The complex geological forces behind these phenomena created a region with an exceptionally complicated and challenging topography. In the west, coastal mountain ranges stretch across the Pacific from the Oregon border to Marin County. The transverse and peninsular mountain ranges continue the line of mountains along the Pacific below that point. The state's northern border crosses the Klamath and Cascade Mountains and the Modoc Plateau.
The Great Valley of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers, which extends southward from these northern highlands, stretches 400 miles and is bordered by the coastal mountains in the west and the Sierra Nevada in the east. The Sierra Nevada, the state's largest mountain range, stretches south for 400 miles from Lassen Peak to the Tejon Pass in Los Angeles County. To the east of the southern Sierra Nevada lie the Great Basin mountains, with the Sierras and the Cuenca mountain ranges bounded to the south by the Mojave Desert. Beneath the Mojave is the Salton Depression, the last of California's great geological regions, a desert created when the Baja California Peninsula separated from the Mexican mainland.
California Indians traditionally occupied an area that encompasses most of what is now the United States. UU. State of California and Mexico's Baja California Peninsula. In the east, the Sierra Nevada mountain range forms a natural barrier.
The Costa Baja Range runs parallel to the Pacific coast in the west. The area has an extraordinary variety of natural features. Along with the coast and mountains, there are redwood forests, grasslands, wetlands, deserts and valleys. The variety of environments provided ample natural resources in most of California.
As a result, California was one of the most densely populated cultural areas for North American natives. California included peoples from about 20 language families, including Uto-Aztec, Penutian, Yokutsa, and Athabascan. The best-known tribes included the Hupa, Yurok, Pomo, Yuki, Wintun, Maidu, Miwok, Yana, Yokuts, and Chumash. Many spoke their own unique language.
California Indians lived by hunting, fishing and gathering food from wild plants. Usually, men hunted and fished, while women and children collected plant food and small animals. The most important food was the acorn. The Indians split the acorns, removed the grains and crushed them into flour.
They then treated the flour with hot water to remove the poisonous tannin. They used the flour to make soup, porridge or bread. Other food resources were distributed throughout the California landscape. Rabbits were common everywhere, and in some places, deer, elk, and antelope also provided meat.
Coastal towns fished and collected oysters, clams, and other seafood. The groups that lived in the foothills and valleys relied on aquatic birds and on the shoots and seeds of weeds and on tule (a type of reed). The inhabitants of the desert collected pine nuts and mesquites. They also cultivated something along the Colorado River.
Most California Indians built permanent villages that they occupied throughout the year. Small groups routinely left villages for a few days or weeks to hunt or gather food. In areas with few economic resources, people used to live in traveling groups of 20 to 30 people. They met in large groups only temporarily for activities such as hunting for antelopes and collecting pine nuts.
In general, people who lived along the coast or rivers enjoyed a more stable life than those who lived in the desert and foothills. Traditional house types varied across California. The most typical houses were cone- or dome-shaped structures. They consisted of a pole frame covered in grass, undergrowth, bark, or tulle mats.
In some places, houses were covered with earth. In central California, some Indians built their homes partially underground. Desert peoples built temporary weed houses while traveling in search of food. In Northern California, some Indians built homes with redwood cedar boards, as did neighboring Indians on the Northwest Coast.
The size of the houses ranged from 5 or 6 feet (almost 2 meters) in diameter to apartment type buildings in which several families lived together in adjoining units. Communal and ceremonial buildings were found throughout native California. They were often large enough to hold the several hundred people expected to attend rituals or festivals. These earth-covered structures were used by most California tribes for ritual purification through sweat.
Because of the mild climate, Californians wore little clothing. Women used to wear a short skirt made of animal skin or plant fibers, especially bark fibers. The men were wearing panties or nothing. To protect themselves from wind and rain, both men and women wore fur coats.
The Indians of Northern and Central California wore loafers. The people of Southern California used to wear sandals. Ceremonial dress included elaborate headdresses, skirts, and feather costumes. Most of the items made by California Indians focused on their hunting and gathering lifestyle.
Men manufactured hunting and fishing equipment, such as bows and arrows, spear throwers (devices that gave greater strength and speed to a thrown spear), fishing gear, traps and traps. Women produced nets and baskets for collecting, as well as pots and other kitchen utensils. California natives had different types of ships for different bodies of water. The Chumash of the Southern California coast made canoes out of cedar boards.
These ships were sturdy enough to travel across the ocean. The Chumash used them to hunt seals, porpoises and sea otters. The peoples that lived in the bays and lakes used rafts or tule rafts. The groups along the rivers had flat-bottomed shelters made by hollowing out large logs.
The most notable art forms among California natives were basketry and rock art. The baskets produced in California were among the best in North America. They were so tightly woven that they could hold the finest seeds and even water. Cave paintings and carvings were widespread and fulfilled a variety of functions, from recording rituals to marking trails.
In southeastern California, some towns made pottery. This trait emerged through contact with nearby Southwest Indians. Most people in California did not form tribes. Instead, they organized themselves into tribelet groups that recognized cultural ties with others, but maintained their political independence.
Tribelets generally ranged in size from about one hundred to a few thousand people, depending on the richness of the resources available locally. The tribelet territories were approximately 50 to 1,000 square miles (130 to 2,600 square kilometers) in size. The relatively few groups that lived in areas with scarce natural resources preferred to live in small mobile bands. Within some tribes, all people lived in a main village.
Some people left for short periods of time to gather food, hunt, or visit other tribes for ritual or economic purposes. In other tribes, there was a main village where people living in smaller settlements traveled to celebrate ritual, social, economic, and political occasions. A third variant involved two or more large towns, each linked to several smaller settlements. In such agreements, a village served as a “capital”.
It was the residence of the chief chief, as well as the setting for important political and economic rituals and negotiations. The role of chief, or tribe leader, was generally an inherited position. In some groups, such as the Pomos, women could be bosses. The boss was generally richer and dressed more elaborately than the average person.
Usually, the boss managed the group's resources. You could give instructions for particular tasks, such as indicating where food was available and how many people would be needed to pick it up. These leaders redistributed community resources as needed and saved supplies to meet emergency needs. Chiefs were the final authority within their communities, although they usually worked with the help of a council of elders, heads of extended families, deputy chiefs, and shamans.
In some areas, the chief functioned as a priest, maintaining the ceremonial house and ritual objects. In California, larger groups, such as villages and clans (groups of related families), generally owned and protected land. Individuals and families generally did not own the land; instead, they were granted exclusive rights to use certain food gathering, fishing and hunting areas within communal territory. Areas where valuable resources, such as medicinal plants, were unevenly distributed across the landscape could be owned by groups or individuals.
The people of California exchanged goods within their families and also through major trade shows. Fairs were often ceremonial occasions. Both types of exchange allowed people to redistribute food that would otherwise spoil quickly and go to waste. A group with food surpluses would exchange it for durable goods, such as shells.
Durable goods could be used in the future to get fresh food in return. Most California groups included professional traders who traveled long distances between the many tribes. Among the coastal towns of California, you could find products from as far away as Arizona and New Mexico. In general, shells from coastal areas were exchanged for products from the interior, such as obsidian, a volcanic crystal used to make very sharp tools.
Medicines and baskets were also common commercial items. Spiritual life in native California focused on the Kuksu and Toloache religions. Both were religious societies that involved a long period of formal instruction for initiates and the opportunity for a series of promotions within society. These processes could occupy initiates, members and mentors throughout their lives.
The members of these religious societies had considerable economic, political, and social influence in the community. The Kuksu religion was common among the peoples of Central California, including the Pomo, Yuki, Maidu, and Wintun. Kuksu ceremonies were held in special ceremonial chambers with earthen roofs. Wearing colorful and dramatic costumes, the participants posed as spiritual beings.
Ceremonies were usually intended to ensure good harvests or abundant hunting or to prevent floods and other natural disasters, such as diseases. The Toloache religion occupied a prominent place among groups in Southern California, such as the Luiseño and the Diegueño. Those initiated at the Toloache ceremonies drank tea made from the toxic jimsonweed plant. The drug put them in a trance and provided them with supernatural knowledge about their future lives and their functions as members of sacred societies.
The religions of people living near the Colorado River differ slightly because they are not concerned with the development of official organizations or with hiring procedures. People received religious information through dreams. The members recited long stories explaining the creation of the world, the journeys of cultural heroes and the adventures of historical figures. Villages in the northwestern part of California's cultural area celebrated global renewal ceremonies.
In these rituals, people recited myths that were privately owned; this meant that only a few people were allowed to recite them. These ceremonies were an occasion to show wealth through costumes and valuable possessions, such as white deer skins (from rare albino deer) or delicately shaped obsidian blades. These exhibitions reaffirmed social classifications within the group. The belief in the use of supernatural power to control events or transform reality was basic to all groups in California.
In general, magic was used to control the climate, increase crop yields and predict the future. Magic was thought to be the cause of illness and death, but it was also considered to be the cure for many diseases. In addition, magic could be used to protect and punish evildoers. The people of California worshiped certain people who were believed to have supernatural powers.
These people, called shamans, enjoyed a status somewhat similar to that of a chief. Most California tribes had one or more shamans, who could be male or female. They actively participated in political life, worked with other leaders and used their powers for the benefit of the community. They served as physical and mental healers, diviners, counselors, artists and poets.
California tribelets also included ritualists such as dancers, singers, and firefighters. They were carefully trained in their crafts and earned considerable respect and, often, wealth because of their skills. When performing, ritualists used to disguise themselves with headdresses, dance skirts, wands, jewelry, and other outfits. At the beginning of the 21st century, many California Indians were not easily distinguished from other Californians in terms of clothing, housing, transportation, or education.
However, native attitudes, rituals, and other aspects of traditional culture remained vibrant across the state. Basketry and other forms of art continued to be transmitted from one generation to the next, and many native languages, although less and less spoken as mother tongues, were maintained as part of a general interest in native heritage. In some school districts, classes in native languages and cultures were offered to both children and adults. At the beginning of the 21st century, California's native population was the tallest in the United States, growing at a faster rate than the general population.
However, not all Native Americans living in California were California Indians. People from all over North America, including Indians, moved to the state in large numbers during World War II to work in defense industries. A second wave of native migration to California occurred in the 1950s, during a BIA program that relocated many rural Indians to urban areas. To share with more than one person, separate addresses with commas.
Earth scientists usually divide the state into eleven distinct geomorphic provinces with clearly defined boundaries. They are, from north to south, the Klamath Mountains, the Cascade Range, the Modoc Plateau, the basin and the mountain range, the coastal mountain ranges, the central valley, the Sierra Nevada, the transverse mountain ranges, the Mojave desert, the peninsular mountain ranges and the Colorado desert. Northern California generally refers to the state's northernmost 48 counties. Northern California's major population centers include the San Francisco Bay Area (which includes the cities of San Francisco, Oakland, and the region's largest city, San Jose) and Sacramento (the state capital), as well as its metropolitan area.
It also contains redwood forests, along with Sierra Nevada, which includes the Yosemite Valley and Lake Tahoe, Mount Shasta (the second highest peak in the Cascade Range after Mount Rainier in Washington) and the northern half of the Central Valley, one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world. The climate can generally be characterized by warm marine Mediterranean climates along the coast, a somewhat continental Mediterranean climate in the valley and alpine climate zones in the high mountains. In addition to the San Francisco Bay Area and the Sacramento metropolitan areas (and some other Central Valley cities), it is a region of relatively low population density. The economy of Northern California is characterized by being the de facto world leader in industries such as high technology (both software and semiconductors), in addition to being known for clean energy, biomedicine, government and finance.
The Klamath Mountains are a chain in northwestern California and southwestern Oregon, with the highest peak being Mount Eddy in Trinity County, California, at 9,037 feet (2,754 m). The mountain range has a varied geology, with significant areas of serpentine and marble. The climate is characterized by moderately cold winters with heavy snowfall and hot, very dry summers with limited rainfall. As a consequence of geology, mountains have a unique flora, including several endemic or nearly endemic species, such as Lawson cypress (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana) and foxtail pine (Pinus balfouriana).
Beer spruce (Picea breweriana) and kalmiopsis (Kalmiopsis leachiana) are relict species that have remained since the last ice age. In the northeastern corner of the state is the Modoc Plateau, an expanse of lava flows that formed a million years ago and now stands at an altitude of 4,000 to 5,000 feet (1,200 to 1,500 m). The plateau has many ash cones, juniper plains, pine forests and seasonal lakes. The plateau is located between the Cascade Range to the west and the Warner Mountains to the east.
The Lost River basin drains the northern part of the plateau, while the southern hydrographic basins accumulate in the basin's reservoirs or flow into the Big Sage Reservoir and from there into the Pit River. Nine percent of the plateau is protected as reserves or wild areas, such as the Modoc National Wildlife Refuge. The plateau is home to large herds of bura-deer (Odocoileus hemionus), Rocky Mountain elk (Cervus canadensis) and berrendos (Antilocapra americana). Wild horse herds and cattle grazing have altered the plateau's original desert ecosystem.
To the east of the Sierra is the Basin and Range geological province, which extends to Nevada. The Basin and Cordillera is a series of mountains and valleys (specifically horsts and grabens), caused by the extension of the Earth's crust. A notable feature of the Basin and Range is Mono Lake, which is the oldest lake in North America. The Basin and Range also contains the Owens Valley, the deepest valley in North America (more than 10,000 feet (3 km) deep, measured from the top of Mount Whitney).
In the eastern part of the state, below the Sierra Nevada, there are a series of dry lake beds that were filled with water during the last ice age (fed by the melting of the ice of the Alpine glaciers, but never directly affected by glaciation; see pluvial). Many of these lakes have extensive evaporite deposits containing a variety of different salts. In fact, the salt sediments of many of these lake beds have been extracted for many years to obtain various salts, including borax (this is the most famous case of Owens Lake and Death Valley). In this province are the White Mountains, which are home to the oldest living organism in the world, the bristly pine.
To the west of the Central Valley lie the coastal mountain ranges, which include the Cordillera del Diablo, just east of San Francisco, and the Santa Cruz Mountains, south of San Francisco. The coastal mountain ranges north of San Francisco are becoming increasingly hazy and rainy. These mountains are characterized by their coastal redwoods, the tallest trees on Earth, that live within the range of coastal fog. In the east of the state is the Sierra Nevada, which stretches from north to south for 400 miles (640 km).
The tallest peak in the contiguous United States, Mount Whitney, at 14,505 feet (4.42 km), is located within the Sierra Nevada. The topography of the Sierra is determined by the elevation and action of the glaciers. The Sierra has between 200 and 250 days of sunshine a year, warm summers, fierce winters and varied terrain, a rare combination of rugged variety and pleasant climate. The famous Yosemite Valley is located in the Central Sierra.
The large and deep freshwater Lake Tahoe is located north of Yosemite. The Sierra is also home to giant sequoia trees, the largest trees on Earth. The most famous hiking and horse riding route in the Sierra is the John Muir route, which goes from the top of the mountain. This is part of the Pacific Crest Trail running from Mexico to Canada.
The three main national parks in this province are Yosemite National Park, Kings Canyon National Park, and Sequoia National Park. The term Southern California generally refers to the ten southernmost counties, which closely match the lower third of California's latitude. This definition matches perfectly the boundaries of counties at 35° 47' 28″ north latitude, which form the northern boundaries of San Luis Obispo, Kern and San Bernardino counties. Another definition for Southern California uses the Tehachapi Mountains as geographical reference points for the northern limit.
Southern California is known for industries that include the film industry, residential construction, the entertainment industry, and the military aerospace industry. Other industries include software, automotive, ports, finance, tourism, biomedicine and regional logistics. The Liebe Mountains occupy the northwest corner of Los Angeles County and represent a northwestern extension of the San Gabriel Mountains, both on the Pacific plate side of the San Andreas Fault. The fault divides the San Gabriel Mountains from the San Bernardino Mountains, further east, in San Bernardino County.
It's possible to surf in the Pacific Ocean and ski on a mountain on the same winter day in Southern California. There are harsh deserts in southeastern California. These deserts are caused by a combination of the cold ocean current, which limits evaporation, and the rain shadow of the mountains. The prevailing winds blow inland from the ocean.
When air passes over mountains, adiabatic cooling causes most of the water in the air to rain on the mountains. When the air returns to sea level on the other side of the mountains, it compresses, heats up and dries up, drying out deserts. When the wind blows from the interior, the resulting hot and dry katabatic winds are called Santa Ana winds. The southernmost mountains in California are the Cordilleras Peninsulares, which are located east of San Diego and continue to Baja California (Mexico) in the Sierra de San Pedro Mártir.
The peninsular mountain ranges contain the Laguna Mountains, the San Jacinto Mountains, the Santa Rosa Mountains, the Santa Ana Mountains and the Palomar Range, which stand out for their famous Palomar observatory. The eastern shoulder of Pico San Jacinto has a cable car that goes from the desert floor to almost the top of the mountain, where cyclists can go hiking or cross-country skiing. To the east of the peninsular mountain ranges are the deserts of Colorado and Sonora, which extend to Arizona and Mexico. The elevation of the terrain is generally lower and in some areas it has been compressed downwards, making the eastern Coachella and Imperial valleys in the north of the USA.
The lowest community in the United States. It is Calipatria, California, 180 feet (55 m) below sea level. A feature of the desert is the Salton Sea, an inland lake that was formed in 1905 when a flood of the Colorado River broke a channel near the U.S. Today, the Salton Sea, a new version of historic Lake Cahuilla, remains the largest lake in California.
The Pacific Ocean is located in western California. Due to the large size of the state, sea temperatures generally range from 50° F (10° C) in the northernmost parts during the winter to 70° F (21° C) on the south coast during the summer. The lower seasonal variation in temperature compared to the waters of the east coast is due to the fact that deep waters come up with dissolved nutrients. Therefore, marine life in and around California has examples of arctic and tropical biotopes, leaning more towards the latter on the south coast and vice versa.
The California Sea is extremely fertile, dark green filled with an enormous variety of fish, instead of the clear, dead blue of most tropical seas. Before 1930, there was an extremely valuable sardine (herring) fishery off the coast of Monterrey, but this was exhausted, a fact that later became famous as the backdrop to John Steinbeck's Cannery Row. The California coastline is approximately 840 miles long, the third longest coastline in the United States after Alaska and Florida. California is also home to several volcanoes, such as Lassen Peak, which erupted in 1914 and 1921, and Mount Shasta.
California, when the Spanish explored it only partially, was once thought to be an island, since when approaching the south of the Baja California Peninsula from the Gulf of California, the land appears to the west. It is expected that, due to plate tectonic movements, the seabed that now extends into the Gulf of California (also known as the Sea of Cortez) will eventually extend across Southern California and along the San Andreas Fault to below San Francisco, eventually forming a long island in less than 150 million years. For comparison, this is also the approximate age of the Atlantic Ocean. California's climate varies widely, from arid to subarctic, depending on latitude, elevation, and proximity to the coast.
The coastal and southern parts of the state have a subtropical Mediterranean climate, with slightly rainy winters and dry summers. The influence of the ocean generally moderates extreme temperatures, creating warmer winters and substantially colder summers, especially along coastal areas. Occasionally, floods are caused by heavy rains, storms and snowmelt. Steep slopes and unstable soil make certain places vulnerable to landslides in humid climates or during earthquakes.
These western boundaries are quite distinct and form the dominant, cake-shaped Antelope Valley in Southern California. Most towns and cities in the California part of the Mojave are relatively small, except for Palmdale and Lancaster. The boundaries of California were defined by Spanish claims to Mexico, as part of the province of Alta California. California is the third largest state in the United States.
In the USA, and the geography of California is incredibly varied. California was colonized starting in 1769, when the Spanish began building a series of missions along the region's southern Pacific coast. The urban area is also home to an international metropolitan region in the form of San Diego-Tijuana, created by the urban area that extends to Baja California. .