Climate - California has a Mediterranean-type climate that is characterized by general sun and warmth with rain mainly in the winter. Climate does vary greatly based on distance from the ocean and elevation. There are five main climatic zones which exist in the state.
- Coastal climate: This area contains most of the state's population. It varies greatly up and down the coast.
- Desert climate: Characterized by great daily and annual variations in temperature with very little rainfall.
- Foothill climate: 1,000 to 3,000 ft. in elevation with climate similar to valley regions, but with more rain and less fog.
- Mountain climate: This is the sole region for heavy snow, accented with fairly cold winters and bright, sunny summers.
- Valley climate: Characterized by high temperature and low humidity in the summer and low temperature and high humidity in the winter. Both the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys exhibit this type of climatology.
Rainfall varies from 80 inches in Del Norte County (North Coast) to as low as 3 inches in Imperial County (Desert).
Geography - California has an incredible variety of geography across all 12 regions.
- California, the third largest state in land area, covers 155,779.22 square miles.
- The average width of the state is 150 to 200 miles.
- California has a coastline 1,264 miles long
- At 14,495 feet, Mt. Whitney in Sequoia National Park is the highest point in the contiguous United States.
- Badwater in Death Valley National Park, at 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest elevation point in the United States.
- California has three active volcanoes: Mt. Lassen (elevation 10,457 feet) and Mt. Shasta (elevation 14,162) in the Cascade Mountain range, and Mt. Mammoth (elevation 11,000 feet) in the Sierra Nevada.
- The San Francisco Bay is the largest natural harbor and estuary on the west coast.
- California is home to more than 420 recreational lakes. The largest natural lake, Clearlake, often referred to as "The Bass Capital of the West," has 43,000 acres of surface area and a shoreline of 100 miles, at an elevation of 1,320 feet.
- California has 4.1 million acres in National Park acreage and 1.3 million acres in State Park acreage.
- California boasts the largest trees in the world, a species of Redwood known as Sequoia gigantea, found in the Sierra Nevada.
- Calfiornia also lays claim to oldest living thing in the world, the Bristlecone Pine tree, aged at nearly 5,000 years.
Population - As of 2013, the total state population was 38,332,521 - approximately 12 percent of the United States' total population. The population in California's six largest cities are as follows:
- Los Angeles: 3,884,307
- San Diego: 1,355,896
- San Jose: 998,537
- San Francisco: 837,442
- Fresno: 509,924
- Sacramento: 479,686
State Symbols - California's official state symbols are as follows:
- Animal: The Grizzly Bear - The Grizzly Bear appears on the State Flag and the Great seal, but is now extinct in California.
- Bird: California Quail - The California Quail, noted for its strength and adaptability, is found throughout the state.
- Colors: Yale Blue and Golden Yellow - The Blue and Gold ribbons which are used to adorn the Great State Seal, are also the spirit colors of the prestigious University of California education system.
- Dance: The West Coast Swing - This dance form came into being in the early 1930's in response to the new era of music that was sweeping the nation.
- Fish: California Golden Trout - This trout species (Salmo agua-bonita) is only found in the icy streams of the High Sierra and is native to no other state.
- Flag: The Bear Flag - The great flag was first raised in 1846 by American settlers during an uprising against Mexican rule. Although the California Republic - which the flag represented - was short lived, the flag still symbolizes love of freedom and perseverance. State Flower: Golden Poppy - The Golden Poppy can be found thriving in some part of the state throughout the year.
- Fossil: The Saber-toothed Cat - The fossilized remains of this meat-eating cat are abundantly found in southern California at the Rancho La Brea tarpits. State Gemstone: Benitoite - This spectacular sapphire blue gemstone is found in gem quality crystals at only one site in the entire world, at a small deposit in a remote area of the Diablo range in San Benito, California. It is one of the world's rarest and most beautiful gems.
- Marine Mammal: California Gray Whale - The majestic California Gray Whale measures 30 to 50 feet in length and weighs up to 40 tons. Whales can be sighted during their annual 14,000 mile migration from the Arctic to the lagoons of Baja California and back, December through April. State Mineral: Native Gold - California has produced more gold than any other state in the union and it can still be found in stream beds.
- Motto: Eureka! - The Greek word meaning "I have found it," refers to the great discovery of gold in 1848.
- Nickname: The Golden State - This name is highly appropriate because California's development and remarkable prosperity began with the discovery of gold.
- Reptile: The Desert Tortoise - An endangered species, it lives to be 100-125 years old and is a California native, contemporary to the Wooly Rhinoceros and the Mammoth.
- Rock: Serpentine
- Tree: The California Redwood - The California Redwood, which can be found in both Coastal and Sierra provinces of the Golden State, is among the most ancient of all living things in the world. These giant trees exist in large forested areas predominantly in California.
- Song: I Love You, California - I Love You, California, written by F.B. Silverwood, was designated the state song in 1951 and became official in 1988.