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The 31 California Fun Facts You’ll Wish You Knew Sooner

The 31 California Fun Facts You’ll Wish You Knew Sooner

By California.com
September 09, 2020

The Golden State is full of surprises—and it's no wonder inspiration and innovation take on many forms in this majestic land of beaches, valleys, and mountains. Recognized internationally for its unique history and unconventional spirit, California (unsurprisingly) has quite a few fascinating stories and interesting facts to share. From the spooky to the intriguing, here are the best California fun facts.

1. In 1850, California became the 31st state. Prior to its statehood, California was an independent country for one month in 1846.

2. California is home to approximately 40 million residents, which is about ⅛ of the U.S. population and more than the entire population of Canada.

3. The majority of California's residents belong to a minority ethnic group; in fact, one out of every four Californians was not born in the U.S. 

4. Almonds are California’s top exports. Most of the state’s almonds are grown in the Central Valley, which is considered the world’s almond capital.

Marvel at California's majestic Central Valley, which is home to the world’s almond capital.

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 5. Many of the Native American tribes—including the Quechan (Yuma), Maidu, Pomo, and Hupa—lived in California.

6.  The Golden State ranks third amongst the largest territories in the U.S., after Alaska and Texas.

7. Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Jose are among the top 10 biggest cities in the U.S.

8. With nearly three million acres of land, San Bernardino County is the largest county in the U.S.

9. Contrasting San Bernardino, Alpine County is California's smallest county, with 465,030 acres of land.

10. There are many interesting facts about California, but one of the most impressive is that it the first state to reach $1 trillion in GDP.

When traveling in California, make sure to stop by San Diego, the second-largest city in the state.

11. The California redwood tree became the designated California state tree in 1937.

12. Eureka—the Greek word for “I have found it!”—is a cry of happiness when you've achieved something; Archimedes uttered this very word when he discovered the method of determining the purity of gold. In honor of the California Gold Rush, the state later adopted “Eureka” as its official motto.

13. During the Great Depression, San Francisco successfully survived the worldwide recession. None of its banks went bankrupt during this time.

14. On average, California experiences over 100,000 earthquakes a year. Luckily, many of these earthquakes are quite feeble.

Despite its appearance on the state flag, the California grizzly bear hasn't been seen in the state for more than a century.

15. California was initially named “the Grizzly Bear State” (hence the bear on the flag), but as the human population increased in California, trouble escalated between bear and man. As a result, the bears were hunted for sport, thus leading to their extinction. When there were no longer any bears left, California was renamed the Golden State. 

16. California is truly a hub of innovation and inspires the brightest of minds; many innovations were created here, including wetsuits, skateboards, Barbie dolls, Apple products, Frisbee, and even the Internet. 

17. Here's an especially weird fact about California: In the summer months, the Sierra Nevada surprises and delights visitors with its magnificent “watermelon snow.” As a result of microscopic algae, pink-tinted snow drapes the mountains, and some even say it smells and tastes just like watermelon.

While fortune cookies are often served with Chinese food, they were popularized and invented in California, not China.

18. Many people love to crack open these vanilla-flavored treats after enjoying a Chinese meal to read the riddles and fortunes tucked inside—that’s right, we're talking about the fortune cookie. This post-dinner delight was created in California, with both Los Angeles and San Francisco taking credit for the invention.

19. Get ready to steam your worries away in California—Sonoma County boasts the world's largest geothermal field. Before power plants were built in the region, native tribes used it for healing purposes and steam baths for over 12,000 years.

20. With nine national parks to explore, California is home to the most national parks in the country and offers an abundance of incredibly beautiful scenery.

21. San Francisco is the only city where you can walk on guns—yes, you read that right. Known for its bizarre facts, S.F. is quite the headliner. (For instance, did you know that it's illegal to store anything but automobiles in the garages in the city?) In an attempt to make the city streets free of mud and dirt—settlers paved the streets with guns during the late 1800s and early 1900s. 

22. San Francisco is also known as "The City of Dogs," thanks to its unusually large pup population. As of 2016, there are only 115,000 children in the city but between 120,000 and 150,000 dogs. It seems like San Francisco's residents are in favor of having four-legged babies.

Famous for its groves of giant sequoias, California's official state tree is the redwood.

23. California defies gravity, literally. There are several mysterious places in California where gravity just doesn't seem to play the same role as it should. The gravity hills in certain spots of California are known to push your car uphill, without using any power and while the car is in neutral.

24. California has the largest amphitheater in the United States: The classic Hollywood Bowl opened in 1922, serving as an amphitheater, public park, and picnic area.

25. Most of the movies filmed in the U.S. were filmed in California. (Following the Golden State is New York and Texas.) So, take a drive to the most iconic film locations in Southern California or add Northern California film spots to your to-do list

26. Enjoying everything from avocado toast to avocado smoothies, Californians are so in love with the avocado that it's become the official state fruit and one of the most iconic foods in California. San Diego County's Fallbrook, known as the "Avocado Capital of the World," hosts an annual avocado festival.

27. The stylish city of San Francisco is where blue jeans were invented. Levi Strauss and business partner Jacob Davis introduced the jeans to the world in 1873. Initially worn by factory workers, miners, and farmers, jeans eventually became a staple and made their way into closets around the nation and beyond.

Salute General Sherman, the world's largest tree by volume, and soak in the ancient wisdom of this massive sequoia.

28. In California’s Sequoia National Park, you'll find the world's largest tree by volume. Named General Sherman, this giant sequoia is about 52,500 cubic feet by volume, and its circumference at the ground is 102.6 feet.

29. The iconic zip code 90210 is one of the state's most expensive zip codes and among L.A.'s most expensive neighborhoods, but Beverly Hills has actually humble roots. What began as a Spanish lima bean ranch quickly transformed into the most prestigious Golden State neighborhood and is now home to many Hollywood starlets.

30. California has an incredibly diverse climate and environment. The weather varies from blazing desert heat to subarctic climates, depending on the latitude and elevation.

31. California is the only state that has hosted both the summer and winter Olympics. The city of Los Angeles hosted the 1932 and 1984 Summer Olympics, while Squaw Valley hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics.

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