and straw with Christian messages

Bild vom Salvation Mountain in Kalifornien

  • Potato Chip Rock north of San Diego: famous rock in the shape of a potato chip 

Fun Facts & Curiosities

And last but not least some interesting facts about the 31st state of the USA:

  • California is where they invented: Fortune cookies, Apple computers, theme parks (Disneyland), blue jeans and the Barbie doll.
  • The first McDonald's restaurant ever opened here in 1940.
  • The Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles is the largest outdoor amphitheater in the world.
  • By law, a frog that dies during a "frog jumping competition" may not be eaten and must be "destroyed" as quickly as possible.
  • In 2016, disposable plastic carrier bags were banned in large stores and supermarkets.