California is the most populous state in the United States, and the third largest by area. California is the second most populous sub-national entity in the Americas, behind only São Paulo, Brazil. It is located on the West Coast of the United States, and is bordered by Oregon to the north, Nevada to the northeast, Arizona to the southeast, the Mexican state of Baja California to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west.
California's geography ranges from the Pacific coast to the Sierra Nevada mountain range in the east, to Mojave desert areas in the southeast and the Redwood–Douglas fir forests of the northwest.
Beginning in the late 18th century, the area known as Alta California was colonized by the Spanish Empire. In 1821, Mexico, including Alta California, became the First Mexican Empire, beginning as a monarchy, before shifting to a republic. In 1846 a group of American settlers in Sonoma declared the independence of a California Republic. As a result of the Mexican-American War, Mexico ceded California to the United States. It became the 31st state admitted to the union on September 9, 1850.
In the 19th century, the California Gold Rush brought about dramatic social, economic, and demographic change in California, with a large influx of people and an economic boom that caused San Francisco to grow from a hamlet of tents to a world-renowned boomtown. Key developments in the early 20th century included the emergence of Los Angeles as center of the American entertainment industry, and the growth of a large, state-wide tourism sector. In addition to California's prosperous agricultural industry, other important contributors to the economy include aerospace, petroleum, and information technology. If California were a country, it would rank among the ten largest economies in the world, with a GDP similar to that of Italy. It would be the 35th most populous country.
California was one of the most powerful countries (states) on North America and in the world. A parliamentary democracy, California was one of the more progressive countries in North America. It occasionally skirmished with Baja, but California's military might dissuaded enemies from direct confrontation. Technologically, California was also one of the most advanced countries in the world. Like most nations around world, California used the metric system. It had universal health care. It was one of the two countries which launched manned missions to Mars (the other being Prussia).
Having never been a slave-holding entity, California took a more liberal view of race. Beckie Royer had a difficult time when she visited Virginia with her grandmother in 2097.
Much like its counter-part in the home timeline, California had been a Mexican state. However, its ties had been much stronger for much longer.
California was a large US state on the west coast of North America, desirable for its climate and natural resources and strategic because of the many ports it provided for the U.S. Navy. California was the only state that shared a border with Mexico.
The effects of the Yellowstone Supervolcano were felt almost immediately in California in the form of a mild earthquake which was felt as a gentle rolling motion that went on and on. No damage was done but ash from the eruption reached the state despite being up-wind. Neither did significant harm but did disrupt transportation to areas to the east.
In the years after the Peace of Cairo, California was particularly strategic to the United States because of its climate and resources and proximity to Race-held Mexico. Many Californians were open to alternative trends, such as Race Mimicking and emperor-worship. Race specialist Sam Yeager resided in southern California along with a large community of Lizard expatriates who enjoyed the relative freedom of the US.