California (i/ˌkæləˈfɔrnjə/) is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is the most populous U.S. state, home to 1 out of 8 Americans, and is the third largest state by area (after Alaska and Texas). It is home to the nation's second and fifth largest census statistical areas (Greater Los Angeles area and San Francisco Bay Area, respectively), and eight of the nation's 50 most populated cities (Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Fresno, Sacramento, Long Beach, and Oakland). The capital city is Sacramento. California is bordered by Oregon to the north, Nevada to the east, and Arizona to the southeast. California is also bordered by Baja California, a state of Mexico, to the south.
California's diverse geography ranges from the Pacific Coast in the west, to the Sierra Nevada mountains in the east – from the Redwood–Douglas-fir forests of the northwest, to the Mojave Desert areas in the southeast. The center of the state is dominated by the Central Valley, a major agricultural area. California contains both the highest and lowest points in the contiguous United States (Mount Whitney and Death Valley), and has the 3rd longest coastline of all states (after Alaska and Florida). Earthquakes are a common occurrence due to the state's location along the Pacific Ring of Fire: about 37,000 are recorded annually.
About 45 percent of the state's total surface area is covered by forests, and California's diversity of pine species is unmatched by any other state. California contains more forestland than any other state except Alaska. Many of the trees in the California White Mountains are the oldest in the World; one Bristlecone pine has an age of 4,700 years.
Along the California coast are several major metropolitan areas, including Greater Los Angeles Area, the San Francisco Bay Area, and the San Diego metropolitan area. As part of the Ring of Fire, California is subject to tsunamis, floods, droughts, Santa Ana winds, wildfires, landslides on steep terrain, and has several volcanoes. It sees numerous earthquakes due to several faults, in particular the San Andreas Fault.
The culture of California is a Western culture and most clearly has its modern roots in the culture of the United States, but also, historically, many Hispanic influences. As a border and coastal state, Californian culture has been greatly influenced by several large immigrant populations, especially those from Latin America.
California has long been a subject of interest in the public mind and has often been promoted by its boosters as a kind of paradise. In the early 20th century, fueled by the efforts of state and local boosters, many Americans saw the Golden State as an ideal resort destination, sunny and dry all year round with easy access to the ocean and mountains. In the 1960s, popular music groups such as The Beach Boys promoted the image of Californians as laid-back, tanned beach-goers.