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California

California, often referred to as "the Golden State", has many tourist attractions that bring visitors to the state.

The area known as Alta California was colonized by the Spanish Empire in the late 1700s. After the Mexican War for Independence in 1821, California became a part of Mexico, and remained a part of that country until it was annexed by the United States in 1847 following the Mexican-American War. California is the most populous U.S. state. Nearly 40% of the population has a Spanish/Mexican origin, and Spanish is widely spoken.
Among California's tourist attractions are the beaches, theme parks, golfing, skiing, and the natural beauty of high mountains, big forests and dry, hot deserts. Tourists are often surprised at how different the beaches in the north are from those in the south. In the south, warm Pacific waters and the famous California surf attract many tourists to the hot, sandy, tropical and palm shaded beaches. As you go further north, the coastline becomes more scenic, but waters are cooler, it becomes windier and sandy beaches are scarcer.

As for theme parks, southern California has Disneyland in Anaheim and Universal Studios in Hollywood, as well as Legoland and Sea World near
San Diego. Northern theme park offerings include Paramount's Great America in Silicon Valley and Bonfante Gardens in Gilroy. There are other lesser known theme parks also worth a visit.

California's climate varies from Mediterranean to subarctic. Much of the state has a Mediterranean climate, with cool, rainy winters and dry summers. Northern parts of the state average higher annual rainfall than the south. Northwestern California has a temperate climate, and the Central Valley has a Mediterranean climate, but with greater temperature extremes than the coast. The high mountains have a mountain climate with snow in winter and mild to moderate heat in summer. The low deserts east of the southern California Mountains experience hot summers and nearly frostless mild winters.

The most popular time to travel to California tends to be in the summer (April to September), but winter also attracts visitors to ski areas and warmer destinations. Low season is November to February.

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