555 North Nash Street
El Segunda, California 90245
History of California Sports, Inc.
California Sports, Inc. is the majority owner of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team of the National Basketball Association (NBA), one of the most successful and valuable properties in professional sports. Since their inception as the Minnesota Lakers in the late 1940s, the team has won 14 titles. Its games at its home court at Los Angeles's Staples Center are consistently sold-out; the team is also one of the most popular draws in other NBA cities. Thanks to its regular appearances in the NBA playoffs and a history of such star players including Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, and Shaquille O'Neal, the Lakers franchise is also a leader in sales of licensed NBA merchandise. California Sports also owns the Los Angeles Sparks of the Women's National Basketball Association. Between 1994 and 2001 the company's sales more than doubled, increasing from $68.7 million to $144 million.
Creating Professional Basketball in the 1940s
The Los Angeles Lakers basketball team was born at a time when professional basketball did not even enjoy a shadow of its century-end popularity. In 1947 Max Winter, Ben Berger, Maurice Chalfen and a group of other investors paid $15,000 for the Detroit Gems and moved that team to Minneapolis, where it became the Minneapolis Lakers of the National Basketball League (NBL). Anchored by center George Mikan, who would soon become basketball's first star, the Lakers quickly proved themselves the dominant team of the early days of the pro game. Its first year in the league, the team won the NBL championship. When it jumped to the Basketball Association of America (BAA) for the 1948 season, the Lakers became the BAA champs; and, when one year later the NBL and BAA merged to form the National Basketball Association, the Lakers were that league's first title winners as well, going on to win more titles in 1950, 1952, 1953, and 1954. Most fans believed that only George Mikan's injured ankle kept them from the championship in 1951.
The Lakers were the team to beat in the late 1940s and early 1950s. With players like Mikan, Slater Martin, and Vern Mikkelsen, Minneapolis brought pro basketball its first widespread public recognition. However, basketball was still a long ways from the spectacle sport and big business it would become in the 1980s. In 1947 salaries for the entire Lakers team totaled $70,000, of which George Mikan's alone salary accounted for $25,000. In 2003, NBA teams had an annual salary cap of approximately $40 million a year.
By the latter half of the 1950s, Mikan and his teammates had either retired or were showing signs of age. In February 1957, Berger and Chalfen put the team up for sale. A St. Louis group expressed interest and it looked like the team would be changing cities again. At the last minute a local trucking and hotel magnate, Bob Short, put together a consortium that purchased the Lakers for $150,000. Once Short owned the team he had to contend with various problems. With Mikan gone, the Lakers were in the middle of a transitional period, which led, in turn, to falling attendance. Most problematic, the team did not have a regular court for its home games, dividing its home appearances among as many as six sites. While the Minneapolis Auditorium was its main venue (whenever other events were not scheduled), some of the Lakers' other home courts were not even in the Twin Cities. The playoffs, which could not be penciled in on a calendar more than a few weeks in advance, were a particularly uncertain time of year.
Making Los Angeles Home in the 1960s
Citing the Lakers' arena problems, in 1960 Short negotiated a move to Los Angeles. Although Minneapolis fans would later complain that Short had only moved the team in order to push its market value up, at the time the move occasioned next to no reaction in the Twin Cities. On the other hand, NBA owners vehemently opposed the move to Los Angeles. With most teams located east of the Mississippi, they were concerned that it would lead to exorbitant travel costs. They only changed their minds and gave their unanimous approval for the move when it was announced that the owner of the Harlem Globetrotters was about to launch a rival league, and install a team on the West Coast.
The Lakers' first season in Los Angeles began in autumn 1960. Despite the incongruity of a Southern California team situated on the Pacific Ocean being called the Lakers, no thought was given to a new name. The team had more pressing issues to contend with. Interest in basketball in Los Angeles was so low that no radio stations were even interested in broadcasting games until the end of the first season when a new star, Elgin Baylor, led the Lakers in an exciting playoff match-up against the St. Louis Hawks. Baylor, with his driving, leaping acrobatic style, which was about to revolutionize play in the NBA, would draw fans to Lakers games throughout much of the 1960s. By the time Jerry West, another future Hall of Famer, joined the team, the Lakers were once again among the finest teams in professional basketball.
As the Lakers' play improved, their market value shot upwards. When Bob Short decided to sell the team in 1965, he asked $5.175 million. He found an eager buyer in Jack Kent Cooke. Cooke, born in Canada and a naturalized American citizen since 1960, was a passionate sports fan. He owned the National Football League's Washington Redskins and had tried unsuccessfully to obtain the California Angels baseball team when the American League expanded in 1960.
In 1967 Cooke would add the expansion Los Angeles Kings hockey franchise to his portfolio. It was Cooke's desire for a hockey club that led, in part, to his decision to build the Los Angeles Forum, which would be the home of the Lakers for more than 30 years. The Los Angeles Coliseum refused to allow Cooke's prospective hockey team to play in the arena, holding Cooke to a contract that Bob Short had signed on behalf of the Lakers. In frustration Cooke built a new home for the Lakers. Modeled on the architecture of ancient Rome, the Forum cost Cooke $12.5 million. The Kings played the first game in the structure on December 30, 1967, and a day later the Lakers followed suit. Once the arena had opened, Cooke stamped it with the mark of his flamboyant personality. He removed the press from courtside and gave the seats over to Hollywood stars and other glitterati.
Cooke desperately wanted a title for his Lakers and spared no expense in its pursuit. In summer 1968 he obtained Wilt Chamberlain, signing the former Philadelphia superstar to a $4 million, four-year contract. In the NBA finals the Lakers battled their nemesis, the Boston Celtics, to a three game tie before returning home for deciding game seven. So certain was Cooke that his team would win the championship that he readied thousands of balloons in the rafters for the post-game celebration--a fact that did not escape the notice of Celtics' coach Red Auerbach. In the fourth quarter, Chamberlain injured his knee and had to leave the game. Boston won 108-106. The balloons remained in the rafters. Laker glory days were still more than a decade away.
New Players and a New Owner in the 1970s
It would be 1972 before the Lakers won another NBA championship, in what would be the swansong of the Baylor, West, and Chamberlain era. Baylor left during the 1971-72 season, Chamberlain hung up his sneakers a year later, and West retired in summer 1975. The Lakers went into an almost inevitable decline. In 1975 they missed the playoffs for the first time since 1960. After that debacle, Cooke took the first steps towards the next Laker dynasty, trading three players to acquire Kareem Abdul-Jabbar from the Milwaukee Bucks. The foundation was completed in 1979 when Cooke selected Earvin "Magic" Johnson in the NBA draft. With Abdul-Jabbar, Johnson, and other players like James Worthy on the team, the Lakers would go on an impressive run, winning conference titles every year of the 1980s, and NBA titles in 1979-80, 1981-82, 1984-85, 1986-87, and 1987-88.
At the end of the 1979 season, the Lakers were once again on the sales block. Reasons for the sale were varied. Cooke was concerned about his health, and he had also lost a sizable chunk of his fortune when his wife was awarded nearly half of his net worth--some $100 million--in a divorce settlement. Most importantly, however, as owner of the Washington Redskins, Cooke was also confronted with an NFL rule obliging him to divest himself of any interests in other professional sporting teams.
On May 18, 1979, Cooke sold the team to Jerry Buss, a chemist turned real estate tycoon. The deal, characterized by the New York Times as "the largest single financial transaction in the history of professional sports" and "the most confusing, complex transaction in the history of sports," was valued at $67.5 million and included not only the Lakers but also the L.A. Kings hockey franchise, the Forum, and, reportedly, a lease on New York City's Chrysler Building. The deal almost fell apart the day before it was to close when Buss realized that he was $2.7 million short of funds. The money was raised through last minute phone calls to Donald Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, and Sam Nassi, who would later purchase the Indiana Pacers.
Like Cooke, Buss was a sports nut who happened to be rich. He bought the Los Angeles Strings, a World Team Tennis franchise, in the late 1970s, and as owner of the Lakers would add to his holdings the L.A. Lazers indoor soccer team and the L.A. Sparks of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA). Buss also had a reputation as a high-living playboy, and he made the Lakers into an extension of his lifestyle. "A person doesn't go into sports to make money," Buss told the Boston Globe, "but it's still a business. I decided that I wanted the Lakers to play a certain style of basketball and I wanted certain people to come to the games." He introduced the Laker Girls, a squad of sexy cheerleaders. He brought the idea of "Showtime" to the Forum, inviting a select list of movie and television stars to Laker games.
Under Buss, courtside seats became highly coveted items. Going for $15 apiece when he bought the team, the ticket price was bumped to $45 the following year. Buss kept increasing the price until by 2001 a seat at courtside cost $1,500. In 1982 Buss hired former Lakers star Jerry West as general manager and gave him full authority in making player decisions. That same year, Buss brought in a new coach, Pat Riley, whose slicked-back hair and designer suits would become as synonymous with the Laker dynasty as Magic Johnson's smile.
Once he was firmly ensconced in the business he loved best--professional sports--Buss started selling off his real estate businesses to concentrate on the Lakers. That, along with his free spending on players, led to a minor financial crisis in his company, California Sports, Inc. In February 1985 a Los Angeles television station reported that the company's banks were considering a seizure of the Kings and Lakers, which were held as collateral on unpaid loans. Without explicitly denying the charges, Buss managed to avoid foreclosure, and the banks were not exactly anxious to foreclose, fearing such a move could force their market value down. Buss' marketing innovations, such as the Showtime concept, helped offset the crises. In 1988 he put together one of the first corporate licensing deals in professional sports with the great Western Financial Corporation worth $17.8 million after which the Forum was renamed the Great Western Forum. Buss sold off his holdings in the unsuccessful L.A. Kings hockey team piecemeal between 1986 and 1989 to Bruce McCall, an antique coin dealer, and in 1989 was trying--unsuccessfully--to purchase a Major League Baseball team.
Turmoil and Change in the 1990s
In November 1991, the Lakers organization, indeed professional basketball as a whole, was shaken by the revelation that Earvin "Magic" Johnson, arguably the most popular in the NBA and the Lakers' most important player, had been infected with the HIV virus. Uncertain of his personal future, Johnson announced his retirement from the team, a decision which threw the immediate future of the Lakers into doubt as well. A comeback by Johnson the following year was canceled when opposing players expressed concern about the possibility of becoming infected themselves perhaps through an open cut during a game. Johnson did finally return to the Forum as the Lakers' coach for part of the 1993-94 season, without particular success; it was one of the few seasons in Lakers history in which they failed to make the playoffs. Magic Johnson returned as a player for the 1995-96 season and retired again for good after the team's defeat in the playoffs that year, remaining affiliated with the team as a 5 percent owner.
A large part of the Lakers' success as a team in the 1980s and 1990s was attributable to the savvy of its long-time general manager, Jerry West, as well as to owner Jerry Buss' willingness to give West virtually free rein in player selection. Not only did West bring the Lakers superstar players such as Vlade Divac, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O'Neal (players that brought the Lakers back into contention in the 1990s), he was also able to construct teams that functioned well with the Lakers' star talent.
At the end of the 1990s the Lakers made a controversial decision to leave their long-time home in the Great Western Forum. The decision was based largely on the building's age. It had been built in another era of sports, one in which arenas did not include luxury suites or corporate boxes. Remarkably, after two decades of being his own landlord, Buss decided not to build a new arena of his own, but to become instead a tenant of the new Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. The move was a financial masterstroke. Under the terms of the contract, Buss received 25 percent of the luxury suite revenue at the Staples Center, which were reported to lease for a total of about $300,000 a year. In all, the move increased the value of the Lakers franchise by about $100,000. With the move, Philip Anschutz and Edward Roski, the owners of the L.A. Kings hockey team who built the Staples Center, were able to acquire a 25 percent share of the Lakers franchise.
Throughout his ownership of the Lakers, Jerry Buss gave responsibility for various California Sports operations to his children. For three seasons in the 1980s, his son Jim ran the Los Angeles Lazers, an indoor soccer team which later went broke. In 1998 Jim Buss was made an assistant to Jerry West, prompting speculation that he would eventually take over the company when his father retired or passed away. In 1998 son John Buss was president of the Lakers' sister team, the Los Angeles Sparks of the Women's National Basketball Association. This team had mixed success in Los Angeles, and its failures were frequently attributed to the unwillingness of John Buss to market the franchise imaginatively. By far the most promising of the Buss clan was daughter Jeanie. With a degree in business from the University of Southern California, she proved her ability as the president of the L.A. Forum. In 2000, after the Lakers moved to the Staples Center, Jerry Buss turned over much of the responsibility for the running of the team to Jeanie, making her one of the most powerful, influential women in professional sports.
Other major changes were taking place within the franchise as the decade ended. In 2000 Jerry West resigned as Laker general manager, citing health problems. That same year the team signed Shaquille O'Neal to a blockbuster contract worth $88.4 million over three years. A major problem during this time for the Lakers was finding a coach who could win the respect of multimillionaire superstars like O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. During the 1998-99 season the team went through two coaches, Del Harris and Kurt Rambis, neither of whom had been able to make his mark on the team. In June 1999 Buss took the bull by the horn and gave a five-year contract worth a reported $6 million to Phil Jackson, the coach who had not only led the Chicago Bulls to multiple NBA championships in the 1990s, but who had proved himself capable of coaching Michael Jordan, one of the five greatest players in NBA history. Jackson got off on the right foot almost immediately when Shaquille O'Neal called him "a white version of my father" and said he would only play for the Lakers so long as Jackson was the team's coach. When Jackson arrived, he brought with him many of his assistants who had helped him build the dynasty in Chicago, including 77-year-old Tex Winter, the creator of the Bulls fabled "triangle offense." Jackson proved his value over the coming three years, leading the Lakers to three consecutive NBA championships in 2000, 2001, and 2003.
Principal Divisions: Los Angeles Lakers; Los Angeles Sparks.
Principal Competitors: L.A. Kings Hockey Club; L.A. Clippers; Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.
Related information about California
pop (2000e) 33 871 600; area
411 033 km²/158 706 sq mi. State in SW
USA, divided into 58 counties; the ‘Golden State’; originally
populated by several Indian tribes; discovered by the Spanish,
1542; colonized mid-18th-c; developed after gold discovered in the
Mother Lode, 1848; ceded to the USA by the treaty of Guadalupe
Hidalgo, 1848; joined the Union as the 31st state, 1850; major US
growth area in the 20th-c; now the most populous US state; capital,
Sacramento; other chief cities, San Francisco, Los Angeles,
Oakland, San Diego; bounded S by Mexico and W by the Pacific Ocean;
mountainous in the N, W and E, with dry, arid depressions in the S
(Mojave and Colorado Deserts) and SE (Death Valley); Klamath Mts in
the N; Coast Ranges in the W run parallel to the Pacific; Sierra
Nevada in the E, rising to 4418 m/14 495 ft at Mt
Whitney (state's highest point); foothills of the Sierra Nevada
contain the Mother Lode, a belt of gold-bearing quartz; the Sierra
Nevada and Coast Ranges are separated by the Central Valley,
drained by the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers, a major
fruit-producing area; climate gives a wet and a dry season, with
most rainfall November–March; record heatwave with 136 deaths (Jul
2006); legislation proposed to cut carbon dioxide emissions, 2006;
a zone of faults (the San Andreas Fault) extends S from N
California along the coast; earth tremors commonplace; major
earthquakes in San Francisco, 1906, 1989, and in Los Angeles, 1993;
devastating wildfires in the south, 2003; centre of the US
microelectronics industry in Silicon Valley; oil, natural gas, and
a wide range of minerals; vegetables, grain, livestock; food
processing, machinery, defence industries, transportation
equipment, fabricated metals, cotton, wine (vineyards in over 40
Californian counties); increasing Hispanic and Asian populations; a
major tourist state, with several national monuments and parks
(Yosemite, Kings Canyon, Sequoia, Redwood), the film industry,
California is a state spanning the southern half of the west
coast of the contiguous United States. With a population of 37 million and an
area of 158,402 square
California is the largest
U.S. state in population and the third largest in
area. Spain colonized the coastal areas of
the territory starting in 1769. As a result of the Mexican War of
Independence, California became a part of the Mexican Republic in 1821. It was captured by the United
States in the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) which was concluded
with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The California Gold
Rush of 1848-1849 brought about 90,000 additional U.S.
immigrants into the state, and California became the 31st state of
the Union in 1850.
Although the state's sunny climate has given it a historic
reputation for being laid back compared to the East
Coast, the $1.55 trillion (as of 2005) California economy is larger than
all but the top 7 national economies in the world www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2006/01/data/dbcoutm.cfm?SD=2005&ED=2005&R1=1&R2=1&CS=3&SS=2&OS=C&DD=0&OUT=1&C=512-941-914-446-612-666-614-672-311-946-213-137-911-962-193-674-122-676-912-548-313-556-419-678-513-181-316-682-913-684-124-273-339-921-638-948-514-686-218-688-963-518-616-728-223-558-516-138-918-353-748-196-618-278-522-692-622-694-156-142-624-449-626-564-628-283-228-853-924-288-233-293-632-566-636-964-634-182-238-453-662-968-960-922-423-714-935-862-128-716-611-456-321-722-243-965-248-718-469-724-253-576-642-936-643-961-939-813-644-199-819-184-172-524-132-361-646-362-648-364-915-732-134-366-652-734-174-144-328-146-258-463-656-528-654-923-336-738-263-578-268-537-532-742-944-866-176-369-534-744-536-186-429-925-178-746-436-926-136-466-343-112-158-111-439-298-916-927-664-846-826-299-542-582-443-474-917-754-544-698&S=NGDPD&CMP=0&x=31&y=8
and is responsible for 13% of the United States' $13 trillion
domestic product (GDP). The state's major predominant
industries include agriculture, entertainment, light manufacturing, and tourism. California is also the home of several
significant economic regions such as Hollywood (entertainment), the California Central
Valley (agriculture), Silicon Valley (computers and high tech), and the Wine Country (wine). The states of Nevada, Utah,
Arizona, and Wyoming, were claimed by Spain
and Mexico but were almost totally undeveloped, with about 100
settlers in Arizona.
The name California is most commonly believed derived from a
storied paradise peopled by black Amazons
and ruled by Queen
Califia. The myth of Califia is recorded in a 1510 work The Exploits of
Esplandian, written as a sequel to Amadís de Gaula
adventure writer García Ordonez Rodriguez de Montalvo.Person-Lynn,
Dr. Kwaku. The island everywhere abounds with gold and precious
stones, and upon it no other metal was found.Person-Lynn,
It is thought that the myth of Califia later helped fuel Spanish
exploration in the New
Others suggest the word California may come from the early
Spanish explorers who entered California via the hot southern
regions and referred to California as being "hot as an oven" or a
"lime oven" ("cali > hot", "fornus->forno > oven" + ending
"ia" for a place;
California borders the Pacific Ocean, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, and the Mexican state of Baja California. With an area of 160,000 square
km²) it is the
third largest state in the U.S and is larger than Germany in size.
Most major cities are at or near the Pacific coastline, notably
Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, Long Beach,
Ana/Orange County, Riverside/Moreno
Valley, San Bernardino and San Diego.
However, the capital,
Sacramento, is in the Central Valley. In the middle of the state lies
Central Valley, a huge, fertile valley bounded by the coastal mountain
ranges in the west, the granite Sierra Nevada to
the east, the volcanic
Cascade Range in
and the Tehachapi Mountains in the south. With
dredging, several rivers have become sufficiently large and deep
that several inland cities (notably Stockton and
seaports. The southern
part of the valley, which is part desert, is known as the San
Joaquin Valley (drained by the San Joaquin River), while the northern half is
known as the Sacramento Valley (drained by the Sacramento River). The
Channel Islands are located in the southern part of the
state, stretching from Santa Barbara to Orange County. They and the
largest island, Santa
Catalina Island are attractive to visitors.
In the center and east of the state are the Sierra Nevada (meaning
Snowy Range in Spanish), which include the highest peak in the
contiguous 48 states, Mount Whitney, at 14,505 feet (4421 m). Also located in
the Sierra are the world-famous Yosemite National
Park and a deep freshwater lake, Lake Tahoe, the largest lake in the state by
volume. To the east of the Sierra are Owens Valley and Mono Lake, an essential
seabird habitat. In the
south lay the Transverse Ranges and a large salt lake, the Salton Sea. To the northeast
of the Mojave lies Death Valley, which contains the lowest, hottest point
in North America,
Badwater Flat. Indeed,
almost all of southeastern California is arid, hot desert, with the
Valley and Imperial Valley routinely experiencing extreme high
temperatures during the summer. The Coachella Valley in
County is famous for its popular tourist destination Palm Springs,
California. Other Coachella Valley communities include Bermuda Dunes, Desert Hot Springs,
La Quinta, Rancho Mirage, Indio, Coachella and Cathedral City.
Along the densely populated and long California coast are several
major metropolitan areas, including San Jose-San
Francisco-Oakland, Los Angeles-Long Beach,
Santa Ana-Irvine-Anaheim, Riverside-San Bernardino, California and
Diego. Winter temperatures seldom reach freezing and summer
temperatures rarely reach above the high 80's Fahrenheit (low 30's
California is famous for earthquakes due to the presence of a number of faults,
in particular the San Andreas Fault. While powerful earthquakes in the
United States have occurred in other states such as Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and Missouri (along the New Madrid fault),
people are more aware of California's earthquakes due to their
frequency and tendency to strike in highly populated areas.
California is also home to several volcanoes, some active such as Mammoth Mountain. Other
volcanoes include Lassen
Peak, which erupted from 1914 and 1921, and Mount Shasta.
Different regions of California have very different climates,
depending on their latitude, elevation, and proximity to the coast.
Most of the state has a Mediterranean climate, with rainy winters and dry summers. The cool California Current
offshore, enhanced by upwelling of cold sub-surface waters, often creates
summer fog near the coast.
however 4 °F and 35 °F (2 °C and 20 °C) between Santa
Barbara and Death
Westerly winds from the ocean also bring moisture, and the northern
parts of the state generally receive higher annual rainfall amounts
than the south. The high mountains, including the Sierra Nevada,
have a mountain
climate with snow in
winter and mild to moderate heat in summer.
On the east side of the mountains is a drier rain shadow. California's
regions lie east of the high Sierra Nevada and Southern
California's Transverse Ranges and Peninsular Ranges. The
low deserts east of the southern California mountains, including
the Imperial and Coachella valleys and the lower Colorado
River, are part of the Sonoran Desert, with hot summers and mild winters; the
higher elevation deserts of eastern California, including the Mojave Desert, Owens Valley, and the
Modoc Plateau, are
part of the Great
Basin region, with hot summers and cold winters. During the
summer months, especially from July through early September, the
region is affected by the Mexican Monsoon (also called the "southwest monsoon"),
which drives moisture from the tropical Pacific, Gulf of California,
and/or Gulf of
Mexico into the deserts, setting off brief, but often
torrential thunderstorms, particularly over mountainous
In the northern portion of the Mojave Desert on the east side of the state is
Death Valley, which
is the hottest spot on the Western Hemisphere. The highest temperature in the
Western Hemisphere, 134 °F (56.6 °C), was recorded in Death Valley
on July 10, 1913. The State of California is
part of the Nearctic
ecozone, and spans a
number of terrestrial ecoregions, and is perhaps the most
ecologically diverse state in the United States.
California has a rather high percentage of endemic species.
Furthermore, California is home to the largest trees in the world,
California's native grasses were perennials, which stayed green year-round in most of the
state's subclimatesUnited States Department of Agriculturearticle on California's
perennial native grasses.
National Parks and Monuments
Main articles: List of areas in the National Park System of the
United States, List of United States national parks by state, and
List of National Monuments of the United
To protect and preserve the state's biological diversity,
natural beauty, and historic heritage, the U.S. National Park
System has acquired control over a huge number of places within
California. The most prominent by far is Yosemite National
Park (which protects Yosemite Valley), followed closely by the Kings
Canyon-Sequoia National Park complex (which protects the most
massive trees in the world) and Redwood National
Park (which protects the tallest trees in the world).
Half Dome, in Yosemite, figures prominently on the reverse side
of the California state quarter.
The area was inhabited by more than 70 distinct groups of Native
Americans before European contact. On September 28, 1542, Juan Rodríguez
Cabrillo landed in what is now San Diego Bay claiming it for
Spain. Spanish traders made sporadic visits with the Manila Galleons as early
as 1565. The British
explorer Sir Francis
Drake made contact in 1579. Sebastián Vizcaíno explored and mapped the coast
of California in 1602.
Spain colonized the territory with the
1769 expedition of Gaspar de Portolà
in conjunction with the creation of the system of Military Districts and Spanish
Missions in California between 1769 and 1823.
During the outset of the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), in the town of
Sonoma forty U.S.
settlers revolted and established the California Republic,
an independent republic, June 14, 1846. The California Gold
Rush of 1849 brought a huge population of immigrants into the
area, and California became the 31st state of the United States in
The entire region originally known as California was composed of
the Mexican peninsula now known as Baja
California and much of the land in the current states of
California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and Wyoming, known as Alta California.
California groups also were diverse in their political organization
with bands, tribes, tribelets, and on the resource-rich coasts
large chiefdoms, such as the Chumash, Pomo and Salinan. Except for the Mojave Indians living along the
Colorado River no California Indians grew any domesticated
The first European to explore parts of the coast was the Portuguese João Rodrigues
Cabrilho in 1542
working for the Spanish Hernan Cortes. The first to explore the
entire coast and claim possession of it was the English man
Francis Drake in
1579. San Francisco for St.
Francis of Assisi, San Jose for St. Joseph of Nazareth and San Diego for St. Didacus).
These new arrivals used the Siskiyou Trail, California Trail, and Old Spanish Trail to
cross the rugged mountains and harsh deserts surrounding
In this period, some nobles of Imperial Russia made brief attempts to explore and
claim parts of California, particularly at Fort Ross, but these were
limited by a lack of Imperial interest.
California was poorly settled until modern public health eliminated
the endemic outbreaks of yellow fever, malaria and plague, caused from the area?s lack of frosts, which
kills mosquitoes and fleas.
In 1846, at the outset of the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), the
Republic was founded and the Bear Flag was flown, which
featured a golden bear and a star. Citrus was widely grown
(especially in the form of oranges), and the foundation was laid
for the state's prodigious agricultural production of today.
During the early 20th century, migration to California accelerated
with the completion of major transcontinental highways like the
and Route 66. It
is one of four majority-minority states.
The largest named ancestries in California are Mexican (25%), Filipino, German,
Irish, and Asian citation needed. Mexican Americans and Chicanos predominate in Southern California
such as the Imperial
Valley, the Central Valley, Salinas, and parts of the San Francisco Bay
Area. San Francisco has the greatest concentration of Asian Americans in the
continental United States, with Chinese Americans numerous in San Francisco, Alameda,
Mateo, and Santa Clara counties. Southern California has
perhaps the largest Taiwanese American community in the United States
particularly in San Gabriel Valley, and communities such as Cerritos,
Orange County), and some in the South Bay, Los
Angeles Area. Filipino Americans are particularly numerous in
Mateo and Solano counties, and in communities such as Baldwin Park,
Covina, and the community of Eagle Rock in Los Angeles. There are large
communities in Koreatown of Los Angeles as well as East San Gabriel Valley,
Cerritos, South Bay, Los Angeles, and in North Orange County.
Los Angeles also has a large Japanese American
community too. The City of Long Beach has
one of the largest Cambodian American communities in the United States.
Westminster has one of the largest Vietnamese American
communities and is often dubbed "Little Saigon". The community of Artesia and nearby
as well as Fremont in the Bay Area have a large Asian Indian/South Asian
American community. California also has one of the largest
numbers of Armenian Americans and Persian Americans,
with estimates of up to 500,000 persons in Southern California,
and 20% of Beverly
Hills being of Persian descent.
As of 2000, 60.5% of California residents age 5 and older speak
English at home
and 25.8% speak Spanish. Chinese is the third most spoken language at 2.6%,
followed by Tagalog at 2.5% and Vietnamese at
The indigenous languages of California number more than one
hundred and show great diversity making California one of the most
linguistically diverse areas in the world. All of California's
indigenous languages are endangered, although there are now efforts toward
Since 1986, the California Constitution has specified that English is
the common and official language of the state. 19%
The majority of California's Roman Catholic membership are of Irish and Hispanic ancestry.
As with many other western states, the percentage of
California's population identifying themselves as "non-religious"
is comparatively high in relation to the rest of the U.S.fact
As of 2005, California's economy is larger than all but seven
national economies in the world. www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2006/01/data/dbcoutm.cfm?SD=2005&ED=2005&R1=1&R2=1&CS=3&SS=2&OS=C&DD=0&OUT=1&C=512-941-914-446-612-666-614-672-311-946-213-137-911-962-193-674-122-676-912-548-313-556-419-678-513-181-316-682-913-684-124-273-339-921-638-948-514-686-218-688-963-518-616-728-223-558-516-138-918-353-748-196-618-278-522-692-622-694-156-142-624-449-626-564-628-283-228-853-924-288-233-293-632-566-636-964-634-182-238-453-662-968-960-922-423-714-935-862-128-716-611-456-321-722-243-965-248-718-469-724-253-576-642-936-643-961-939-813-644-199-819-184-172-524-132-361-646-362-648-364-915-732-134-366-652-734-174-144-328-146-258-463-656-528-654-923-336-738-263-578-268-537-532-742-944-866-176-369-534-744-536-186-429-925-178-746-436-926-136-466-343-112-158-111-439-298-916-927-664-846-826-299-542-582-443-474-917-754-544-698&S=NGDPD&CMP=0&x=31&y=8
California is responsible for 13% of the United States gross domestic
product (GDP), while the state population constitute only 12%
of the United States population. The gross state product
(GSP) is about $1.55 trillion ($1,550,000,000,000, as of 2004), making it
greater than that of every other U.S. state, and most countries in the
world (by Purchasing Power Parity).
California is also the home of several significant economic regions
such as Hollywood (entertainment), the California Central
Valley (agriculture), Silicon Valley (computers and high tech), and wine producing regions such as Santa Barbara and
Northern California's Wine Country.
The predominant industry, more than twice as large as the next, is
(including fruit, vegetables, dairy, and wine). entertainment, primarily television by dollar volume, although many
movies are still made in
California; light manufacturing, including computer hardware and
software; and the
mining of borax.
Per capita personal income was $33,403 as of 2003, ranking
12th in the nation. The Central Valley has the most
extreme contrasts of income, with migrant farm workers making less than minimum wage. Recently, the
San Joaquin Valley was characterized www.centralvalleybusinesstimes.com/links/CRS%20San%20Joaquin%20Valley%20Report.pdf
as one of the most economically depressed regions in the U.S., on
par with the region of Appalachia.
Many coastal cities include some of the wealthiest per-capita areas
in the U.S., notably San Francisco and Marin County.
The high-technology sectors in Northern California, specifically
in Santa Clara and San Mateo
counties, are currently emerging from economic downturn caused
by the dot.com
bust, which caused the loss of over 250,000 jobs in Northern
California alone. The international boom in housing prices has been
most pronounced in California, with the median property price in
the state rising to about the half-million dollar mark in April
California levies a 9.3% maximum variable rate income tax, with 6 tax brackets.
As for air travel, Los
Angeles International Airport and San
Francisco International Airport are major hubs for
trans-Pacific and transcontinental traffic. There are about a dozen
important commercial airports and many more general aviation
airports throughout the state's 58 counties.
California also has several important seaports. The giant seaport complex formed by the
Port of Los
Angeles and the Port of Long Beach in Southern California is the
largest in the country and responsible for handling about a fourth
of all container cargo traffic in the United States. The Port of Oakland handles
most of the ocean containers passing through Northern
Intercity rail travel is provided by Amtrak. Los Angeles and San Francisco both have
in addition to light
rail. Metrolink commuter rail serves much of Southern California, and
Caltrain commuter rail
connects San Jose and Gilroy (commute hour only) to San Francisco. Altamont Commuter
Express (ACE) connects Tracy, Livermore and other edge cities with San Jose. the
Bay and South
Bay regions are not currently included in the system. San Diego has Trolley light rail and
commuter rail services. Nearly all counties operate bus lines, and many cities operate
their own bus lines as well.
and Amtrak provide intercity travel services.
The rapidly growing population of the state is straining all of its
transportation networks. If built, the system would provide a
TGV-style high-speed link
between the state's four major cities, and would allow travel
between Los Angeles' Union
Station and San Francisco's Transbay Terminal in two and one half hours.
Law and government
California is governed as a republic, with three branches of
government: the executive branch consisting of the Governor of
California and the other independently elected constitutional
officers; the legislative branch consisting of the Assembly and
and the judicial
branch consisting of the Supreme Court of
California and lower courts. The state also allows direct
participation of the electorate by initiative, referendum, recall, and ratification.
of California and the other state constitutional officers serve
four-year terms and may be re-elected only once. The California
State Legislature consists of a 40 member Senate and 80
member Assembly. Members of the Assembly are subject to
term limits of 3
terms, and members of the Senate are subject to term limits of 2
For the 2005–2006 session, there are 48 Democrats
and 32 Republicans in the Assembly. Schwarzenegger was only the
second governor in the history of the United States to be put into
office by a recall of a sitting governor (the first was the 1921
recall of North
Dakota Governor Lynn J. Schwarzenegger replaced Governor Gray Davis (1999–2003), who
was removed from office by the October 2003 California
The state's capital is Sacramento. During California's early history
under European control, the capital was successively located in
(1775–1849), San Jose (1849–1851), Vallejo
(1852–1853), Benicia (1853–1854), and San
Francisco (1862). The capital's final move to Sacramento was on
1854 where it has been
located since, except for a four-month temporary move in 1862 to
San Francisco, which was due to severe flooding in
is the largest in the United States (with a total of 1,600 judges,
while the state's federal system has only about 840). font-size:
Presidential elections results
California's legal system, like all other states (except
Louisiana), is explicitly based on English common law but carries a few
features from Spanish civil law,
such as community
property. Capital punishment is a legal form of punishment
and the state has the largest "Death Row" population in the country (though Texas is far more active in
carrying out executions).
At the national level, California is represented by two senators
and 53 representatives, as of 2005. (Since California is the most
populous state in the Union, its counts of Congressmen and
Presidential Electors are also the largest.) The two U.S. Senators from
California are Democrats Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. 33 Democrats and 20 Republicans
represent the state in the U.S.
House of Representatives.
California is considered a reliably Democratic state. Once very conservative, having elected
conservatives such as Ronald Reagan as governor and William Knowland as
senator, California has flipped sides in recent decades and became
a Democrat voting state, having elected statewide liberals such as
Feinstein and Barbara Boxer to the Senate.
Even some recent Republican politicians elected statewide, such as
Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger are considered members of the more
moderate wing of the national party. California's Republican
dominance in the mid-20th century had to do with strong GOP support
Francisco, San Jose and Los Angeles; Bush received a majority of votes in more
than half the state's 58 counties, but still lost California's 55
electoral votes to John Kerry, who won 54.3% of the popular vote,
by a margin of 9 percentage points due to Kerry's overwhelming
totals in the Bay Area and Los Angeles.
In August 2006 Governor Schwarzenegger went against the Bush
administration, in passing the strictest anti-pollution laws
anywhere in the world.citation needed
Ballot qualified political parties
- American Independent Party: link
- Democratic Party: link
- Green Party: link
- Libertarian Party: link
- Peace and Freedom Party:link
- Republican Party: link
Important cities and towns
Image:Sacramento from Riverwalk.jpg|Sacramento
Image:SanJoseDowntownIMG016elf wb.jpg|San Jose
Image:Long Beach, CA at night.jpg|Long
The state of California has 478 cities, the majority of which are
within one of the large metropolitan areas. Sixty-eight percent of California's
population lives in its two largest metropolitan areas, Greater Los
Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area.
Note: table was compiled using California State
estimates from 2006 for population
and Census 2000 for area and density
For a list of important suburbs within the above areas, see
List of urbanized areas in California (by
25 wealthiest places in California
Thanks to the state's powerful economy, certain California
cities are among the wealthiest on the planet. The following list
is ranked by per
- Belvedere, California – Riverside
California – $66,776
Note: Marin County ranks as the wealthiest county in the United States based on per
capita personal income.
30 poorest places in California
Many California communities rank among the poorest in the
western world according to the measure of per capita income. The
following list is ranked by increasing per capita income,
first number is state ranking:
California - Plumas County - $2,584
California - Plumas County - $3,141
Orosi, California - Tulare County - $4,984
California - Tulare County - $5,632
1072 Cantua Creek, California - Fresno County -
1071 Indian Falls, California - Plumas County -
California - Stanislaus County - $6,137
California - Tulare County - $6,254
California - Riverside County - $6,389
1067 Richgrove, California - Tulare County - $6,415
Joaquin, California - Fresno County - $6,607
1065 Woodville, California - Tulare County - $6,824
California - San Joaquin County $6,876
California - Kern
County - $6,919
California - Fresno County - $6,967
Bella, California - Tulare County - $7,034
California - Fresno County -$7,078
1059 Orange Cove, California - Fresno County -
1058 Parksdale, California - Madera County - $7,129
1057 Earlimart, California - Tulare County - $7,169
1056 South Dos Palos, California - Merced County -
1055 Winterhaven, California - Imperial County -
1054 Shackelford, California - Stanislaus County -
Verde, California - Imperial County - $7,275
California - Fresno County - $7,375
1051 Kettleman City, California - Kings County
California - Kern
County - $7,408
1049 Coachella, California - Riverside County -
Harte, California - Stanislaus County - $7,481
California - Tulare County - $7,642
Image:Berkeley glade afternoon.jpg|UC
Image:Stanford campus aerial photo.jpg|Stanford
Image:USC Bovard Auditorium enh.jpg|USC
California's public educational system is supported by a unique
constitutional amendment that requires 40% of state revenues to be
spent on education.
schools are of varying effectiveness. Mandatory full-time
instruction begins at age 6.
The preeminent state research university is the University of
California, which employs more Nobel Prize winners than any other institution in
the world and is considered the world's finest public university
system. The nine general UC cam
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