The geography of California – landforms, cities, borders, etc.

California is a state located in the Western United States. It is the third largest US state by area and the largest state by population. In this web post, we will learn about the geography of California. Let’s read.


The geography of California

California on the US map


California has an area of around 163,700 square miles (423,970 sq km). Its area only falls behind Alaska and Texas. The population of California is around 39 million (2023 estimate).

Mountain ranges and tallest peaks in California

Mount Whitney, California
Mount Whitney, California

Mount Whitney is the tallest mountain in California. It is 14,505 ft (4,421 m) tall and is located in the Sierra Nevada mountain range that runs near the California-Nevada border. In the extreme north, the Cascade range touches California near the Oregon border. Klamath Mountains also lie near the Oregon border. Near the Pacific coast of California, a bunch of different mountain ranges run parallelly to the coastline.

Top 3 tallets mountain peaks in California –
  1. Mount Whitney (14,505 ft/4,421 m)
  2. Mount Williamson (14,379 ft/4,383 m)
  3. White Mountain Peak (14,252 ft/4,344 m)

Major Rivers of California

Tower Bridge over the Sacramento River, Sacramento, California
Tower Bridge over the Sacramento River, Sacramento, California

Sacramento River is the longest River in California. It has a length of nearly 400 miles. The longest river that flows through California is Colorado. Colorado River forms the Califonia-Arizona border in southeastern California. Other major Rivers in California are – Klamath River, San Joaquin River, Pit River, Eel River, etc.

Tallest trees in the world are found in California

Coast redwood also known as California redwood is the tallest tree species in the world. It can reach heights of over 360 ft (110 m). Coast redwood is found near the coast of Northern California. It is also seen in southwestern Oregon. Giant sequoia, another very large tree species is found exclusively in Sierra Nevada mountains of California. Giant sequoias can attain heights of over 280 ft (85 m)

Largest lakes in California

Salton sea in California
Salton sea

Salton sea is the largest lake in California. The surface area of Salton sea is around 340 square miles. Salton sea is an extremely saline body of water with not much life. Lake Tahoe located on the California-Nevada border is the second largest lake in California. It has an area of around 190 square miles. Lake Tahoe is the largest freshwater lake in California.

Borders of California

California has 3 state borders and 1 international border. California borders the state of Oregon in the north, Nevada and Arizona in the east, and the Mexican state of Baja California in the south.

Capital city and Largest city

Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles

Los Angeles is the largest city in California. It is also the second largest city in the United State after New York City. The capital city of California is Sacramento. It is located 380 miles North of LA. The top 3 largest cities of California in order are – Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose.

(Also read: Top 10 largest cities in California by population)

National Parks

Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park

California is the land of National Parks. There are 9 National Parks in the state. Some of America’s most popular National Parks are located in California. Yosemite National Park was visited by 3.67 million people in the year 2022. Joshua Tree National Park located just 130 miles east of Los Angeles was visited by 3.06 million people in 2022.

Wildlife in California

A deer in Yosemite National Park
A deer in Yosemite National Park

California possesses a great diversity of flora and fauna. According to some rough estimates, the state has more than 220 species of mammals, over 650 species of birds, over 100 species of reptiles, over 70 species of amphibians, and thousands of invertebrates. Some large animals of California are American black bear, mountain lion, bighorn sheep, mule deer, red fox, bald eagle, etc.

San Francisco Bay Area

San Francisco, California
San Francisco, California

San Francisco Bay Area is a heavily populated region in California located around the San Francisco Bay. The three major cities of the region are – San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland. San Francisco bay area if known for its diverse culture, tech industry, and natural beauty.

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