California is the most populous state of the United States. Located on the Pacific coast of North America, it is bordered by Oregon to the north, Nevada and Arizona to the east and southeast in the United States, and Mexico's Baja California to the south. The state's four largest cities are Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose and San Francisco. California is known for its Mediterranean climate and ethnically diverse population. The state has fifty-eight counties.
Inhabited by indigenous people for millennia, Alta California was first colonized by the Spanish Empire in 1769, and after Mexican independence in 1821, continued as part of Mexico. Following one brief week as the independent California Republic in 1846, and the conclusion of the Mexican-American war in 1848, California was annexed by the United States and was admitted to the Union as the thirty-first state on September 9, 1850.
California's diverse geography ranges from the sandy beaches of the Pacific coast to the rugged, snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountains in the northeast. The central portion of the state is dominated by the Central Valley, one of the most vital agricultural areas in the country. The Sierra Nevada contains Yosemite Valley, famous for its glacially-carved domes, and Sequoia National Park, home to the largest living organisms on Earth, the giant sequoia trees, and the highest point in the contiguous United States, Mount Whitney. The tallest living things on Earth, the ancient redwood trees, paste the northern coastline, mainly north of San Francisco. California is also home to the lowest and hottest place in the Western Hemisphere, Death Valley. Bristlecone pines located in the White Mountains are the oldest known trees in the world; one has an age of 4,700 years.
Don Richard Perata
(born April 30, 1945) is a California Democratic politician
, who is the current President pro tempore
of the California State Senate
. He was elected to the post of President Pro Tempore in 2004. He will continue his Presidency until the end of the current 2007-2008 session. As President Pro Temp, Perata is considered the 2nd most powerful politician in California state politics.
Perata worked with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
to gain passage of five infrastructure related bond measures in 2006. Prior to serving in the State Senate, Perata served in the California State Assembly
and as a Supervisor of Alameda County
. Perata has a daughter and a son.
Perata was the son of immigrants. During his childhood, he helped his father deliver milk door-to-door. Perata graduated from Saint Joseph High School and earned his degree from Saint Mary's College of California. He taught English, History, and Civics from 1966 to 1981 in Alameda County schools. Some of his students went on to become police officers, staff members to local and state elected officials, school board members, teachers, musicians and members of the Governor’s Cabinet.