If you’re “California Dreamin’” as the song goes, you’re not alone. The Golden State is the land of ambitions, home to the Hollywood film industry and the Silicon Valley tech industry. No wonder it’s America’s most populous state, with 39.51 million residents.
California is the world’s sixth-largest economy, trailing Japan, Germany, England, and France. Its gross state product exceeds $1.2 trillion annually and accounts for 13% of U.S. output. The services sector accounts for about one-fourth of California’s output. This sector includes high-paying jobs in software technology, motion picture production, and legal work, but also lower-paying positions in child-care, landscaping, and restaurant and hotel services.
From the beaches in Southern California to the redwood parks in Northern California, the state has something for every type of visitor. About five million people visit the Yosemite National Park every year for its spectacular mountains, rivers, and waterfalls. Merced, in east-central California, is the gateway to the park. Disneyland, known as the Happiest Place on Earth, attracts more than 18 million tourists every year. Located in Anaheim in Southern California, the theme park’s most popular attractions are tied to blockbuster movies such as “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Indiana Jones,” and “Star Wars.”
California boasts of some of the most successful professional sports teams in America. Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, San Diego, Sacramento, Anaheim, and San Jose all have teams. In Major League Baseball, the San Francisco Giants have won eight World Series titles and the Los Angeles Dodgers have won seven. In basketball, the Los Angeles Lakers have amassed 17 NBA championships, while San Francisco’s Golden State Warriors have won six. In football, the San Francisco 49ers have five Super Bowl championships, and the Los Angeles Raiders have three.
California’s reputation as a creative, innovative, progressive, and laid-back place is built on a foundation of diversity. It’s the most culturally diverse state in America, with the highest linguistic diversity and the second-highest racial and ethnic diversity, behind Hawaii. California’s size and density, plus the global influence of Hollywood film and television, make it a major player in shaping American culture.
The sunny weather, beautiful landscape, and endless possibilities in the Golden State don’t come cheap. It’s one of the most expensive places to live in. It doesn’t fare any better when it comes to taxes. California’s base sales tax rate of 7.25% and its top marginal income tax rate of 13.3% are among the highest in the U.S.