California is divided into 58 counties and contains 482 municipalities. One, San Francisco, is a consolidated city–county. California law makes no distinction between "city" and "town", and municipalities may use either term in their official names. According to the 2010 Census, 30,908,614 of California's 37,253,956 residents lived in urban areas, accounting for 82.97% of the population. The first municipality to incorporate was Sacramento on February 27, 1850, while the most recent was Jurupa Valley on July 1, 2011. The largest municipality by population and land area is Los Angeles with 3,792,621 residents and 468.67 square miles (1,213.8 km2). The smallest by population is Vernon with 112 people, while the smallest by land area is Amador City at 0.31 square miles (0.80 km2).
The name California once referred to a large area of North America claimed by Spain that included much of modern-day Southwestern United States and the Baja California peninsula. Beginning in the late 18th century, the area known as Alta California, comprising the California territory north of the Baja Peninsula, was colonized by the Spanish Empire as part of New Spain. In 1821, Alta California became a part of Mexico following its successful war for independence. Shortly after the beginning of the Mexican-American War in 1846, a group of American settlers in Sonoma declared an independent California Republic in Alta California. Though its existence was short-lived, its flag became the precursor for California's current state flag. American victory in the war led to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, in which Mexico ceded Alta California to the United States. Western areas of Alta California became the state of California, which was admitted as the 31st state on September 9, 1850.
Buy tickets online and use our calendar of events to plan your visit to the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Play games, watch live animal cams and videos, and enjoy great animal facts, conservation tips, and special content for kids.
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