California – General Information

410,000 square kilometers.

36,000,000 (2005).

Population density:
88 per square kilometer.


Biggest town:
los Angeles

The Golden State

California borders Oregon to the north, Nevada and Arizona to the east, Baja California Norte to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. The Colorado River forms the border with Arizona. California has a share in several landscape areas. On the narrow coastal plain join the Coast Ranges. They are followed by the California Longitudinal Valley to the east, bordered to the east by the Sierra Nevada and to the north by the cascade chain and the Klamath Mountains. The coastal area is tectonically very unstable, it often comes to earthquakes. In the southeast, California has a share in the Great Basin, to which u. a. the Death Valley and Mojave Desert.

The longest rivers in California are the Sacramento River and the San Joaquin River. Both rivers, together with their numerous tributaries drain the Sierra Nevada, parts of the cascade chain and the California longitudinal valley. The largest lakes include Lake Tahoe, Clear Lake, Honey Lake and Mono Lake. The highest mountain in the US outside of Alaska, Mt. Whitney at 4,418m, is located in California. At the foot of the mountain is the town of Lone Pine, where a well-known film festival takes place every year. About 170 kilometers away is Death Valley (Death Valley), which got its name in the time of the first settlers on the west coast, who often had to experience the torments of heat and thirst when they visited the valley of the Death “. There are numerous nature parks and beaches of different nature. Among the most famous parks is the Yosemite National Park.

California is governed by the constitution of 1879. At the head of the executive is the governor, who is elected by the people for a term of four years. He can only be re-elected once. The legislature consists of a bicameral parliament composed of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The 40 members of the Senate are elected by the people for a term of four years, the 80 members of the House of Representatives for a term of two years. At federal level, California is represented by two senators and 52 MPs. In presidential elections, the state has 54 votes. Governor of the state since 2003 is the Austrian film actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who belongs to the Republican Party.

The population is about 36 million. California is the most populous state in the United States. The average population density is about 80 inhabitants per square kilometer. The proportion of whites declined from 75 percent in 1990 to 47 percent in 2000. According to the results of the most recent census, Hispanics make up the second largest population group with a share of 32 percent, 12 percent are of Asian descent and 7 percent are black. The share of the urban population is about 90 percent.


Education and culture:
In 1866, the first state schools were established in California. The most important university is the 1868 founded University of California, whose facilities are distributed throughout the state. It is one of the largest universities in the world. Stanford University was founded in 1891 by Leland Stanford. The most visited cultural venues include the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Museum of Contemporary Art and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu, a replica of an ornate Roman villa housing a collection of antiques and European paintings. Worth seeing are also u. a. the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles and the Mount Palomar Observatory, located 80 kilometers northeast of San Diego.

In addition to crude oil and natural gas, important raw materials include mercury, tungsten, asbestos, gravel, copper and iron ores. Farming and forestry are of great economic importance: California produces more agricultural products than any other state. The most important crops include u. a. Grapes, cotton, rice, wheat and corn. California accounts for about one-tenth of all US timber production, and fishing accounts for about 4 percent of the US total. The main fish species are swordfish, salmon, tuna and herring. Important industries are u. a. the aerospace industry and the computer and electronics industries.

Official language is English.

Time zone:
Pacific: UTC -8 / -7

Power supply:
110/120 V, 60 Hz; American two-pin flat plug. Adapter necessary.

Money – Currency:
American dollar


California – Climate

There are three climate zones in California:

On the coast, temperatures are lower due to the influence of the cool Pacific than inland. North of San Francisco the winters are mostly rainy. San Francisco and much of the northern and central California coast are mostly foggy and cool in summer.

In the Sierra Nevada it can be quite hot in the summer during the day: Due to the altitude, the temperatures drop rapidly after sunset. From November large amounts of snow fall here.

In the deserts it is also sunny in winter and pleasantly warm with 20 ° C and more. In the evening and at night, however, it cools down very much as in almost all desert areas. Favored by mild climate are also Los Angeles and San Diego. The climate in San Diego is near perfect and you can do outdoor activities all year round.

The third highest temperature ever recorded on Earth was recorded at 56.7 ° C in 1913 in Death Valley.

North of Lake Tahoe was -42.8 ° C (1937), the lowest temperature in California determined.

A common phenomenon in California is the coastal fog.

Best travel time:

California’s peak season is clearly summer. However, you have in the winter from LA south very mild, moderate weather. A long pants and a jacket is still necessary. Further south in San Diego you will find the climate, often described as perfect. The winters are pleasantly warm here as well.

San Francisco’s weather is often foggy, especially in the morning. In summer, when it gets almost too hot south, you will find a wonderful spring climate in SF.

The best travel time are the months of April and May as well as September and October. Not only for the climate, but also to avoid the American travel season between Memorial Day (late May) and Labor Day (early September).

California – Fauna & Fauna

About 40 percent of all US plant species are native to California.

Common tree species include the sequoia and Douglas fir.

The oldest tree in the world, a grove pine in the Great Basin, is over 4 900 years old. The stocks of the sequoia in the Sierra Nevada are up to 2,000 years old.

In the deserts of the southeast are indigo bushes, various types of cactus and shrubs, creosote shrubs and the Joshua tree.

The woods are home to many other animals, as well as skunks and rattlesnakes, of which there are six different species in the state.

Bears find a suitable habitat mainly in the north and in the remote mountain regions.

California – History

California was first populated by about 105 Indian tribes.

With Hernán Cortés, the Spaniards’ efforts to build a colony in California began. In 1542, the viceroy of New Spain, Antonio de Mendoza, ordered Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo to explore the areas north of Mexico.

The Spanish explorer Sebastián Vizcaíno explored the entire Californian coast in 1602 and 1603, but it was not until 1769 that a supply port was built in San Diego. In 1776 the Spaniards founded San Francisco. When Mexico gained independence in 1821, California became a Mexican province.

In June 1846, a group of American settlers occupied the city of Sonoma. On the occasion of the outbreak of the Mexican War, California declared itself independent. In 1848, Mexico renounced its claims to the territory of the United States in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

The discovery of gold by James W. Marshall at Coloma in January 1848 resulted in a large influx of humans. On September 9, 1850, California became the 31st state to join the United States. In 1854, Sacramento became the state capital. The completion of the transcontinental railway line in 1869 brought the state growing prosperity.

Improved rail links further fueled economic development. In 1890, San Francisco became the largest city on the Pacific Coast and a trade center of world importance.

In Los Angeles, the economic boom reached its peak in 1887. The collapse on the stock exchanges in 1893 led to a serious economic crisis in California. A renewed economic upswing began before the beginning of World War I.

After the war, the number of jobs initially fell sharply. Nevertheless, in the twenties of the 20th century, about two million immigrants poured into the state. By 1924, the population of Los Angeles had risen to one million. Oil production and its related industries gained in importance. In 1925, more than one-fifth of world oil production came from California. During this time, the film industry in Hollywood developed.

During the Second World War, numerous aircraft factories and shipyards were built in California. An influx of workers led between 1940 and 1945 to increase the population by almost two million inhabitants.

After the war, the influx continued, in some cases there was even a lack of housing. Between 1950 and 1990, the population of the state tripled, since 1962 California is the most populous state of the United States.

In October 1989, San Francisco and in June 1992 the region east of Los Angeles was shaken by heavy earthquakes. In the fall of 1993, more than a dozen bush fires swept southern California, destroying more than 80,000 hectares of land and more than 1,000 homes.

In January 1994, Los Angeles was hit by an earthquake that hit 6.7 on the Richter scale. The damage was estimated at 15 to 30 billion US dollars.

California – wining and dining

Just as false as the prejudice that Americans only feed on pizza and fast food is the claim that Californians have reinvented cooking with their “Californian Cuisine”. In the cooking pots of many top restaurants in the room L.A. one finds influences of European, Asian and Creole cuisine again. The ingredients are usually fresh from the fertile orchards and vegetable growing areas of the north. On the coast you will often find on the menu seafood, such as crabs, crabs and all kinds of saltwater fish.

The culinary diversity of North America comes mainly from the pots of ethnic kitchens, which can be divided as follows:

Creole, Chinese or Thai, southern, Tex-Mex or Californian cuisine, the palette of treats is inexhaustible. Not everywhere, but at least in some big cities like New York, Philadelphia, Montreal, Toronto, New Orleans, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver. Many fast food outlets, the fast-paced restaurant chains and fast food outlets on the highway, are better than their reputation. In the east of the country Wendy’s is praised for his tangible chili con carne. In the West, Denny’s Food Outlets (with the 24 hour motto “never closes” or “always open”) have established themselves and offer a reliable and reasonably priced breakfast and lunch menu as well as salads and light meals.
The trend towards meatless food has meanwhile also reached North America. Fruits and vegetables are being served more and more often, not only in the fine restaurants of white table cloth restaurants. Even fast food outlets and truck stops bring the new trend to the table with salad bars, veggie (vegetable) burgers, veggie sandwiches and veggie fajitas.
Closed on Sundays
As alcohol serving is illegal in some southern states on Sundays, is prohibited at all, or is only permitted on special licenses, many restaurants have closed on Sundays.
Before there is something to eat in the restaurant, the guest usually has to undergo a small cultural entrance exam. Usually there is a sign WAIT TO BE SEATED at the entrance, which means that you should not rush straight to the next empty table, but wait for the receptionist (s) to assign a table.

If other guests are already waiting, one of the most striking Anglo-Saxon rituals comes into effect: patient queuing, standing in line. Whoever does not, is gently reminded: “You have to stand in line”. This is something that can easily happen to Europeans (except the British), because it is not always clear that the smallest group of people is basically a line. So in case of doubt, ask: “Excuse me, is this a line?” Americans love lines – at the inn, at the post office, at bank counters, at the box office, at the hotel reception. They hate jostling and lumping. With good reason, because lines spare nerves and spare unnecessary friction.
Doggy bag
In addition to the sumptuous breakfast, the lunch dishes are varied, tasty and reasonably priced. All portions, especially in the evening, are abundantly large. You will not be viewed at an angle when sharing large portions or wrapping up the unmanageable rest (doggy bag). Could you wrap this, please?).
In comparison to Europe you eat in North America early in the evening. Especially in smaller places you sit at the latest by 21 clock to table. Even in the cities, the restaurants are often closed after 10pm.

For a picnic or for taking food to the hotel room, it is advisable to buy a sufficiently spacious cooler for the trunk right at the beginning of the journey (from 20 liters). There’s plenty of ice cream in supermarkets and petrol stations. (Tip: The cooler is also to be used as heat protection for slide films in a watertight bag).

You already spend enough money for parking, toll, admission, taxes, tips, etc., as you should in many bars and lounges usually between 17-19 clock offered “happy hour” (free snacks -freebies or munchies and drinks) take advantage of.

Adolescents are usually strictly controlled when visiting bars, discos and casinos (minimum age 21 years). Normally the US driver’s license driver’s license is valid as ID ID, identification. Since you do not have identity cards in the US, it can sometimes be difficult to prove that you are 21 or older.

For snacks and snacks, most supermarkets are real treasure troves because they offer vegetables, fruits, sandwiches, pastries, etc. fresh, tasty and inexpensive – often at any time of the day or night. The shops of gas stations are not to be despised as supply stations.

Non-smoking areas are in the vast majority of restaurants and coffee shops usus. The disregard of the Nichtrauc


The Americans are currently in an absolute coffee exchange. Especially in the West, initiated by the Seattle, Washington-based coffee roaster “Starbucks”, numerous fragrant coffee houses have emerged in recent years, offering espresso, cappuccino, café latte, etc., alongside fresh baked goods and sandwiches. The facilities are mostly cozy and have become important social meeting places.
Restaurant recommendations:
Domenico’s on the Wharf

The excellent restaurant boasts several awards for its cuisine and exquisite wine list. The house specialty is freshly made pasta and – what could be different about a harbor restaurant – seafood dishes.


50 Fisherman’s Wharf
93940 Monterey
Tel: 001-831-372-3665
Fax: 001-831-372-2073

Heidi’s Restaurant
Families can enjoy breakfast or lunch in the child-friendly restaurant. The American-European dishes are good and inexpensive.
3485 Lake Tahoe Blvd.
96150 South Lake Tahoe
Tel: 001-530-544-8113

Jonesy’s Famous Steak House
In the unpretentious steak house there are also good dishes with fish and chicken. Many locals come mainly because of the low prices. From the window seats you overlook the Napa Valley Airport.
2044 Airport Rd.
94558 Napa
Tel: 001-707-255-2003

Maccallum House Restaurant
In a cozy atmosphere, not only the guests of the Maccallum Inn meet in the hotel’s restaurant. The kitchen is continental oriented.
45020 Albion St.
95460 Mendocino
Tel: 001-707-937-0289

Manta Rey Restaurant
As in many restaurants in California, the Manta Rey also limits the serving of alcoholic beverages to wine and beer. The fish and pasta dishes are freshly prepared.
9240 Castillo (El Rey Garden Inn)
93452 San Simeon
Tel: 001-805-924-1032

Musso & Frank Grill
In the old tradition since 1919 breakfast and American specialties are served. Anyone who wants can sit at the same table as Ernest Hemingway once did.
6667 Hollywood Blvd.
CA 90028 Los Angeles, Hollywood
Tel: 001-323-467-7788

Gourmet chef Wolfgang Puck conjures up exquisite pizza and pasta variations for his guests. Due to the great popularity at L.A.s Highsociety, a reservation is essential.
8795 W. Sunset Blvd.
CA 90069 Los Angeles, West Hollywood
Tel: 001-310-652-4025

The Narrow Gauge Inn
Because of the friendly service and home-style cooking, the hotel restaurant enjoys great popularity with both tourists and locals.
48571 Hwy. 41
93623 Fish Camp
Tel: 001-559-683-7720
Fax: 559-683-2139


California attractions

Big sur
The coastline about 100 miles south of Monterrey is known as Big Sur. Here the coastal mountains fall directly into the Pacific. A breathtaking landscape of rocks and tiny beaches hidden in small bays. Highway 1, which winds its way around the slopes of the mountains, surprises with new beauties behind each bend.
Yosemite National Park
The beautiful mountain valley Yosemite Valley, located about 150 miles east of San Francisco in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This mesmerizing valley is only 12 miles long and only about 1 mile wide, but has more than 2000 feet of granite walls plunging over 9 waterfalls, including the 2400-foot Yosemite Falls. An exceptionally popular meeting place for tourists, hikers and mountaineers.
Sequoia National Park
These two nature parks are located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Less known as the Yosemite and not overpopulated, they are ideal for hiking and exploring California nature.
Lake Tahoe
Surrounded by dense forests, snow capped slopes and mountain peaks, Lake Tahoe (1900 meters above sea level) is one of California’s most popular holiday destinations. In summer you can go motor boating or jet skiing, sunbathing, sailing, hiking, fishing and in winter, skiing is excellent. The incredible blue waters of the lake stretch across the state border of California and Nevada. The best time to visit Lake Tahoe is from June to September, when the average daily temperature at this time is 26 ° C and there are 27 cloudless days on average. Even the months of May and October are still months with pleasant temperatures (19 ° C).
Death Valley
About 150 miles east of Los Angeles, near the Nevada border, Death Valley offers some of the most desolate scenery in the United States. In this narrow and shallow basin in the midst of barren mountains, the daytime temperatures climb to more than 140 ° F. The valley is almost without any life. And yet, the rugged, colorful rock formations and the bright white salt lakes give the landscape a fascinating magic.
Joshua Tree National Park
Just east of Palm Springs, this park features the unusual flora and fauna of the Mojave Desert, including thousands of unusual-looking Joshua trees. This park is not well known and rarely visited, except by serious climbers and campers.
San Diego
On the southern border of California, near the Mexican border, lies San Diego. Known for its exceptionally pleasant climate and warm, tropical beaches. With significantly less traffic than its huge neighbor Los Angeles, this city offers a calmer atmosphere. San Diego has one of the best zoological gardens in the world. The distance to the Mexican border town of Tijuana is low.
California Wine Country – The Wine Country
As the largest wine producer in the US, California has a reputation for exceptional wines. The Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley, about 50 miles north of San Francisco, are the best known growing areas. The central coast between Monterrey and Santa Barbara is almost as well known. In addition, there are scattered throughout the state a number of smaller and more unknown areas. Many wineries can be visited for free and participate in wine tasting.

Palm Springs

The city of Palm Springs, in a desert valley 100 miles east of Los Angeles, has long been the winter retreat of the movie stars and rich Californians who pull the heat and year-round sunshine here. Numerous golf courses, exclusive shops and excellent restaurants are just the thing for the spoiled audience.

Palm Springs and its neighboring communities are all located on Highway 10 and the parallel thoroughfare known as Highway 111. It is also known as Palm Canyon Drive.

Years ago, Palm Springs was the weekend resort for many famous Hollywood movie stars and movie stars. Already at the time of the silent films, this was the place where the rich and famous wanted to escape the filthy air and city bustle in Los Angeles. Many Hollywood personalities built elegant pompous mansions in the desert of Palm Springs. Some of these fantastic Villlen are still there, reminiscent of the great time in Hollywood. Many streets, boulevards and city buildings still bear the names of famous residents such as Frank Sinatra Way, Dinah Shore Way, Gene Autry Path and the Bob Hope Cultural Center.

Palm Springs was born from a small desert bath. All around, there are other places like Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells and Indio. The route on Route 111 is dotted with many elegant big houses, lush green golf courses and elegant shopping centers with fine designer shops and expensive restaurants. Palm Springs is known as the resort for rich seniors.

There is a very large selection of accommodation in Palm Springs. You can find elegant holiday hotels that offer large rooms with all the comforts. But there are also enough cheap hotels. There are even a number of very reasonably priced motels. The main attractions in Palm Springs are the weather, the golf courses and the elegant resort hotels. The temperatures can be quite hot in summer and cool in winter, but on the whole it is very pleasant all year round. Rain is rare and the sun shines all year on a cloudless blue sky. January to May are usually very pleasant months with less tourist flows.

Golf is played all year round and there are more than a hundred places in the area. To irrigate the golf courses more than 4 million liters of water are consumed every day. Swimming pools and tennis courts are as numerous as the palm trees in this area.

Questions about the destination California?