Located on the Western Coast of the United States, California is our most populous state. Home to over 38 million Americans, it is the third largest state bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west and three states, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, and Mexico to the south.
The culture of California is unique from the other 49 states, often referred to as "laid-back" and unhurried. California has long been promoted as the American paradise, and the ideal vacation destination due to its sunny and dry climate with easy access to the ocean, mountains and deserts. In the 1960s, popular music groups such as The Beach Boys promoted the image of Californians as easy-going, tanned beach-goers. The California Gold Rush of the 1850s is still seen as a symbol of California's economic style, which tends to generate technology, social, entertainment, and economic fads and booms and related busts.
Much of California has a Mediterranean climate, with cool, rainy winters and dry summers. The cool Pacific Ocean often creates summer fog near the coast. Farther inland, one encounters colder winters and hotter summers. Northern parts of the state average higher annual rainfall than the south. California's mountain ranges influence the climate as well and are some of the rainiest parts of the state.
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Points of interest include Yosemite National Park, Disneyland, Hollywood, the Golden Gate Bridge, Sequoia National Park, San Simeon State Park, the Redwood Forest, Napa Valley and Point Reyes National Seashore. Other points of interest include Death Valley, 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest elevation point in the US, in contrast, Mt. Whitney 14,491 feet above sea level, is the highest point in the contiguous 48 states.