Where Is California? See Its Map Location and Surrounding States

San Diego, California, USA downtown city skyline.
© Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com

Written by Patrick MacFarland

Updated: September 15, 2023

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California is arguably one of the most known states in the country. Everyone in the world knows about California, especially its famous cities and landmarks. California is home to Hollywood, the land of the stars. The state is home to the famous Golden Gate Bridge. It is the most populous state in the union with over 39 million people.

But many people know about California and what it is known for, but do people know where it is? Do people know about its neighboring states? If you are wondering where California is, let’s take a look at where it is on the US map. We’ll also explore California’s neighboring states, when it officially joined the union, the climate in California, and other facts about The Golden State.

Where Is California Located on the Map?

California is located in the Southwest United States, next to the Pacific Ocean. With 840 miles of coast, it is one of the longest coastlines in the United States. But where is California on the map? Let’s take a look below.

When Did California Officially Join the US?

California joined the United States on September 9, 1850. The issue of having California admitted to the union was a controversial one. The bitter debate reached Congress on whether to admit the state and after long hours of heated infighting, the Compromise of 1850 was reached. California would enter the union as a free, non-slavery state.

Which States Border California?

Three states border California. Oregon to the north and Nevada and Arizona to the east. Since the state is on the Pacific Coast, the closest state to the west is Hawaii. Let’s take a look at the three states that border the Golden State.


Nicknamed the Beaver State, Oregon was the 33rd state to enter the union in 1859. Its capital is Salem, but the biggest city in the state is Portland. American settlers arrived in Oregon via the Oregon Trail, which was one of the most arduous and dangerous routes to traverse on. Oregon’s climate, is Mediterranean, although the winters can be wet. Located in the Pacific Northwest, Oregon has the distinction of having the deepest lake in the United States, Crater Lake, which is 1,943 feet deep. 


Nevada was admitted to the union in 1864, making it the 36th state. Nicknamed the Silver State, Nevada has a population of 3.1 million. Carson City is the capital of Nevada. Part of Spanish territory, it eventually became Mexican territory and after the Mexican-American War, it became a territory of the United States. People from all over the country flocked to Nevada when word spread of gold and silver being found. Nevada’s climate is dry and it is actually the driest state in the country. During summers, the weather is extremely hot and winters can be very cold. Nevada’s biggest city is Las Vegas, which is a popular destination for tourists, getting 42 million visitors every year.


The 48th state admitted to the union, Arizona became a state in 1912. There are six million people living in the state and its most populated city, Phoenix, is also the capital of Arizona. Many Native American tribes lived in Arizona including the Hopi, Navajo, Zuni, and Apache tribes. In 1863, it became a US territory. Most of Arizona’s weather is arid, with the exception of the northeastern part, which is wet and humid. One of Arizona’s famous natural formations, the Grand Canyon, gets more than five million visitors each year.

Is California a Good Place to Live?

Classic panoramic view of famous Golden Gate Bridge seen from scenic Baker Beach in beautiful golden evening light on a sunny day with blue sky and clouds in summer, San Francisco, California, USA

The Golden Gate Bridge, located in San Francisco, is one of the seven man-made wonders of the world.


California’s climate makes it a desirable place to live for many people. There are numerous natural parks in the state for people to go on hikes with and enjoy California’s biodiversity. There are also many cities to explore, which are laden with famous landmarks, monuments, and rich, cultural diversity. The beaches are amazing in the state, perfect for those who love beach days and going in the water. Surfing is also one of the most popular sports in the state.

With all good things, however, there are also cons. California has a very high cost of living. In fact, the three major cities — Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco — are all in the top 10 most expensive cities in the US to live in. California also has a housing and homelessness problem. Lastly, the state has huge traffic problems and an underdeveloped public transportation system. If you are visiting the state, you will need a car to get around.

View of Downtown Los Angeles from the Hollywood Hills.  Interstate 101 is shown in the foreground.

Los Angeles is the second most populous city in the United States with a population of 3.8 million.

©Sarah Fields Photography/Shutterstock.com

What Is the Climate in California?

California’s climate is unique to the rest of the world. It is one of the only places that has five different types of climates — desert, cool interior, highland, Mediterranean, and Steppe climates. Because of this, many people think California is mostly a sunny place to live, perfect for enjoying a great year-round climate. This is not true. There are some places in the Golden States that are rainy and gloomy most of the year. Southern California is hotter than Northern California, which can experience more rain.

California is home to the hottest place on Earth. Death Valley, a desert valley in the Mojave Desert, is located in Eastern California. Its hottest temperature ever recorded was on July 5, 1918, with a whopping 134 degrees Fahrenheit!

California can also experience several types of natural disasters including flooding from excess rain, earthquakes, and wildfires. There are over 200 faults that can have an impact on the state and make it vulnerable to earthquakes. Wildfires have increased in recent years due to climate change and arid weather conditions.

What Is California Most Known For?

Waddell Beach

California’s state sport is surfing.

©iStock.com/Sundry Photography

California is one of the most famous places on Earth and there are so many things to do in the state. The biggest thing the state is known for is Hollywood, the capital of the entertainment industry. Hollywood, located in Los Angeles, is where they shoot many movies and television series. The Golden State is the number one place to grow wine in the United States, as well as the number one producer of avocados in the country.

In terms of leisure and fun, the Golden State has amazing beaches, great surf, and tons of outdoor activities for all to enjoy. All of these things make California an attractive place to visit for millions around the world.

Facts About California

Redwood National Park

The state tree is the redwood and is the tallest tree in the world.

©The Migrating Monkey/Shutterstock.com

  • Capital: Sacramento
  • Population: 39.24 million
  • Governor: Gavin Newsom
  • Lieutenant Governor: Eleni Kounalakis
  • State animal: California grizzly bear
  • State bird: California Valley quail
  • State flower: California poppy


California is a majestic state. Its 39 million people are a melting pot of the world and its rich diversity puts it on the map as one of the most influential states in the nation. The tech industry has revolutionized the state and positioned it as a worldwide powerhouse. The state has led the nation in being one of the first in many things — including marriage equality.

Apart from being an influential state, California also has good weather. Aside from some mountainous areas in the state, the state has a Mediterranean climate. The weather is amazing year-round, which makes it desirable to so many people. However, the state has high home prices and the rents are sky-high. The California government has a full plate in addressing many issues. 

At the end of the day, California is still an amazing state full of opportunities for visitors of all ages. The state of California, after all, is a golden state.

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About the Author

Patrick Macfarland is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering travel, geography, and history. Patrick has been writing for more than 10 years. In the past, he has been a teacher and a political candidate. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from SDSU and a Master's Degree in European Union Studies from CIFE. From San Diego, California, Patrick loves to travel and try new recipes to cook.

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