Regions of California
California is one of the most geographically diverse states in the U.S. It has many different types of climates, landforms and plant and animal species.
One of the reasons it is so diverse is the fact that it is so big. It covers over 163,00 square miles, from the Pacific Ocean in the west to the Great Basin desert in the east, from the redwood forests in the north, to the deserts in the south on the Mexican border.
One way to understand California's environment is to divide it into four main regions: desert, valley, mountain and coastal.
A desert is a barren area with very little vegetation and very little water.
The three main deserts of California are the Colorado, the Mojave and the Great Basin.
These areas can also be very hot. In fact some of the hottest temperatures on earth are recorded in Death Valley, which is part of the Great Basin desert. Both the plants and animals that live in the desert region have adapted to surviving on very little water.
Although the desert region is very dry, it does have water, including rivers such as the Colorado River that flow into it. In fact, the Imperial Valley, located in the Colorado Desert, has extremely fertile soil, and thanks to irrigation, is a very important farming region.
Because of the difficult climate of the desert region, it is less populated than some other regions in California, though there are a number of important cities in the region, including Lancaster, Palmdale and Victorville. In addition to farming, some of the other important activities of the desert region include mining and aerospace.
The middle part of the state makes up a huge valley region. A valley is a low area of land between hills or mountains. Valleys typically have a stream or river flowing through them.
The Central Valley of California is a flat area that is bounded on the west by the Coast Range of mountains and on the east by the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Two large rivers, the Sacramento and the San Joaquín, flow through the region. The climate is very hot and dry in the summer, but cool and damp in the winter.
This region is well known for its agriculture. Many of California's most important crops are grown here. There are several large cities in the Central Valley, including Fresno, Bakersfield and the capital of California, Sacramento.
California has a very large mountain region, made up to two main mountain ranges: the Sierra Nevada and the Coast Range. California's mountains include the highest mountain in the continental U.S., Mt. Whitney, as well as Yosemite National Park.
Snow from the Sierra Nevada mountains supplies water to farms and cities. The mountains are mainly made up of coniferous forests and are home to a wide variety of wild animals. T
he mountains also provide recreational opportunities, such as skiing, hiking and fishing. One of the most important industries in the mountain region is timber, which supplies wood products for houses and buildings all over the state.
The coastal region is home to the bulk of the state's population. The Pacific Ocean breezes generally keep the climate from getting either as hot or cold as the other regions, although the northern areas of the coast can be significantly cooler than the southern area.
The milder climate and abundant natural resources make the coastal region home to many types of plants, with the oak being one of the most common species of trees found there.
Because of its connection to the ocean, the coastal region is the center of trade with many parts of the world, and major cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego have grown up around ocean ports.
Many people flock to the beaches of the California coast, and fishing has become an important industry for supplying food all over the world.
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