Southern California facts for kids
Red: The eight traditionally included counties.
Light red: San Luis Obispo and Kern counties in the expanded ten county definition.
|Counties||Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura|
|Largest city||Los Angeles|
Southern California, often abbreviated as SoCal, is a geographic and cultural region that generally comprises California's 10 southernmost counties. The region is traditionally described as eight counties, based on demographics and economic ties: Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Ventura. The more extensive 10-county definition, which includes Kern and San Luis Obispo counties, is also used and is based on historical political divisions. Southern California is a major economic center for the state of California and the United States.
The 8-county and 10-county definitions are not used for the greater Southern California Megaregion, one of the 11 megaregions of the United States. The megaregion's area is more expansive, extending east into Las Vegas, Nevada and south across the Mexican border into Tijuana.
Southern California includes the heavily built-up urban area which stretches along the Pacific coast from Ventura, through the Greater Los Angeles Area and the Inland Empire, and down to Greater San Diego. Southern California's population encompasses seven metropolitan areas: the Los Angeles metropolitan area, consisting of Los Angeles and Orange counties; the Inland Empire, consisting of Riverside and San Bernardino counties; the San Diego metropolitan area; the Oxnard–Thousand Oaks–Ventura metropolitan area; the Santa Barbara metropolitan area; the San Luis Obispo metropolitan area; and the El Centro area. Out of these, three are heavily populated areas: the Los Angeles area with over 12 million inhabitants, the Riverside-San Bernardino area with over 4 million inhabitants, and the San Diego area with over 3 million inhabitants. For Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) metropolitan purposes, the five counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura are all combined to make up the Greater Los Angeles Area with over 17.5 million people. With over 22 million people, Southern California contains roughly 60 percent of California's population.
Located east of Southern California is the Colorado Desert and the Colorado River at the border with Arizona. The Mojave Desert is located at the border with the state of Nevada while towards the south is the Mexico–United States border.
- Northern Boundary of Southern California
- Urban landscape
- Natural landscape
- Parks and recreation areas
- Images for kids
Within Southern California are two major cities, Los Angeles and San Diego, as well as three of the country's largest metropolitan areas. With a population of 3,792,621, 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 1,307,402 is San Diego, the second most populous city in the state and the eighth most populous in the nation.
The motion picture, television, and music industry are centered in the Los Angeles area in Southern California. Hollywood, a district within Los Angeles, gives its name to the American motion picture industry, which is synonymous with the neighborhood's name. Headquartered in Southern California are The Walt Disney Company (which also owns ABC), Sony Pictures, Universal, MGM, Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox, and Warner Brothers. Universal, Warner Brothers, and Sony also run major record companies.
Southern California is also home to a large homegrown surf and skateboard culture. Companies such as Vans, Volcom, Quiksilver, No Fear, RVCA, and Body Glove are all headquartered here. Professional skateboarder Tony Hawk; professional surfers Rob Machado, Tim Curran, Bobby Martinez, Pat O'Connell, Dane Reynolds, and Chris Ward; and professional snowboarder Shaun White live in Southern California. Some of the world's legendary surf spots are in Southern California as well, including Trestles, Rincon, The Wedge, Huntington Beach, and Malibu, and it is second only to the island of Oahu in terms of famous surf breaks. Some of the world's biggest action sports events, including the X Games, Boost Mobile Pro, and the U.S. Open of Surfing, are all held in Southern California. Southern California is also important to the world of yachting. The annual Transpacific Yacht Race, or Transpac, from Los Angeles to Hawaii, is one of yachting's premier events. The San Diego Yacht Club held the America's Cup, the most prestigious prize in yachting, from 1988 to 1995 and hosted three America's Cup races during that time.
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 popular beaches. The desert city of Palm Springs is popular for its resort feel and nearby open spaces.
Northern Boundary of Southern California
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. This definition coincides neatly with the county lines at 35° 47′ 28″ North latitude, which form the northern borders of San Luis Obispo, Kern, and San Bernardino counties. Another definition for Southern California uses Point Conception and the Tehachapi Mountains as the northern boundary.
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 Monterrey 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. Instead, the passing of the Compromise of 1850 enabled California to be admitted to the Union as a free state, preventing Southern California from becoming its own separate slave state.
Subsequently, Californios (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. The last attempt, the Pico Act of 1859, was passed by the California State Legislature and signed by State Governor John B. Weller. It was approved overwhelmingly by nearly 75 percent of voters in the proposed Territory of Colorado. This territory was to include all the counties up to the then much larger Tulare County (that included what is now Kings, most of Kern, and part of Inyo counties) and San Luis Obispo County. The proposal was sent to Washington, D.C. with a strong advocate in Senator Milton Latham. However, the secession crisis following the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 and the subsequent American Civil War led to the proposal never coming to a vote.
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.
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|
Southern California consists of a heavily developed urban environment, home to some of the largest urban areas in the state, along with vast areas that have been left undeveloped. It is the third most populated megalopolis in the United States, after the Great Lakes Megalopolis and the Northeastern megalopolis. Much of Southern California is famous for its large, spread-out, suburban communities and use of automobiles and highways. The dominant areas are Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, and Riverside-San Bernardino, each of which are the centers of their respective metropolitan areas, composed of numerous smaller cities and communities. The urban area is also host to an international metropolitan region in the form of San Diego–Tijuana, created by the urban area spilling over into Baja California.
Traveling south on Interstate 5, the main gap to continued urbanization is Camp Pendleton. The cities and communities along Interstate 15 and Interstate 215 are so interrelated that Temecula and Murrieta have as much connection with the San Diego metropolitan area as they do with the Inland Empire. To the east, the United States Census Bureau considers the San Bernardino and Riverside County areas, Riverside-San Bernardino area as a separate metropolitan area from Los Angeles County. While many commute to Los Angeles and Orange Counties, there are differences in development, as most of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties (the non-desert portions) were developed in the 1980s and 1990s. Newly developed exurbs formed in the Antelope Valley, north of Los Angeles, the Victor Valley, and the Coachella Valley with the Imperial Valley. Also, population growth was high in the Bakersfield-Kern County, Santa Maria and San Luis Obispo areas.
Southern California contains several different types of climate, including Mediterranean, semi-arid and desert, with infrequent rain and many sunny days. 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 1990 Tony! Toni! Toné! hit song, It Never Rains (In Southern California). While snow is very rare in the Southwest of the state, it occurs occasionally in the Southeast region of the state.
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.
- Angeles National Forest (Los Angeles, San Bernardino, & Ventura Counties)
- Antelope Hills (Kern County)
- Antelope Valley (Los Angeles & Kern Counties)
- Arroyo Seco (Los Angeles County)
- Bacon Hills (Kern County)
- Baldwin Hills (Los Angeles County)
- Ballona Wetlands (Los Angeles County)
- Big Bear Lake (San Bernardino County)
- Bissell Hills (Kern County)
- Black Hills (Kern County)
- Bolsa Chica Estuary (Orange County)
- Buena Vista Hills (Kern County)
- Buena Vista Lake (Kern County)
- Cajon Pass (San Bernardino County)
- Calico Mountains (San Bernardino County)
- Channel Islands (Santa Barbara, Ventura & Los Angeles Counties)
- Chino Hills (Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside & San Bernardino Counties)
- Coachella Valley (Riverside County)
- Colorado Desert (San Bernardino, Riverside, Imperial, & San Diego Counties)
- Colorado River (San Bernardino, Riverside & Imperial Counties, Baja California & Sonora)
- Conejo Valley (Ventura County)
- Cucamonga Valley (San Bernardino County)
- Cuyamaca Mountains (San Diego County)
- Death Valley (San Bernardino & Inyo Counties)
- Diablo Range (Kern County)
- Elk Hills (Kern County)
- Elkhorn Hills (San Luis Obispo County)
- El Paso Mountains (Kern County)
- Greenhorn Mountains (Kern County)
- High Desert (Los Angeles, Kern, Inyo, & San Bernardino Counties)
- Horned Toad Hills (Kern County)
- Imperial Valley (Imperial County)
- Irish Hills (San Luis Obispo County)
- In-Ko-Pah Mountains (San Diego County)
- Inland Empire (Riverside, San Bernardino Counties)
- Jacumba Mountains (San Diego County)
- Jawbone Canyon (Kern County)
- Kern River (Kern County)
- La Jolla Cove (San Diego County)
- Laguna Mountains (San Diego County)
- Lake Arrowhead (San Bernardino County)
- Lake Casitas (Ventura County)
- Lake Castaic (Los Angeles County)
- Lake Elsinore (Riverside County)
- Lake Isabella (Kern County)
- Lake Piru (Ventura County)
- Lakeview Mountains (Riverside County)
- Lake Webb (Kern County)
- Little San Bernardino Mountains (Riverside & San Bernardino Counties)
- Little Signal Hills (Kern County)
- Los Angeles Basin (Los Angeles County)
- Los Angeles River (Los Angeles County)
- Los Padres National Forest (Kern, Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, & Ventura Counties)
- Lost Hills (Kern County)
- Low Desert (Imperial, San Diego, Riverside & San Bernardino Counties)
- Mojave Desert (Los Angeles, Kern & San Bernardino Counties)
- Mojave River (San Bernardino County)
- Mount San Antonio (Los Angeles County)
- New River (Imperial County, Mexicali Municipality)
- Nine Sisters (San Luis Obispo County)
- Ojai Valley (Ventura County)
- Orange Coast (Orange County)
- Oxnard Plain (Ventura County)
- Palomar Mountain (San Diego County)
- Palo Verde Valley (Riverside & Imperial Counties)
- Palos Verdes Peninsula (Los Angeles County)
- Panamint Range (Inyo County)
- Peninsular Ranges (San Diego, Riverside, & Orange Counties)
- Pleito Hills (Kern County)
- Point Loma (San Diego County)
- Point Mugu (Ventura County)
- Point of Rocks (Kern County)
- Pomona Valley (Los Angeles & San Bernardino Counties)
- Providence Mountains (San Bernardino County)
- Puente Hills (Los Angeles County)
- Pyramid Lake (Los Angeles County)
- Rand Mountains (Kern County)
- Rio Hondo (Los Angeles County)
- Rosamond Hills (Kern County)
- Saddleback Valley (Orange County)
- Salton Sea (Imperial & Riverside Counties)
- San Andreas Fault (All Counties)
- San Bernardino Mountains (San Bernardino County)
- San Bernardino National Forest (Riverside & San Bernardino Counties)
- San Bernardino Valley (San Bernardino County)
- San Diego Bay (San Diego County)
- San Diego River (San Diego County)
- San Emigdio Mountains (Los Angeles, Ventura, & Kern Counties)
- San Fernando Valley (Los Angeles County)
- San Gabriel Mountains (Los Angeles & San Bernardino Counties)
- San Gabriel River (Los Angeles County)
- San Gabriel Valley (Los Angeles County)
- San Jacinto Mountains (Riverside County)
- San Jacinto River (Riverside County)
- San Joaquin Valley (Kern County)
- San Luis Rey River (San Diego County)
- San Pedro Bay (Los Angeles County)
- San Rafael Mountains (Santa Barbara County)
- Santa Ana Mountains (Orange & Riverside Counties)
- Santa Ana River (San Bernardino, Los Angeles & Orange County)
- Santa Ana Valley (Orange County)
- Santa Catalina Island (Los Angeles County)
- Santa Clara River (Ventura County)
- Santa Clara River Valley (Ventura County)
- Santa Clarita Valley (Los Angeles County)
- Santa Margarita River (Riverside, Orange & San Diego Counties)
- Santa Monica Bay (Los Angeles County)
- Santa Monica Mountains (Los Angeles & Ventura Counties)
- Santa Rosa Mountains (Riverside, Orange & San Diego Counties)
- Santa Susana Mountains (Los Angeles & Ventura Counties)
- Santa Ynez Mountains (Santa Barbara County)
- Santa Ynez Valley (Santa Barbara County)
- Scodie Mountains (Kern County)
- Sequoia National Forest (Kern County)
- Shale Hills (Kern County)
- Sierra Nevada (Kern County)
- Sierra Pelona Mountains (Los Angeles & Kern Counties)
- Simi Hills (Los Angeles & Ventura Counties)
- Simi Valley (Ventura County)
- Sweetwater River (San Diego County)
- Tehachapi Mountains (Kern & Los Angeles Counties)
- Tejon Hills (Kern County)
- Temescal Mountains (Riverside County)
- Telephone Hills (Kern County)
- Temblor Range (Kern & San Luis Obispo Counties)
- Tijuana River (San Diego County)
- Topatopa Mountains (Ventura County)
- Turtle Mountains (San Bernardino County)
- Ventura River (Ventura County)
- Verdugo Mountains (Los Angeles County)
- Victor Valley (San Bernardino County)
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.
Many faults are able to produce a magnitude greater than 6.7 earthquake, such as the San Andreas Fault, which can produce a magnitude 8.0 event. Other faults include the San Jacinto Fault, the Puente Hills Fault, and the Elsinore Fault Zone. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has released a California earthquake forecast, which models earthquake occurrence in California.
Southern California is divided culturally, politically, and economically into distinct regions, each containing its own culture and atmosphere, anchored usually by a city with both national and sometimes global recognition, which are often the hub of economic activity for its respective region and being home to many tourist destinations. Each region is further divided into many culturally distinct areas but as a whole combine to create the Southern California atmosphere.
- Coastal southern California
- Inland southern California
- Kern County
- Imperial Valley
- Inland Empire
- San Bernardino County
- High Desert (Section)*
- Morongo Basin*
- San Bernardino Valley
- Riverside County
- Coachella Valley*
- Low Desert (Section)*
- San Bernardino County
- Deserts of California
*Part of multiple regions
As of the 2010 United States Census, Southern California has a population of 22,680,010. Despite a reputation for high growth rates, Southern California's rate grew less than the state average of 10.0 percent in the 2000s. This was due to California's growth becoming concentrated in the northern part of the state as result of a stronger, tech-oriented economy in the Bay Area and an emerging Greater Sacramento region.
Southern California consists of one Combined Statistical Area, eight Metropolitan Statistical Areas, one international metropolitan area, and multiple metropolitan divisions. The region is home to two extended metropolitan areas that exceed five million in population. These are the Greater Los Angeles Area at 17,786,419, and San Diego–Tijuana at 5,105,768. Of these metropolitan areas, the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana metropolitan area, Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario metropolitan area, and Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura metropolitan area form Greater Los Angeles; while the El Centro metropolitan area and San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos metropolitan area form the Southern Border Region. North of Greater Los Angeles are the Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Bakersfield metropolitan areas.
- See also: Largest cities in Southern California
Los Angeles (at 3.7 million people) and San Diego (at 1.3 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
- See: Category: Transportation in Southern California
Southern California is the world's busiest freeway system.
Southern California is home to Los Angeles International Airport, the second-busiest airport in the United States by passenger volume (see World's busiest airports by passenger traffic) and the third-busiest by international passenger volume (see Busiest airports in the United States by international passenger traffic); San Diego International Airport, the busiest single-runway airport in the world; Van Nuys Airport, the world's busiest general aviation airport; major commercial airports at Orange County, Bakersfield, Ontario, Burbank and Long Beach; and numerous smaller commercial and general aviation airports.
Six of the seven lines of the commuter rail system, Metrolink, run out of Downtown Los Angeles, connecting Los Angeles, Ventura, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, and San Diego counties with the other line connecting San Bernardino, Riverside, and Orange counties directly.
Southern California is also home to the Port of Los Angeles, the country's busiest commercial port; the adjacent Port of Long Beach, the country's second busiest container port; and the Port of San Diego.
The following table shows all airports listed by the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) as a hub airport:
|Los Angeles International Airport||LAX||Los Angeles||Large Hub||30.5m|
|San Diego International Airport||SAN||San Diego||Large Hub||8.5m|
|John Wayne Airport||SNA||Orange County||Medium Hub||4.2m|
|LA/Ontario International Airport||ONT||Los Angeles||Medium hub||2.3m|
|Bob Hope Airport||BUR||Burbank (LA)||Medium Hub||2.1m|
|Long Beach Airport||LGB||Long Beach (LA)||Small Hub||1.5m|
|Palm Springs International Airport||PSP||Palm Springs||Small Hub||0.8m|
|Santa Maria Public Airport||SBA||Santa Barbara||Small Hub||0.4m|
Freeways and highways
Sections of the Southern California freeway system are often referred to by names rather than by the official numbers.
|Interstate 5||Golden State Freeway
Santa Ana Freeway
San Diego Freeway
|Interstate 8||Ocean Beach Freeway
Mission Valley Freeway
|Interstate 10||Santa Monica (Rosa Parks) Freeway
Golden State Freeway
San Bernardino Freeway
Indio (Dr. June McCarroll) Freeway
|Interstate 15||Mojave Freeway
Temecula Valley Freeway
|Interstate 105||Century (Glenn Anderson) Freeway|
|Interstate 110||Harbor Freeway|
|Interstate 210||Foothill Freeway|
|Interstate 215||Barstow Freeway
San Bernardino Freeway
Moreno Valley Freeway
|Interstate 405||San Diego Freeway|
|Interstate 605||San Gabriel River Freeway|
|Interstate 710||Long Beach Freeway|
|Interstate 805||Jacob Dekema Freeway|
|Future Interstate 905|
|Sign||U.S. Route||Freeway name|
|U.S. Route 95|
|U.S. Route 101||Ventura Freeway
Santa Ana Freeway
El Camino Real
|U.S. Route 395|
- See: Category: Public transportation in Southern California
- Antelope Valley Transit Authority
- Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority
- San Diego trolley and San Diego County MTS
- Orange County Transportation Authority
- Omnitrans (southwestern San Bernardino County)
- Golden Empire Transit (Bakersfield)
- Santa Barbara MTD
- San Luis Obispo Regional Transit Authority
- Gold Coast Transit (Ventura County)
- North County Transit District (northern San Diego County)
- San Diego Coaster (Oceanside to San Diego)
- Big Blue Bus (Santa Monica)
- Riverside Transit Agency (western Riverside County)
Parks and recreation areas
- Numerous parks provide recreation and open space, locations include:
Images for kids
Disneyland in Anaheim.
Southern California Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.