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 east and 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 becoming a republic. In 1846, during the Mexican-American War, a group of American settlers in Sonoma declared the independence of a California Republic in Alta California. After the war, Mexico ceded Alta California to the United States. As simply California, 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.
In an alternate where the United States didn't endure as a nation, California was one of the most powerful nation-states of North America, or the world for that matter. A parliamentary democracy, California was one of the more progressive countries in North America. It occasionally skirmished with the nation of Baja to the south, but California's military might dissuaded enemies from direct confrontation. California was also one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world. Like most nations, California used the metric system. It was rich enough to provide universal health care for its people. By 2097, it was one of the two countries which had launched manned missions to Mars (the other being Prussia).
Having never practiced slavery, California took a more liberal view of race, and gave blacks the same rights as whites. Beckie Royer had a difficult time when she visited Virginia with her grandmother in 2097 and saw the brutal racial divisions in that nation.
Much like its counterpart in the home timeline, California had been part of Mexico, a nation which followed the United States' pattern of disassembling swiftly after achieving independence. However, its ties had been much stronger for much longer. Mexican dialectic touches flourished in Californian English, including the rolling r, which was more pronounced in California in the alternate than at home.
Men in California tended to dress informally. For instance, the Prime Minister typically only wore a tie when he met a foreign dignitary.
Harsh censorship of media and press, common on the East Coast, was unknown in California. For example, California allowed a movie, very loosely based on historical events, to be shown depicting MassachusettsConsulJohn Quincy Adams narrowly dodging a Rhode Island separatist's bullet. No movie depicting a Head of State being threatened could be shown in the Eastern nations which feared uprisings by their minority subjects. Similarly, Californians visiting those nations had to keep quiet about their disapproval of local racial inequality laws, less they be arrested for fomenting insurrection.
During World War II, California rounded up Americans of Japanese descent and put them in internment camps such as Manzanar, to prevent possible acts of sabotage and collusion with the enemy. This did not prevent Japanese planes from bombing San Francisco in 1942.
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. After 1881, California was the only state that shared a border with Mexico.
Los Angeles was attacked by Japanese bombers during the Pacific War in 1932 but suffered little damage. California itself was barely impacted by the Second Great War. Its manufacturing capabilities, particularly in air power, gave the United States a significant advantage over the Confederate States in that war.
California was the home of the United States' movie industry. It also saw substantial conflict between labor and management in the interwar period.
In 1919, after the notion of self-determination of peoples spread to the U.S., several counties in northern California joined with counties in southern Oregon to create the new U.S. state of Jefferson.
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 major 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.
However, the winter immediately after the eruption was cooler and wetter than usual. Indeed, early in the new year, Los Angeles had its first snowfall since January of 1949.