California Geography

California is one of the 50 states of the United States of America. It is in the south-west corner of the United States. California is the third largest state in the United States, and it has the most people in it of all the states.

The west border of California is the shoreline of the Pacific Ocean. This huge ocean is between America and Asia.

North of California is the state of Oregon. On the east are the states of Nevada and Arizona. On the south, California borders Mexico.

These borders were made over the past 200 years, as settlers came to California from other parts of the world. The borders between countries and states are called political borders. Natural borders are between land and the ocean.

California has some of the highest mountains in the United States and some of the deepest valleys. It has a long shoreline which provides beaches and natural habitats and harbors. Two main mountain ranges go from north to south through California. The Sierra Nevada Mountains, which go through Tulare County, are some of the highest mountains in the United States. Mt. Whitney is the highest mountain in this mountain range. It’s tip is in Tulare County.

Below and west of the Sierra Nevada Mountains are the San Joaquin and Sacramento Valleys. These large flat areas are excellent land for farming. In between the mountains and the valley are foothills. These hills have good places for cattle to graze on the grass that grows. Also, many oranges and other citrus fruits grow there.

West of Tulare County is the Coast Range of Mountains. These mountains are not as high as the Sierra Nevada Mountains. To go to the beach at the Pacific Ocean, we have to cross the Coast Range.

In the winter, it snows in the high Sierra Nevada mountains. When spring comes, the snow melts and goes down the mountains in rivers. 100 years ago, the rivers in the San Joaquin Valley flowed into a large lake called Tulare Lake. The Yokuts Indians who lived here fished in the lake and hunted the birds and animals which came there. When the settlers arrived, they built boats and could sail to San Francisco.

Settlers also started farming. They built a dam on mountain rivers and canals to take the water to their fields. Tulare Lake is now dry because the water goes to fields instead of the lake.

Click here for a page about the physical geography of California.

Click here for a page about how California’s geography has changed over time.