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How Big is California? Explaining California's Size

How Big is California? Explaining California's Size

So, how big is California? The Golden State boasts diverse ecosystems, cities, and wildlife in its substantial area. Team


1 min read

August 16, 2023

California is not just famous for its golden beaches, rolling vineyards, bustling cities, and entertainment prowess—it's also distinguished by its sheer size. We've all had an out-of-town friend visit Los Angeles and say, "Let's drive up to San Francisco" without realizing it's a six-hour car ride. California is massive. As the third-largest state in the U.S., only Alaska and Texas surpass it in land area. So, how big is California?

A Glimpse by the Numbers

California sprawls across a whopping 163,696 square miles (423,970 square kilometers) of land. To put that into perspective, if California were its own country, it would be the 59th largest by land area in the world, right between Iraq and Paraguay.

Diverse Terrains and Ecosystems

Beyond the numbers, California's vastness is mirrored in its environmental diversity. From the Mojave Desert in the southeast to the lush Redwood forests of the north; from the Sierra Nevada Mountain range, home to the breathtaking Yosemite Valley, to over 800 miles of Pacific coastline—the diversity of California's topography is staggering.

Such diversity has given rise to a multiplicity of ecosystems. This expansive region houses both the highest (Mount Whitney) and the lowest (Death Valley) points in the contiguous U.S., with variations in climate ranging from Mediterranean to subarctic, depending on altitude and proximity to the coast.

The vast California landscape is full of diversity that's almost unmatched throughout the entire United States.

California's Size in Relation to Countries and States

To further appreciate California's immensity, it can be helpful to compare its size to that of other regions. For instance:

  • The United Kingdom: California is roughly one and a half times the size of the entire United Kingdom, which is about 93,600 square miles.

  • Japan: California's land area is slightly larger than Japan, which encompasses about 145,937 square miles.

  • Eastern U.S. States: California's vastness can envelop several eastern states combined, like Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware, and others, with room to spare.

Implications of Its Size

California's massive size and geographical diversity have significant implications. Economically, it's a powerhouse. If it were an independent country, its GDP would rank among the top economies globally, thanks in part to its productive farmlands, tech hubs like Silicon Valley, and a vast entertainment industry centered in Hollywood.

California is more than just a state; it's a vast territory marked by diverse ecosystems, landscapes, and climates. This massive state, with its mixture of urban centers, agricultural lands, forests, and deserts, truly stands out, not just in its physical magnitude but also in its cultural and economic impact on the nation and the world.

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