"California Southern" redirects here.
For the railroad, see California Southern Railroad.
|Largest city||Los Angeles|
|Total||146,350 km (56,505 sq mi)|
Constituent metropolitan areas
Southern California includes the heavily built-up urban area which stretches along the Pacific coast from Ventura through Greater Los Angeles down to Greater San Diego (the contiguous urban area in fact continuing into Tijuana, Mexico), and inland to the Inland Empire and Coachella Valley (Palm Springs area).
It encompasses eight metropolitan areas (MSAs), three of which together form the Greater Los Angeles Combined Statistical Area (CSA) with over 18 million people, the second-biggest CSA after the New York CSA.
These three MSAs are: the Los Angeles metropolitan area (Los Angeles and Orange counties, with 13.3 million people), the Inland Empire ((Riverside and San Bernardino counties, including the Coachella Valley cities, with 4.3 million people), and the Oxnard–Thousand Oaks–Ventura metropolitan area (0.8 million people).
In addition, Southern California contains the San Diego metropolitan area with 3.3 million people, Bakersfield metro area with 0.9 million, and the Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and El Centro (Imperial County) metropolitan areas.
With a population of approximately 4 million, Los Angeles is the most populous city in California and the second most populous in the United States.
South of Los Angeles and with a population of approximately 1.4 million is San Diego, the second most populous city in the state and the eighth most populous in the nation.
Hollywood, a district of Los Angeles, gives its name to the American motion picture industry, which is synonymous with the neighborhood name.
Universal, Warner Bros., and Sony also run major record companies.
Southern California is also home to a large homegrown surf and skateboard culture.
Southern California is home to many sports franchises and sports networks such as Fox Sports Net.
Many locals and tourists frequent the southern California coast for its beaches.
The inland desert city of Palm Springs is also popular.
Southern California is not a formal geographic designation and definitions of what constitutes southern California vary.
Geographically, California's North-South midway point lies at exactly 37° 9' 58.23" latitude, around 11 miles (18 km) south of San Jose; however, this does not coincide with the popular use of the term.
When the state is divided into two areas (northern and southern California), the term southern California usually refers to the 10 southernmost counties of the state.
That closely matches the lower one-third of California's span of latitude.
Though there is no official definition for the northern boundary of southern California, such a division has existed from the time when Mexico ruled California and political disputes raged between the Californios of Monterey in the upper part and Los Angeles in the lower part of Alta California.
Following the acquisition of California by the United States, the division continued as part of the attempt by several pro-slavery politicians to arrange the division of Alta California at 36 degrees, 30 minutes, the line of the Missouri Compromise.
Subsequently, Californians (dissatisfied with inequitable taxes and land laws) and pro-slavery Southerners in the lightly populated "cow counties" of southern California attempted three times in the 1850s to achieve a separate statehood or territorial status separate from Northern California.
It was approved overwhelmingly by nearly 75 percent of voters in the proposed Territory of Colorado.
In 1900, the Los Angeles Times defined southern California as including "the seven counties of Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura and Santa Barbara."
In 1999, the Times added a newer county, Imperial, to that list.
Southern California was the name of a proposed new state which failed to get on the 2018 California ballot.
The ballot measure proposed splitting the existing state into three parts.
The state is most commonly divided and promoted by its regional tourism groups, consisting of northern, central, and southern California regions.
The two American Automobile Association (AAA) Auto Clubs of the state, the California State Automobile Association, and the Automobile Club of Southern California, choose to simplify matters by dividing the state along the lines where their jurisdictions for membership apply, as either northern or southern California, in contrast to the three-region point of view.
Another influence is the geographical phrase South of the Tehachapis, which would split the southern region off at the crest of that transverse range, but in that definition, the desert portions of north Los Angeles County and eastern Kern and San Bernardino Counties would be included in the southern California region due to their remoteness from the central valley and interior desert landscape.
|Los Angeles County||9,862,049||4,060.87||10,517.61||2,428.56||937.67|
|San Diego County||3,095,313||4,199.89||10,877.67||714.56||275.89|
|San Bernardino County||2,015,355||20,052.50||51,935.74||100.50||38.80|
|Santa Barbara County||405,396||2,737.01||7,088.82||148.12||57.19|
|San Luis Obispo County||265,297||3,304.32||8,558.15||80.29||31.00|
Most of southern California has a Mediterranean-like climate, with warm and dry summers, mild and wet winters, where cool weather and freezing temperatures are rare.
Summers are hot or warm, and dry, while winters are mild, and rainfall is low to moderate depending on the area.
Although heavy rain can occur, it is unusual.
This climatic pattern was alluded to in the hit song "It Never Rains (In Southern California)".
While snow is very rare in lower elevations, mountains above 5,000 feet (1,500 m) receive plentiful snowfall in the winter.
Main article: Geography of southern California
Southern California consists of one of the more varied collections of geologic, topographic, and natural ecosystem landscapes in a diversity outnumbering other major regions in the state and country.
The region spans from Pacific Ocean islands, shorelines, beaches, and coastal plains, through the Transverse and Peninsular Ranges with their peaks, and into the large and small interior valleys, to the vast deserts of California.
- Introductory categories include:
- :Category: Beaches of southern California
- :Category: Mountain ranges of Southern California
- :Category: Rivers of Southern California
- :Category: Deserts of California
- :Category: Parks in Southern California
Southern California is divided into:
- The Coastal Region, which is densely populated and includes the coastal interior valleys west of the coastal mountains with all of Orange County and portions of San Diego, Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo counties.
- A related florist province term is the Cismontane Region on the coastal side of the Transverse and Peninsular mountain ranges, with the term "southern California" popularly referring to this more populated and visited zone.
- The Desert Region, which is larger and sparsely populated with portions of Kern, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Imperial, and San Diego counties. The division between the Coastal Region and the Inland Empire/Imperial Valley winds along the backs of coastal mountain ranges such as the Santa Ana Mountains.
- A related floristic province term is the Transmontane Region on the rain shadow side of the same mountain ranges, with the term southern California including this zone geographically and when distinguishing all the 'southland' from northern California.
Here, the Farallon Plate subducted under the North American Plate creating volcanoes about 100 miles east of this boundary which can still be seen as the Sierra Nevada which it has its southern border about 30 miles east of Grapevine, California in the Tejon Pass.
The Farallon Plate was subjected to high temperatures and pressures as it subducted under the North American Plate.
This led to the formation of molten plutons which rose because they were less dense than the surrounding magma.
Only less than 1% of these plutons ever made it to the surface out of a volcano or fissure vent.
The 1% that did make it all the way to the surface erupted in andesitic lava which would pile on top of each previous flow.
This would create steep volcanoes with extremely high elevations.
Most of the ejecta that came out of a volcano is gas.
About 30% is sulfur (S).
For the 99% percent of plutons that didn't make it to the surface they cooled to form granite monoliths under these volcanoes.
When subduction activities ceased about 55 million years ago, these volcanoes were subject to erosion due to their steep slopes.
Because granite is classified as a hard igneous rock, it is the only remnant of the volcanic chain from this subduction zone.
Please refer to the Geologic History of Yosemite page to learn more specifically of the area's local geology.
Both were part of the same plate, but were discovered independently before this connection was made.
At the time of this break off, the Pacific Plate had a general north west movement while the North American Plate had a general south east movement.
This created a new fault zone when a weak point gave way between these two plates.
This is the beginnings of the infamous San Andreas Fault.
The San Andreas Fault is a right-lateral strike strip transverse fault.
When this fault was just created, a volcano from the ancient subduction zone was situated about 3/4th on the Pacific Plate and 1/4th on the North American plate somewhere in what is today Central California.
Nearly 55 million years later, this volcano was offset by about 250 miles.
It is the largest known offset of the San Andreas Fault and it help geologist determine important information such as average slip movement and the age of the fault.
The Pacific Plate is the largest known plate on Earth.
That is the reason why oceanic plates always subduct under another plate.
There are only a few places where the Pacific Plate is actually above the ocean.
Most of the coastline of the state, below Eureka, California is part of the Pacific plate.
The thickest part on land in California can be observed as far inland as the Salton Sea.
To the south of the Salon Sea, there is a gap between plate boundaries.
This gap acts like a divergent plate boundary where the land is being pulled apart.
Mud volcanoes can be observed just at the southern edge of the sea as well as hot springs.
Geothermal energy plants are abundant in the area, which power much of the local rural communities.
When the San Andreas Fault originally formed, tension on the North American Plate grew.
The plate buckled and began uplifting similar to swelling in nearly all portions of the west.
Numerous faults were created as a result; geologic blocks that rose and fell over and over again in patterns and in sequences.
The extension of surface led to cracks which formed many independent faults.
This is the creation of the Basin and Range Province.
Sometimes these faults created a pathway, which molten rock could flow up to the surface creating cinder cone volcanoes.
The Los Angeles Area has a few volcanoes that formed.
It is relatively new in geologic terms, but heavily eroded by wind.
While driving along Interstate 40, lava fields can stretch for miles.
It is extremely young, although many geologists dispute the numbers with some estimates as old as 10,000 years with recent ages such as 800 years.
One thing is for sure: this volcano is still very active and can erupt.
Because of its location, it will likely not affect many people.
Within Orange County, lava flows and dikes can be seen in El Modena although no actual crater can be seen, likely because either it has been totally eroded or it was formed in a small fissure, which would explain why it's so localized.
The land on which the Los Angeles metropolitan area sits is among the newest rocks in the continental United States.
It is estimated to be about 20 million years old.
The Monterey Formation consists of shale rocks, which were created from the accumulation calcium-rich shells of dead marine life of millions of years.
Before then, it was submerged and was part a shallow ocean floor.
It has since been uplifted due to pressures between the many different fault zones at an average rate of 2 millimeters per year.
The Los Angeles area is known to be geologically active.
Historically, major earthquakes have occurred along the fault, large enough to cause fatalities and millions of dollars in damages.
A major earthquake hasn't happened in the southern section of the San Andreas Fault in over 150 years and geologist have determined a 50% probability of a 7.0 earthquake, registered on the moment magnitude scale within the years 2010 to 2040.
Some geologists say this probably is over speculated.
There is no way to accurately predict an earthquake anywhere on any specific fault.
Today, the area gets hits with many earthquakes per day, most reregistering below a 2.5 on the moment magnitude scale, too insignificant to feel any shaking on the surface.
List of major fault zones
Note: Plate boundary faults are indicated with a (#) symbol.
Each year, southern California has about 10,000 earthquakes.
Nearly all of them are so small that they are not felt.
Only several hundred have been greater than magnitude 3.0, and only about 15–20 have been greater than magnitude 4.0.
The magnitude 6.7 1994 Northridge earthquake was particularly destructive, causing a substantial number of deaths, injuries, and structural collapses as well as the most property damage of any earthquake in U.S. history at an estimated $20 billion.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has released a California earthquake forecast, which models earthquake occurrence in California.
List of earthquakes
This is a partial list of earthquakes in Southern California.
For a full list, see List of earthquakes in California.
Note: Earthquakes with epicenters in the Los Angeles Metro Area are marked with the (#) symbol.
Other earthquakes mentioned means shaking was felt.
See also: Largest cities in southern California
Los Angeles (with a 2017 census-estimated population of 4.0 million people) and San Diego (at 1.4 million people) are the two largest cities in all of California and are in the top eight largest cities in the United States.
In southern California, there are also 12 cities with more than 200,000 residents and 34 cities over 100,000 residents.
Many of southern California's most developed cities lie along or in close proximity to the coast, with the exception of San Bernardino and Riverside.
- Los Angeles
- San Bernardino
- San Diego
- San Luis Obispo
- Santa Barbara
Southern California has a diverse economy and is one of the largest economies in the United States.
It is dominated by and heavily dependent upon the abundance of petroleum, as opposed to other regions where automobiles are not nearly as dominant, due to the vast majority of transport that runs on this fuel.
Southern California is famous for tourism and the entertainment industry.
Other industries include software, automotive, ports, finance, biomedical, and regional logistics.
The region was a leader in the housing bubble from 2001 to 2007 and has been heavily impacted by the housing crash.
Since the 1920s, motion pictures, petroleum, and aircraft manufacturing have been major industries.
In one of the richest agricultural regions in the U.S., cattle and citrus were major industries until farmlands were turned into suburbs.
Although military spending cutbacks have had an impact, aerospace continues to be a major factor.
Major central business districts
Southern California is home to many major business districts.
Los Angeles itself has many business districts, such as Downtown Los Angeles and those lining the Wilshire Boulevard Miracle Mile, including Century City, Westwood, and Warner Center in the San Fernando Valley.
The area of Santa Monica and Venice (and perhaps some of Culver City) is informally referred to as "Silicon Beach" because of the concentration of financial and marketing technology-centric firms located in the region.
The San Bernardino-Riverside area maintains the business districts of Downtown San Bernardino, Hospitality Business/Financial Centre, University Town which are in San Bernardino and Downtown Riverside.
Orange County is a rapidly developing business center that includes Downtown Santa Ana, the South Coast Metro, and Newport Center districts, as well as the Irvine business centers of The Irvine Spectrum, West Irvine, and international corporations headquartered at the University of California, Irvine.
West Irvine includes the Irvine Tech Center and Jamboree Business Parks.
Downtown San Diego is the CBD of San Diego, though the city is filled with business districts.
Most of these districts are located in Northern San Diego and some within North County regions.
Theme parks and waterparks
Vinyard-Winery American Viticultural Area (AVA) districts
Telephone area codes
Colleges and universities
Main article: List of colleges and universities in southern California
The Tech Coast is a moniker that has gained use as a descriptor for the region's diversified technology and industrial base as well as its multitude of prestigious and world-renowned research universities and other public and private institutions.
Amongst these include five University of California campuses (Irvine, Los Angeles, Riverside, Santa Barbara, and San Diego), 12 California State University campuses (Bakersfield, Channel Islands, Dominguez Hills, Fullerton, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Northridge, Pomona, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Marcos, and San Luis Obispo); and private institutions such as the California Institute of Technology, Azusa Pacific University, Chapman University, the Claremont Colleges (Claremont McKenna College, Harvey Mudd College, Pitzer College, Pomona College, Scripps College, Claremont Graduate University and Keck Graduate Institute), Loma Linda University, Loyola Marymount University, Occidental College, Pepperdine University, University of Redlands, University of San Diego, and the University of Southern California.
Parks and recreation areas
Numerous parks provide recreation opportunities and open space.
Major professional sports teams in southern California include:
- NFL (American football) Los Angeles Rams, Los Angeles Chargers
- NBA (Basketball) Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers
- MLB (Baseball) Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels, San Diego Padres
- NHL (Ice hockey) Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks
- MLS (Soccer) LA Galaxy, Los Angeles FC
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern California.