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Demographics of California

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Demographics of California

California is the most populous U.S. state. It has many people from a wide variety of ethnic, racial, national, and religious backgrounds.


California is the most populous sub-national entity in North America. If it were an independent country, California would rank 34th in population in the world. It has a larger population than all of Canada.[2] Its population is one third larger than that of the next largest state, Texas.[3] California surpassed New York to become the most populous state in 1962.[4] However, according to the Los Angeles Times, California's population growth has slowed dramatically in the 21st century.[5] In 2010, the state's five most populous counties were Los Angeles County, San Diego County, Orange County, Riverside County, and San Bernardino County, with Riverside County having the largest percentage increase in population.[6] The largest metro areas in California, as of 2010, are Los Angeles, San Francisco-Oakland, San Diego, Riverside-San Bernardino, and Sacramento.[7]

As of 2006, California had an estimated population of 37,172,015, more than 12 percent of the U.S. population. This includes a natural increase since the last census of 1,557,112 people (that is 2,781,539 births minus 1,224,427 deaths) and an increase due to net migration of 751,419 people. Immigration resulted in a net increase of 1,415,879 people, and migration from within the U.S. produced a net increase of 564,100 people. California is the 13th fastest-growing state. As of 2008, the total fertility rate was 2.15.[8]

No single racial or ethnic group forms a majority of California's population, making the state a minority-majority state. Non-Hispanic whites make up 40.1% of the population.[9] Spanish is the state's second most spoken language. Areas with especially large Spanish speaking populations include the Los Angeles metropolitan area, the California-Mexico border counties of San Diego and Imperial, and the San Joaquin Valley. Nearly 43% of California residents speak a language other than English at home, a proportion far higher than any other state.[10]

Racial and ancestral makeup

California Population Density Map.
Pedestrians walking on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica.

According to 2011 US Census Bureau estimates, California's population was 39.7% Non-Hispanic White, 6.6% Black or African American, 13.6% Asian, 1.0% American Indian, 0.4% Pacific Islander and 3.6% from two or more races. White Americans make up 74.0% of the total population. By ethnicity, 38.1% of the total population is Hispanic/Latinos (of any race) and 61.9% Non-Hispanic (of any race).[11]

California has the largest population of White Americans in the U.S., totaling 21,453,934 residents as of the 2010 census. The state has the fifth largest population of African Americans in the U.S., an estimated 2,299,072 residents. California's Asian population is estimated at 4.9 million, approximately one-third of the nation's estimated 15 million Asian Americans. California's Native American population of 362,801 is the most of any state; some estimates place the Native American population at one million.

As of 2011, California has the largest minority population in the United States. Non-Hispanic whites decreased from about 76.3 - 78% of the state's population in 1970[12] to 39.7% in 2011.[13] While the population of minorities accounts for 100.7 million of 300 million U.S. residents, 20% of the national total live in California.[14][15]

New Mexico and Texas have higher percentages of Latinos, but California has the highest total number of Latinos of any U.S. state. Only Hawaii has a higher Asian American percentage than California.

The largest named ancestries in California are Mexican (25%), German (9%), Irish (7.7%), English (7.4%); there are 65 other ethnicities including Albanians, Haitians, Pakistanis, and Somalis. Both Los Angeles and San Francisco have large numbers of residents with English, French, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Scandinavian ancestry.

Demographics of California (csv)
By race White Black AIAN* Asian NHPI*
2000 (total population) 79.75% 7.65% 1.99% 12.39% 0.69%
2000 (Hispanic only) 30.79% 0.61% 0.85% 0.45% 0.13%
2005 (total population) 79.07% 7.45% 1.93% 13.47% 0.71%
2005 (Hispanic only) 33.59% 0.67% 0.84% 0.47% 0.13%
Growth 2000–05 (total population) 5.76% 3.90% 3.58% 16.01% 10.13%
Growth 2000–05 (non-Hispanic only) -0.91% 2.80% 1.87% 16.18% 9.65%
Growth 2000–05 (Hispanic only) 16.36% 16.48% 5.87% 11.68% 12.29%
* AIAN is American Indian or Alaskan Native; NHPI is Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander


California has the largest population of European Americans of any state. For example, in 2000 California had more Bulgarian Americans and Hungarian Americans than any other U.S. state. Los Angeles and San Francisco have large Russian American or Russian populations, and a long history of English, Irish, Italian, Greek, Turkish, German, and Polish communities established by immigrants in the late 19th century. There are also many English American, Irish American, and French Americans whose ancestors were the original 49ers, also known as the California Gold Rush immigrants. There are also immigrant communities from the former Yugoslavia such as Bosnians, Croatians, and Serbians.

California has over one million residents with Spanish or Portuguese ancestry, with communities along coastal parts of the state such as San Diego, Long Beach, Camarillo, Santa Clara Valley (including Cupertino, Gilroy and San Jose), Salinas Valley, Santa Maria Valley, and San Joaquin Valley. A small wave of Danish, Dutch and Swedish immigrants founded towns like Lathrop near Stockton, Artesia near Los Angeles, Kingsburg south of Fresno, Solvang north of Santa Barbara in the late 1800s and the private community of Sveadal located 15 miles south of San Jose and populated entirely by members of the Swedish American Patriotic League.[16] Small colonies of early 19th century Russian settlement under the Russian American Company are in Fort Ross,[17] Calistoga and the Russian River Valley in Sonoma and Napa counties. Small Amish/Mennonite colonies exist in an area bordered by the towns Oakdale, Riverbank and Ripon near Modesto and in Reedley, Sanger and Orange Cove near Fresno in the San Joaquin Valley; and in the outer Salinas Valley.[18]

Hispanic or Latino Americans

As of July 1, 2013, it is estimated that California's Latino population has equalled the population of non-Hispanic whites.[19] Latinos, mainly Mexican Americans, form major portions of the population of Southern California, especially in Los Angeles, as well as the San Joaquin Valley. The city of Los Angeles is often said to be the largest Mexican community in the United States. Census records kept track of the growth since 1850, but Mexican and Mexican-Americans have lived in California since Spanish Colonial times. However, the number and percentage population of Latinos living in California increased rapidly in the late 20th century. The result is that, today, Latinos are the largest ethnic group in Los Angeles County, at over 40 percent of the county's population. Latinos are predominantly concentrated in the older eastern and southern suburbs surrounding downtown Los Angeles and northern Long Beach, the southern/eastern San Fernando Valley, and the San Gabriel/Pomona Valleys. They also comprise sizable communities in Bakersfield, Fresno, El Monte, La Puente, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San José, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Stockton and Vallejo. In Santa Ana in Orange County, Hispanics comprise 75 percent of the population. Nearby Anaheim is over half Latino, and Orange County's population is 30-35 percent Latino.

The Imperial Valley on the U.S.-Mexican border is about 70–75% Latino; communities with many Latinos can also be found in Riverside County, especially at its eastern end, and the Coachella Valley. The Central Valley has many Mexican American migrant farm workers. Latinos are the majority in Colusa, Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, San Benito, Santa Cruz, Tulare and Yolo counties.

Latinos make up at least 20% of the San Francisco Bay Area. Many live in San Mateo, Alameda and Santa Clara counties, as well in San Francisco. The Napa Valley and Salinas Valley have predominantly Hispanic communities established by migrant farm workers. San Jose is about 30-35 percent Latino, the largest Latino community in northern California, while the Mission District, San Francisco and Lower/West Oakland has barrios established by Mexican and Latin American immigrants. The Mexican American communities of East Los Angeles and Logan Heights, San Diego, as well the San Joaquin Valley are centers of historic Chicano and Latino cultures.

Most of the state's Latinos have Mexican ancestry, but there are many Cuban Americans, Puerto Ricans, Guatemalan Americans, Honduran Americans, Salvadoran Americans, and Nicaraguan Americans, Chilean Americans, Colombian Americans, and Peruvian Americans. Los Angeles has the United States' largest Central American community, as well as the largest Mexican American community since the 1910s and 1920s. In fact, the 1900 census record finds 319 to 619 out of 100,000 residents in the city of Los Angeles were "Spanish" or "Mexican". (see Demographics of Los Angeles).

In Mariposa County, there is a very small community of Californios or Spanish American people as they identify themselves, that dates back before the U.S. annexation of California. Hornitos is home to an estimated 1,000 people and many are "Californio". The community's "Spanish" Californio culture is closely linked with Mexico and other Latin American nations. Spanish colonial/Mexican/Latino influences was always a minor part of California after it became part of the U.S. since 1848 and its statehood in 1850.

Asian Americans

The state has a long history of established Asian communities, including Chinese since the 1850s, Japanese since the 1880s, and Filipinos for over a century. A large wave of Asian immigration since 1965 brought in more Chinese along with Koreans and Southeast Asians after the Vietnam war ended in the late 1970s. South Asians are also a fast-growing group.

As of the 2010 Census there were a total of 17,941,286 respondents who claimed to be Asian American and Asian.[20] Out of these respondents in the United States,[21] 30.9% live in California, with 5,556,592 Asian Americans being counted by the 2010 Census.[22] This is a 1.5 million growth in population from the 2000 census, making Asian Americans 14.9 percent of the state's population.[23] Out of those almost 5.6 million Asian Americans in California there are 1,474,707 Filipinos, 1,349,111 Chinese, 647,589 Vietnamese, 590,445 Indians, 505,225 Koreans, 428,14 Japanese, 109,928 Taiwanese, 102,317 Cambodians, 91,224 Hmong, 69,303 Laotians, 67,707 Thais, 53,474 Pakistanis, 39,506 Borneons, Sumatrans, and Indonesians, 17,978 Burmese, 11,929 Sri Lankans, 10,494 Bangladeshis, 6,231 Nepalese, 5,595 Malaysians, 4,993 Mongolians, 1,513 Singaporeans, 1,377 Okinawans, and 750 Bhutanese.[22]

Filipino Americans are particularly numerous in Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Diego, San Mateo and Solano counties, and in southern California communities such as Artesia, Baldwin Park, Carson, Cerritos, Covina, West Covina, and the Eagle Rock district of Los Angeles. Around San Diego, many Filipinos live in the communities of Mira Mesa, National City, and Chula Vista. Delano near Bakersfield, other towns in the San Joaquin Valley, the Coachella Valley-Imperial Valley region, Salinas, Stockton and Lathrop, and the Santa Maria/San Luis Obispo area also have large Filipino American populations. Daly City south of San Francisco has a large Filipino population and is the largest percentage wise in the United States. As of the 1980s, Filipinos have been the largest population of Asians in California.[24] Twenty percent of registered nurses, in 2013, in California are Filipino.[25]

Chinese Americans are numerous in San Francisco, Oakland, the East Bay, South Bay, the Central Coast of California, Sacramento, San Diego, and the San Gabriel Valley region of Los Angeles County. The San Francisco Bay Area has a greater concentration of Cantonese-speaking Chinese than anywhere in the United States. The Mexican border community of Calexico, California in addition to Mexicali has large numbers of Chinese Mexican Americans, that is, Mexican Americans of Chinese ancestry. Smaller Chinese communities can also be found in San Jacinto Valley, Lake Elsinore, and Victorville.

Southern California has perhaps the largest Taiwanese American community in the U.S., particularly in the San Gabriel Valley (i.e. Walnut and Diamond Bar), Buena Park, Cerritos, West Covina, Irvine, communities in the South Bay, Los Angeles and southern Orange County. There are also Tibetan, Mongolian and Uygur Americans concentrated in San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Orange County, and the Los Angeles/Long Beach area.

Large Korean American communities exist in the Koreatown of Los Angeles, the eastern San Gabriel Valley, the San Fernando Valley, Cerritos/Long Beach, South Bay, Los Angeles, northern Orange County and San Diego area. There is another large Korean American population in the San Francisco Bay Area, and Koreans are growing in number in the suburban Inland Empire region, in cities such as Chino Hills, Corona, Desert Hot Springs and Loma Linda south of San Bernardino. Since 1990, the Korean American and African American populations relocated westward and northward in the Los Angeles area.

The South Bay area and Little Tokyo have a large Japanese American community. Japanese Americans, however, are also concentrated in San Francisco and across the Bay Area, San Jose, the Salinas Valley and Santa Cruz County; and smaller communities in the Sacramento, Fresno, Bakersfield, Anaheim, San Diego, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara and Stockton areas. Despite the presence of Japanese goods stores, media outlets and restaurants in the state, most "Little Tokyos" and "Japantowns" were evacuated during the forced relocation of Japanese Americans during World War II (see Japanese American Internment). As a result, most Japanese Americans in urban areas do not reside in historical Japanese communities.

California has the largest American population of Southeast Asians, concentrated in the Los Angeles-Long Beach, Sacramento, and Fresno areas. This includes the Hmong and Vietnamese, including Chinese Vietnamese. Long Beach has one of the largest Cambodian American communities in the United States. The neighboring cities of Westminster and Garden Grove have the largest Vietnamese American community outside of Vietnam and are often dubbed "Little Saigon". Vietnamese and Cambodian immigrants also settled in the San Francisco Bay Area, especially San Jose, Santa Clara and Sunnyvale, as well across the San Joaquin Valley and in San Diego.

Over 6,000 Laotian Americans live in the Fresno area, including an even larger Hmong American community, the second-largest of its kind. Other Hmong colonies in the Central Valley of California and Northern California developed since the end of the Vietnam war (1975–79). California also has a Thai American community of over 250,000, concentrated in Southern California, with small Thai and Southeast Asian communities in Perris and Banning in the Inland Empire region. Los Angeles has the largest Thai population outside of Thailand and is also home to the world's first Thai Town. About 150,000 Indonesians live in Southern California, primarily the Los Angeles and San Diego areas.

California has the largest Indian American population in the U.S. Many live in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area, San Diego, and the San Francisco Bay Area. The Los Angeles suburbs of Artesia and Cerritos have large Indian American communities. San Jose, Fremont, and other Silicon Valley cities have many Indian Americans who are employed in the high-tech industry. Many Indian Americans are in Central Valley cities such as Stockton, Bakersfield, Fresno, Yuba City, and the Imperial Valley. Most South Asians in California are Indian American, but there are also Pakistani Americans, Bangladeshi Americans, and Sri Lankan Americans (see Sinhalese and Tamils) esp. concentrated in the San Gabriel Valley (Covina Valley) of the Los Angeles area.

Over 50,000 Afghan Americans are concentrated in the East Bay primarily in Alameda County and its communities of Fremont and Hayward; Afghans also live throughout the state (esp. Orange County and Ventura County). About 20,000 Israeli Americans live in California, while most live in Southern California in the Los Angeles and San Diego area, they also live predominately in the San Francisco area of Northern California.

Pacific Islanders

The state has 150,000 residents with Pacific Islander ancestry. Most, 80,000, are Native Hawaiians of measurable Polynesian ancestry; many also have Asian, European, or other ancestries. There are also 25,000 Samoan Americans originally from American Samoa or Western Samoa. Most live in Long Beach and the Los Angeles suburbs of Carson, Artesia, Cerritos, and Redondo Beach, Oceanside, and Upland. About 10,000 Chamorros from Guam and Northern Mariana Islands live in northern California, the largest Micronesian community in the mainland United States. An estimated 10,000 Tahitians from French Polynesia live in southern California.

There are also many Palauans in southern California, specifically in the San Diego area, including Vista. Members of the Palauan community often also have Malay, Indonesian, Micronesian, Melanesian, Japanese, and other east Asian ancestries. Many Chuukese or Trukese live in San Diego, while the original settlers on Truk Island are Spanish and German but most Truukese now are Japanese and Korean, then Filipino and some Chinese, and finally the arrival of American expatriates. Many came to the Oceanside area due to the military installations around the city, which has the oldest Polynesian or Pacific Islander community.

Middle Eastern Americans

The state also has over 715,000 Arab Americans, with large communities in Alameda, Fresno, Imperial, Kern, Orange, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Stanislaus counties. They represent all Arab and Middle Eastern nationalities, the most numerous being of Gaza and West Bank (see Palestinian Americans) followed by those from Syria (see Syrian Americans) and Lebanon (about half- 1.5 out of 3.1 million estimated- (see Lebanese Americans) live in California), Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. Arabs have resided in California since the 1920s, most notably in Orange County in the section of Little Arabia (Anaheim, California) and the San Diego area.

About 500,000 Iranian Americans live throughout Southern California, including about 20% of the population of Beverly Hills.[26] Iranian American communities also flourish in the San Fernando Valley, Orange County, San Diego, the Palm Springs area, and the San Joaquin Valley. The majority of Iranian Americans immigrated after the ouster of the pro-U.S. Shah regime of Iran in the late 1970s.

There is also large population of Assyrian/Chaldean descent living in the Central Valley, with large communities in Modesto, Ceres and Turlock, as well as throughout the Central Coast and the California Desert (i.e. the Coachella and Imperial valleys). San Diego has one of the largest concentrations of Chaldean immigrants in the United States.[27]

California is also home to 600,000 Armenian Americans, with many in Glendale north of Los Angeles, as well as a large community in Fresno. As of 1988 California had about 500,000 ethnic Armenians with over half of them living in Greater Los Angeles.[28] In 2006, according to University of California Irvine doctoral student Javid Huseynov, California alone is home to over 100,000 Azerbaijani Americans.[29]

African Americans

California has 2.3 million African Americans as of 2010, the largest population of Black or African Americans in the western U.S,[11] and the 5th largest Black population in the United States. Cities that have the largest share of African Americans and have historically been Black cultural centers include: Compton, Inglewood, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, Richmond, San Diego and Vallejo.

There are many other cities and towns in the state with sizeable African American populations. These include:

Northern California

Berkeley, Dublin, East Palo Alto, Fairfield, Hayward, Marin City, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Leandro, Suisun City.

Central California

Bakersfield, Fresno, Merced, Stockton.

Southern Caiifornia

Adelanto, Altadena Apple Valley, Corona, Carson, Fontana, Gardena, Hawthorne, Lakewood, Lancaster, Lynwood, Moreno Valley, National City, Oceanside, Pasadena, Perris, Pomona, Rialto, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville.

African Americans are approximately 7 percent of the state population. The state percentage of African Americans has dropped in the 1990s and 2000s, though the state's overall number of African-Americans has increased in that time period. The black population in East and West Oakland and South Central Los Angeles - places where they held the majority for decades - has greatly decreased as the black middle class has relocated to nearby suburbs, including those in the Inland Empire and Antelope Valley in Southern California and the Sacramento metropolitan area in Northern California. Many African Americans have also moved to the South, where their grandparents may have come from in the "Great Migration" of the mid-20th century.

African Americans have made arguably the greatest contribution to the state's hip-hop and R&B music culture. African-American musical artists born and/or raised in California include: Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, E-40, Nate Dogg, Tupac Shakur, En Vogue, Tony! Toni! Tone!, Too Short, Easy-E, N.W.A, Keyshia Cole, Digital Underground, JJ Fad, Barry White, The Pointer Sisters and Kendrick Lamar. These are just a few of the many African-American artists to emerge from some of the aforementioned California cities.

Native Americans/American Indians

As of 2010, California's Native American population of 362,801 was the most of any state. It also has the most Native American tribes, indigenous to the state or not, but the majority of known Californian Indian tribes became extinct in the late 19th century. The U.S. Census includes Latin American Indian, especially immigrants who belonged to indigenous peoples or who have Amerindian heritage from North and South America.

The Cherokee Nation is the largest tribe in the state with a population of 110,000, although the number of Cherokee descendants may surpass 600,000 according to demographers. They are often descendants of Dust Bowl refugees in the 1930s and 1940s who migrated to the state's farming counties and urban areas for jobs. The largest urban American Indian communities are Los Angeles/Long Beach, San Francisco/Oakland, Sacramento, and San Diego areas.

California also has significant populations of the Apache, Choctaw, Creek, Hopi, Zuni, Navajo, Blackfeet, Shoshone, Paiute, Pueblos, Cahuilla and Chumash tribes. The Cahuilla in the Coachella Valley have profited from real estate land leases, and much of Indio and Palm Springs are tribal-owned lands under legal tribal jurisdiction.

2010 Populations with multiracial identifiers

Group 2010 Population[30] Percentage of Total Population
White, not Hispanic or Latino 15,763,625 42.3%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 14,013,719 37.6%
Mexican 11,423,146 30.6%
Salvadoran 573,956 1.5%
Guatemalan 332,737 0.8%
Puerto Rican 189,945 0.5%
Spaniard 142,194 0.3%
Nicaraguan 100,790 0.2%
Peruvian 91,511 0.2%
Cuban 88,607 0.2%
Honduran 72,795 0.1%
Colombian 64,416 0.1%
Argentinean 44,410 0.1%
Ecuadorian 35,750 0.09%
Chilean 24,006 0.06%
Costa Rican 22,469 0.06%
Panamanian 17,768 0.04%
Bolivian 13,351 0.03%
Dominican 11,455 0.03%
Venezuelan 11,100 0.02%
Uruguayan 4,110 0.01%
Paraguayan 1,228 0.003%
Asian 5,556,592 14.9%
Filipino 1,474,707 3.9%
Chinese (except Taiwanese) 1,349,111 3.6%
Vietnamese 647,589 1.7%
Indian 590,445 1.5%
Korean 505,225 1.3%
Japanese 428,014 1.1%
Okinawan 1,377 0.003%
Taiwanese 109,928 0.2%
Cambodian 102,317 0.2%
Hmong 91,224 0.2%
Laotian 69,303 0.2%
Thai 67,707 0.1%
Pakistani 53,474 0.1%
Indonesian 39,506 0.1%
Sri Lankan 11,929 0.03%
Bangladeshi 10,494 0.02%
Nepalese 6,231 0.01%
Malaysian 5,595 0.01%
Mongolian 4,993 0.01%
Singaporean 1,513 0.004%
Black or African American 2,683,914 7.2%
Multiracial (two or more races) 1,815,384 4.8%
American Indian and Alaska Native 723,225 1.9%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 286,145 0.7%
Polynesian 157,104 0.4%
Native Hawaiian 74,932 0.2%
Samoan 60,876 0.1%
Tongan 22,893 0.06%
Micronesian 49,197 0.1%
Guamanian or Chamorro 44,425 0.1%
Melanesian 24,203 0.06%
Fijian 24,059 0.06%
Total 37,253,956 100%

Illegal/unauthorized/undocumented immigrants

In 2009, illegal/unauthorized/undocumented immigrants constituted an estimated 7% of the population, with the same concentration as Arizona.[31] By 2014, 27% of the residents of California are immigrants; and of those 26% are illegal/unauthorized/undocumented immigrants who comprise almost 10% of the state's workforce.[32]


Top 10 Non-English Languages Spoken in California
Language Percentage of population
(as of 2010)[33]
Spanish 28.46%
Chinese (including Cantonese and Mandarin) 2.80%
Tagalog 2.20%
Vietnamese 1.43%
Korean 1.08%
Armenian and Persian (tied) 0.52%
Japanese 0.43%
Russian 0.42%
Hindi and Arabic (tied) 0.38%
French 0.36%

As of 2010, 57.02% (19,429,309) of California residents age 5 and older spoke English at home as a primary language, while 28.46% (9,696,638) spoke Spanish, 2.80% (954,751) Chinese (which includes Cantonese and Mandarin), 2.20% (749,047) Tagalog, 1.43% (486,577) Vietnamese, 1.08% (368,693) Korean, 0.52% (177,048) Armenian, and Persian was spoken as a main language by 0.52% (176,366) of the population over the age of five. In total, 42.98% (14,644,136) of California's population age 5 and older spoke a mother language other than English.[33]

Comparatively, according to the 2007 American Community Survey, 42.6 percent of California's population older than five spoke a language other than English at home, with 73 percent of those also speaking English well or very well, while 9.8 did not speak English at all.[34]

California had the highest concentration of Vietnamese or Chinese speakers in the United States, second highest concentration of Korean or Spanish speakers in the United States, and third highest concentration of Tagalog speakers in the United States.[34] California was historically one of the most linguistically diverse areas in the world, and is home to more than 70 indigenous languages derived from 64 root languages in 6 language families.[35][36] A survey conducted between 2007 and 2009 identified 23 different indigenous languages of Mexico that are spoken among California farmworkers.[37]

Over 200 languages are known to be spoken and read in California, with Spanish used as the state's "alternative" language. California has more than 100 indigenous languages, making California one of the most linguistically diverse areas in the world. All of California's indigenous languages are endangered, although there are now efforts toward language revitalization.[note 1]

The official language of California has been English since the passage of Proposition 63 in 1986.[38] However, many state, city, and local government agencies still continue to print official public documents in numerous languages.[39] For example, the California Department of Motor Vehicles offers the written exam for the standard C Class driver's license in 31 languages along with English, and the audio exam in 11 languages.[40] The politics of language is a major political issue in the state, especially in regard to language policy controlling the teaching and official use of immigrant languages.

As a result of the state's increasing diversity and migration from other areas across the country and around the globe, linguists began noticing a noteworthy set of emerging characteristics of spoken English in California since the late 20th Century. This dialect, known as California English, has a vowel shift and several other phonological processes that are different from the dialects used in other regions of the country.[41]


Religion in California[42]
religion percent
Roman Catholic
No religion

California has the most Roman Catholics in the U.S., ahead of New York state, as well as large Protestant, non-religious, Jewish, and Muslim populations. It also has the largest Mormon population outside of Utah.[43] The state's second largest group, next to Christianity, is the non-religious, which consists of atheists, agnostics, and deists. It is one of the fastest-growing groups in the state. The state also has a large American Jewish community, the largest in the western U.S., mainly concentrated in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento and Palm Springs. It also has large Muslim communities in west Los Angeles, San Diego, Beverly Hills, Orange County, Santa Clara County, and the Modesto area.

Most Roman Catholics in California are of Mexican, other Hispanic, Irish, Italian and Filipino ancestry. The population of Catholic Californians is rapidly growing due to the influx of Latin American and Filipino immigrants. In the state, Roman Catholicism is highly represented among non-Hispanic European-Americans, but less represented among non-Hispanic African-Americans. Protestantism is the majority Christian denomination in non-Hispanic black and white groups.

The largest Christian denominations in California in 2000 were the Roman Catholic Church with 10,079,310; the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with 529,575; and the Southern Baptist Convention with 471,119. Jewish congregations had 994,000 adherents, or 3% of the Californian population.[44]

[45] The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in Northern California and Hsi Lai Temple in Southern California are two of the largest Buddhist temples in the Western Hemisphere. The state also has a growing Hindu population.

With almost one million Jews, California has the highest number of Jews of any state except New York. Many of these Jews live in the West Los Angeles and San Fernando Valley regions of Los Angeles. At the present time, both of California's Senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, are Jewish.

California has the highest Hindu population in the United States, most of them Indian Americans. Many of the prominent Hindu temples including the Malibu Hindu Temple are located in California.

California also has the largest Muslim community in the United States, an estimated one percent of the population, mostly residing in Southern California. Approximately 100,000 Muslims reside in San Diego.

California has more members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Temples than any state except Utah.[46] Latter-day Saints (Mormons) have played important roles in the settlement of California throughout the state's history. For example, a group of a few hundred Mormon converts from the Northeastern United States and Europe arrived at what would become San Francisco in the 1840s aboard the ship Brooklyn, more than doubling the population of the small town. A group of Mormons also established the city of San Bernardino in Southern California in 1851.[43] According to the LDS Church 2014 statistics, 780,200 Mormons reside in the state of California, attending almost 1400 congregations statewide.[43]

The religious affiliations of the people of California:[47]

A Pew Research Center survey revealed, however, that California is less religious than the rest of the United States: 62% of Californians say they are "absolutely certain" of the belief "in God or a universal spirit", while in the nation 71% say so. The survey also revealed that 48% of Californians say religion is "very important", while the figure for the U.S. in general is 56%.[47]

Cities and towns

California has eight of the 50 most populous cities in the U.S., the most of any state. It also has 3 of the 10 most populous cities, tied with Texas for the most of any state. Los Angeles, with over 4 million people, is the largest city in California and the second largest city in the U.S. Other large cities in California are San José (9th), San Diego (10th), San Francisco (12th), Sacramento (34th), Fresno (37th), Long Beach (38th), and Oakland (44th).

See also

Media related to at Wikimedia Commons


  1. ^ The following are a list of the indigenous languages: Root languages of California: Athabaskan Family: Hupa, Mattole, Lassik, Wailaki, Sinkyone, Cahto, Tolowa, Nongatl, Wiyot, Chilula; Hokan Family: Pomo, Shasta, Karok, Chimiriko; Algonquian Family: Whilkut, Yurok; Yukian Family: Wappo; Penutian Family: Modok, Wintu, Nomlaki, Konkow, Maidu, Patwin, Nisenan, Miwok, Coast Miwok, Lake Miwok, Ohlone, Northern Valley Yokuts, Southern Valley Yokuts, Foothill Yokuts; Hokan Family: Esselen, Salinan, Chumash, Ipai, Tipai, Yuma, Halchichoma, Mohave; Uto-Aztecan Family: Mono Paiute, Monache, Owens Valley Paiute, Tubatulabal, Panamint Shoshone, Kawaisu, Kitanemuk, Tataviam, Gabrielino, Juaneno, Luiseno, Cuipeno, Cahuilla, Serrano, Chemehuevi


  1. ^ Resident Population Data - 2010 Census
  2. ^ Don Thompson (20 December 2007). "California's population ahead of Canada, behind Poland at 37.8 million". San Diego Union Tribune. Associated Press. Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
  3. ^ Statistical Abstract of the United States
  4. ^ "Governor Edmund G. "Pat" Brown of California". California State Library. November 28, 2005. Retrieved January 29, 2010. 
  5. ^ "California's population growth is slowing dramatically in the 21st century, study finds". Los Angeles Times. 2012-04-24. Retrieved 2013-06-06. 
  6. ^ Erin Treadwell (9 December 2010). "California County Population Shows Little Growt". California State Association of Counties. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  7. ^ "Qualifying Urban Areas for the 2010 Census". Federal Register. United States Government. 27 March 2012. Retrieved 13 November 2013. 
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  9. ^ Census Bureau Quick Facts 2008
  10. ^ San Francisco Chronicle, September 23, 2008
  11. ^ a b "California QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 25, 2012. 
  12. ^ Historical Census Statistics on Population Totals By Race, California
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  14. ^ "California - ACS Demographic and Housing Estimates: 2006-2008". American Fact Finder. US Census Bureau. Retrieved December 26, 2009. 
  15. ^ "United States - ACS Demographic and Housing Estimates: 2006-2008". American Fact Finder. US Census Bureau. Retrieved December 26, 2009. 
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  21. ^ Karen R. Humes; Nicholas A. Jones; Roberto R. Ramirez (March 2011). "Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin: 2010". United States Census Bureau. U.S. Department of Commerce. Retrieved 5 January 2012. 
  22. ^ a b "DP-1 Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 (2010 Census Summary File 2)". 2010 Census. United States Census Bureau. 2010. Retrieved 28 January 2013. 
  23. ^ Dan Walters (12 March 2012). "California has by far nation's largest Asian-American population". Sacramento Bee. Retrieved 28 January 2013. 
  24. ^ Archibold, Randal C. (20 August 1993). "Political Awakening : Filipino-Americans Start to Reach for Reins of Power". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  25. ^ Rodel Rodis (14 May 2013). """Telltale Signs: "Why are there so many Filipino nurses in the US?. Asian Week. Retrieved 19 May 2013. 
  26. ^ Montagne, Renee (2006-06-08). "Living in Tehrangeles: L.A.'s Iranian Community".  
  27. ^ Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce
  28. ^ "ARMENIAN PONTIFF BEGINS VISIT TO SOUTHLAND WITH ENCINO STOP." Los Angeles Daily News. June 17, 1988. Article ID 8801240266. "About 500000 Armenians live in California - more than half of them in the Los Angeles area."
  29. ^ Mishory, Jennifer. "Azerbaijan deserves U.S. public attention." (Archive) The Daily Bruin. October 22, 2006. Retrieved on September 5, 2013. "Javid Huseynov, a doctorate student at UC Irvine, said the purpose of the event was to strengthen ties between Azeri communities from a variety of countries now residing in the United States. There are 400,000 Azeris in the United States, with over 100,000 of those living in California, he said."
  30. ^ "Total Population".  
  31. ^ Johnson, Hans (December 2010). "Illegal Immigrants". Public Policy Institute of California. Retrieved July 5, 2012. 
  32. ^ Lee, Tony (4 September 2014). "REPORT: 26% OF CA IMMIGRANTS ARE ILLEGAL". Brietbart. Retrieved 7 September 2014. 
  33. ^ a b "California".  
  34. ^ a b Hyon B. Shin; Robert A. Kominski (April 2010). "Language Use in the United States: 2007". United States Census Bureau. United States Department of Commerce. Retrieved May 27, 2013. 
  35. ^ Coyote Press. Native Tribes, Groups, Language Families and Dialects of California in 1770 (Map) (1966 ed.). Retrieved December 27, 2009.
  36. ^ California State Parks. California Indians Root Languages and Tribal Groups (Map) (1994 ed.). Retrieved December 27, 2009.
  37. ^ "Indigenous Farmworker Study – Indigenous Mexicans in California Agriculture. Section V. Language and Culture". 2013. Retrieved 2013-07-01. 
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  39. ^ Hull, Dana (May 20, 2006). "English already is "official" in California". San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, California: MediaNews Group). English has been the "official" language of California since 1986, when voters passed Proposition 63. You'd barely know it. The Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters prints ballots in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese and Tagalog. California drivers can take the written license exam in 31 languages, from Amharic, which is spoken in Ethiopia, to Thai. You can view the state's online Megan's Law database of registered sex offenders in Portuguese or Punjabi. [..] Proposition 63, which received 73 percent of the vote in 1986, was largely symbolic, sending a message to immigrants that they should learn to speak English if they expected to live in California. The measure directed the state to "preserve, protect and strengthen the English language," but did not call for any specific action or enforcement. Twenty-six other states have official-English laws on the books. 
  40. ^ "What other languages is the written or audio test available in?//Driver License and Identification (ID) Card Information". California Department of Motor Vehicles. 
  41. ^ Bucholtz, Mary; et all (December 2007). "Hella Nor Cal or Totally So Cal? : The Perceptual Dialectology of California". Journal of English Linguistics 35 (4): 325–352.  
  42. ^ "Religious Affi liation by State in the U.S" (PDF). U.S Religious Landscape Study.  
  43. ^ a b c "USA-California - LDS Newsroom:". The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Retrieved January 29, 2010. 
  44. ^ "State Membership Report 2000". The Association of Religious Data Archives. 2002. Retrieved January 29, 2010. 
  45. ^ Melton, J. Gordon, ed. (December 2002). "Eastern Family Part II: Buddhism, Shintoism, Japanese New Religions". Encyclopedia of American Religions (Seventh ed.). Detroit: Gale Cengage. pp. 201–211.  
  46. ^ "Largest Latter-day Saint Communities". April 12, 2005. Retrieved December 27, 2009. 
  47. ^ a b "Religion and Politics 2011: California". U.S. Religious Landscape Study. The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. 2011. Retrieved January 15, 2011. 
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