California is known as the Golden State, and its history is full of interesting facts, people, and events that have shaped the state into what we know today. That being said, here’s to California - home to the movie industry and so much more - with these 20 interesting facts.
1 California's state flag prominently features a grizzly bear. Originally, California was known as the Grizzly Bear State, but once the population began to decrease, its name was changed to the Golden State.
2 California is home to the very first McDonald's restaurant. The McDonald brothers first opened their restaurant in 1940 in San Bernardino.
3 California is the only state within the United States that has played host to both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games.
4 California is also home to both the highest and lowest points in the continental U.S., Mt Whitney stands at 14,494 ft. while Death Valley sits at 282 ft. below sea level.
5 California is very famous for its 1800's Gold Rush. This Gold Rush caused the population of San Francisco to swell from 200 to 36,000 over the course of seven years (1848-1855).
6 California is home to numerous Giant Sequoia trees, including the largest living tree by volume in the entire world. This tree is called "General Sherman," and it measures around 102 feet in circumference. General Sherman is believed to be up to 2,700 years old.
7 Some parts of California see around 10,000 earthquakes a year, but most are too slight to be felt.
8 The birthplace of the film industry, California is home to the first motion picture theater. It opened in Los Angeles on April 2, 1902.
9 California is the most populous state in the United States with 38.8 million people as of 2014.
10 California's major industries include agriculture, electronics, movie-making, tourism, and the entertainment industry.
11 California is the largest grape and wine producing state in the United States.
12 California is a haven for the outdoor enthusiast. It is home to 10 national parks, 18 national forests, and over 200 state parks and beaches to explore.
13 Being home to Hollywood, California has also been home to more than its fair share of famous residents. These include Richard Nixon, Marilyn Monroe, Robert Redford, John Steinbeck, Jerry Garcia, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Will Smith, Joe DiMaggio, and George Lucas.
14 California is the third largest state in the United States; it is only smaller than Alaska and Texas.
15 Native Americans inhabited California for thousands of years before it was officially discovered. The European expedition to California took place in 1542.
16 California was the first state to reach a trillion dollar economy.
17 California is home to Silicon Valley, a region that holds numerous high-tech businesses including Facebook, Apple, Google and Intel.
18 California became the 31st U.S. state in 1850 and was labeled a free state that was opposed to slavery.
19 California's iconic state flag was designed by William Todd. He was a nephew to Mary Todd Lincoln, President Lincoln's wife.
20 More immigrants choose to settle in California than in any other state.