California is the largest state in population and the third largest in area (158,647 sq mi), extending about 800 mi north to south and 250 mi east to west. Its capital is Sacramento. Within 85 mi of each other lie Mount Whitney and Death Valley, the highest and lowest points in the 48 contiguous states. It was inhabited originally by American Indians. The first European coastal expansion took place in 1542-43 when Juan Cabrillo established a Spanish claim to the area. The first mission was established by Junípero Serra at San Diego in 1769. The region remained under Spanish and, after the 1820s, Mexican control until it was taken by U.S. forces in the Mexican War and ceded to the U.S. by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848. Though settlement had begun by the U.S. in 1841, it was greatly accelerated by the 1848 gold rush. California was admitted to the Union in 1850 as a non-slavery state under the Compromise of 1850. Its already expanding population grew immensely in the 20th century. It has the largest economy of any U.S. state. It has suffered severe earthquakes, most destructively those of San Francisco in 1906 and 1989 and Los Angeles in 1994.
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