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Western Australia

Western Australia

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Western Australia
Flag of Western Australia.svg Coat of arms of Western Australia.svg
Flag Coat of arms
Slogan or nickname The Wildflower State; The Golden State
Map of Australia with Western Australia highlighted
Location relative to other Australian states and territories
Coordinates 26°S 121°ECoordinates26°S 121°E
Capital city Perth
Demonym Western Australian, West Australian, Sandgroper (colloquial)
Government Constitutional monarchy
 • Governor Kim Beazley
 • Premier Mark McGowan (Labor)
Australian state
 • Established (as the Swan River Colony) 2 May 1829
 • Responsible government 21 October 1890
 • Federation 1 January 1901
 • Australia Act 3 March 1986
Area
 • Total 2,645,615 km² (1st)
1,021,478 sq mi
 • Land 2,529,875 km²
976,790 sq mi
 • Water 115,740 km² (4.37%)
44,687 sq mi
Population
(June 2019)[1]
 • Population 2,621,680 (4th)
 • Density 1.04/km² (7th)
2.7 /sq mi
Elevation
 • Highest point Mount Meharry
1,249 m (4,098 ft)
Gross state product
(2018–19)
 • Product ($m) $183,919[2] (4th)
 • Product per capita $98,997 (2nd)
Time zone(s) UTC+8 (AWST)
Federal representation
 • House seats 16/151
 • Senate seats 12/76
Abbreviations
 • Postal WA
 • ISO 3166-2 AU-WA
Emblems
 • Floral Red-and-green or Mangles kangaroo paw
(Anigozanthos manglesii)
 • Animal Numbat
(Myrmecobius fasciatus)
 • Bird Black swan
(Cygnus atratus)
 • Fish Whale shark
 • Fossil Gogo fish
(Mcnamaraspis kaprios)
 • Colours Black and gold
Website www.wa.gov.au

Western Australia[a] (abbreviated as WA) is a state occupying the entire western third of Australia. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the north and west, and the Southern Ocean to the south,[b] the Northern Territory to the north-east, and South Australia to the south-east. Western Australia is Australia’s largest state, with a total land area of 2,529,875 square kilometres (976,790 sq mi), and the second-largest country subdivision in the world, surpassed only by Russia‘s Sakha Republic. The state has about 2.6 million inhabitants – around 11 percent of the national total – of whom the vast majority (92 per cent) live in the south-west corner, 79 per cent of the population living in the Perth area,[3] leaving the remainder of the state sparsely populated.

The first European visitor to Western Australia was the Dutch explorer Dirk Hartog, who visited the Western Australian coast in 1616. The first European settlement of Western Australia occurred following the landing by Major Edmund Lockyer on 26 December 1826 of an expedition on behalf of the New South Wales colonial government.[4] He established a convict-supported military garrison at King George III Sound, at present-day Albany, and on 21 January 1827[4] formally took possession of the western third of the continent for the British Crown. This was followed by the establishment of the Swan River Colony in 1829, including the site of the present-day capital, Perth.

York was the first inland settlement in Western Australia. Situated 97 kilometres (60 miles) east of Perth, it was settled on 16 September 1831.[5]

Western Australia achieved responsible government in 1890 and federated with the other British colonies in Australia in 1901. Today, its economy mainly relies on mining, oil and gas, services and construction. The state produces 46 per cent of Australia’s exports.[6] Western Australia is the second-largest iron ore producer in the world.[7]

History[edit]

John Forrest was the first Premier of Western Australia.

Ngaanyatjarra children, from the desert regions of Western Australia

The first inhabitants of Australia arrived from the north about 40,000 to 60,000 years ago. Over thousands of years they eventually spread across the whole landmass. These Indigenous Australians were long established throughout Western Australia by the time European explorers began to arrive in the early 17th century.

The first European to visit Western Australia was a Dutch explorer, Dirk Hartog, who on 25 October 1616 landed at what is now known as Cape Inscription, Dirk Hartog Island. For the rest of the 17th century, other Dutch and British navigators encountered the coast, usually unintentionally, as demonstrated by the many shipwrecks along the coast of ships that deviated from the Brouwer Route (because of poor navigation and storms).[8] Two hundred years passed before Europeans believed that the great southern continent actually existed. By the late 18th century, British and French sailors had begun to explore the Western Australian coast.

The origins of the present state began with the establishment by Lockyer[4] of a convict-supported settlement from New South Wales at King George III Sound. The settlement was formally annexed on 21 January 1827 by Lockyer when he commanded the Union Jack be raised and a feu de joie fired by the troops. The settlement was founded in response to British concerns about the possibility of a French colony being established on the coast of Western Australia.[4] On 7 March 1831 it was transferred to the control of the Swan River Colony,[5] and named Albany in 1832.

In 1829 the Swan River Colony was established on the Swan River by Captain James Stirling. By 1832, the British settler population of the colony had reached around 1,500, and the official name of the colony was changed to Western Australia. The two separate townsites of the colony developed slowly into the port city of Fremantle and the state’s capital, Perth. York was the first inland settlement in Western Australia, situated 97 kilometres (60 mi) east of Perth and settled on 16 September 1831. York was the staging point for early explorers who discovered the rich gold reserves of Kalgoorlie.

Population growth was very slow until significant discoveries of gold were made in the 1890s around Kalgoorlie.

In 1887, a new constitution was drafted, providing for the right of self-governance of European Australians and in 1890, the act granting self-government to the colony was passed by the British ParliamentJohn Forrest became the first Premier of Western Australia.

In 1896, the Western Australian Parliament authorised the raising of a loan to construct a pipeline to transport 23 megalitres (5 million imperial gallons) of water per day to the Goldfields of Western Australia. The pipeline, known as the Goldfields Water Supply Scheme, was completed in 1903. C.Y. O’Connor, Western Australia’s first engineer-in-chief, designed and oversaw the construction of the pipeline. It carries water 530 km (330 mi) from Perth to Kalgoorlie, and is attributed by historians as an important factor driving the state’s population and economic growth.[9]

Following a campaign led by Forrest, residents of the colony of Western Australia (still informally called the Swan River Colony) voted in favour of federation, resulting in Western Australia officially becoming a state on 1 January 1901.

Geography[edit]

Western Australia is bounded to the east by longitude 129°E, the meridian 129 degrees east of Greenwich, which defines the border with South Australia and the Northern Territory, and bounded by the Indian Ocean to the west and north. The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) designates the body of water south of the continent as part of the Indian Ocean; in Australia it is officially gazetted as the Southern Ocean.[b][10][11]

The total length of the state’s eastern border is 1,862 km (1,157 mi).[12] There are 20,781 km (12,913 mi) of coastline, including 7,892 km (4,904 mi) of island coastline.[13] The total land area occupied by the state is 2.5 million km2 (970 thousand sq mi).[14]

Geology[edit]

The bulk of Western Australia consists of the extremely old Yilgarn craton and Pilbara craton which merged with the Deccan Plateau of India, Madagascar and the Karoo and Zimbabwe cratons of Southern Africa, in the Archean Eon to form Ur, one of the oldest supercontinents on Earth (3 – 3.2  billion years ago). In May 2017, evidence of the earliest known life on land may have been found in 3.48-billion-year-old geyserite and other related mineral deposits (often found around hot springs and geysers) uncovered in the Pilbara craton.[15][16]

Because the only mountain-building since then has been of the Stirling Range with the rifting from Antarctica, the land is extremely eroded and ancient, with no part of the state above 1,245 metres (4,085 ft) AHD (at Mount Meharry in the Hamersley Range of the Pilbara region). Most of the state is a low plateau with an average elevation of about 400 metres (1,200 ft), very low relief, and no surface runoff. This descends relatively sharply to the coastal plains, in some cases forming a sharp escarpment (as with the Darling Range/Darling Scarp near Perth).

Western Australian cities, towns, settlements and road network.

The extreme age of the landscape has meant that the soils are remarkably infertile and frequently laterised. Even soils derived from granitic bedrock contain an order of magnitude less available phosphorus and only half as much nitrogen as soils in comparable climates in other continents. Soils derived from extensive sandplains or ironstone are even less fertile, nearly devoid of soluble phosphate and deficient in zinc, copper, molybdenum and sometimes potassium and calcium.

The infertility of most of the soils has required heavy application by farmers of fertilisers. These have resulted in damage to invertebrate and bacterial populations.[citation needed] The grazing and use of hoofed mammals and, later, heavy machinery through the years have resulted in compaction of soils and great damage to the fragile soils.

Large-scale land clearing for agriculture has damaged habitats for native flora and fauna. As a result, the South West region of the state has a higher concentration of rare, threatened or endangered flora and fauna than many areas of Australia, making it one of the world’s biodiversity “hot spots”. Large areas of the state’s wheatbelt region have problems with dryland salinity and the loss of fresh water.

Climate[edit]

Köppen climate types in Western Australia

The southwest coastal area has a Mediterranean climate. It was originally heavily forested, including large stands of karri, one of the tallest trees in the world.[17] This agricultural region is one of the nine most bio-diverse terrestrial habitats, with a higher proportion of endemic species than most other equivalent regions. Thanks to the offshore Leeuwin Current, the area is one of the top six regions for marine biodiversity and contains the most southerly coral reefs in the world.

Average annual rainfall varies from 300 millimetres (12 in) at the edge of the Wheatbelt region to 1,400 millimetres (55 in) in the wettest areas near Northcliffe, but from November to March, evaporation exceeds rainfall, and it is generally very dry. Plants are adapted to this as well as the extreme poverty of all soils.

The central two-thirds of the state is arid and sparsely inhabited. The only significant economic activity is mining. Annual rainfall averages less than 300 millimetres (8–10 in), most of which occurs in sporadic torrential falls related to cyclone events in summer.[18]

An exception to this is the northern tropical regions. The Kimberley has an extremely hot monsoonal climate with average annual rainfall ranging from 500 to 1,500 millimetres (20–60 in), but there is a very long almost rainless season from April to November. Eighty-five percent of the state’s runoff occurs in the Kimberley, but because it occurs in violent floods and because of the insurmountable poverty of the generally shallow soils, the only development has taken place along the Ord River.

The black swan is the state bird of Western Australia

Snow is rare in the state and typically occurs only in the Stirling Range near Albany, as it is the only mountain range far enough south and sufficiently elevated. More rarely, snow can fall on the nearby Porongurup Range. Snow outside these areas is a major event; it usually occurs in hilly areas of southwestern Australia. The most widespread low-level snow occurred on 26 June 1956 when snow was reported in the Perth Hills, as far north as Wongan Hills and as far east as Salmon Gums. However, even in the Stirling Range, snowfalls rarely exceed 5 cm (2 in) and rarely settle for more than one day.[19]

The highest observed maximum temperature of 50.5 °C (122.9 °F) was recorded at Mardie Station on 19 February 1998. The lowest minimum temperature recorded was −7.2 °C (19.0 °F) at Eyre Bird Observatory on 17 August 2008.[20]

hideClimate data for Western Australia
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 49.8
(121.6)
50.5
(122.9)
48.1
(118.6)
45.0
(113.0)
40.6
(105.1)
37.8
(100.0)
38.3
(100.9)
40.0
(104.0)
43.1
(109.6)
46.9
(116.4)
48.0
(118.4)
49.4
(120.9)
50.5
(122.9)
Record low °C (°F) 0.9
(33.6)
0.5
(32.9)
−0.8
(30.6)
−2.2
(28.0)
−5.6
(21.9)
−6.0
(21.2)
−6.7
(19.9)
−7.2
(19.0)
−4.6
(23.7)
−5.0
(23.0)
−2.1
(28.2)
0.0
(32.0)
−7.2
(19.0)
Source: Bureau of Meteorology[21]

Flora and fauna[edit]

Crocodile at Lake Argyle

Western Australia is home to around 540 species of birds (depending on the taxonomy used). Of these around 15 are endemic to the state. The best areas for birds are the southwestern corner of the state and the area around Broome and the Kimberley.

The Flora of Western Australia comprises 10,162 published native vascular plant species, along with a further 1,196 species currently recognised but unpublished. They occur within 1,543 genera from 211 families; there are also 1,276 naturalised alien or invasive plant species, more commonly known as weeds.[22][23] In the southwest region are some of the largest numbers of plant species for its area in the world. Specific ecoregions of Western Australia include: the sandstone gorges of The Kimberley on the northern coast and below that areas of dry grassland (Ord Victoria Plain) or semi-desert (Western Australian Mulga shrublands), with Tanami Desert inland from there. Following the coast south there is the Southwest Australia savanna and the Swan Coastal Plain around Perth, and then farther south the Warren on the southwest corner of the coast around the wine-growing area of Margaret River. Going east along the Southern Ocean coast is the Goldfields-Esperance region, including the Esperance grasslands and the Coolgardie grasslands inland around town of Coolgardie.

In 1831 Scottish botanist Robert Brown produced a scientific paper, General view of the botany of the vicinity of Swan River. It discusses the vegetation of the Swan River Colony.[24]

Demographics[edit]

Western Australia’s capital and largest city, Perth, from Kings Park. Its metropolitan area is home to 75% of the state’s population.

WA population growth 1829–2010

Distribution of the Western Australian population

Europeans began to settle permanently in 1826 when Albany was claimed by Britain to forestall French claims to the western third of the continent. Perth was founded as the Swan River Colony in 1829 by British and Irish settlers, though the outpost languished. Its officials eventually requested convict labour to augment its population. In the 1890s, interstate immigration, resulting from a mining boom in the Goldfields region, resulted in a sharp population increase.

Western Australia did not receive significant flows of immigrants from Britain, Ireland or elsewhere in the British Empire until the early 20th century. At that time, its local projects—such as the Group Settlement Scheme of the 1920s, which encouraged farmers to settle the southwest—increased awareness of Australia’s western third as a destination for colonists.

Led by immigrants from the British Isles, Western Australia’s population developed at a faster rate during the twentieth century than it had previously. After World War II, both the eastern states and Western Australia received large numbers of ItaliansCroatians and Macedonians. Despite this, Britain has contributed the greatest number of immigrants to this day. Western Australia—particularly Perth—has the highest proportion of British-born of any state: 10.3% in 2011, compared to a national average of 5.1%. This group is heavily concentrated in certain parts, where they account for a quarter of the population.[25]

Perth’s metropolitan area (including Mandurah) had an estimated population of 2,043,138[3] in June 2017 (79% of the state). Other significant population centres include Bunbury (73,989),[26] Geraldton (37,961),[26] Kalgoorlie-Boulder (30,420),[26] Albany (33,998),[26] Karratha (16,446),[26] Broome (14,501)[26] and Port Hedland (14,285).[26]

Ancestry and immigration[edit]

Country of birth (2016)[27][28]
Birthplace[N 1] Population
Australia 1,492,842
England 194,163
New Zealand 79,221
India 49,385
South Africa 41,008
Philippines 30,835
Malaysia 29,126
Mainland China 27,126
Italy 19,210
Ireland 18,036
Vietnam 15,845

At the 2016 census, the most commonly nominated ancestries were:[N 2][27][28]

3.1% of the population, or 75,978 people, identified as Indigenous Australians (Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders) in 2016.[N 5][27][28]

Language[edit]

At the 2016 census, 75.2% of inhabitants spoke only English at home, with the next most common languages being Mandarin (1.9%), Italian (1.2%), Vietnamese (0.8%), Cantonese (0.8%) and Tagalog (0.6%).[27][28]

Religion[edit]

At the 2016 census, 55.5% of respondents identified as Christian and 32.5% as having no religion. 10.3% chose not to state a religion. The most commonly nominated responses were Catholicism (21.4%) and Anglicanism (14.3%).[30][28]

Economy[edit]

Aerial view of Fremantle Harbour, a major port in WA

Western Australia’s resource commodity mix, 2007

Major commodity mix, 2008–2009

Western Australia’s economy is largely driven by extraction and processing of a diverse range of mineral and petroleum commodities. The structure of the economy is closely linked to these natural resources, providing a comparative advantage in resource extraction and processing. As a consequence:

  • Western Australia contributes an estimated 58% of Australia’s Mineral and Energy Exports,[31] potentially earning up to 4.64% of Australia’s total GDP.[32]
  • Gross state product per person ($97,940 in 2017–18) is higher than any other state and well above the national average ($73,267).[33]
  • Diversification (i.e. a greater range of commodities) over the past 15 years has provided a more balanced production base and less reliance on just a few major export markets, insulating the economy from fluctuations in world prices to some extent.[citation needed]
  • Finance, insurance and property services and construction have grown steadily and have increased their share of economic output.[34]
  • Recent growth in global demand for minerals and petroleum, especially in China (iron-ore) and Japan (for LNG), has ensured economic growth above the national average.

Western Australia’s overseas exports accounted for 46% of the nation’s total.[6][35] The state’s major export commodities include iron-ore, alumina, nickel, gold, ammonia, wheat, wool, crude oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Western Australia is a major extractor of bauxite, which is also processed into alumina at four refineries providing more than 20% of total world production. It is the world’s third-largest iron-ore producer (15% of the world’s total) and extracts 75% of Australia’s 240 tonnes of gold. Diamonds are extracted at Argyle diamond mine in far north of the Kimberley region. Coal mined at Collie is the main fuel for baseload electricity generation in the state’s south-west.

Agricultural production in WA is a major contributor to the state and national economy. Although tending to be highly seasonal, 2006–07 wheat production in WA was nearly 10 million tonnes, accounting for almost half the nation’s total.[36] and providing $1.7 billion in export income.[37]

Other significant farm output includes barley, peas,[36] wool, lamb and beef. There is a high level of overseas demand for live animals from WA, driven mainly by southeast Asia’s feedlots and Middle Eastern countries, where cultural and religious traditions and a lack of storage and refrigeration facilities favour live animals over imports of processed meat. About half of Australia’s live cattle exports come from Western Australia.[38]

Resource sector growth in recent years has resulted in significant labour and skills shortages, leading to recent efforts by the state government to encourage interstate and overseas immigration.[39] According to the 2006 census,[40] the median individual income was A$500 per week in Western Australia (compared to A$466 in Australia as a whole). The median family income was A$1246 per week (compared to A$1171 for Australia). Recent growth has also contributed to significant rises in average property values in 2006, although values plateaued in 2007. Perth property prices are still the second highest in Australia behind Sydney, and high rental prices continue to be a problem.

Located south of Perth, the heavy industrial area of Kwinana has the nation’s largest oil refinery with a capacity of 146,000 barrels of oil per day, producing most of the state’s petrol and diesel.[41][42][43] Kwinana also hosts alumina and nickel processing plants, port facilities for grain and other bulk exports, and support industries for mining and petroleum such as heavy and light engineering, and metal fabrication. Shipbuilding (e.g. Austal Ships) and associated support industries are found at nearby Henderson, just north of Kwinana. Significant secondary industries include cement and building product manufacturing, flour milling, food processing, animal feed production, automotive body building and printing.

In recent years, tourism has grown in importance, with significant numbers of visitors to the state coming from the UK and Ireland (28%), other European countries (14%) Singapore (16%), Japan (10%) and Malaysia (8%).[37] Revenue from tourism is a strong economic driver in many of the smaller population centres outside of Perth, especially in coastal locations.

Western Australia has a significant fishing industry. Products for local consumption and export include western rock lobsters, prawns, crabs, shark and tuna, as well as pearl fishing in the Kimberley region of the state. Processing is conducted along the west coast. Whaling was a key marine industry but ceased at Albany in 1978.

Tourism[edit]

Tourism forms a major part of the Western Australian economy with 833,100 international visitors making up 12.8% of the total international tourism to Australia in the year ending March 2015. The top three source markets include the United Kingdom (17%), Singapore (10%) and New Zealand (10%) with the majority of purpose for visitation being holiday/vacation reasons.[44] The tourism industry contributes $9.3 billion to the Western Australian economy and supports 94,000 jobs within the state. Both directly and indirectly, the industry makes up 3.2% of the state’s economy whilst comparatively, WA’s largest revenue source, the mining sector, brings in 31%.[45]

Tourism WA is the government agency responsible for promoting Western Australia as a holiday destination.[46]

Government[edit]

Western Australia was granted self-government in 1890[47] with a bicameral Parliament located in Perth, consisting of the Legislative Assembly (or lower house), which has 59 members; and the Legislative Council (or upper house), which has 36 members. Suffrage is universal and compulsory for citizens over 18 years of age.

With the federation of the Australian colonies in 1901, Western Australia became a state within Australia’s federal structure; this involved ceding certain powers to the Commonwealth (or Federal) government in accordance with the Constitution; all powers not specifically granted to the Commonwealth remained solely with the State, however over time the Commonwealth has effectively expanded its powers through increasing control of taxation and financial distribution.

Whilst the sovereign of Western Australia is the Queen of Australia (Elizabeth II), and executive power nominally vested in her State representative the Governor (currently Kim Beazley), executive power rests with the premier and ministers drawn from the party or coalition of parties holding a majority of seats in the Legislative Assembly. Mark McGowan is the Premier, having defeated Colin Barnett at the state election on 11 March 2017.

Secession[edit]

Secessionism has been a recurring feature of Western Australia’s political landscape since shortly after European settlement in 1826. Western Australia was the most reluctant participant in the Commonwealth of Australia.[48] Western Australia did not participate in the earliest federation conference. Longer-term residents of Western Australia were generally opposed to federation; however, the discovery of gold brought many immigrants from other parts of Australia. It was these residents, primarily in Kalgoorlie but also in Albany who voted to join the Commonwealth, and the proposal of these areas being admitted separately under the name Auralia was considered.[citation needed]

In a referendum in April 1933, 68% of voters voted for the state to leave the Commonwealth of Australia with the aim of returning to the British Empire as an autonomous territory. The State Government sent a delegation to Westminster, but the British Government refused to intervene and therefore no action was taken to implement this decision.[49]

Local government[edit]

Western Australia is divided into 139 Local Government Areas, including Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Their mandate and operations are governed by the Local Government Act 1995.[50]

Education[edit]

Education in Western Australia consists of one year of pre-school at age 4 or 5, followed by six years of primary education for all students as of 2015.[51] At age 12 or 13, students begin six years of secondary education. Students are required to attend school up until they are 16 years old. Sixteen and 17 year olds are required to enrolled in school or a training organisation, be employed or be in a combination of school/training/employment.[52] Students have the option to study at a TAFE college after Year 10,[53] or continue through to Year 12 with vocational courses or a university entrance courses.[54]

There are five universities in Western Australia. They consist of four Perth-based public universities; the University of Western AustraliaCurtin UniversityEdith Cowan University and Murdoch University; and one Fremantle-based private Roman Catholic university, the University of Notre Dame Australia. The University of Notre Dame is also one of only two private universities in Australia, along with Bond University, a not-for-profit private education provider based in Gold Coast, Queensland.

Media[edit]

Print[edit]

Western Australia has two daily newspapers: the Seven West Media-owned tabloid The West Australian and The Kalgoorlie Miner. Also published is one weekend paper, The Weekend West, and one Sunday tabloid newspaper, which is also owned by Seven West Media after purchase from News Corporation‘s The Sunday Times. There are also 17 weekly Community Newspapers with distribution from Yanchep in the north to Mandurah in the south. There are two major weekly rural papers in the state, Countryman and the Rural Press-owned Farm Weekly. The interstate broadsheet publication The Australian is also available, although with sales per capita lagging far behind those in other states. With the advent of the Internet, local news websites like WAtoday, which provide free access to their content, are becoming a popular alternative source of news. Other online publications from around the world like the New South Wales based The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian are also available.

Television[edit]

ABC studios in East Perth

Metropolitan Perth has six broadcast television stations;

  • ABC TV WA. (Callsign: ABW – Channel 12 Digital)
  • SBS WA (Callsign: SBS – Channel 29 Digital)
  • Seven Network Perth. (Callsign: TVW – Channel 6 Digital)
  • Nine Network Perth. (Callsign: STW – Channel 8 Digital)
  • Network Ten Perth. (Callsign: NEW – Channel 11 Digital)
  • West TV. A free-to-air community television channel that began broadcasting in April 2010. It replaced Access 31, which ceased broadcasting in August 2008.

Regional WA has a similar availability of stations, with the exception of West TV. Geographically, it is one of the largest television markets in the world, including almost one-third of the continent.

  • Golden West Network (GWN7). Affiliated with Seven. (Callsigns: SSW South West, VEW Goldfields/Esperance, GTW Central West, WAW remote areas)
  • WIN Television WA. Affiliated with Ten (Callsign: WOW)
  • West Digital Television. Affiliated with Nine. (Callsigns: SDW South West, VDW Goldfields/Esperance, GDW Central West, WDW remote areas)
  • Westlink. An open-narrowcast community-based television channel. (Satellite only)

In addition, broadcasters operate digital multichannels:

Pay TV services are provided by Foxtel, which acquired many of the assets and all the remaining subscribers of the insolvent Galaxy Television satellite service in 1998. Some metropolitan suburbs are serviced by Pay TV via cable; however, most of the metropolitan and rural areas can only access Pay TV via satellite.

Radio[edit]

Perth has many radio stations on both AM and FM frequencies. ABC stations include ABC NewsRadio (6PB 585 am), 720 ABC Perth (6WF 720 am), ABC Radio National (6RN 810 am), ABC Classic FM (6ABC 97.7FM) and Triple J (6JJJ 99.3FM). The six commercial stations are: FM 92.9 (6PPM), Nova 93.7 (6PER), Mix 94.5 (6MIX), 96fm (6NOW), and AM 882 (6PR), AM 1080 (6IX) and AM 1116 (6MM)

The leading community radio stations are Curtin FM 100.1, 6RTR FM 92.1, Sonshine FM 98.5 (6SON) and 91.3 SportFM (6WSM).

Culture[edit]

Wine[edit]

Winemaking regions are concentrated in the cooler climate of the south-western portion of the state. Western Australia produces less than 5% of the country’s wine output, but in quality terms is considered to be very much near the top.[55][56][57][58] Major wine producing regions include: Margaret RiverThe Great SouthernSwan Valley as well as smaller districts including Blackwood ValleyManjimupPembertonPeel, Chittering Valley, Perth Hills, and Geographe.[59]

Sport[edit]

2014 AFL premiership match between West Coast Eagles and Collingwood being played at Patersons Stadium, Subiaco

A number of national or international sporting teams and events are based in the state, including:

International sporting events hosted in the past in Western Australia include the Tom Hoad Cup (water polo), the Perth International (golf), the 2006 Gravity Games (extreme sports), the 2002 Women’s Hockey World Cup, the 1991 FINA World Aquatics Championships and the 1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games.

The arts[edit]

Western Australia is home to one of the country’s leading performance training institutions, the acclaimed Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), as well as a burgeoning theatrical and musical scene. Notable musicians and bands to have been born in or lived in Western Australia include Adam BrandKarnivoolBirds of TokyoBon ScottEskimo JoeJohnny YoungGyroscope, the John Butler TrioTame ImpalaTroye SivanKevin MitchellTim MinchinThe Kill Devil HillsPendulumThe Pigram BrothersRolf Harris and The Triffids. The West Australian Music Industry Awards (WAMis) have been awarded every year to the leading musicians and performers in WA since 2001.

Notable actors and television personalities from Western Australia include Heath LedgerSam WorthingtonErnie DingoJessica MaraisMegan GaleRove McManusIsla Fisher, and Melissa George. Films and television series filmed or partly filmed in Western Australia include These Final HoursCloudstreetAustraliaBran Nu DaeABBA: the Movie and Last Train to Freo.

Noted Western Australian indigenous painters and artisans include Jack Dale MengenenPaddy BedfordQueenie McKenzie, and siblings Nyuju Stumpy Brown and Rover Thomas.[60]

The West Australian Symphony Orchestra (WASO) is based at the Perth Concert Hall. Other concert, performance and indoor sporting venues in Western Australia include His Majesty’s Theatre, the now demolished Perth Entertainment Centre, the Burswood Dome and Theatre and the Perth Arena, which opened in 2012.

Sister states[edit]

Western Australia has four sister states:[61]

In 1981, a sister state agreement was drawn up between Western Australia and Hyōgo Prefecture in Japan that was aimed at improving cultural ties between the two states.[62][63] To commemorate the 10th anniversary of this agreement, the Hyōgo Prefectural Government Cultural Centre was established in Perth in 1992.[64] Prior to that, the Western Australian government opened an office in Kobe, the largest city in Hyōgo, to facilitate maintenance of the relationship in 1989.[63][65]

Following the Great Hanshin earthquake that devastated southern Hyōgo in January 1995, Western Australian groups and businesses raised funds and provided materials, whilst individuals travelled to Hyōgo to help with emergency relief and the subsequent reconstruction process.[66][67][68] The two governments signed a memorandum of understanding on the 20th anniversary in 2001 that aimed to improve the economic relationship between the two states.[63]

Further to the sister state relationship, the City of Rockingham in Western Australia and the City of Akō in Hyōgo signed a sister city agreement in 1997. It is one of nine sister city relationships between Western Australian and Japanese cities.[69]

See also[edit]

Lists:

Uncategorized

Great Salt Lake

Great Salt Lake

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Great Salt Lake
Great Salt Lake by Sentinel-2.jpg
Satellite photo from August 2018 after years of drought, reaching near-record lows. Note the difference in colors between the northern and southern portions of the lake, the result of a railroad causeway.
Location UtahUnited States
Coordinates 41°10′N 112°35′WCoordinates41°10′N 112°35′W
Type Endorheichypersaline
Primary inflows BearJordanWeber rivers
Catchment area 21,500 sq mi (55,685 km²)
Basin countries United States
Max. length 75 mi (120 km)
Max. width 28 mi (45 km)
Surface area 1,700 sq mi (4,400 km²)
Average depth 16 ft (4.9 m), when lake is at average level
Max. depth 33 ft (10 m) average, high of 45 ft (14 m) in 1987, low of 24 ft (7.3 m) in 1963
Water volume 15,338,693.6 acre⋅ft (18.92 km3)
Surface elevation historical average of 4,200 feet (1,283 m), 4,192.9 feet (1,277 m) as of 2017 November 17
Islands 8–15 (variable, see Islands)
Settlements Salt Lake and Ogden metropolitan areas.

The Great Salt Lake, located in the northern part of the U.S. state of Utah, is the largest salt water lake in the Western Hemisphere,[1] and the eighth-largest terminal lake in the world.[2] In an average year the lake covers an area of approximately 1,700 square miles (4,400 km2),[2] but the lake’s size fluctuates substantially due to its shallowness. For instance, in 1963 it reached its lowest recorded size at 950 square miles (2,460 km²), but in 1988 the surface area was at the historic high of 3,300 square miles (8,500 km2).[2] In terms of surface area, it is the largest lake in the United States that is not part of the Great Lakes region.

The lake is the largest remnant of Lake Bonneville, a prehistoric pluvial lake that once covered much of western Utah. The three major tributaries to the lake, the JordanWeber, and Bear rivers together deposit approximately 1.1 million tons of minerals in the lake each year.[1] As it is endorheic (has no outlet besides evaporation), it has very high salinity (far saltier than seawater) and its mineral content is steadily increasing. Due to the high density resulting from its mineral content, swimming in the Great Salt Lake is similar to floating. Its shallow, warm waters cause frequent, sometimes heavy lake-effect snows from late fall through spring.

Although it has been called “America’s Dead Sea“,[3] the lake provides habitat for millions of native birds, brine shrimpshorebirds, and waterfowl, including the largest staging population of Wilson’s phalarope in the world.[4]

Origin[edit]

The Great Salt Lake is a remnant of a much larger prehistoric lake called Lake Bonneville. At its greatest extent, Lake Bonneville spanned 22,400 square miles (58,000 km2), nearly as large as present-day Lake Michigan, and roughly ten times the area of the Great Salt Lake today.[2] Bonneville reached 923 ft (281 m) at its deepest point,[5][6] and covered much of present-day Utah and small portions of Idaho and Nevada during the ice ages of the Pleistocene Epoch.

Lake Bonneville existed until about 16,800 years ago, when a large portion of the lake was released through the Red Rock Pass in Idaho. With the warming climate, the remaining lake began to dry, leaving the Great Salt Lake, Utah LakeSevier Lake, and Rush Lake behind.[5]

History[edit]

Map showing “Lake Youta or Salt Lake” in 1838 when it was in Mexico. From Britannica 7th edition.

The ShoshoneUte, and Paiute have lived near the Great Salt Lake for thousands of years. At the time of Salt Lake City‘s founding, the valley was within the territory of the Northwestern Shoshone;[7] however, occupation was seasonal, near streams emptying from canyons into the Salt Lake Valley. One of the local Shoshone tribes, the Western Goshute tribe, referred to the lake as Pi’a-pa, meaning “big water”, or Ti’tsa-pa, meaning “bad water”.[8][9]

The Great Salt Lake entered written European history through the records of Silvestre Vélez de Escalante, who learned of its existence from the Timpanogos Utes in 1776. No European name was given to it at the time, and it was not shown on the map by Bernardo Miera y Pacheco, the cartographer for the expedition. In 1824, it was observed, apparently independently, by Jim Bridger and Etienne Provost. Shortly thereafter other trappers saw it and walked around it.

Most of the trappers, however, were illiterate and did not record their discoveries. As oral reports of their findings made their way to those who did make records, some errors were made. Escalante had been on the shores of Utah Lake, which he named Laguna Timpanogos. It was the larger of the two lakes that appeared on Miera’s map. Other cartographers followed his lead and charted Lake Timpanogos as the largest (or larger) lake in the region. As people came to know of the Great Salt Lake, they interpreted the maps to think that “Timpanogos” referred to the Great Salt Lake. On some maps the two names were used synonymously. In time “Timpanogos” was dropped from the maps and its original association with Utah Lake was forgotten.

In 1843, John C. Fremont led the first scientific expedition to the lake, but with winter coming on, he did not take the time to survey the entire lake. That happened in 1850 under the leadership of Howard Stansbury (Stansbury discovered and named the Stansbury mountain range and Stansbury island).[10] John Fremont’s overly glowing reports of the area were published shortly after his expedition. Stansbury also published a formal report of his survey work which became very popular. His report of the area included a discussion of Mormon religious practices based on Stansbury’s interaction with the Mormon community in Great Salt Lake City, which had been established three years earlier in 1847.[11]

Beginning in November 1895, artist and author Alfred Lambourne spent a year living on the remote Gunnison Island, where he wrote a book of musing and poetry, Our Inland Sea. From November 1895 to March 1896, he was alone. In March, a few guano sifters arrived to harvest and sell the guano of the nesting birds as fertilizer. Lambourne included musings about these guano sifters in his work. Lambourne left the island early in the winter of 1896 along with the first group of guano sifters.[12]

Geography[edit]

Great Salt Lake from airspace over Salt Lake City

The Great Salt Lake lends its name to Salt Lake City, originally named “Great Salt Lake City” by the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) Brigham Young,[13] who led a group of Mormon pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley southeast of the lake on July 24, 1847.

The lake lies in parts of five counties: Box ElderDavisTooeleWeber, and Salt Lake. Salt Lake City and its suburbs are located to the south-east and east of the lake, between the lake and the Wasatch Mountains, but land around the north and west shores are almost uninhabited. The Bonneville Salt Flats are to the west, and the Oquirrh and Stansbury Mountains rise to the south.

The Great Salt Lake is fed by three major rivers and several minor streams. The three major rivers are each fed directly or indirectly from the Uinta Mountain range in northeastern Utah. The Bear River starts on the north slope of the Uintas and flows north past Bear Lake, into which some of Bear River’s waters have been diverted[14] via a man-made canal into the lake, but later empty back into the river by means of the Bear Lake Outlet. The river then turns south in southern Idaho and eventually flows into the northeast arm of the Great Salt Lake. The Weber River also starts on the north slope of the Uinta Mountains and flows into the east edge of the lake. The Jordan River does not receive its water directly from the Uintas, rather it flows from freshwater Utah Lake, which itself is fed primarily by the Provo River; the Provo River does originate in the Uintas, a few miles from the Weber and Bear.[5] The Jordan flows from the north part of Utah Lake into the south-east corner of the Great Salt Lake.

Due to its shallowness, the water level can fall dramatically in dry years and rise during high-precipitation years, thereby reflecting prolonged drought or wet periods. The change in the level of lake level is strongly modulated by the Pacific Ocean through atmospheric circulations that fluctuate at low frequency.[15] By capturing these climate oscillations while using tree-ring reconstruction of lake level, the lake level fluctuation could be predicted onward for 5–8 years.[16] The Utah Climate Center provides prediction of the Great Salt Lake’s annual lake level. This forecast uses central tropical Pacific Ocean temperature, watershed precipitation, tree-ring data of 750+ years,[17] and the lake level itself.

Color difference

railroad line – the Lucin Cutoff – runs across the lake, crossing the southern end of Promontory Peninsula. The mostly solid causeway supporting the railway divides the lake into three portions: the north-east arm, north-west arm, and southern. The causeway obstructed the normal mixing of the waters of the lake because there were only three 100-foot (30 m) breaches. Because no rivers, except a few minor streams, flow directly into the north-west arm, Gunnison Bay, it is substantially saltier than the rest of the lake. This saltier environment promotes different types of algae than those growing in the southern part of the lake, leading to a marked color difference on the two sides of the causeway. On December 1, 2016, the opening of new 180-foot-long (55 m) bridge allowed water to flow from the southern arm of the lake into the north-west arm. At the time of opening of the causeway the north-west arm was nearly 3 feet (90 cm) lower than the southern arm. By April 2017, the levels of both arms of the lake had risen due to spring runoff, and the north-western arm was within 1 foot (30 cm) of the southern arm.[18]

Islands[edit]

Categorically stating the number of islands is difficult, as the method used to determine what is an island is not necessarily the same in each source. Since the water level of the lake can vary greatly between years, what may be considered an island in a high water year may be considered a peninsula in another, or an island in a low water year may be covered during another year. According to the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Geological Survey, “there are eight named islands in the lake that have never been totally submerged during historic time. All have been connected to the mainland by exposed shoals during periods of low water.” In addition to these eight islands, the lake also contains a number of rocks, reefs, or shoals that become fully or partially submerged at high water levels.[19]

The Utah Geological Survey, on the other hand, states “the lake contains 11 recognized islands, although this number varies depending on the level of the lake. Seven islands are in the southern portion of the lake and four in the northwestern portion.”[20]

The size and whether they are counted as islands during any particular year depends mostly on the level of the lake. From largest to smallest, they are Antelope IslandStansbury IslandFremont Island, Carrington Island, Dolphin Island, Cub Island, and Badger Island, and various rocks, reefs, or shoals with names like Strongs Knob, Gunnison Island, Goose, Browns, Hat (Bird), Egg Island, Black Rock, and White Rock. Dolphin Island, Gunnison Island, Cub Island, and Strongs Knob are in the northwestern arm. The rest are in the southern portion of the Great Salt Lake.

Sunset viewed from White Rock Bay, on the western shore of Antelope Island. Carrington Island is visible in the distance.

Black Rock, Antelope Island, White Rock, Egg Island, Fremont Island, and the Promontory mountain range are each extensions of the Oquirrh Mountain Range, which dips beneath the lake at its southeastern shore. Stansbury, Carrington, and Hat Islands are extensions of the Stansbury mountain range, and Strongs Knob is an extension of the Lakeside Mountains which run along the lake’s western shore.[21] The lake is deepest in the area between these island chains, measured by Howard Stansbury in 1850 at about 35 feet (10.7 meters) deep, and an average depth of 13 feet (four meters).[21] When the water levels are low, Antelope Island becomes connected to the shore as a peninsula, as do Goose Islands, Browns Island,[22] and some of the other islands. Stansbury Island and Strongs Knob remain peninsulas unless the water level rises well-above the average.

Lake-effect precipitation[edit]

Due to the warm waters of the Great Salt Lake, lake-effect snowfalls are frequent phenomena in the surrounding area. Cold north, north-west, or west winds generally blow across the lake following the passage of a cold front, and the temperature difference between the warm lake and the cool air can form clouds that lead to precipitation downwind of the lake. It is typically heaviest in Tooele County to the east, and north into central Davis County, and can deposit excessive snowfall amounts, generally within a narrow band which is highly-dependent on the direction the wind is blowing.

The lake-effect snowfalls are more likely to occur in late fall, early winter and spring, due to the higher temperature differences between the lake and the air above it. During summer, the temperature differences can cause thunderstorms to form over the lake and drift eastward along the northern Wasatch Front. Some rainstorms may also be partially attributed to the lake effect in fall and spring. It is estimated that approximately six to eight lake effect snowstorms occur in a year, and that 10% of the average precipitation of Salt Lake City can be attributed to the lake effect.[23]

Hydrology[edit]

Map of Great Salt Lake

Because of its high salt concentration, the lake water is unusually dense, and most people can float more easily than in other bodies of water, particularly in Gunnison Bay, the saltier north arm of the lake.[24]

Water levels have been recorded since 1875,[2] averaging about 4,200 feet (1,280 m) above sea level. Since the Great Salt Lake is a shallow lake with gently sloping shores around all edges except on the south side, small variations in the water level greatly affect the extent of the shoreline. The water level can rise dramatically in wet years and fall during dry years. The water level is also affected by the amount of water flow diverted for agricultural and urban uses. The Jordan and Weber rivers, in particular, are diverted for other uses.[5] In the 1880s Grove Karl Gilbert predicted that the lake – then in the middle of many years of recession – would virtually disappear except for a small remnant between the islands.[25]

A 2014 study used tree rings collected in the watershed of the Great Salt Lake to create a 576-year record of lake level reconstruction.[17] The lake level change is strongly modulated by Pacific Ocean coupled ocean/atmospheric oscillations at low frequency, and therefore reflects the decadal-scale wet/dry cycles that characterize the region.[26][27] By capturing these climate oscillations[28] as well as utilizing the tree-ring reconstruction of lake level change,[29] researchers were able to predict the lake level fluctuation onward for as long as 5–8 years.[30]

The Great Salt Lake differs in elevation between the south and north parts. The causeway for the Lucin Cutoff divides the lake into two parts. The water-surface elevation of the south part of the lake is usually 0.5 to 2 feet (15–61 cm) higher than that of the north part because most of the inflow to the lake occurs from the south.[2][18]

Salinity[edit]

Most of the salts dissolved in the lake and deposited in the desert flats around it reflect the concentration of solutes by evaporation; Lake Bonneville itself was fresh enough to support populations of fish.[31][32] More salt is added yearly via rivers and streams, though the amount is much less than the relict salt from Bonneville.[31]

The salinity of the lake’s main basin, Gilbert Bay, is highly variable and depends on the lake’s level; it ranges from 5 to 27% (50 to 270 parts per thousand).[24] For comparison, the average salinity of the world ocean is 3.5% (35 parts per thousand)[33] and 33.7% in the Dead Sea. The ionic composition is similar to seawater, much more so than the Dead Sea’s water; compared to the ocean, Great Salt Lake’s waters are slightly enriched in potassium and depleted in calcium.[24] Dissolved ions do not necessarily increase or decrease in step with changes of total dissolved solids. For example, in October 1903 dissolved solids tallied 27.72% and by February 1910 they were down to 17.68% with chlorine, sodium and sulphate levels substantially lower, but over the same time calcium, magnesium and potassium increased with the increase of magnesium especially pronounced.[34]

1930s Fresh Water Project[edit]

In the early 1930s there was a project to dam off a third of the lake with dikes on the east side north of Salt Lake City to make a fresh water reservoir for drinking and irrigation. The project was abandoned before it got beyond the planning stage.[35]

Willard Bay Reservoir[edit]

Willard Bay, also known as Willard Bay Reservoir or Arthur V. Watkins Reservoir is a fresh water reservoir, completed in 1964, which separated, drained, and subsequently filled with fresh water from the Weber River, a portion of the Great Salt Lake’s northeastern arm.

West Desert Pumping Project[edit]

Record high water levels in the 1980s caused a large amount of property damage for owners on the eastern side of the Great Salt Lake, and the water started to erode the base of Interstate 80. In response, the State of Utah built the West Desert Pumping Project on the western side of the lake. This project consists of a pumping station (41°15′9.28″N 113°4′53.31″W) at Hogup Ridge, containing three pumps with a combined capacity of moving 1,500,000 US gallons per minute (95 m3/s); an inlet canal; and an outlet canal. Also, there are 25 miles (40 km) of dikes and a 10-mile (16 km) access road between the town of Lakeside and the pumping station.[36]

This pumping project was designed to increase the surface area of the Great Salt Lake, and thus increase the rate of water evaporation. The pumps drove some of the water of the Great Salt Lake into the 320,000-acre (1300-square kilometer) Newfoundland Evaporation Basin in the desert west of the lake. A weir in the dike at the southern end of the Newfoundland Mountains regulated the level of water in the basin, and it sometimes returned salty water from the evaporation basin into the main body of the Great Salt Lake.[36]

At the end of their first year of operation, the pumps had removed about 500,000 acre feet (620,000,000 m3) of water from the Great Salt Lake. The project was shut down in June 1989 since the level of the lake had dropped by nearly six feet (1.8 meters) since reaching its peak levels during June 1986 and March 1987. The Utah Division of Water Resources credits the project with “over one-third of that decline”.[36] In total, the pumps removed 2,730,000 acre feet (3.37 km3) of water while they operated.[37]

Although the pumps are no longer in use, they have been kept in place in case the level of the Great Salt Lake ever rises that high again.[38]

Ecosystem[edit]

American avocets at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge

Mountains of the Great Salt Lake in winter.

The high salinity in parts of the lake makes them uninhabitable for all but a few species, including brine shrimpbrine flies, and several forms of algae. The brine flies have an estimated population of over one hundred billion and serve as the main source of food for many of the birds which migrate to the lake.[39] However, the fresh- and salt-water wetlands along the eastern and northern edges of the Great Salt Lake provide critical habitat for millions of migratory shorebirds and waterfowl in western North America. These marshes account for approximately 75% of the wetlands in Utah.[40] Some of the birds that depend on these marshes include:[41] Wilson’s phalaropered-necked phalaropeAmerican avocetblack-necked stiltmarbled godwitsnowy ploverwestern sandpiperlong-billed dowitchertundra swanAmerican white pelicanwhite-faced ibisCalifornia gulleared grebeperegrine falconbald eagle, plus large populations of various ducks and geese.

There are twenty-seven private duck clubs, seven state waterfowl management areas, and a large federal bird refuge on the Great Salt Lake’s shores.[42] Wetland/wildlife management areas include the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge; Gillmor Sanctuary; Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve; Salt Creek, Public Shooting Grounds, Harold Crane, Locomotive Springs, Ogden Bay, Timpie Springs, and Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Areas.

Several islands in the lake provide critical nesting areas for various birds. Access to Hat, Gunnison, and Cub islands is strictly limited by the State of Utah in an effort to protect nesting colonies of American white pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos).[43] The islands within the Great Salt Lake also provide habitat for lizard and mammalian wildlife and a variety of plant species. Some species may have been extirpated from the islands. For example, a number of explorers who visited the area in the mid-1800s (e.g. Emmanuel DomenechHoward StansburyJules Rémy) noted an abundance of yellow-flowered “onions” on several of the islands, which they identified as Calochortus luteus. This species today occurs only in California, however, at that time the name C. luteus was applied to plants that later were named C. nuttallii[44][45] A yellow-flowered Calochortus was first named as a variety of C. nuttallii but was later separated into a new species C. aureus. This species occurs in Utah today, though apparently no longer on the islands of the Great Salt Lake.[46]

Because of the Great Salt Lake’s high salinity, it has few fish, but they do occur in Bear River Bay and Farmington Bay when spring runoff brings fresh water into the lake. A few aquatic animals live in the lake’s main basin, including centimeter-long brine shrimp (Artemia franciscana). Their tiny, hard-walled eggs or cysts (diameter about 200 micrometers)[47] are harvested in quantity during the fall and early winter. They are fed to prawns in Asia,[39] sold as novelty “Sea-Monkeys,” sold either live or dehydrated in pet stores as a fish food, and used in testing of toxins, drugs, and other chemicals.[4] There are also two species of brine fly[48] as well as protozoa, rotifers, bacteria and algae.

Salinity differences between the sections of the lake separated by the railroad causeway result in significantly different biota. A phytoplankton community dominated by green algae or cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) tint the water south of the causeway a greenish color. North of the causeway, the lake is dominated by Dunaliella salina, a species of algae which releases beta-carotene, and the bacteria-like haloarchaea,[49] which together give the water an unusual reddish or purplish color,[48] and the bacteria converts non-toxic mercury into toxic methyl mercury, which then flows into the Southern portion of the lake in a heavy brine layer through the causeway.[50]

Although brine shrimp can be found in the arm of the lake north of the causeway, studies conducted by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources indicate that these are likely transient.[49] Populations of brine shrimp are mostly restricted to the lake’s south arm.

In the two bays that receive most of the lake’s fresh water inflows, Bear River Bay and Farmington Bay, the diversity of organisms is much higher. Salinities in these bays can approach that of fresh water when the spring snow melt occurs, and this allows a variety of bacteria, algae and invertebrates to proliferate in the nutrient-rich water. The abundance of invertebrates such as gnat larvae (chironomids) and back swimmers (Trichocorixa) are fed upon extensively by the huge shorebird and waterfowl populations that utilize the lake. Fish in these bays are fed upon by diving terns and pelicans.

Pink Floyd the flamingo[edit]

A solitary Chilean flamingo, named Pink Floyd after the English rock band, wintered at the Great Salt Lake. He escaped from Salt Lake City’s Tracy Aviary in 1987 and lived in the wild, eating brine shrimp and socializing with gulls and swans. (Pink Floyd is often referred to as a “he”, although the bird’s sex is not actually known.)[51] A group of Utah residents suggested petitioning the state to release more flamingos in an effort to keep Floyd company and as a possible tourist attraction.[52] Wildlife biologists resisted these efforts, saying that deliberate introduction of a non-native species would be ecologically unsound and might have detrimental consequences.[53] Pink Floyd was last seen in Idaho, in the area of Camas National Wildlife Refuge (where he was known to migrate), in 2005.[54][55]

Elevated mercury levels[edit]

During a survey in the mid-1990s, U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service researchers discovered a high level of methylmercury in the Great Salt Lake with 25 nanograms per liter of water. For comparison, a fish consumption advisory was issued at the Florida Everglades after water there was found to contain 1 nanogram per liter.[56] The extremely high methylmercury concentrations have been only in the lake’s anoxic deep brine layer (monimolimnion) below a depth of 20 feet (6.1 m), but concentrations are also moderately high up in the water column where there is oxygen to support brine shrimp and brine flies.

The toxic metal shows up throughout the lake’s food chain, from brine shrimp to eared grebes and cinnamon teal. Mines that use cyanide leaching and ore roasting to gather specks of gold seem a likely source.[57]

The finding of high mercury levels prompted further studies[58] and a health advisory warning hunters not to eat common goldeneye or northern shoveler, two species of duck found in the lake. It has been stated that this does not pose a risk to other recreational users of the lake.[59]

After later studies were conducted with a larger number of birds, the advisories were revised and another was added for cinnamon teal. Seven other species of duck were studied and found to have levels of mercury below EPA guidelines, thus being determined safe to eat.[60]

A study in 2010 concluded that the main source of the mercury is likely worldwide industry, rather than local sources. As water levels rise and fall, mercury accumulation does as well. About 16% of the mercury is from rivers, and 84% is from the atmosphere as an inorganic form, which is converted into more toxic methyl mercury by bacteria which thrive in the more saline water of the North arm affected by the causeway.[50]

Commerce[edit]

Solar evaporation ponds in the Northeast portion of the lake. Fremont Island is visible to the South (top of image)

Great Salt Lake contributes an estimated $1.3 billion annually to Utah’s economy,[61] including $1.1 billion from industry (primarily mineral extraction), $136 million from recreation, and $57 million from the harvest of brine shrimp.[62]

Solar evaporation ponds at the edges of the lake produce salts and brine (water with high salt quantity). Minerals extracted from the lake include: sodium chloride (common salt), used in water softenerssalt lick blocks for livestock, and to melt ice on local roadways (food-grade salt is not produced from the lake, as it would require costly processing to ensure its purity); potassium sulfate, used as a commercial fertilizer; and magnesium-chloride brine, used in the production of magnesium metal, chlorine gas, and as a dust suppressant. US Magnesium operates a plant on the southwest shore of the lake, which produces 14% of the worldwide supply of magnesium, more than any other North American magnesium operation.[62] Mineral-extraction companies operating on the lake pay royalties on their products to the State of Utah, which owns the lake.[63]

The harvest of brine shrimp cysts during fall and early winter has developed into a significant local industry, with the lake providing 35% to 45% of the worldwide supply of brine shrimp,[62] and cysts selling for as high as $35 per pound ($77/kg).[64] Brine shrimp were first harvested during the 1950s and sold as commercial fish food. In the 1970s the focus changed to their eggs, known as cysts, which were sold primarily outside the US as food for shrimp, prawns, and some fish.[47] Today, these are mostly sold in East Asia and South America.[65] The amount of cysts and the quality are affected by several factors, but salinity is most important. The cysts will hatch at 2 to 3% salinity, but the greatest productivity is at salinities above about 10%. If the salinity drops near 5% to 6%, the cysts will lose buoyancy and sink, making them more difficult to harvest.[47]

The lake’s north arm contains deposits of oil, but it is of poor quality and it is not economically feasible to extract and purify it.[13] As of 1993, approximately 3,000 barrels (480 m3) of crude oil had been produced from shallow wells along the shore.[66] The oil field at Rozel Point produced an estimated 10,000 barrels (1,600 m3) of oil from 30 to 50 wells, but has been inactive since the mid-1980s. Oil seeps in the area had been known since the late 19th century, and attempts at production began in 1904.[67] Industrial debris from this field remained in place near Spiral Jetty until a cleanup effort by the Division of Oil, Gas and Mining and the Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands was completed in December 2005.[68]

Causeway[edit]

The causeway across the lake was built in the 1950s by the Morrison-Knudsen construction company for the Southern Pacific Railroad as a replacement to a previously-built wooden trestle, which was the major component of the Lucin Cutoff. The route is now owned and operated by Union Pacific.[69] About 15 trains cross the 20 mi (32 km) causeway each day.[61] Prior to December 2, 2016, the causeway constrained the flow of water between northern and southern parts, which has a significant impact on various industries surrounding the lake. With the construction of a 180-foot-long (55 m) bridge, creating an opening of the causeway for water to flow between the arms of the lake, water levels have begun to equalize. The full impact of the flow of water from the southern arm of the lake to the northern is yet to be seen.

The northern arm of the lake has a much higher salinity, to the point that the native brine shrimp cannot survive in its waters. In the southern portion of the lake, where the vast majority of the fresh water inlets are found, the salt level can dip below what is necessary for the brine shrimp to survive. With the opening of the bridge, the salinity of northern arm of the lake will likely drop as less saline water from the southern arm of the lake flows into the northern arm. The brine shrimp harvesting industry could benefit from the freer flow of water.[61] There were concerns from the brine shrimp harvesting industry that the conditions in the southern arm of the lake were becoming too saline for the brine shrimp, following several years of lower precipitation in the lake’s watershed. The precipitation in the watershed was above normal for the water year beginning on October 1, 2016. The additional water allowed the levels of both arms of the lake to rise,[18] and at least for the near future the conditions for a healthy brine shrimp population seem good.

Great Salt Lake Minerals Company (a subsidiary of Compass Minerals) extracts minerals from the northern bay. The company potentially benefited from the higher salinity of the north-west arm of the lake but had difficulty accessing water from the lake because of lower water level. Prior to the opening of the causeway the intake channels had to be extended to reach the water.

Morton SaltCargill Salt, Broken Arrow Salt and the Renco Group‘s U.S. Magnesium each extract minerals from the southern bay, and could benefit from a more natural mixture of water between the two sides of the lake.[69]

Recreation[edit]

Dramatically fluctuating lake levels have inhibited the creation and success of tourist-related developments. There is also a problem with pollution from industrial and urban effluent, as well as a natural “lake stink” caused by the decay of insects and other wildlife, particularly during times of low water.

Despite these issues, the lake remains one of Utah’s largest tourist attractions.[70] Antelope Island State Park is a popular tourist destination that offers panoramic views of the lake, hiking and biking trails, wildlife viewing and access to beaches.

The State of Utah operates a marina on the south shore of the lake at Great Salt Lake State Park, and another in Antelope Island State Park. With its sudden storms and expansive spread, the lake is a great test of sailing skills.[71] Single mast, simple sloops are the most popular boats. Sudden storms and lack of experience on the part of boaters are the two most dangerous elements in boating and sailing on the Great Salt Lake.[72]

Saltair[edit]

The original Saltair, c. 1900

Three resorts, each called Saltair, have been operated on the southern shore of the lake since 1893, each one built as a successor to the previous one. Rising and lowering water levels have affected each iteration, and the first two were destroyed by fire.[73]

The first Saltair pavilion was destroyed by fire on April 22, 1925. A new pavilion was built and the resort was expanded at the same location by new investors, but after years of various challenges, it was destroyed by arson in 1970.[74]

The second Saltair included a fun house and a dancing venue.

The current Saltair serves as a concert venue.[75] The new resort was completed in 1981, approximately a mile (1600 m) west of the original.

Garfield Beach Resort[edit]

Garfield Beach Resort, late 1800s

The Garfield Beach Resort was established by Captain Thomas Douris in 1881 and was originally called Garfield Landing. Located near Black Rock outside of the town of Corinne, patrons traveled to the resort via the steamboat “General Garfield”.[76] After the expansion of the resort, the General Garfield was replaced by two steamers, the Susie Riter and the Whirlwind. The iconic General Garfield was moored to the dock as a landmark.[77] The main attraction of the resort was a massive pavilion 400 feet from shore. It covered 165 by 400 feet (50 by 122 m) and included 300 feet (91 m) of covered deck.[77] The success of Garfield Beach eventually overtook the neighboring Black Rock resort.[77] In 1887 the resort was purchased by the Utah and Nevada railroad. They improved the site by adding an array of bathhouses, a restaurant, and other amenities like a bowling alley.[76] The resort was the Salt Lake’s first to have an electric generator which powered its many concerts, and parties held atop the pavilion tower.[77] Garfield Beach was the most popular Salt Lake resort until Saltair was built in 1893.[78] The resort was put out of service by a fire in 1904.[76][79]

Legends and unusual features[edit]

Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty

Spiral Jetty
The northwest arm of the lake, near Rozel Point, is the location for Robert Smithson‘s work of land artSpiral Jetty (1970), which is only visible when the level of Great Salt Lake drops below 4,197.8 feet (1,280.2 m) above sea level.[80]
Oolitic sand
The lake and its shores contain oolitic sand, which are small, rounded, or spherical grains of sand made up of a nucleus (generally a small mineral grain) and concentric layers of calcium carbonate (lime) and look similar to very small pearls.[81]
Whales in the Great Salt Lake
Local legend maintains that in 1875, entrepreneur James Wickham had two whales released into the Great Salt Lake, with the intent of using them as a tourist attraction.[82][83] The whales are said to have disappeared into the lake and subsequently sighted multiple times over a number of months, but there have never been any confirmed sightings of the whales since the time of their supposed release.[84]
Lake monster
In mid-1877, J.H. McNeil was with many other Barnes and Co. Salt Works employees on the lake’s north shore in the evening. They claimed to have seen a large monster with a body like a crocodile and a horse’s head in the lake. They claimed this monster attacked the men, who quickly ran away and hid until morning. This creature is regarded by some to have simply been a buffalo in the lake. Thirty years prior, “Brother Bainbridge” claimed to have sighted a creature that looked like a dolphin in the lake near Antelope Island. This monster is called by some the North Shore Monster.[13]
Shark Experiment
Rumors of scientists planting a shark or multiple sharks in the lake have persisted for decades, with details claiming that the salinity was too high or the lack of viable food source resulted in the demise of the experimental subject. However, despite the persistance of the rumors in Utah’s schoolyards, no evidence of such an experiment exists.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

Uncategorized

Utah

Utah

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Coordinates39°N 111°W

Utah
State of Utah
Nickname(s):
“Beehive State” (official), “The Mormon State”, “Deseret”
Motto(s):
Industry
Anthem: “Utah…This Is The Place
Map of the United States with Utah highlighted
Map of the United States with Utah highlighted
Country United States
Before statehood Utah Territory
Admitted to the Union January 4, 1896 (45th)
Capital
(and largest city)
Salt Lake City
Largest metro Salt Lake City
Government
 • Governor Gary Herbert (R)
 • Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox (R)
Legislature State Legislature
 • Upper house State Senate
 • Lower house House of Representatives
U.S. senators Mike Lee (R)
Mitt Romney (R)
U.S. House delegation 1Rob Bishop (R)
2Chris Stewart (R)
3John Curtis (R)
4Ben McAdams (D) (list)
Area
 • Total 84,899 sq mi (219,887 km2)
 • Land 82,144 sq mi (212,761 km2)
 • Water 2,755 sq mi (7,136 km2)  3.25%
Area rank 13th
Dimensions
 • Length 350 mi (560 km)
 • Width 270 mi (435 km)
Elevation
6,100 ft (1,860 m)
Highest elevation 13,534 ft (4,120.3 m)
Lowest elevation 2,180 ft (664.4 m)
Population
 • Total 3,205,958 (2,019)[5]
 • Rank 30th
 • Density 36.53/sq mi (14.12/km2)
 • Density rank 41st
 • Median household income
$68,374[6]
 • Income rank
14th
Demonym(s) Utahn or Utahan[7]
Language
 • Official language English
Time zone UTC-07:00 (Mountain)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-06:00 (MDT)
USPS abbreviation
UT
ISO 3166 code US-UT
Trad. abbreviation Ut.
Latitude 37° N to 42° N
Longitude 109° 3′ W to 114° 3′ W
Website utah.gov
Utah state symbols

Utah (/ˈjuːtɑː/ YOO-tah/ˈjuːtɔː/ (About this soundlisten) YOO-taw) is a state in the western United States. It became the 45th state admitted to the U.S. on January 4, 1896. Utah is the 13th-largest by area30th-most-populous, and 11th-least-densely populated of the 50 United States. Utah has a population of more than 3 million according to the Census estimate for July 1, 2018. Urban development is mostly concentrated in two areas: the Wasatch Front in the north-central part of the state, which contains approximately 2.5 million people; and Washington County in Southern Utah, with over 160,000 residents.[8] Utah is bordered by Colorado to the east, Wyoming to the northeast, Idaho to the north, Arizona to the south, and Nevada to the west. It also touches a corner of New Mexico in the southeast.

Approximately 62% of Utahns are reported to be members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), making Utah the only state with a majority population belonging to a single church.[9] This greatly influences Utahn culture, politics, and daily life.[10] The church’s world headquarters is located in Salt Lake City.[11][12]

The state is a center of transportation, education, information technology and research, government services, and mining and a major tourist destination for outdoor recreation. In 2013, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that Utah had the second-fastest-growing population of any state.[13] St. George was the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the United States from 2000 to 2005.[14] Utah also has the 14th-highest median average income and the least income inequality of any U.S. state. A 2012 Gallup national survey found Utah overall to be the “best state to live in the future” based on 13 forward-looking measurements including various economic, lifestyle, and health-related outlook metrics.[15]

Etymology

A common folk etymology is that the name Utah is derived from the name of the Ute tribe, purported to mean ‘people of the mountains’ in the Ute language.[16] However, no such word actually exists in the Utes’ language, and the Utes referred to themselves as Noochee. The connection of “Utah” to mountains likely originated as a “Mormonization” of references to mountains made by members of the Ute tribe.[17] According to other sources, Utah is derived from the Apache name Yuttahih, which means ‘one that is higher up’ or ‘those that are higher up’.[16] In Spanish it was pronounced Yuta; subsequently English-speaking people may have adapted the word as ‘Utah’.[18]

History

Pre-Columbian

Thousands of years before the arrival of European explorers, the Ancestral Puebloans and the Fremont people lived in what is now known as Utah, some of which spoke languages of the Uto-Aztecan group. Ancestral Pueblo peoples built their homes through excavations in mountains, and the Fremont people built houses of straw before disappearing from the region around the 15th century.

Map showing Utah in 1838 when it was part of Mexico, Britannica 7th edition

Another group of Native Americans, the Navajo, settled in the region around the 18th century. In the mid-18th century, other Uto-Aztecan tribes, including the Goshute, the Paiute, the Shoshone, and the Ute people, also settled in the region. These five groups were present when the first European explorers arrived.[19][20]

Spanish exploration (1540)

The southern Utah region was explored by the Spanish in 1540, led by Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, while looking for the legendary Cíbola. A group led by two Catholic priests—sometimes called the Domínguez–Escalante expedition—left Santa Fe in 1776, hoping to find a route to the coast of California. The expedition traveled as far north as Utah Lake and encountered the native residents. The Spanish made further explorations in the region but were not interested in colonizing the area because of its desert nature. In 1821, the year Mexico achieved its independence from Spain, the region became known as part of its territory of Alta California.

European trappers and fur traders explored some areas of Utah in the early 19th century from Canada and the United States. The city of Provo, Utah was named for one, Étienne Provost, who visited the area in 1825. The city of Ogden, Utah was named after Peter Skene Ogden, a Canadian explorer who traded furs in the Weber Valley.

In late 1824, Jim Bridger became the first known English-speaking person to sight the Great Salt Lake. Due to the high salinity of its waters, He thought he had found the Pacific Ocean; he subsequently learned this body of water was a giant salt lake. After the discovery of the lake, hundreds of American and Canadian traders and trappers established trading posts in the region. In the 1830s, thousands of migrants traveling from the Eastern United States to the American West began to make stops in the region of the Great Salt Lake, then known as Lake Youta.[citation needed]

Latter Day Saint settlement (1847)

Brigham Young led the first Mormon pioneers to the Great Salt Lake.

Following the death of Joseph Smith in 1844, Brigham Young, as president of the Quorum of the Twelve, became the effective leader of the LDS Church in Nauvoo, Illinois.[21] To address the growing conflicts between his people and their neighbors, Young agreed with Illinois Governor Thomas Ford in October 1845 that the Mormons would leave by the following year.[22]

Young and the first band of Mormon pioneers reached the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847. Over the next 22 years, more than 70,000 pioneers crossed the plains and settled in Utah.[23] For the first few years, Brigham Young and the thousands of early settlers of Salt Lake City struggled to survive. The arid desert land was deemed by the Mormons as desirable as a place where they could practice their religion without harassment.

The Mormon settlements provided pioneers for other settlements in the West. Salt Lake City became the hub of a “far-flung commonwealth”[24] of Mormon settlements. With new church converts coming from the East and around the world, Church leaders often assigned groups of church members as missionaries to establish other settlements throughout the West. They developed irrigation to support fairly large pioneer populations along Utah’s Wasatch front (Salt Lake City, Bountiful and Weber Valley, and Provo and Utah Valley).[25] Throughout the remainder of the 19th century, Mormon pioneers established hundreds of other settlements in Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Wyoming, California, Canada, and Mexico – including in Las Vegas, NevadaFranklin, Idaho (the first European settlement in Idaho); San Bernardino, CaliforniaMesa, ArizonaStar Valley, Wyoming; and Carson Valley, Nevada.

Prominent settlements in Utah included St. GeorgeLogan, and Manti (where settlers completed the first three temples in Utah, each started after but finished many years before the larger and better known temple built in Salt Lake City was completed in 1893), as well as Parowan, Cedar City, Bluff, Moab, Vernal, Fillmore (which served as the territorial capital between 1850 and 1856), Nephi, Levan, Spanish Fork, Springville, Provo Bench (now Orem), Pleasant Grove, American Fork, Lehi, Sandy, Murray, Jordan, Centerville, Farmington, Huntsville, Kaysville, Grantsville, Tooele, Roy, Brigham City, and many other smaller towns and settlements. Young had an expansionist’s view of the territory that he and the Mormon pioneers were settling, calling it Deseret – which according to the Book of Mormon was an ancient word for “honeybee”. This is symbolized by the beehive on the Utah flag, and the state’s motto, “Industry”.[26]

Utah was Mexican territory when the first pioneers arrived in 1847. Early in the Mexican–American War in late 1846, the United States had taken control of New Mexico and California. The entire Southwest became U.S. territory upon the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, February 2, 1848. The treaty was ratified by the United States Senate on March 11. Learning that California and New Mexico were applying for statehood, the settlers of the Utah area (originally having planned to petition for territorial status) applied for statehood with an ambitious plan for a State of Deseret.

Utah Territory (1850–1896)

Salt Lake City in 1850

A sketch of Salt Lake City in 1860

Deseret Village recreates Utah pioneer life for tourists.

The Golden Spike where the First Transcontinental Railroad was completed in the U.S. on May 10, 1869, in Promontory, Utah

The Utah Territory was much smaller than the proposed state of Deseret, but it still contained all of the present states of Nevada and Utah as well as pieces of modern Wyoming and Colorado.[27] It was created with the Compromise of 1850, and Fillmore, named after President Millard Fillmore, was designated the capital. The territory was given the name Utah after the Ute tribe of Native Americans. Salt Lake City replaced Fillmore as the territorial capital in 1856.

Disputes between the Mormon inhabitants and the U.S. government intensified due to the practice of plural marriage, or polygamy, among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Mormons were still pushing for the establishment of a State of Deseret with the new borders of the Utah Territory. Most, if not all, of the members of the U.S. government opposed the polygamous practices of the Mormons.

Members of the LDS Church were viewed as un-American and rebellious when news of their polygamous practices spread. In 1857, particularly heinous accusations of abdication of government and general immorality were leveled by former associate justice William W. Drummond, among others. The detailed reports of life in Utah caused the administration of James Buchanan to send a secret military “expedition” to Utah. When the supposed rebellion should be quelled, Alfred Cumming would take the place of Brigham Young as territorial governor. The resulting conflict is known as the Utah War, nicknamed “Buchanan’s Blunder” by the Mormon leaders.

In September 1857, about 120 American settlers of the Baker–Fancher wagon train, en route to California from Arkansas, were murdered by Utah Territorial Militia and some Paiute Native Americans in the Mountain Meadows massacre.[28]

Before troops led by Albert Sidney Johnston entered the territory, Brigham Young ordered all residents of Salt Lake City to evacuate southward to Utah Valley and sent out a force, known as the Nauvoo Legion, to delay the government’s advance. Although wagons and supplies were burned, eventually the troops arrived in 1858, and Young surrendered official control to Cumming, although most subsequent commentators claim that Young retained true power in the territory. A steady stream of governors appointed by the president quit the position, often citing the traditions of their supposed territorial government. By agreement with Young, Johnston established Camp Floyd, 40 miles (60 km) away from Salt Lake City, to the southwest.

Salt Lake City was the last link of the First Transcontinental Telegraph, completed in October 1861. Brigham Young was among the first to send a message, along with Abraham Lincoln and other officials.

Because of the American Civil War, federal troops were pulled out of Utah Territory in 1861. This was a boon to the local economy as the army sold everything in camp for pennies on the dollar before marching back east to join the war. The territory was then left in LDS hands until Patrick E. Connor arrived with a regiment of California volunteers in 1862. Connor established Fort Douglas just 3 miles (4.8 km) east of Salt Lake City and encouraged his people to discover mineral deposits to bring more non-Mormons into the territory. Minerals were discovered in Tooele County and miners began to flock to the territory.

Beginning in 1865, Utah’s Black Hawk War developed into the deadliest conflict in the territory’s history. Chief Antonga Black Hawk died in 1870, but fights continued to break out until additional federal troops were sent in to suppress the Ghost Dance of 1872. The war is unique among Indian Wars because it was a three-way conflict, with mounted Timpanogos Utes led by Antonga Black Hawk fighting federal and LDS authorities.

On May 10, 1869, the First Transcontinental Railroad was completed at Promontory Summit, north of the Great Salt Lake.[29] The railroad brought increasing numbers of people into the territory and several influential businesspeople made fortunes there.

During the 1870s and 1880s laws were passed to punish polygamists due, in part, to the stories coming forth regarding Utah. Notably, Ann Eliza Young—tenth wife to divorce Brigham Young, women’s advocate, national lecturer and author of Wife No. 19 or My Life of Bondage and Mr. and Mrs. Fanny Stenhouse, authors of The Rocky Mountain Saints (T. B. H. Stenhouse, 1873) and Tell It All: My Life in Mormonism (Fanny Stenhouse, 1875). Both of these women, Ann Eliza and Fanny, testify to the happiness of the very early Church members before polygamy began to be practiced. They independently published their books in 1875. These books and the lectures of Ann Eliza Young have been credited with the United States Congress passage of anti-polygamy laws by newspapers throughout the United States as recorded in “The Ann Eliza Young Vindicator”, a pamphlet which detailed Ms Young’s travels and warm reception throughout her lecture tour.

T. B. H. Stenhouse, former Utah Mormon polygamist, Mormon missionary for thirteen years and a Salt Lake City newspaper owner, finally left Utah and wrote The Rocky Mountain Saints. His book gives a witnessed account of his life in Utah, both the good and the bad. He finally left Utah and Mormonism after financial ruin occurred when Brigham Young sent Stenhouse to relocate to Ogden, Utah, according to Stenhouse, to take over his thriving pro-Mormon Salt Lake Telegraph newspaper. In addition to these testimonies, The Confessions of John D. Lee, written by John D. Lee—alleged “Scape goat” for the Mountain Meadow Massacre—also came out in 1877. The corroborative testimonies coming out of Utah from Mormons and former Mormons influenced Congress and the people of the United States.

In the 1890 Manifesto, the LDS Church banned polygamy. When Utah applied for statehood again, it was accepted. One of the conditions for granting Utah statehood was that a ban on polygamy be written into the state constitution. This was a condition required of other western states that were admitted into the Union later. Statehood was officially granted on January 4, 1896.

20th century to present

Children reading in Santa Clara, Utah, in 1940

Beginning in the early 20th century, with the establishment of such national parks as Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park, Utah became known for its natural beauty. Southern Utah became a popular filming spot for arid, rugged scenes featured in the popular mid-century western film genre. From such films, most US residents recognize such natural landmarks as Delicate Arch and “the Mittens” of Monument Valley.[30] During the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, with the construction of the Interstate highway system, accessibility to the southern scenic areas was made easier.

Since the establishment of Alta Ski Area in 1939 and the subsequent development of several ski resorts in the state’s mountains, Utah’s skiing has become world-renowned. The dry, powdery snow of the Wasatch Range is considered some of the best skiing in the world (the state license plate once claimed “the Greatest Snow on Earth”).[31][32] Salt Lake City won the bid for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, and this served as a great boost to the economy. The ski resorts have increased in popularity, and many of the Olympic venues built along the Wasatch Front continue to be used for sporting events. Preparation for the Olympics spurred the development of the light-rail system in the Salt Lake Valley, known as TRAX, and the re-construction of the freeway system around the city.

In 1957, Utah created the Utah State Parks Commission with four parks. Today, Utah State Parks manages 43 parks and several undeveloped areas totaling over 95,000 acres (380 km2) of land and more than 1,000,000 acres (4,000 km2) of water. Utah’s state parks are scattered throughout Utah, from Bear Lake State Park at the Utah/Idaho border to Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum deep in the Four Corners region and everywhere in between. Utah State Parks is also home to the state’s off highway vehicle office, state boating office and the trails program.[33]

During the late 20th century, the state grew quickly. In the 1970s growth was phenomenal in the suburbs of the Wasatch Front. Sandy was one of the fastest-growing cities in the country at that time. Today, many areas of Utah continue to see boom-time growth. Northern Davis, southern and western Salt LakeSummit, eastern TooeleUtahWasatch, and Washington counties are all growing very quickly. Management of transportation and urbanization are major issues in politics, as development consumes agricultural land and wilderness areas and transportation is a major reason for poor air quality in Utah.

Geography and geology

Pariette Wetlands

Utah county boundaries

Utah is known for its natural diversity and is home to features ranging from arid deserts with sand dunes to thriving pine forests in mountain valleys. It is a rugged and geographically diverse state that is at the convergence of three distinct geological regions: the Rocky Mountains, the Great Basin, and the Colorado Plateau.

Utah is one of the Four Corners states, and is bordered by Idaho in the north, Wyoming in the north and east; by Colorado in the east; at a single point by New Mexico to the southeast; by Arizona in the south; and by Nevada in the west. It covers an area of 84,899 sq mi (219,890 km2). The state is one of only three U.S. states (with Colorado and Wyoming) that have only lines of latitude and longitude for boundaries.

One of Utah’s defining characteristics is the variety of its terrain. Running down the middle of the state’s northern third is the Wasatch Range, which rises to heights of almost 12,000 ft (3,700 m) above sea level. Utah is home to world-renowned ski resorts, made popular by the light, fluffy snow, and winter storms which regularly dump 1 to 3 feet of overnight snow accumulation. In the state’s northeastern section, running east to west, are the Uinta Mountains, which rise to heights of over 13,000 feet (4,000 m). The highest point in the state, Kings Peak, at 13,528 feet (4,123 m),[34] lies within the Uinta Mountains.

At the western base of the Wasatch Range is the Wasatch Front, a series of valleys and basins that are home to the most populous parts of the state. It stretches approximately from Brigham City at the north end to Nephi at the south end. Approximately 75 percent of the state’s population lives in this corridor, and population growth is rapid.

Western Utah is mostly arid desert with a basin and range topography. Small mountain ranges and rugged terrain punctuate the landscape. The Bonneville Salt Flats are an exception, being comparatively flat as a result of once forming the bed of ancient Lake BonnevilleGreat Salt LakeUtah LakeSevier Lake, and Rush Lake are all remnants of this ancient freshwater lake,[35] which once covered most of the eastern Great Basin. West of the Great Salt Lake, stretching to the Nevada border, lies the arid Great Salt Lake Desert. One exception to this aridity is Snake Valley, which is (relatively) lush due to large springs and wetlands fed from groundwater derived from snow melt in the Snake RangeDeep Creek Range, and other tall mountains to the west of Snake Valley. Great Basin National Park is just over the Nevada state line in the southern Snake Range. One of western Utah’s most impressive, but least visited attractions is Notch Peak, the tallest limestone cliff in North America, located west of Delta.

Much of the scenic southern and southeastern landscape (specifically the Colorado Plateau region) is sandstone, specifically Kayenta sandstone and Navajo sandstone. The Colorado River and its tributaries wind their way through the sandstone, creating some of the world’s most striking and wild terrain (the area around the confluence of the Colorado and Green Rivers was the last to be mapped in the lower 48 United States). Wind and rain have also sculpted the soft sandstone over millions of years. Canyons, gullies, arches, pinnacles, buttes, bluffs, and mesas are the common sight throughout south-central and southeast Utah.

This terrain is the central feature of protected state and federal parks such as ArchesBryce CanyonCanyonlandsCapitol Reef, and Zion national parks, Cedar BreaksGrand Staircase-EscalanteHovenweep, and Natural Bridges national monuments, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (site of the popular tourist destination, Lake Powell), Dead Horse Point and Goblin Valley state parks, and Monument Valley. The Navajo Nation also extends into southeastern Utah. Southeastern Utah is also punctuated by the remote, but lofty La SalAbajo, and Henry mountain ranges.

Eastern (northern quarter) Utah is a high-elevation area covered mostly by plateaus and basins, particularly the Tavaputs Plateau and San Rafael Swell, which remain mostly inaccessible, and the Uinta Basin, where the majority of eastern Utah’s population lives. Economies are dominated by mining, oil shaleoil, and natural gas-drilling, ranching, and recreation. Much of eastern Utah is part of the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation. The most popular destination within northeastern Utah is Dinosaur National Monument near Vernal.

Southwestern Utah is the lowest and hottest spot in Utah. It is known as Utah’s Dixie because early settlers were able to grow some cotton there. Beaverdam Wash in far southwestern Utah is the lowest point in the state, at 2,000 feet (610 m).[34] The northernmost portion of the Mojave Desert is also located in this area. Dixie is quickly becoming a popular recreational and retirement destination, and the population is growing rapidly. Although the Wasatch Mountains end at Mount Nebo near Nephi, a complex series of mountain ranges extends south from the southern end of the range down the spine of Utah. Just north of Dixie and east of Cedar City is the state’s highest ski resort, Brian Head.

Like most of the western and southwestern states, the federal government owns much of the land in Utah. Over 70 percent of the land is either BLM land, Utah State Trustland, or U.S. National ForestU.S. National ParkU.S. National MonumentNational Recreation Area or U.S. Wilderness Area.[36] Utah is the only state where every county contains some national forest.[37]

Adjacent states

Climate

Utah features a dry, semi-arid to desert climate,[citation needed] although its many mountains feature a large variety of climates, with the highest points in the Uinta Mountains being above the timberline. The dry weather is a result of the state’s location in the rain shadow of the Sierra Nevada in California. The eastern half of the state lies in the rain shadow of the Wasatch Mountains. The primary source of precipitation for the state is the Pacific Ocean, with the state usually lying in the path of large Pacific storms from October to May. In summer, the state, especially southern and eastern Utah, lies in the path of monsoon moisture from the Gulf of California.

Most of the lowland areas receive less than 12 inches (305 mm) of precipitation annually, although the I-15 corridor, including the densely populated Wasatch Front, receives approximately 15 inches (381 mm). The Great Salt Lake Desert is the driest area of the state, with less than 5 inches (127 mm). Snowfall is common in all but the far southern valleys. Although St. George only receives about 3 inches (76 mm) per year, Salt Lake City sees about 60 inches (1,524 mm), enhanced by the lake-effect snow from the Great Salt Lake, which increases snowfall totals to the south, southeast, and east of the lake.

Some areas of the Wasatch Range in the path of the lake-effect receive up to 500 inches (12,700 mm) per year. This micro climate of enhanced snowfall from the Great Salt Lake spans the entire proximity of the lake. The cottonwood canyons adjacent to Salt Lake City are located in the right position to receive more precipitation from the lake.[38] The consistently deep powder snow led Utah’s ski industry to adopt the slogan “the Greatest Snow on Earth” in the 1980s. In the winter, temperature inversions are a common phenomenon across Utah’s low basins and valleys, leading to thick haze and fog that can sometimes last for weeks at a time, especially in the Uintah Basin. Although at other times of year its air quality is good, winter inversions give Salt Lake City some of the worst wintertime pollution in the country.

Previous studies have indicated a widespread decline in snowpack over Utah accompanied by a decline in the snow–precipitation ratio while anecdotal evidence claims have been put forward that measured changes in Utah’s snowpack are spurious and do not reflect actual change. A 2012 study[39] found that the proportion of winter (January–March) precipitation falling as snow has decreased by 9% during the last half century, a combined result from a significant increase in rainfall and a minor decrease in snowfall. Meanwhile, observed snow depth across Utah has decreased and is accompanied by consistent decreases in snow cover and surface albedo. Weather systems with the potential to produce precipitation in Utah have decreased in number with those producing snowfall decreasing at a considerably greater rate.[40]

Utah’s temperatures are extreme, with cold temperatures in winter due to its elevation, and very hot summers statewide (with the exception of mountain areas and high mountain valleys). Utah is usually protected from major blasts of cold air by mountains lying north and east of the state, although major Arctic blasts can occasionally reach the state. Average January high temperatures range from around 30 °F (−1 °C) in some northern valleys to almost 55 °F (13 °C) in St. George.

Temperatures dropping below 0 °F (−18 °C) should be expected on occasion in most areas of the state most years, although some areas see it often (for example, the town of Randolph averages about 50 days per year with temperatures dropping that low). In July, average highs range from about 85 to 100 °F (29 to 38 °C). However, the low humidity and high elevation typically leads to large temperature variations, leading to cool nights most summer days. The record high temperature in Utah was 118 °F (48 °C), recorded south of St. George on July 4, 2007,[41] and the record low was −69 °F (−56 °C), recorded at Peter Sinks in the Bear River Mountains of northern Utah on February 1, 1985.[42] However, the record low for an inhabited location is −49 °F (−45 °C) at Woodruff on December 12, 1932.[43]

Utah, like most of the western United States, has few days of thunderstorms. On average there are fewer than 40 days of thunderstorm activity during the year, although these storms can be briefly intense when they do occur. They are most likely to occur during monsoon season from about mid-July through mid-September, especially in southern and eastern Utah. Dry lightning strikes and the general dry weather often spark wildfires in summer, while intense thunderstorms can lead to flash flooding, especially in the rugged terrain of southern Utah. Although spring is the wettest season in northern Utah, late summer is the wettest period for much of the south and east of the state. Tornadoes are uncommon in Utah, with an average of two striking the state yearly, rarely higher than EF1 intensity.[44]

One exception of note, however, was the unprecedented F2 Salt Lake City Tornado that moved directly across downtown Salt Lake City on August 11, 1999, killing 1 person, injuring 60 others, and causing approximately $170 million in damage.[45] The only other reported tornado fatality in Utah’s history was a 7-year-old girl who was killed while camping in Summit County on July 6, 1884. The last tornado of above (E)F0 intensity occurred on September 8, 2002, when an F2 tornado hit Manti. On August 11, 1993, an F3 tornado hit the Uinta Mountains north of Duchesne at an elevation of 10,500 feet (3,200 m), causing some damage to a Boy Scouts campsite. This is the strongest tornado ever recorded in Utah.[citation needed]

Wildlife

Utah is home to more than 600 vertebrate animals[46] as well as numerous invertebrates and insects.[47]

Mammals

Mammals are found in every area of Utah. Non-predatory larger mammals include the wood bisonelkmoosemountain goatmule deerpronghorn, and multiple types of bighorn sheep. Non-predatory small mammals include muskrat, and nutria. Predatory mammals include the brown and black bearcougarCanada lynxbobcat, fox (grayred, and kit), coyotebadgergray wolfblack-footed ferretminkstoatlong-tailed weaselraccoon, and otter.

Birds

Insects

There are many different insects found in Utah. One of the most rare is the Coral Pink Sand Dunes tiger beetle, found only in Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, near Kanab.[48] It was proposed in 2012 to be listed as a threatened species,[49] but the proposal was not accepted.[50]

In February 2009, Africanized honeybees were found in southern Utah.[51][52] The bees had spread into eight counties in Utah, as far north as Grand and Emery counties by May 2017.[53]

The white-lined sphinx moth is common to most of the United States, but there have been reported outbreaks of large groups of their larvae damaging tomato, grape and garden crops in Utah.[54]

Vegetation

Joshua TreesYuccas, and cholla cactus occupy the far southwest corner of the state in the Mojave Desert

Several thousand plants are native to Utah.[55]

Demographics

“Welcome to Utah” sign

The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Utah was 3,205,958 on July 1, 2019, an 16.00% increase since the 2010 United States Census.[5] The center of population of Utah is located in Utah County in the city of Lehi.[56] Much of the population lives in cities and towns along the Wasatch Front, a metropolitan region that runs north–south with the Wasatch Mountains rising on the eastern side. Growth outside the Wasatch Front is also increasing. The St. George metropolitan area is currently the second fastest-growing in the country after the Las Vegas metropolitan area, while the Heber micropolitan area is also the second fastest-growing in the country (behind Palm Coast, Florida).[57]

Utah contains five metropolitan areas (LoganOgdenClearfieldSalt Lake CityProvoOrem, and St. George), and 6 micropolitan areas (Brigham CityHeberVernalPriceRichfield, and Cedar City).

Health and fertility

Utah ranks among the highest in total fertility rate, 47th in teenage pregnancy, lowest in percentage of births out of wedlock, lowest in number of abortions per capita, and lowest in percentage of teen pregnancies terminated in abortion. However, statistics relating to pregnancies and abortions may also be artificially low from teenagers going out of state for abortions because of parental notification requirements.[58][59] Utah has the lowest child poverty rate in the country, despite its young demographics.[60] According to the Gallup-Healthways Global Well-Being Index as of 2012, Utahns ranked fourth in overall well-being in the United States.[61] A 2002 national prescription drug study determined that antidepressant drugs were “prescribed in Utah more often than in any other state, at a rate nearly twice the national average.”[62] The data shows that depression rates in Utah are no higher than the national average.[63]

Ancestry and race

At the 2010 Census, 86.1% of the population was non-Hispanic White,[64] down from 93.8% in 1990,[65] 1% non-Hispanic Black or African American, 1.2% non-Hispanic Native American and Alaska Native, 2% non-Hispanic Asian, 0.9% non-Hispanic Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 0.1% from some other race (non-Hispanic) and 1.8% of two or more races (non-Hispanic). 13.0% of Utah’s population was of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin (of any race).

Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 11,380
1860 40,273 253.9%
1870 86,336 114.4%
1880 143,963 66.7%
1890 210,779 46.4%
1900 276,749 31.3%
1910 373,351 34.9%
1920 449,396 20.4%
1930 507,847 13.0%
1940 550,310 8.4%
1950 688,862 25.2%
1960 890,627 29.3%
1970 1,059,273 18.9%
1980 1,461,037 37.9%
1990 1,722,850 17.9%
2000 2,233,169 29.6%
2010 2,763,885 23.8%
Est. 2019 3,205,958 16.0%
Source: 1910–2010[66]
2019 estimate[5]
Utah Racial Breakdown of Population hide
Racial composition 1970[65] 1990[65] 2000[67] 2010[64]
White 97.4% 93.8% 89.2% 86.1%
Asian 0.6% 1.9% 1.7% 2.0%
Native 1.1% 1.4% 1.3% 1.2%
Black 0.6% 0.7% 0.8% 1.0%
Native Hawaiian and
other Pacific Islander
0.7% 0.9%
Other race 0.2% 2.2% 4.2% 6.0%
Two or more races 2.1% 2.7%

Utah population density map

The largest ancestry groups in the state are:

Most Utahns are of Northern European descent.[68] In 2011 one-third of Utah’s workforce was reported to be bilingual, developed through a program of acquisition of second languages beginning in elementary school, and related to Mormonism’s missionary goals for its young people.[69]

In 2011, 28.6% of Utah’s population younger than the age of one were ethnic minorities, meaning that they had at least one parent who was of a race other than non-Hispanic white.[70]

Religion

Religion in Utah as of 2014[71]
Religion Percent
Latter-day Saints
55%
None
22%
Protestant
13%
Catholic
5%
Other faiths
2%
Buddhist
1%
Muslim
1%

The LDS Salt Lake Temple, the primary attraction in the city’s Temple Square

First Presbyterian Church in Salt Lake City

As of 2017, 62.8% of Utahns are counted as members of the LDS Church.[72][73] This declined to 61.2% in 2018[74]and to 60.7% in 2019[75]. Members of the LDS Church currently make up between 34%–41% of the population within Salt Lake City. However, many of the other major population centers such as Provo, Logan, Tooele, and St. George tend to be predominantly LDS, along with many suburban and rural areas. The LDS Church has the largest number of congregations, numbering 4,815 wards.[76]

Though the LDS Church officially maintains a policy of neutrality in regard to political parties,[77] the church’s doctrine has a strong regional influence on politics.[78] Another doctrine effect can be seen in Utah’s high birth rate (25 percent higher than the national average; the highest for a state in the U.S.).[79] The Mormons in Utah tend to have conservative views when it comes to most political issues and the majority of voter-age Utahns are unaffiliated voters (60%) who vote overwhelmingly Republican.[80] Mitt Romney received 72.8% of the Utahn votes in 2012, while John McCain polled 62.5% in the 2008 United States presidential election and 70.9% for George W. Bush in 2004. In 2010 the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA) reported that the three largest denominational groups in Utah are the LDS Church with 1,910,504 adherents; the Catholic Church with 160,125 adherents, and the Southern Baptist Convention with 12,593 adherents.[81] There is a small but growing Jewish presence in the state.[82][83]

According to results from the 2010 United States Census, combined with official LDS Church membership statistics, church members represented 62.1% of Utah’s total population. The Utah county with the lowest percentage of church members was Grand County, at 26.5%, while the county with the highest percentage was Morgan County, at 86.1%. In addition, the result for the most populated county, Salt Lake County, was 51.4%.[10]

According to a Gallup poll, Utah had the 3rd-highest number of people reporting as “Very Religious” in 2015, at 55% (trailing only Mississippi and Alabama). However, it was near the national average of people reporting as “Nonreligious” (31%), and featured the smallest percentage of people reporting as “Moderately Religious” (15%) of any state, being 8 points lower than 2nd-lowest state Vermont.[84] In addition, it had the highest average weekly church attendance of any state, at 51%.[85]

Languages

The official language in the state of Utah is EnglishUtah English is primarily a merger of Northern and Midland American dialects carried west by LDS Church members, whose original New York dialect later incorporated features from southern Ohio and central Illinois. Conspicuous in the speech of some in the central valley, although less frequent now in Salt Lake City, is a reversal of vowels, so that ‘farm’ and ‘barn’ sound like ‘form’ and ‘born’ and, conversely, ‘form’ and ‘born’ sound like ‘farm’ and ‘barn’.[citation needed]

In 2000, 87.5% of all state residents five years of age or older spoke only English at home, a decrease from 92.2% in 1990.

Top 14 Non-English Languages Spoken in Utah
Language Percentage of population
(as of 2010)[86]
Spanish 7.4%
German 0.6%
Navajo 0.5%
French 0.4%
Pacific Island languages including Chamorro, Hawaiian, Ilocano, Tagalog, and Samoan 0.4%
Chinese 0.4%
Portuguese 0.3%
Vietnamese 0.3%
Japanese 0.2%
Arapaho 0.1%

Age and gender

Utah has the highest total birth rate[79] and accordingly, the youngest population of any U.S. state. In 2010, the state’s population was 50.2% male and 49.8% female. The life expectancy is 79.3 years.

Economy

The Wasatch Front region has seen large growth and development despite the economic downturn. Shown is the City Creek Center project, a development in downtown Salt Lake City with a price tag of $1.5–2.5 billion.

One out of every 14 flash memory chips in the world is produced in Lehi, Utah.[87]

Zion National Park in southern Utah is one of five national parks in the state.

Farms and ranches

Total employment 2016

  • 1,239,348

Total employer establishments 2016

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the gross state product of Utah in 2012 was US$130.5 billion, or 0.87% of the total United States GDP of US$14.991 trillion for the same year.[89] The per capita personal income was $45,700 in 2012. Major industries of Utah include: mining, cattle ranching, salt production, and government services.

According to the 2007 State New Economy Index, Utah is ranked the top state in the nation for Economic Dynamism, determined by “the degree to which state economies are knowledge-based, globalized, entrepreneurial, information technology-driven and innovation-based”. In 2014, Utah was ranked number one in Forbes‘ list of “Best States For Business”.[90] A November 2010 article in Newsweek magazine highlighted Utah and particularly the Salt Lake City area’s economic outlook, calling it “the new economic Zion”, and examined how the area has been able to bring in high-paying jobs and attract high-tech corporations to the area during a recession.[91] As of September 2014, the state’s unemployment rate was 3.5%.[92] In terms of “small business friendliness”, in 2014 Utah emerged as number one, based on a study drawing upon data from over 12,000 small business owners.[93]

In eastern Utah petroleum production is a major industry.[94] Near Salt Lake City, petroleum refining is done by a number of oil companies. In central Utah, coal production accounts for much of the mining activity.

According to Internal Revenue Service tax returns, Utahns rank first among all U.S. states in the proportion of income given to charity by the wealthy. This is due to the standard 10% of all earnings that Mormons give to the LDS Church.[60] According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, Utah had an average of 884,000 volunteers between 2008 and 2010, each of whom contributed 89.2 hours per volunteer. This figure equates to $3.8 billion of service contributed, ranking Utah number one for volunteerism in the nation.[95]

Taxation

Utah collects personal income tax; since 2008 the tax has been a flat 5 percent for all taxpayers.[96] The state sales tax has a base rate of 6.45 percent,[97] with cities and counties levying additional local sales taxes that vary among the municipalities. Property taxes are assessed and collected locally. Utah does not charge intangible property taxes and does not impose an inheritance tax.

Tourism

Tourism is a major industry in Utah. With five national parks (ArchesBryce CanyonCanyonlandsCapitol Reef, and Zion), Utah has the third most national parks of any state after Alaska and California. In addition, Utah features eight national monuments (Cedar BreaksDinosaurGrand Staircase-EscalanteHovenweepNatural BridgesBears EarsRainbow Bridge, and Timpanogos Cave), two national recreation areas (Flaming Gorge and Glen Canyon), seven national forests (AshleyCaribou-TargheeDixieFishlakeManti-La SalSawtooth, and Uinta-Wasatch-Cache), and numerous state parks and monuments.

The Moab area, in the southeastern part of the state, is known for its challenging mountain biking trails, including Slickrock. Moab also hosts the famous Moab Jeep Safari semiannually.

Utah has seen an increase in tourism since the 2002 Winter OlympicsPark City is home to the United States Ski Team. Utah’s ski resorts are primarily located in northern Utah near Salt Lake City, Park City, Ogden, and Provo. Between 2007 and 2011 Deer Valley in Park City, has been ranked the top ski resort in North America in a survey organized by Ski Magazine.[98]

In addition to having prime snow conditions[citation needed] and world-class amenities[citation needed], Northern Utah’s ski resorts are well liked among tourists[citation needed] for their convenience and proximity to a large city and international airport, as well as the close proximity to other ski resorts, allowing skiers the ability to ski at multiple locations in one day.[citation needed] The 2009 Ski Magazine reader survey concluded that six out of the top ten resorts deemed most “accessible” and six out of the top ten with the best snow conditions were located in Utah.[99] In Southern Utah, Brian Head Ski Resort is located in the mountains near Cedar City. Former Olympic venues including Utah Olympic Park and Utah Olympic Oval are still in operation for training and competition and allows the public to participate in numerous activities including ski jumpingbobsleigh, and speed skating.

Utah features many cultural attractions such as Temple Square, the Sundance Film Festival, the Red Rock Film Festival, the DOCUTAH Film Festival, the Utah Data Center, and the Utah Shakespearean Festival. Temple Square is ranked as the 16th most visited tourist attraction in the United States by Forbes magazine, with over five million annual visitors.[100]

Other attractions include Monument Valley, the Great Salt Lake, the Bonneville Salt Flats, and Lake Powell.

Bryce Canyon National Park Amphitheater (winter view)

Branding

The state of Utah relies heavily on income from tourists and travelers visiting the state’s parks and ski resorts, and thus the need to “brand” Utah and create an impression of the state throughout the world has led to several state slogans, the most famous of which being “The Greatest Snow on Earth”, which has been in use in Utah officially since 1975 (although the slogan was in unofficial use as early as 1962) and now adorns nearly 50 percent of the state’s license plates. In 2001, Utah Governor Mike Leavitt approved a new state slogan, “Utah! Where Ideas Connect”, which lasted until March 10, 2006, when the Utah Travel Council and the office of Governor Jon Huntsman announced that “Life Elevated” would be the new state slogan.[101]

Mining

Mining has been a large industry in Utah since it was first settled. The Bingham Canyon Mine in Salt Lake County is one of the largest open pit mines in the world.

Beginning in the late 19th century with the state’s mining boom (including the Bingham Canyon Mine, among the world’s largest open pit mines), companies attracted large numbers of immigrants with job opportunities. Since the days of the Utah Territory mining has played a major role in Utah’s economy. Historical mining towns include Mercur in Tooele County, Silver Reef in Washington County, Eureka in Juab County, Park City in Summit County and numerous coal mining camps throughout Carbon County such as Castle Gate, Spring Canyon, and Hiawatha.[102]

These settlements were characteristic of the boom and bust cycle that dominated mining towns of the American West. Park City, Utah, and Alta, Utah were a boom towns in the early twentieth centuries. Rich silver mines in the mountains adjacent to the towns led to many people flocking to the towns in search of wealth. During the early part of the Cold War era, uranium was mined in eastern Utah. Today mining activity still plays a major role in the state’s economy. Minerals mined in Utah include copper, gold, silver, molybdenum, zinc, lead, and beryllium. Fossil fuels including coal, petroleum, and natural gas continue to play a large role in Utah’s economy, especially in the eastern part of the state in counties such as Carbon, Emery, Grand, and Uintah.[102]

Incidents

In 2007, nine people were killed at the Crandall Canyon Mine collapse.

On March 22, 2013, one miner died and another was injured after they became trapped in a cave-in at a part of the Castle Valley Mining Complex, about 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) west of the small mining town of Huntington in Emery County.[103]

Energy

Utah Wind Generation (GWh, Million kWh)
Year Capacity
(MW)
Total Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
2009 223 160 1 2 3 3 3 3 3 33 47 15 35
2010 223 448 31 17 46 44 50 38 36 56 39 26 26 42
2011 325 576 18 54 59 45 57 70 55 63 23 38 65 32
2012 36 40 97 62 80 93 56 40 34

Source:[104][105][106]

Utah Grid-Connected PV Capacity (MW)[107][108]
Year Capacity Installed % Growth
2007 0.2
2008 0.2 0
2009 0.6 0.4 200%
2010 2.1 1.4 250%
2011 4.4 2.3 110%

Potential to use renewable energy sources

Utah has the potential to generate 31.6 TWh/year from 13.1 GW of wind power, and 10,290 TWh/year from solar power using 4,048 GW of photovoltaic (PV), including 5.6 GW of rooftop photovoltaic, and 1,638 GW of concentrated solar power.[109]

Transportation

Salt Lake International Airport is the largest airport in Utah

FrontRunner commuter rail serves select cities from Ogden to Provo via Salt Lake City.

TRAX light rail serves Salt Lake County

I-15 and I-80 are the main interstate highways in the state, where they intersect and briefly merge near downtown Salt Lake City. I-15 traverses the state north-to-south, entering from Arizona near St. George, paralleling the Wasatch Front, and crossing into Idaho near Portage. I-80 spans northern Utah east-to-west, entering from Nevada at Wendover, crossing the Wasatch Mountains east of Salt Lake City, and entering Wyoming near EvanstonI-84 West enters from Idaho near Snowville (from Boise) and merges with I-15 from Tremonton to Ogden, then heads southeast through the Wasatch Mountains before terminating at I-80 near Echo Junction.

I-70 splits from I-15 at Cove Fort in central Utah and heads east through mountains and rugged desert terrain, providing quick access to the many national parks and national monuments of southern Utah, and has been noted for its beauty. The 103 mi (166 km) stretch from Salina to Green River is the country’s longest stretch of interstate without services and, when completed in 1970, was the longest stretch of entirely new highway constructed in the U.S. since the Alaska Highway was completed in 1943.

TRAX, a light rail system in the Salt Lake Valley, consists of three lines. The Blue Line (formerly Salt Lake/Sandy Line) begins in the suburb of Draper and ends in Downtown Salt Lake City. The Red Line (Mid-Jordan/University Line) begins in the Daybreak Community of South Jordan, a southwestern valley suburb, and ends at the University of Utah. The Green Line begins in West Valley City, passes through downtown Salt Lake City, and ends at Salt Lake City International Airport.

The Utah Transit Authority (UTA), which operates TRAX, also operates a bus system that stretches across the Wasatch Front, west into Grantsville, and east into Park City. In addition, UTA provides winter service to the ski resorts east of Salt Lake City, Ogden, and Provo. Several bus companies also provide access to the ski resorts in winter, and local bus companies also serve the cities of Cedar CityLogan, Park City, and St. George. A commuter rail line known as FrontRunner, also operated by UTA, runs between Ogden and Provo via Salt Lake City. Amtrak‘s California Zephyr, with one train in each direction daily, runs east–west through Utah with stops in Green RiverHelper, Provo, and Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake City International Airport is the only international airport in the state and serves as one of the hubs for Delta Air Lines. The airport has consistently ranked first in on-time departures and had the fewest cancellations among U.S. airports.[110] The airport has non-stop service to over 100 destinations throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico, as well as to AmsterdamLondon and ParisCanyonlands Field (near Moab), Cedar City Regional AirportOgden-Hinckley AirportProvo Municipal AirportSt. George Regional Airport, and Vernal Regional Airport all provide limited commercial air service. A new regional airport at St. George opened on January 12, 2011. SkyWest Airlines is also headquartered in St. George and maintains a hub at Salt Lake City.

Law and government

Utah state symbols

Jake Garn (top-right), former Senator of Utah (1974–1993), and astronaut on Space Shuttle flight STS-51-D

Utah government is divided into three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. The current governor of Utah is Gary Herbert,[112] who was sworn in on August 11, 2009. The governor is elected for a four-year term. The Utah State Legislature consists of a Senate and a House of Representatives. State senators serve four-year terms and representatives two-year terms. The Utah Legislature meets each year in January for an annual 45-day session.

The Utah Supreme Court is the court of last resort in Utah. It consists of five justices, who are appointed by the governor, and then subject to retention election. The Utah Court of Appeals handles cases from the trial courts.[113] Trial level courts are the district courts and justice courts. All justices and judges, like those on the Utah Supreme Court, are subject to retention election after appointment.

Counties

Utah is divided into political jurisdictions designated as counties. Since 1918 there have been 29 counties in the state, ranging from 298 to 7,819 square miles (772 to 20,300 km2).

County name County seat Year founded 2010 U.S. Census Largest County City Percent of total Area % of state
Beaver Beaver 1856 6,162 Beaver 0.22% 2,589 sq mi (6,710 km2) 3.2%
Box Elder Brigham City 1856 49,975 Brigham City 1.81% 5,745 sq mi (14,880 km2) 7.0%
Cache Logan 1856 112,656 Logan 4.08% 1,164 sq mi (3,010 km2) 1.4%
Carbon Price 1894 21,403 Price 0.77% 1,478 sq mi (3,830 km2) 1.8%
Daggett Manila 1918 938 Manila 0.03% 696 sq mi (1,800 km2) 0.8%
Davis Farmington 1852 306,479 Layton 11.09% 298 sq mi (770 km2) 0.4%
Duchesne Duchesne 1915 18,607 Roosevelt 0.67% 3,240 sq mi (8,400 km2) 3.9%
Emery Castle Dale 1880 10,976 Huntington 0.40% 4,462 sq mi (11,560 km2) 5.4%
Garfield Panguitch 1882 4,658 Panguitch 0.17% 5,175 sq mi (13,400 km2) 6.3%
Grand Moab 1890 9,589 Moab 0.35% 3,671 sq mi (9,510 km2) 4.5%
Iron Parowan 1852 46,163 Cedar City 1.67% 3,296 sq mi (8,540 km2) 4.0%
Juab Nephi 1852 10,246 Nephi 0.37% 3,392 sq mi (8,790 km2) 4.1%
Kane Kanab 1864 6,577 Kanab 0.24% 3,990 sq mi (10,300 km2) 4.9%
Millard Fillmore 1852 12,503 Delta 0.45% 6,572 sq mi (17,020 km2) 8.0%
Morgan Morgan 1862 8,669 Morgan 0.31% 609 sq mi (1,580 km2) 0.7%
Piute Junction 1865 1,404 Circleville 0.05% 757 sq mi (1,960 km2) 0.9%
Rich Randolph 1868 2,205 Garden City 0.08% 1,028 sq mi (2,660 km2) 1.3%
Salt Lake Salt Lake City 1852 1,029,655 Salt Lake City, State Capital. 37.25% 742 sq mi (1,920 km2) 0.9%
San Juan Monticello 1880 14,746 Blanding 0.53% 7,819 sq mi (20,250 km2) 9.5%
Sanpete Manti 1852 27,822 Ephraim 1.01% 1,590 sq mi (4,100 km2) 1.9%
Sevier Richfield 1865 20,802 Richfield 0.75% 1,910 sq mi (4,900 km2) 2.3%
Summit Coalville 1854 36,324 Park City 1.31% 1,871 sq mi (4,850 km2) 2.3%
Tooele Tooele 1852 58,218 Tooele 2.11% 6,941 sq mi (17,980 km2) 8.4%
Uintah Vernal 1880 32,588 Vernal 1.18% 4,479 sq mi (11,600 km2) 5.5%
Utah Provo 1852 516,564 Provo, third largest city in UT. 18.69% 2,003 sq mi (5,190 km2) 2.4%
Wasatch Heber 1862 23,530 Heber City 0.85% 1,175 sq mi (3,040 km2) 1.4%
Washington St. George 1852 138,115 St. George 5.00% 2,426 sq mi (6,280 km2) 3.0%
Wayne Loa 1892 2,509 Loa 0.09% 2,460 sq mi (6,400 km2) 3.0%
Weber Ogden 1852 231,236 Ogden 8.37% 576 sq mi (1,490 km2) 0.7%
  • Total Counties: 29
  • Total 2010 population: 2,763,885[114]
  • Total state area: 82,154 sq mi (212,780 km2)

Women’s rights

Utah granted full voting rights to women in 1870, 26 years before becoming a state. Among all U.S. states, only Wyoming granted suffrage to women earlier.[115] However, in 1887 the initial Edmunds-Tucker Act was passed by Congress in an effort to curtail Mormon influence in the territorial government. One of the provisions of the Act was the repeal of women’s suffrage; full suffrage was not returned until Utah was admitted to the Union in 1896.

Utah is one of the 15 states that have not ratified the U.S. Equal Rights Amendment.[116]

Free-range parenting

In March 2018, Utah passed America’s first “free-range parenting” bill. The bill was signed into law by Republican Governor Gary Herbert and states that parents who allow their children to engage in certain activities without supervision are not considered neglectful.[117][118]

Constitution

The constitution of Utah was enacted in 1895. Notably, the constitution outlawed polygamy, as requested by Congress when Utah had applied for statehood, and reestablished the territorial practice of women’s suffrage. Utah’s Constitution has been amended many times since its inception.[119]

Alcohol, tobacco and gambling laws

Utah’s laws in regard to alcohol, tobacco and gambling are strict. Utah is an alcoholic beverage control state. The Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control regulates the sale of alcohol; wine and spirituous liquors may only be purchased at state liquor stores, and local laws may prohibit the sale of beer and other alcoholic beverages on Sundays. The state bans the sale of fruity alcoholic drinks at grocery stores and convenience stores. The law states that such drinks must now have new state-approved labels on the front of the products that contain capitalized letters in bold type telling consumers the drinks contain alcohol and at what percentage. The Utah Indoor Clean Air Act is a statewide smoking ban, that prohibits smoking in many public places.[120] Utah is also one of only two states in the United States to outlaw all forms of gambling; the other is Hawaii.

Same-sex marriage

Same-sex marriage became legal in Utah on December 20, 2013 when judge Robert J. Shelby of the United States District Court for the District of Utah issued a ruling in Kitchen v. Herbert.[121][122] As of close of business December 26, more than 1,225 marriage licenses were issued, with at least 74 percent, or 905 licenses, issued to gay and lesbian couples.[123] The state Attorney General’s office was granted a stay of the ruling by the United States Supreme Court on January 6, 2014 while the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals considered the case.[124] On Monday October 6, 2014, the Supreme Court of the United States declined a Writ of Certiorari, and the 10th Circuit Court issued their mandate later that day, lifting their stay. Same-sex marriages commenced again in Utah that day.[125]

Politics

The Utah State Capitol, Salt Lake City

The Scott Matheson Courthouse is the seat of the Utah Supreme Court.

In the late 19th century, the federal government took issue with polygamy in the LDS Church. The LDS Church discontinued plural marriage in 1890, and in 1896 Utah gained admission to the Union. Many new people settled the area soon after the Mormon pioneers. Relations have often been strained between the LDS population and the non-LDS population.[126] These tensions have played a large part in Utah’s history (Liberal Party vs. People’s Party).

Utah votes predominantly Republican. Self-identified Latter-day Saints are more likely to vote for the Republican ticket than non-Mormons. Utah is one of the most Republican states in the nation.[127][128] Utah was the single most Republican-leaning state in the country in every presidential election from 1976 to 2004, measured by the percentage point margin between the Republican and Democratic candidates. In 2008 Utah was only the third-most Republican state (after Wyoming and Oklahoma), but in 2012, with Mormon Mitt Romney atop the Republican ticket, Utah returned to its position as the most Republican state. However, the 2016 presidential election result saw Republican Donald Trump carry the state (marking the thirteenth consecutive win by the Republican presidential candidate) with only a plurality, the first time this happened since 1992.

Both of Utah’s U.S. SenatorsMitt Romney and Mike Lee, are Republican. Three more Republicans—Rob BishopChris Stewart, and John Curtis—represent Utah in the United States House of RepresentativesBen McAdams, the sole Democratic member of the Utah delegation, represents the 4th congressional district. After Jon Huntsman Jr. resigned to serve as U.S. Ambassador to China, Gary Herbert was sworn in as governor on August 11, 2009. Herbert was elected to serve out the remainder of the term in a special election in 2010, defeating Democratic nominee Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon with 64% of the vote. He won election to a full four-year term in 2012, defeating the Democrat Peter Cooke with 68% of the vote.

The LDS Church maintains an official policy of neutrality with regard to political parties and candidates.[77]

In the 1970s, then-Apostle Ezra Taft Benson was quoted by the Associated Press that it would be difficult for a faithful Latter-day Saint to be a liberal Democrat.[129] Although the LDS Church has officially repudiated such statements on many occasions, Democratic candidates—including LDS Democrats—believe that Republicans capitalize on the perception that the Republican Party is doctrinally superior.[130] Political scientist and pollster Dan Jones explains this disparity by noting that the national Democratic Party is associated with liberal positions on gay marriage and abortion, both of which the LDS Church is against.[131] The Republican Party in heavily Mormon Utah County presents itself as the superior choice for Latter-day Saints. Even though Utah Democratic candidates are predominantly LDS, socially conservative, and pro-life, no Democrat has won in Utah County since 1994.[132]

David Magleby, dean of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Brigham Young University, a lifelong Democrat and a political analyst, asserts that the Republican Party actually has more conservative positions than the LDS Church. Magleby argues that the locally conservative Democrats are in better accord with LDS doctrine.[133] For example, the Republican Party of Utah opposes almost all abortions while Utah Democrats take a more liberal approach, although more conservative than their national counterparts. On Second Amendment issues, the state GOP has been at odds with the LDS Church position opposing concealed firearms in places of worship and in public spaces.

In 1998 the church expressed concern that Utahns perceived the Republican Party as an LDS institution and authorized lifelong Democrat and Seventy Marlin Jensen to promote LDS bipartisanship.[129]

Utah is much more conservative than the United States as a whole, particularly on social issues. Compared to other Republican-dominated states in the Mountain West such as Wyoming, Utah politics have a more moralistic and less libertarian character, according to David Magleby.[134]

About 80% of Utah’s Legislature are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,[135] while members account for 61 percent of the population.[136] Since becoming a state in 1896, Utah has had only two non-Mormon governors.[137]

In 2006, the legislature passed legislation aimed at banning joint-custody for a non-biological parent of a child. The custody measure passed the legislature and was vetoed by the governor, a reciprocal benefits supporter.

Carbon County’s Democrats are generally made up of members of the large GreekItalian, and Southeastern European communities, whose ancestors migrated in the early 20th century to work in the extensive mining industry. The views common amongst this group are heavily influenced by labor politics, particularly of the New Deal Era.[138]

The state’s most Republican areas tend to be Utah County, which is the home to Brigham Young University in the city of Provo, and nearly all the rural counties.[139][140] These areas generally hold socially conservative views in line with that of the national Religious Right. The most Democratic areas of the state lie currently in and around Salt Lake City proper.

The state has not voted for a Democrat for president since 1964. Historically, Republican presidential nominees score one of their best margins of victory here. Utah was the Republicans’ best state in the 1976,[141] 1980,[142] 1984,[143] 1988,[144] 1996,[145] 2000,[146] and 2004[147] elections. In 1992, Utah was the only state in the nation where Democratic candidate Bill Clinton finished behind both Republican candidate George HW Bush and Independent candidate Ross Perot.[148] In 2004, Republican George W. Bush won every county in the state and Utah gave him his largest margin of victory of any state. He won the state’s five electoral votes by a margin of 46 percentage points with 71.5% of the vote. In the 1996 Presidential elections the Republican candidate received a smaller 54% of the vote while the Democrat earned 34%.[149]

Major cities and towns

Utah’s population is concentrated in two areas, the Wasatch Front in the north-central part of the state, with a population of over 2 million; and Washington County, in southwestern Utah, locally known as “Dixie“, with over 150,000 residents in the metropolitan area.

According to the 2010 Census, Utah was the second fastest-growing state (at 23.8 percent) in the United States between 2000 and 2010 (behind Nevada). St. George, in the southwest, is the second fastest-growing metropolitan area in the United States, trailing Greeley, Colorado.

The three fastest-growing counties from 2000 to 2010 were Wasatch County (54.7%), Washington County (52.9%), and Tooele County (42.9%). However, Utah County added the most people (148,028). Between 2000 and 2010, Saratoga Springs (1,673%), Herriman (1,330%), Eagle Mountain (893%), Cedar Hills (217%), South Willard (168%), Nibley (166%), Syracuse (159%), West Haven (158%), Lehi (149%), Washington (129%), and Stansbury Park (116%) all at least doubled in population. West Jordan (35,376), Lehi (28,379), St. George (23,234), South Jordan (20,981), West Valley City (20,584), and Herriman (20,262) all added at least 20,000 people.[150]

Utah
Rank
City Population
(2017)
within
city limits
Land
area
Population
density
(/mi2)
Population
density
(/km2)
County
1 Salt Lake City 200,544 109.1 sq mi (283 km2) 1,666.1 630 Salt Lake
2 West Valley City 136,170 35.4 sq mi (92 km2) 3,076.3 1,236 Salt Lake
3 Provo 117,335 39.6 sq mi (103 km2) 2,653.2 1,106 Utah County
4 West Jordan 113,905 30.9 sq mi (80 km2) 2,211.3 1,143 Salt Lake
5 Orem 97,839 18.4 sq mi (48 km2) 4,572.6 1,881 Utah County
6 Sandy 96,145 22.3 sq mi (58 km2) 3,960.5 1,551 Salt Lake
7 Ogden 87,031 26.6 sq mi (69 km2) 2,899.2 1,137 Weber
8 St. George 84,405 64.4 sq mi (167 km2) 771.2 385 Washington
9 Layton 76,691 22.0 sq mi (57 km2) 3,486 1,346 Davis
10 South Jordan 70,954 22.05 sq mi (57 km2) 3,016 1,163 Salt Lake
11 Lehi 62,712 26.3 sq mi (68 km2) 2,200 850 Utah
12 Millcreek 60,192 13.7 sq mi (35 km2) 4,500 1,800 Salt Lake
13 Taylorsville 59,992 10.7 sq mi (28 km2) 5,415 2,077 Salt Lake
Combined statistical area Population
(2010)
Salt Lake CityOgdenClearfield
comprises:
Salt Lake City and Ogden-Clearfield Metropolitan Areas and
Brigham City and Heber Micropolitan Areas (as listed below)
1,744,886
Utah
Rank
Metropolitan area Population
(2017)
Counties
1 Salt Lake City* 1,203,105 Salt LakeTooeleSummit
2 OgdenClearfield* 665,358 WeberDavisMorgan
3 ProvoOrem 617,675 Utah
4 St. George 165,662 Washington
5 Logan 138,002 CacheFranklin (Idaho)
  • Until 2003, the Salt Lake City and Ogden-Clearfield metropolitan areas were considered as a single metropolitan area.[citation needed]
Utah
Rank
Micropolitan area Population
(2010)
1 Brigham City 49,015
2 Cedar City 44,540
3 Vernal 29,885
4 Heber 21,066
5 Price 19,549
6 Richfield 18,382

Colleges and universities

Culture

Sports

The Utah Jazz playing against the Houston Rockets

Utah is the second-least populous U.S. state to have a major professional sports league franchise, after the Vegas Golden Knights joined the National Hockey League in 2017. The Utah Jazz of the National Basketball Association play at Vivint Smart Home Arena[151] in Salt Lake City. The team moved to the city from New Orleans in 1979 and has been one of the most consistently successful teams in the league (although they have yet to win a championship). Salt Lake City was previously host to the Utah Stars, who competed in the ABA from 1970–76 and won 1 championship, and to the Utah Starzz of the WNBA from 1997 to 2003.

Real Salt Lake of Major League Soccer was founded in 2005 and play their home matches at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy. RSL remains the only Utah major league sports team to have won a national championship, having won the MLS Cup in 2009.[152] RSL currently operates three adult teams in addition to the MLS side. Real Monarchs, competing in the second-level USL Championship, is the official reserve side for RSL. The team began play in the 2015 season at Rio Tinto Stadium,[153] remaining there until moving to Zions Bank Stadium, located at RSL’s training center in Herriman, for the 2018 season and beyond.[154] Utah Royals FC, which shares ownership with RSL and also plays at Rio Tinto Stadium, has played in the National Women’s Soccer League, the top level of U.S. women’s soccer, since 2018.[155] Before the creation of the Royals, RSL’s main women’s side had been Real Salt Lake Women, which began play in the Women’s Premier Soccer League in 2008 and moved to United Women’s Soccer in 2016. RSL Women currently play at Utah Valley University in Orem.

The Utah Blaze began play in the original version of the Arena Football League in 2006, and remained in the league until it folded in 2009. The Blaze returned to the league at its relaunch in 2010, playing until the team’s demise in 2013. They competed originally at the Maverik Center in West Valley City, and later at Vivint Smart Home Arena when it was known as EnergySolutions Arena.

Utah’s highest level minor league baseball team is the Salt Lake Bees, who play at Smith’s Ballpark in Salt Lake City and are part of the AAA level Pacific Coast League. Utah also has one minor league hockey team, the Utah Grizzlies, who play at the Maverik Center and compete in the ECHL.

Utah has six universities that compete in Division I of the NCAA, with a seventh set to move to Division I in 2020. Three of the schools have football programs that participate in the top-level Football Bowl SubdivisionUtah in the Pac-12 ConferenceUtah State in the Mountain West Conference, and BYU as an independent (although BYU competes in the non-football West Coast Conference for most other sports). In addition, Weber State and Southern Utah (SUU) compete in the Big Sky Conference of the FCSUtah Valley, which has no football program, is a full member of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). Dixie State, currently a member of NCAA Division II, will begin a four-year transition to Division I in 2020 as a member of the WAC. Since the WAC has been a non-football conference since 2013, Dixie State football will play as an FCS independent.

Salt Lake City hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics. After early financial struggles and scandal, the 2002 Olympics eventually became among the most successful Winter Olympics in history from a marketing and financial standpoint.[citation needed] Watched by over 2 billion viewers, the Games ended up with a profit of $100 million.[156]

Utah has hosted professional golf tournaments such as the Uniting Fore Care Classic and currently the Utah Championship.

Rugby has been growing quickly in the state of Utah, growing from 17 teams in 2009 to 70 teams as of 2013, including with over 3,000 players, and more than 55 high school varsity teams.[157][158] The growth has been inspired in part by the 2008 movie Forever Strong.[158] Utah fields two of the most competitive teams in the nation in college rugby – BYU and Utah.[157] BYU has won the National Championship in 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. Formed in 2017, Utah Warriors is a Major League Rugby team based in Salt Lake City.[159]

Entertainment

Utah is the setting of or the filming location for many books, films,[160] television series,[160] music videos, and video games. A selective list of each appears below.

Books

Film

Utah’s Monument Valley has been location to several productions, such as 127 Hours (2010), Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes (2001), and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969).

Goblin Valley State Park appears in the movie Galaxy Quest (1999).

A scene from the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End was filmed at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Video games

Utah’s capitol Salt Lake City is the final location in the video game The Last of Us.[161]

Fallout: New Vegas features a DLC called Honest Hearts that takes place in Zion National Park.

The fictional metropolis of Mesa City, Utah was featured as the second level of Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus. Coincidentally, the main themes of Mesa City—casinos and gambling—are actually illegal in Utah.

See also

Uncategorized

Dead Sea

Dead Sea

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Dead Sea
Dead Sea by David Shankbone.jpg
A view of the sea from the Israeli shore
Location Israel
Jordan
West Bank
Coordinates 31°30′N 35°30′ECoordinates31°30′N 35°30′E
Lake type Endorheic
Hypersaline
Native name ים המלח (in Hebrew)
البحر الميت (in Arabic)
Primary inflows Jordan River
Primary outflows None
Catchment area 41,650 km2 (16,080 sq mi)
Basin countries Israel
Jordan
Palestine
Max. length 50 km (31 mi)[1] (northern basin only)
Max. width 15 km (9.3 mi)[1]
Surface area 605 km2 (234 sq mi) (2016)[2]
Average depth 199 m (653 ft)[3]
Max. depth 298 m (978 ft) (elevation of deepest point, 728 m BSL [below sea level], minus current surface elevation)
Water volume 114 km3 (27 cu mi)[3]
Shore length1 135 km (84 mi)
Surface elevation −430.5 m (−1,412 ft) (2016)[4]
References [3][4]
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.
File:Channel2 - Dead Sea.webm

Short video about the Dead Sea from the Israeli News Company

The Dead Sea (Hebrewיָם הַמֶּלַח About this soundYam ha-Melah lit. Sea of SaltArabicالبحر الميت‎ About this soundAl-Bahr al-Mayyit[5] or Buhayrat[6][7]Bahret or Birket Lut,[6] lit. “Lake/Sea of Lot”) is a salt lake bordered by Jordan to the east and Israel and the West Bank to the west. It lies in the Jordan Rift Valley, and its main tributary is the Jordan River.

Its surface and shores are 430.5 metres (1,412 ft) below sea level,[4][8] Earth’s lowest elevation on land. It is 304 m (997 ft) deep, the deepest hypersaline lake in the world. With a salinity of 342 g/kg, or 34.2% (in 2011), it is one of the world’s saltiest bodies of water[9] – 9.6 times as salty as the ocean – and has a density of 1.24 kg/litre, which makes swimming similar to floating.[10][11] This salinity makes for a harsh environment in which plants and animals cannot flourish, hence its name. The Dead Sea’s main, northern basin is 50 kilometres (31 mi) long and 15 kilometres (9 mi) wide at its widest point.[1]

The Dead Sea has attracted visitors from around the Mediterranean Basin for thousands of years. It was one of the world’s first health resorts (for Herod the Great), and it has been the supplier of a wide variety of products, from asphalt for Egyptian mummification to potash for fertilisers.

The Dead Sea is receding at a swift rate; its surface area today is 605 km2 (234 sq mi), having been 1,050 km2 (410 sq mi) in 1930. The recession of the Dead Sea has begun causing problems, and multiple canals and pipelines proposals exist to reduce its recession. One of these proposals is the Red Sea–Dead Sea Water Conveyance project, carried out by Jordan, which will provide water to neighbouring countries, while the brine will be carried to the Dead Sea to help stabilise its water level. The first phase of the project is scheduled to begin in 2018 and be completed in 2021.[12]

Etymology and toponymy

In Hebrew, the Dead Sea is About this soundYām ha-Melaḥ  (ים המלח), meaning “sea of salt” (Genesis 14:3). The Bible uses this term alongside two others: the Sea of the Arabah (Yām ha-‘Ărāvâ ים הערבה), and the Eastern Sea (ha-Yām ha-kadmoni הים הקדמוני). The designation “Dead Sea” never appears in the Bible. In prose sometimes the term Yām ha-Māvet (ים המוות, “sea of death”) is used, due to the scarcity of aquatic life there.[13]

In Arabic, the Dead Sea is called About this soundal-Bahr al-Mayyit [5] (“the Dead Sea”), or less commonly baḥrᵘ lūṭᵃ (بحر لوط, “the Sea of Lot“). Another historic name in Arabic was the “Sea of Zoʼar“, after a nearby town in biblical times. The Greeks called it Lake Asphaltites (Attic Greek ἡ Θάλαττα ἀσφαλτῖτηςhē Thálatta asphaltĩtēs, “the Asphaltite[14] sea”).

Geography

Satellite photograph showing the location of the Dead Sea east of the Mediterranean Sea

The Dead Sea is an endorheic lake located in the Jordan Rift Valley, a geographic feature formed by the Dead Sea Transform (DST). This left lateral-moving transform fault lies along the tectonic plate boundary between the African Plate and the Arabian Plate. It runs between the East Anatolian Fault zone in Turkey and the northern end of the Red Sea Rift offshore of the southern tip of Sinai. It is here that the Upper Jordan River/Sea of Galilee/Lower Jordan River water system comes to an end.

The Jordan River is the only major water source flowing into the Dead Sea, although there are small perennial springs under and around the Dead Sea, forming pools and quicksand pits along the edges.[15] There are no outlet streams.

The Mujib River, biblical Arnon, is one of the larger water sources of the Dead Sea other than the Jordan.[16] The Wadi Mujib valley, 420 m below the sea level in the southern part of the Jordan valley, is a biosphere reserve, with an area of 212 km2 (82 sq mi).[17] Other more substantial sources are Wadi Darajeh (Arabic)/Nahal Dragot (Hebrew), and Nahal Arugot.[16] Wadi Hasa (biblical Zered) is another wadi flowing into the Dead Sea.

Rainfall is scarcely 100 mm (4 in) per year in the northern part of the Dead Sea and barely 50 mm (2 in) in the southern part.[18] The Dead Sea zone’s aridity is due to the rainshadow effect of the Judaean Mountains. The highlands east of the Dead Sea receive more rainfall than the Dead Sea itself.

To the west of the Dead Sea, the Judaean mountains rise less steeply and are much lower than the mountains to the east. Along the southwestern side of the lake is a 210 m (700 ft) tall Halite mineral formation called Mount Sodom.

Geology

The Jordanian shore of the Dead Sea, showing salt deposits left behind by falling water levels.

Formation theories

There are two contending hypotheses about the origin of the low elevation of the Dead Sea. The older hypothesis is that the Dead Sea lies in a true rift zone, an extension of the Red Sea Rift, or even of the Great Rift Valley of eastern Africa. A more recent hypothesis is that the Dead Sea basin is a consequence of a “step-over” discontinuity along the Dead Sea Transform, creating an extension of the crust with consequent subsidence.

Sedom Lagoon

During the late Pliocene-early Pleistocene[19], around 3.7 million years ago,[citation needed] what is now the valley of the Jordan River, Dead Sea, and the northern Wadi Arabah was repeatedly inundated by waters from the Mediterranean Sea.[19] The waters formed in a narrow, crooked bay that is called by geologists the Sedom Lagoon, which was connected to the sea through what is now the Jezreel Valley.[citation needed] The floods of the valley came and went depending on long-scale changes in the tectonic and climatic conditions.[19]

The Sedom Lagoon extended at its maximum from the Sea of Galilee in the north to somewhere around 50 km (30 mi) south of the current southern end of the Dead Sea, and the subsequent lakes never surpassed this expanse. The Hula Depression was never part of any of these water bodies due to its higher elevation and the high threshold of the Korazim block separating it from the Sea of Galilee basin.[20]

Salt deposits

The Sedom Lagoon deposited evaporites mainly consisting of rock salt, which eventually reached a thickness of 2.3 km (1.43 mi) on the old basin floor in the area of today’s Mount Sedom.[21]

Lake formation

Approximately two million years ago,[citation needed] the land between the Rift Valley and the Mediterranean Sea rose to such an extent that the ocean could no longer flood the area. Thus, the long lagoon became a landlocked lake.[20]

The first prehistoric lake to follow the Sedom Lagoon is named Lake Amora (which possibly appeared in the early Pleistocene; its sediments developed into the Amora (Samra) Formation, dated to over 200-80 kyr BP), followed by Lake Lisan (c. 70-14 kyr) and finally by the Dead Sea.[19]

Lake salinity

The water levels and salinity of the successive lakes (Amora, Lisan, Dead Sea) have either risen or fallen as an effect of the tectonic dropping of the valley bottom, and due to climate variation. As the climate became more arid, Lake Lisan finally shrank and became saltier, leaving the Dead Sea as its last remainder.[19][20]

From 70,000 to 12,000 years ago, Lake Lisan’s level was 100 m (330 ft) to 250 m (820 ft) higher than its current level. Its level fluctuated dramatically, rising to its highest level around 26,000 years ago, indicating a very wet climate in the Near East.[22] Around 10,000 years ago, the lake’s level dropped dramatically, probably even lower than today. During the last several thousand years, the lake has fluctuated approximately 400 m (1,300 ft), with some significant drops and rises. Current theories as to the cause of this dramatic drop in levels rule out volcanic activity; therefore, it may have been a seismic event.

Salt mounts formation

In prehistoric times[dubious ], great amounts of sediment collected on the floor of Lake Amora. The sediment was heavier than the salt deposits and squeezed the salt deposits upwards into what are now the Lisan Peninsula and Mount Sodom (on the southwest side of the lake). Geologists explain the effect in terms of a bucket of mud into which a large flat stone is placed, forcing the mud to creep up the sides of the bucket. When the floor of the Dead Sea dropped further due to tectonic forces, the salt mounts of Lisan and Mount Sodom stayed in place as high cliffs (see salt dome).

Climate

The Dead Sea has a hot desert climate (Köppen climate classification BWh), with year-round sunny skies and dry air. It has less than 50 millimetres (2 in) mean annual rainfall and a summer average temperature between 32 and 39 °C (90 and 102 °F). Winter average temperatures range between 20 and 23 °C (68 and 73 °F). The region has weaker ultraviolet radiation, particularly the UVB (erythrogenic rays). Given the higher atmospheric pressure, the air has a slightly higher oxygen content (3.3% in summer to 4.8% in winter) as compared to oxygen concentration at sea level.[23][24] Barometric pressures at the Dead Sea were measured between 1061 and 1065 hPa and clinically compared with health effects at higher altitude.[25] (This barometric measure is about 5% higher than sea level standard atmospheric pressure of 1013.25 hPa, which is the global ocean mean or ATM.) The Dead Sea affects temperatures nearby because of the moderating effect a large body of water has on climate. During the winter, sea temperatures tend to be higher than land temperatures, and vice versa during the summer months. This is the result of the water’s mass and specific heat capacity. On average, there are 192 days above 30 °C (86 °F) annually.[26]

hideClimate data for Dead Sea, Sedom (390 m below sea level)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 26.4
(79.5)
30.4
(86.7)
33.8
(92.8)
42.5
(108.5)
45.0
(113.0)
46.4
(115.5)
47.0
(116.6)
44.5
(112.1)
43.6
(110.5)
40.0
(104.0)
35.0
(95.0)
28.5
(83.3)
47.0
(116.6)
Average high °C (°F) 20.5
(68.9)
21.7
(71.1)
24.8
(76.6)
29.9
(85.8)
34.1
(93.4)
37.6
(99.7)
39.7
(103.5)
39.0
(102.2)
36.5
(97.7)
32.4
(90.3)
26.9
(80.4)
21.7
(71.1)
30.4
(86.7)
Daily mean °C (°F) 16.6
(61.9)
17.7
(63.9)
20.8
(69.4)
25.4
(77.7)
29.4
(84.9)
32.6
(90.7)
34.7
(94.5)
34.5
(94.1)
32.4
(90.3)
28.6
(83.5)
23.1
(73.6)
17.9
(64.2)
26.1
(79.0)
Average low °C (°F) 12.7
(54.9)
13.7
(56.7)
16.7
(62.1)
20.9
(69.6)
24.7
(76.5)
27.6
(81.7)
29.6
(85.3)
29.9
(85.8)
28.3
(82.9)
24.7
(76.5)
19.3
(66.7)
14.1
(57.4)
21.9
(71.4)
Record low °C (°F) 5.4
(41.7)
6.0
(42.8)
8.0
(46.4)
11.5
(52.7)
19.0
(66.2)
23.0
(73.4)
26.0
(78.8)
26.8
(80.2)
24.2
(75.6)
17.0
(62.6)
9.8
(49.6)
6.0
(42.8)
5.4
(41.7)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 7.8
(0.31)
9.0
(0.35)
7.6
(0.30)
4.3
(0.17)
0.2
(0.01)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
1.2
(0.05)
3.5
(0.14)
8.3
(0.33)
41.9
(1.65)
Average precipitation days 3.3 3.5 2.5 1.3 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.4 1.6 2.8 15.6
Average relative humidity (%) 41 38 33 27 24 23 24 27 31 33 36 41 32
Source: Israel Meteorological Service[27]

Chemistry

Halite deposits (and teepee structure) along the western Dead Sea coast

With 34.2% salinity (in 2011), it is one of the world’s saltiest bodies of water, though Lake Vanda in Antarctica (35%), Lake Assal in Djibouti (34.8%), Lagoon Garabogazköl in the Caspian Sea (up to 35%) and some hypersaline ponds and lakes of the McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica (such as Don Juan Pond (44%)) have reported higher salinities.

Until the winter of 1978–79, when a major mixing event took place,[28] the Dead Sea was composed of two stratified layers of water that differed in temperature, density, age, and salinity. The topmost 35 meters (115 ft) or so of the Dead Sea had an average salinity of 342 parts per thousand (in 2002), and a temperature that swung between 19 °C (66 °F) and 37 °C (99 °F). Underneath a zone of transition, the lowest level of the Dead Sea had waters of a consistent 22 °C (72 °F) temperature and complete saturation of sodium chloride (NaCl).[citation needed] Since the water near the bottom is saturated, the salt precipitates out of solution onto the sea floor.

Beginning in the 1960s, water inflow to the Dead Sea from the Jordan River was reduced as a result of large-scale irrigation and generally low rainfall. By 1975, the upper water layer was saltier than the lower layer. Nevertheless, the upper layer remained suspended above the lower layer because its waters were warmer and thus less dense. When the upper layer cooled so its density was greater than the lower layer, the waters mixed (1978–79). For the first time in centuries, the lake was a homogeneous body of water. Since then, stratification has begun to redevelop.[28]

Pebbles cemented with Halite on the western shore of the Dead Sea near Ein Gedi

The mineral content of the Dead Sea is very different from that of ocean water. The exact composition of the Dead Sea water varies mainly with season, depth and temperature. In the early 1980s, the concentration of ionic species (in g/kg) of Dead Sea surface water was Cl (181.4), Br (4.2), SO42− (0.4), HCO3 (0.2), Ca2+ (14.1), Na+ (32.5), K+ (6.2) and Mg2+ (35.2). The total salinity was 276 g/kg.[29] These results show that the composition of the salt, as anhydrous chlorides on a weight percentage basis, was calcium chloride (CaCl2) 14.4%, potassium chloride (KCl) 4.4%, magnesium chloride (MgCl2) 50.8% and sodium chloride (NaCl) 30.4%. In comparison, the salt in the water of most oceans and seas is approximately 85% sodium chloride. The concentration of sulfate ions (SO42−) is very low, and the concentration of bromide ions (Br) is the highest of all waters on Earth.

Beach pebbles made of Halite; western coast

The salt concentration of the Dead Sea fluctuates around 31.5%. This is unusually high and results in a nominal density of 1.24 kg/l. Anyone can easily float in the Dead Sea because of natural buoyancy. In this respect the Dead Sea is similar to the Great Salt Lake in Utah in the United States.

An unusual feature of the Dead Sea is its discharge of asphalt. From deep seeps, the Dead Sea constantly spits up small pebbles and blocks of the black substance.[30] Asphalt-coated figurines and bitumen-coated Neolithic skulls from archaeological sites have been found. Egyptian mummification processes used asphalt imported from the Dead Sea region.[31][32]

Putative therapies

The Dead Sea area has become a location for health research and potential treatment for several reasons. The mineral content of the water, the low content of pollens and other allergens in the atmosphere, the reduced ultraviolet component of solar radiation, and the higher atmospheric pressure at this great depth each may have specific health effects. For example, persons experiencing reduced respiratory function from diseases such as cystic fibrosis seem to benefit from the increased atmospheric pressure.[33]

The region’s climate and low elevation have made it a popular center for assessment of putative therapies:

Climatotherapy at the Dead Sea may be a therapy for psoriasis[34] by sunbathing for long periods in the area due to its position below sea level and subsequent result that UV rays are partially blocked by the increased cloud cover[citation needed] over the Dead Sea.[35]

Rhinosinusitis patients receiving Dead Sea saline nasal irrigation exhibited improved symptom relief compared to standard hypertonic saline spray in one study.[36]

Dead Sea mud pack therapy has been suggested to temporarily relieve pain in patients with osteoarthritis of the knees. According to researchers of the Ben Gurion University of the Negev, treatment with mineral-rich mud compresses can be used to augment conventional medical therapy.[37]

Panorama of the Dead Sea from the Mövenpick Resort, Jordan.

Fauna and flora

Dead Sea in the morning, seen from Masada

The sea is called “dead” because its high salinity prevents macroscopic aquatic organisms, such as fish and aquatic plants, from living in it, though minuscule quantities of bacteria and microbial fungi are present.

In times of flood, the salt content of the Dead Sea can drop from its usual 35% to 30% or lower. The Dead Sea temporarily comes to life in the wake of rainy winters. In 1980, after one such rainy winter, the normally dark blue Dead Sea turned red. Researchers from Hebrew University of Jerusalem found the Dead Sea to be teeming with a type of alga called DunaliellaDunaliella in turn nourished carotenoid-containing (red-pigmentedhalobacteria, whose presence caused the color change. Since 1980, the Dead Sea basin has been dry and the algae and the bacteria have not returned in measurable numbers.

In 2011 a group of scientists from Be’er Sheva, Israel and Germany discovered fissures in the floor of the Dead Sea by scuba diving and observing the surface. These fissures allow fresh and brackish water to enter the Dead Sea. They sampled biofilms surrounding the fissures and discovered numerous species of bacteria and archaea.[38]

Many animal species live in the mountains surrounding the Dead Sea. Hikers can see ibexhareshyraxesjackalsfoxes, and even leopards. Hundreds of bird species inhabit the zone as well. Both Jordan and Israel have established nature reserves around the Dead Sea.

The delta of the Jordan River was formerly a jungle of papyrus and palm trees. The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus described Jericho as “the most fertile spot in Judea“. In Roman and Byzantine times, sugarcane,[dubious ] henna, and sycamore fig all made the lower Jordan valley wealthy. One of the most valuable products produced by Jericho was the sap of the balsam tree, which could be made into perfume. By the 19th century, Jericho’s fertility had disappeared.[dubious ]

Human settlement

There are several small communities near the Dead Sea. These include Ein GediNeve Zohar and the Israeli settlements in the Megilot Regional CouncilKalyaMitzpe Shalem and Avnat. There is a nature preserve at Ein Gedi, and several Dead Sea hotels are located on the southwest end at Ein Bokek near Neve Zohar. Highway 90 runs north-south on the Israeli side for a total distance of 565 km (351 mi) from Metula on the Lebanese border in the north to its southern terminus at the Egyptian border near the Red Sea port of Eilat.

Potash City is a small community on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea, and others including Suweima. Highway 65 runs north-south on the Jordanian side from near Jordan’s northern tip down past the Dead Sea to the port of Aqaba.

Human history

Mount Sodom, Israel, showing the so-called “Lot’s Wife” pillar (made of Halite (mineral) like the rest of the mountain)

Biblical period

Dwelling in caves near the Dead Sea is recorded in the Hebrew Bible as having taken place before the Israelites came to Canaan, and extensively at the time of King David.

Just northwest of the Dead Sea is Jericho. Somewhere, perhaps on the southeastern shore, would be the cities mentioned in the Book of Genesis which were said to have been destroyed in the time of AbrahamSodom and Gomorra (Genesis 18) and the three other “Cities of the Plain”, AdmahZeboim and Zoar (Deuteronomy 29:23). Zoar escaped destruction when Abraham’s nephew Lot escaped to Zoar from Sodom (Genesis 19:21–22). Before the destruction, the Dead Sea was a valley full of natural tar pits, which was called the vale of Siddim. King David was said to have hidden from Saul at Ein Gedi nearby.

In Ezekiel 47:8–9 there is a specific prophecy that the sea will “be healed and made fresh”, becoming a normal lake capable of supporting marine life. A similar prophecy is stated in Zechariah 14:8, which says that “living waters will go out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea [likely the Dead Sea] and half to the western sea [the Mediterranean].”

Greek and Roman period

Aristotle wrote about the remarkable waters. The Nabateans and others discovered the value of the globs of natural asphalt that constantly floated to the surface where they could be harvested with nets. The Egyptians were steady customers, as they used asphalt in the embalming process that created mummies. The Ancient Romans knew the Dead Sea as “Palus Asphaltites[39] (Asphalt Lake).

A cargo boat on the Dead Sea as seen on the Madaba Map, from the 6th century AD

The Dead Sea was an important trade route with ships carrying salt, asphalt and agricultural produce. Multiple anchorages existed on both sides of the sea, including in Ein GediKhirbet Mazin (where the ruins of a Hasmonean-era dry dock are located), Numeira and near Masada.[40][41]

King Herod the Great built or rebuilt several fortresses and palaces on the western bank of the Dead Sea. The most famous was Masada, where in 70 CE a small group of Jewish zealots fled after the fall of the destruction of the Second Temple. The zealots survived until 73 CE, when a siege by the X Legion ended in the deaths by suicide of its 960 inhabitants. Another historically important fortress was Machaerus (מכוור), on the eastern bank, where, according to Josephus, John the Baptist was imprisoned by Herod Antipas and died.[42]

Also in Roman times, some Essenes settled on the Dead Sea’s western shore; Pliny the Elder identifies their location with the words, “on the west side of the Dead Sea, away from the coast … [above] the town of Engeda” (Natural History, Bk 5.73); and it is therefore a hugely popular but contested hypothesis today, that same Essenes are identical with the settlers at Qumran and that “the Dead Sea Scrolls” discovered during the 20th century in the nearby caves had been their own library.

Josephus identified the Dead Sea in geographic proximity to the ancient Biblical city of Sodom. However, he referred to the lake by its Greek name, Asphaltites.[43]

Various sects of Jews settled in caves overlooking the Dead Sea. The best known of these are the Essenes of Qumran, who left an extensive library known as the Dead Sea Scrolls.[44] The town of Ein Gedi, mentioned many times in the Mishna, produced persimmon for the temple’s fragrance and for export, using a secret recipe. “Sodomite salt” was an essential mineral for the temple’s holy incense, but was said to be dangerous for home use and could cause blindness.[45] The Roman camps surrounding Masada were built by Jewish slaves receiving water from the towns around the lake. These towns had drinking water from the Ein Feshcha springs and other sweetwater springs in the vicinity.[46]

Byzantine period

Intimately connected with the Judean wilderness to its northwest and west, the Dead Sea was a place of escape and refuge. The remoteness of the region attracted Greek Orthodox monks since the Byzantine era. Their monasteries, such as Saint George in Wadi Kelt and Mar Saba in the Judaean Desert, are places of pilgrimage.

Modern times

The southern basin of the Dead Sea as of 1817-18, with the Lisan Peninsula and its ford (now named Lynch Strait). North is to the right.

In the 19th century the River Jordan and the Dead Sea were explored by boat primarily by Christopher Costigan in 1835, Thomas Howard Molyneux in 1847, William Francis Lynch in 1848, and John MacGregor in 1869.[47] The full text of W. F. Lynch’s 1949 book Narrative of the United States’ Expedition to the River Jordan and the Dead Sea is available online. Charles Leonard Irby and James Mangles travelled along the shores of the Dead Sea already in 1817–18, but didn’t navigate on its waters.[48]

World’s lowest (dry) point, Jordan, 1971

Explorers and scientists arrived in the area to analyze the minerals and research the unique climate.

After the find of the “Moabite Stone” in 1868 on the plateau east of the Dead Sea, Moses Wilhelm Shapira and his partner Salim al-Khouri forged and sold a whole range of presumed “Moabite” antiquities, and in 1883 Shapira presented what is now known as the “Shapira Strips”, a supposedly ancient scroll written on leather strips which he claimed had been found near the Dead Sea. The strips were declared to be forgeries and Shapira took his own life in disgrace.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, hundreds of religious documents dated between 150 BCE and 70 CE were found in caves near the ancient settlement of Qumran, about one mile (1.6 kilometres) inland from the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea (presently in the West Bank). They became known and famous as the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The world’s lowest roads, Highway 90, run along the Israeli and West Bank shores of the Dead Sea, along with Highway 65 on the Jordanian side, at 393 m (1,289 ft) below sea level.

Tourism and leisure

Ein Bokek, a resort on the Israeli shore

British Mandate period

golf course named for Sodom and Gomorrah was built by the British at Kalia on the northern shore.

Israel

The first major Israeli hotels were built in nearby Arad, and since the 1960s at the Ein Bokek resort complex.

Israel has 15 hotels along the Dead Sea shore, generating total revenues of $291 million in 2012. Most Israeli hotels and resorts on the Dead Sea are on a six-kilometre (3.7-mile) stretch of the southern shore.[49]

Jordan

Kempinski Hotel, one of the many hotels on the Jordanian shore

On the Jordanian side, nine international franchises have opened seaside resort hotels near the King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Center, along with resort apartments, on the eastern shore of the Dead Sea. The 9 hotels have boosted the Jordanian side’s capacity to 2,800 rooms.[50]

On November 22, 2015, the Dead Sea panorama road was included along with 40 archaeological locations in Jordan, to become live on Google Street View.[51]

West Bank

The Palestinian Dead Sea Coast is about 40 kilometres (25 miles) long. The World Bank estimates that a Palestinian Dead Sea tourism industry could generate $290 million of revenues per year and 2,900 jobs.[49] However, Palestinians have been unable to obtain construction permits for tourism-related investments on the Dead Sea.[49] According to the World Bank, Officials in the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities state that the only way to apply for such permits is through the Joint Committees established under the Oslo Agreement, but the relevant committee has not met with any degree of regularity since 2000.[49]

Chemical industry

View of salt evaporation pans on the Dead Sea, taken in 1989 from the Space Shuttle Columbia (STS-28). The southern half is separated from the northern half at what used to be the Lisan Peninsula because of the fall in level of the Dead Sea.

View of the mineral evaporation ponds almost 12 years later (STS-102). A northern and small southeastern extension were added and the large polygonal ponds subdivided.

The dwindling water level of the Dead Sea

British Mandate period

In the early part of the 20th century, the Dead Sea began to attract interest from chemists who deduced the sea was a natural deposit of potash (potassium chloride) and bromine. The Palestine Potash Company was chartered in 1929, after its founder, Siberian Jewish engineer and pioneer of Lake Baikal exploitation, Moses Novomeysky, worked for the charter for over ten years having first visited the area in 1911.[52] The first plant, on the north shore of the Dead Sea at Kalya, commenced production in 1931[52] and produced potash by solar evaporation of the brine. Employing Arabs and Jews, it was an island of peace in turbulent times.[53] The company quickly grew into the largest industrial site in the Middle East,[citation needed] and in 1934 built a second plant on the southwest shore, in the Mount Sodom area, south of the ‘Lashon’ region of the Dead Sea. Palestine Potash Company supplied half of Britain’s potash during World War II. Both plants were destroyed by the Jordanians in the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.[54]

Israel

The Dead Sea Works was founded in 1952 as a state-owned enterprise based on the remnants of the Palestine Potash Company.[55] In 1995, the company was privatized and it is now owned by Israel Chemicals. From the Dead Sea brine, Israel produces (2001) 1.77 million tons potash, 206,000 tons elemental bromine, 44,900 tons caustic soda, 25,000 tons magnesium metal, and sodium chloride. Israeli companies generate around US$3 billion annually from the sale of Dead Sea minerals (primarily potash and bromine), and from other products that are derived from Dead Sea Minerals.[49]

Jordan

On the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea, Arab Potash (APC), formed in 1956, produces 2.0 million tons of potash annually, as well as sodium chloride and bromine. The plant is located at Safi, South Aghwar Department, in the Karak Governorate.

Jordanian Dead Sea mineral industries generate about $1.2 billion in sales (equivalent to 4 percent of Jordan’s GDP).

West Bank

The Palestinian Dead Sea Coast is about 40 kilometres (25 miles) long. The Palestinian economy is unable to benefit from Dead Sea chemicals due to restricted access, permit issues and the uncertainties of the investment climate.[49] The World Bank estimates that a Palestinian Dead Sea chemicals industry could generate $918M incremental value added per year, “almost equivalent to the contribution of the entire manufacturing sector of Palestinian territories today”.[49]

Extraction

Both companies, Dead Sea Works Ltd. and Arab Potash, use extensive salt evaporation pans that have essentially diked the entire southern end of the Dead Sea for the purpose of producing carnallite, potassium magnesium chloride, which is then processed further to produce potassium chloride. The ponds are separated by a central dike that runs roughly north-south along the international border. The power plant on the Israeli side allows production of magnesium metal (by a subsidiary, Dead Sea Magnesium Ltd.).

Due to the popularity of the sea’s therapeutic and healing properties, several companies have also shown interest in the manufacturing and supplying of Dead Sea salts as raw materials for body and skin care products.

Recession and environmental concerns

Gully in unconsolidated Dead Sea sediments exposed by recession of water levels. It was excavated by floods from the Judean Mountains in less than a year.

Since 1930, when its surface was 1,050 km2 (410 sq mi) and its level was 390 m (1,280 ft) below sea level, the Dead Sea has been monitored continuously.[56] In recent decades,[which?] the Dead Sea has been rapidly shrinking because of diversion of incoming water from the Jordan River to the north. The southern end is fed by a canal maintained by the Dead Sea Works, a company that converts the sea’s raw materials. From a water surface of 395 m (1,296 ft) below sea level in 1970[57] it fell 22 m (72 ft) to 418 m (1,371 ft) below sea level in 2006, reaching a drop rate of 1 m (3 ft) per year. As the water level decreases, the characteristics of the Sea and surrounding region may substantially change.

The Dead Sea level drop has been followed by a groundwater level drop, causing brines that used to occupy underground layers near the shoreline to be flushed out by freshwater. This is believed to be the cause of the recent appearance of large sinkholes along the western shore—incoming freshwater dissolves salt layers, rapidly creating subsurface cavities that subsequently collapse to form these sinkholes.[58]

In May 2009 at the World Economic Forum, Jordan announced its plans to construct the “Jordan National Red Sea Development Project” (JRSP). This is a plan to convey seawater from the Red Sea near Aqaba to the Dead Sea. Water would be desalinated along the route to provide fresh water to Jordan, with the brine discharge sent to the Dead Sea for replenishment. Israel has expressed its support and will likely benefit from some of the water delivery to its Negev region.[59][60]

At a regional conference in July 2009, officials expressed concern about the declining water levels. Some suggested industrial activities around the Dead Sea might need to be reduced. Others advised environmental measures to restore conditions such as increasing the volume of flow from the Jordan River to replenish the Dead Sea. Currently, only sewage and effluent from fish ponds run in the river’s channel. Experts also stressed the need for strict conservation efforts. They said agriculture should not be expanded, sustainable support capabilities should be incorporated into the area and pollution sources should be reduced.[61]

The planned Red Sea–Dead Sea Water Conveyance, whose first phase will begin construction in 2021, will work towards stabilizing the falling levels of the Dead Sea

Year Water level (m) Surface (km2)
1930 −390 1050
1980 −400 680
1992 −407 675
1997 −411 670
2004 −417 662
2010 −423 655
2016 −430.5 605

Sources: Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research,[4] Haaretz,[2] Jewish Virtual Library,[62][63] Jordan Valley Authority.[64]

In October 2009, the Jordanians announced accelerated plans to extract around 300 million cubic metres (11 billion cubic feet) of water per year from the Red Sea, desalinate it for use as fresh water and send the waste water to the Dead Sea by tunnel, despite concerns about inadequate time to assess the potential environmental impact. According to Jordan’s minister for water, General Maysoun Zu’bi, this project could be considered as the first phase of the Red Sea–Dead Sea Water Conveyance.[65]

In December 2013, Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority signed an agreement for laying a water pipeline to link the Red Sea with the Dead Sea. The pipeline will be 180 km (110 mi) long and is estimated to take up to five years to complete.[66] In January 2015 it was reported that the level of water is now dropping by 1 m (3 ft) a year.[67]

On 27 November 2016, it was announced that the Jordanian government is shortlisting five consortiums to implement the project. Jordan’s ministry of Water and Irrigation said that the $100 million first phase of the project will begin construction in the first quarter of 2018, and will be completed by 2021.[12]

Views in 1972, 1989, and 2011 compared[68]

See also

Uncategorized

Death Valley

Death Valley

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Death Valley
Death Valley from space.JPG
Death Valley
Death Valley is located in California
Death Valley
Death Valley
California
Floor elevation −86 m (−282 ft)[1]
Area 3,000 square miles (7,800 km2)
Geography
Coordinates 36°14′49″N 116°49′01″WCoordinates36°14′49″N 116°49′01″W[2]
Rivers Furnace Creek
Amargosa River

Death Valley is a desert valley located in Eastern California, in the northern Mojave Desert bordering the Great Basin Desert. It is one of the hottest places in the world along with deserts in the Middle East.[3]

Death Valley’s Badwater Basin is the point of the lowest elevation in North America, at 282 feet (86 m) below sea level.[1] This point is 84.6 miles (136.2 km) east-southeast of Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States, with an elevation of 14,505 feet (4,421 m).[4] On the afternoon of July 10, 1913, the United States Weather Bureau recorded a high temperature of 134 °F (56.7 °C) at Furnace Creek in Death Valley.[5] This temperature stands as the highest ambient air temperature ever recorded at the surface of the Earth.[6]

Located near the border of California and Nevada, in the Great Basin, east of the Sierra Nevada mountains, Death Valley constitutes much of Death Valley National Park and is the principal feature of the Mojave and Colorado Deserts Biosphere Reserve. It is located mostly in Inyo County, California. It runs from north to south between the Amargosa Range on the east and the Panamint Range on the west; the Grapevine Mountains and the Owlshead Mountains form its northern and southern boundaries, respectively.[7] It has an area of about 3,000 sq mi (7,800 km2).[8] The highest point in Death Valley itself is Telescope Peak in the Panamint Range, which has an elevation of 11,043 feet (3,366 m).[9]

Geology[edit]

Map showing the system of once-interconnected Pleistocene lakes in eastern California (USGS)

Death Valley is an example of a graben, or a downdropped block of land between two mountain ranges.[10] It lies at the southern end of a geological trough known as Walker Lane, which runs north to Oregon. The valley is bisected by a right lateral strike slip fault system, represented by the Death Valley Fault and the Furnace Creek Fault. The eastern end of the left lateral Garlock Fault intersects the Death Valley Fault. Furnace Creek and the Amargosa River flow through the valley but eventually disappear into the sands of the valley floor.

Death Valley, California, July 3, 2017, Sentinel-2 true color satellite image, scale 1:250,000.

Death Valley also contains salt pans. According to current geological consensus, at various times during the middle of the Pleistocene era, which ended roughly 10,000–12,000 years ago, an inland lake referred to as Lake Manly formed in Death Valley. Lake Manly was nearly 100 miles (160 km) long and 600 feet (180 m) deep, the end-basin in a chain of lakes that began with Mono Lake in the north and continued through multiple basins down the Owens River Valley through Searles and China Lakes and the Panamint Valley to the immediate west.[11]

As the area turned to desert, the water evaporated, leaving the abundance of evaporitic salts such as common sodium salts and borax, which were later exploited during the modern history of the region, primarily 1883 to 1907.[12]

Climate[edit]

Death Valley has a subtropicalhot desert climate (KöppenBWh), with long, extremely hot summers and short, mild winters, as well as little rainfall.

Death Valley is extremely dry because it sits in the rain shadow of four major mountain ranges (including the Sierra Nevada and Panamint Range). Moisture moving inland from the Pacific Ocean must pass eastward over multiple mountains to reach Death Valley; as air masses are forced upwards by each range, the air cools and moisture condenses to fall as rain or snow on the western slopes. When the air masses ultimately reach Death Valley, most of the moisture has already been “squeezed out” and there is little left to fall as precipitation.[13]

The extreme heat of Death Valley is attributable to a confluence of geographic and topographic factors. Scientists have identified a number of key contributors [13] to Death Valley’s famously hot conditions:

  • Solar heating: The valley’s surface (consisting of soil, rocks, sand, etc.) undergoes intense solar heating due to clear, dry air and dark, sparsely vegetated land. This is especially noticeable in summer when the sun is directly overhead.
  • Air sinking and warming: Any air mass that sinks into lower elevations (e.g. 282 feet below sea level at Badwater Basin) gets compressed and warmed—due to the higher atmospheric pressure found at lower elevations. This is an example of adiabatic warming.
  • Trapping of warm air: Warm air naturally rises and cools,[14] but in Death Valley this air is subject to continual reheating as it is trapped by high, steep valley walls and recycled back to the valley floor.[15] Another factor that traps warm air is the valley’s north-south orientation, which runs perpendicular to prevailing west-to-east winds.
  • Migration of warm air from other areas (advection): Warm desert regions surrounding Death Valley, especially to the south and east, often heat air before it arrives in Death Valley.
  • Warm mountain winds: As winds are forced up and over mountains (e.g. the numerous ranges west of Death Valley), the winds can become progressively warmer due to several factors. The resulting dry, warm winds are known as foehn winds. Their warmth can in part be caused by the release of latent heat, which occurs when water vapor condenses into clouds.

Severe heat and dryness contribute to perpetual drought-like conditions in Death Valley and prevent much cloud formation from passing through the confines of the valley, where precipitation is often in the form of a virga.[16]

The depth and shape of Death Valley strongly influence its climate. The valley is a long, narrow basin that reaches down to below sea level, yet is walled by high, steep mountain ranges. The clear, dry air and sparse plant cover allow sunlight to heat the desert surface. Summer nights provide little relief, as overnight lows may only dip into the 82 to 98 °F (28 to 37 °C) range. Moving masses of super-heated air blow through the valley creating extremely high temperatures.[17]

Sand dunes at Mesquite Flats

The hottest air temperature ever recorded in Death Valley was 134 °F (56.7 °C) on July 10, 1913, at Greenland Ranch (now Furnace Creek),[6] which is the highest atmospheric temperature ever recorded on earth.[5] A report of a temperature of 58 °C (136.4 °F) recorded in Libya in 1922 was later determined to be inaccurate.[6] During the heat wave that peaked with that record, five consecutive days reached 129 °F (54 °C) or above. Some meteorologists dispute the accuracy of the 1913 temperature measurement.[18]

The highest surface temperature ever recorded in Death Valley was 201.0 °F (93.9 °C) on July 15, 1972, at Furnace Creek, which is the highest ground surface temperature ever recorded on earth, as well as the only recorded surface temperature of above 200 °F (93.3 °C).[19]

The greatest number of consecutive days with a maximum temperature of 100 °F (38 °C) or above was 154 days in the summer of 2001. The summer of 1996 had 40 days over 120 °F (49 °C), and 105 days over 110 °F (43 °C). The summer of 1917 had 52 days where the temperature reached 120 °F (49 °C) or above with 43 of them consecutive. Four major mountain ranges lie between Death Valley and the ocean, each one adding to an increasingly drier rain shadow effect, and in 1929, 1953, and 1989, no rain was recorded for the whole year.[17] The period from 1931 to 1934 was the driest stretch on record with only 0.64 inches (16 mm) of rain over a 40-month period.[16] On June 30, 2013, during the 2013 extreme heat wave, the mercury reached 129 °F (54 °C) at Furnace Creek station, which is the all-time highest air temperature recorded for June.

The mean annual temperature for Death Valley (Furnace Creek Weather Station) is 77.2 °F (25.1 °C) with an average high of 65.2 °F (18 °C) in December, 66.9 °F (19 °C) in January, and 116.5 °F (47 °C) in July.[20] From 1934 to 1961, the weather station at Cow Creek recorded a mean annual temperature of 77.2 °F (25.1 °C).[21]

The longest number of consecutive days where temperatures reached 90 °F (32 °C) or more was 205 from April to October 1992.[22] On average, 192 days per year in Death Valley have temperatures that reach 90 °F or more.[23] Before being moved to Furnace Creek, the weather station at Greenland Ranch averaged 194.4 days annually where temperatures reached 90 °F or more.[24]

View from Badwater Basin

The lowest temperature recorded at Greenland Ranch was 15 °F (−9 °C) in January 1913.[25]

The period from July 17–19, 1959, was the longest string of consecutive days where nighttime low temperatures did not drop below 100 °F (38 °C).[26] The highest overnight or low temperature recorded in Death Valley is 110 °F (43 °C), recorded on July 5, 1918, and the current world record for highest overnight low.[27] As recently as July 12, 2012, the low temperature at Death Valley dropped to just 107 °F (42 °C) after a high of 128 °F (53 °C) on the previous day. The only other location which matches Death Valley’s overnight low temperature of 107 °F in recent years is Khasab Airport in Oman, which also recorded a low of 107 °F (42 °C) on June 27, 2012,[28] and later one of 111.6 °F (44.2 °C) on June 21, 2017.[29] Also on July 12, 2012, the mean 24-hour temperature recorded at Death Valley was 117.5 °F (47.5 °C), which makes it the world’s warmest 24-hour temperature on record.[30]

The average annual precipitation in Death Valley is 2.36 inches (60 mm), while the Greenland Ranch station averaged 1.58 in (40 mm).[31] The wettest month on record is January 1995, when 2.59 inches (66 mm) fell on Death Valley.[16] The wettest period on record was mid-2004 to mid-2005, in which nearly 6 inches (150 mm) of rain fell in total, leading to ephemeral lakes in the valley and the region and tremendous wildflower blooms.[32] Snow with accumulation has only been recorded in January 1922, while scattered flakes have been recorded on other occasions.

hideClimate data for Death Valley (Furnace Creek Station)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 87
(31)
97
(36)
102
(39)
113
(45)
122
(50)
129
(54)
134
(57)
127
(53)
123
(51)
113
(45)
98
(37)
89
(32)
134
(57)
Mean maximum °F (°C) 77.0
(25.0)
83.9
(28.8)
93.4
(34.1)
103.4
(39.7)
112.1
(44.5)
120.4
(49.1)
123.7
(50.9)
121.9
(49.9)
116.0
(46.7)
104.2
(40.1)
88.8
(31.6)
77.0
(25.0)
124.5
(51.4)
Average high °F (°C) 66.9
(19.4)
73.3
(22.9)
82.1
(27.8)
90.5
(32.5)
100.5
(38.1)
109.9
(43.3)
116.5
(46.9)
114.7
(45.9)
106.5
(41.4)
92.8
(33.8)
77.1
(25.1)
65.2
(18.4)
91.4
(33.0)
Daily mean °F (°C) 53.4
(11.9)
59.8
(15.4)
68.4
(20.2)
76.3
(24.6)
86.6
(30.3)
95.5
(35.3)
102.2
(39.0)
100.2
(37.9)
91.1
(32.8)
77.1
(25.1)
62.6
(17.0)
51.7
(10.9)
77.2
(25.1)
Average low °F (°C) 40.0
(4.4)
46.3
(7.9)
54.8
(12.7)
62.1
(16.7)
72.7
(22.6)
81.2
(27.3)
88.0
(31.1)
85.7
(29.8)
75.6
(24.2)
61.5
(16.4)
48.1
(8.9)
38.3
(3.5)
62.9
(17.2)
Mean minimum °F (°C) 28.4
(−2.0)
34.4
(1.3)
41.4
(5.2)
48.7
(9.3)
56.6
(13.7)
65.4
(18.6)
75.7
(24.3)
73.5
(23.1)
62.7
(17.1)
48.8
(9.3)
35.5
(1.9)
28.8
(−1.8)
26.3
(−3.2)
Record low °F (°C) 15
(−9)
20
(−7)
26
(−3)
35
(2)
42
(6)
49
(9)
62
(17)
65
(18)
41
(5)
32
(0)
24
(−4)
19
(−7)
15
(−9)
Average precipitation inches (mm) 0.39
(9.9)
0.51
(13)
0.30
(7.6)
0.12
(3.0)
0.03
(0.76)
0.05
(1.3)
0.07
(1.8)
0.13
(3.3)
0.21
(5.3)
0.07
(1.8)
0.18
(4.6)
0.30
(7.6)
2.36
(60)
Mean monthly sunshine hours 217 226 279 330 372 390 403 372 330 310 210 186 3,625
Source #1: NOAA 1981–2010 US Climate Normals[33]
Source #2: weather2travel.com[34]
hideClimate data for Death Valley (Cow Creek Station)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 84
(29)
89
(32)
100
(38)
110
(43)
120
(49)
125
(52)
126
(52)
125
(52)
123
(51)
111
(44)
95
(35)
84
(29)
126
(52)
Average high °F (°C) 64.4
(18.0)
71.6
(22.0)
80.6
(27.0)
90.9
(32.7)
100.0
(37.8)
109.3
(42.9)
116.0
(46.7)
113.8
(45.4)
106.9
(41.6)
92.1
(33.4)
75.4
(24.1)
65.9
(18.8)
90.6
(32.6)
Daily mean °F (°C) 52.5
(11.4)
59.1
(15.1)
67.4
(19.7)
77.5
(25.3)
86.4
(30.2)
95.3
(35.2)
102.1
(38.9)
99.9
(37.7)
92.1
(33.4)
78.1
(25.6)
62.3
(16.8)
54.1
(12.3)
77.2
(25.1)
Average low °F (°C) 40.6
(4.8)
46.6
(8.1)
54.3
(12.4)
64.1
(17.8)
72.7
(22.6)
81.2
(27.3)
88.4
(31.3)
86.0
(30.0)
77.4
(25.2)
64.0
(17.8)
49.3
(9.6)
42.4
(5.8)
63.9
(17.7)
Record low °F (°C) 19
(−7)
30
(−1)
33
(1)
45
(7)
52
(11)
54
(12)
69
(21)
69
(21)
57
(14)
40
(4)
32
(0)
27
(−3)
19
(−7)
Average precipitation inches (mm) 0.24
(6.1)
0.32
(8.1)
0.20
(5.1)
0.20
(5.1)
0.10
(2.5)
0.02
(0.51)
0.10
(2.5)
0.11
(2.8)
0.12
(3.0)
0.11
(2.8)
0.20
(5.1)
0.29
(7.4)
2.00
(51)
Source: Western Regional Climate Center[35]

Flooding[edit]

Landsat 5 satellite photo of Lake Badwater on February 9, 2005

A Landsat 5 satellite photo of Badwater Basin dry lake on February 15, 2007

In 2005, Death Valley received four times its average annual rainfall of 1.5 inches (38 mm). As it has done before for hundreds of years, the lowest spot in the valley filled with a wide, shallow lake, but the extreme heat and aridity immediately began evaporating the ephemeral lake.

The pair of images (seen at right) from NASA’s Landsat 5 satellite documents the short history of Death Valley’s Lake Badwater: formed in February 2005 (top) and evaporated by February 2007 (bottom). In 2005, a big pool of greenish water stretched most of the way across the valley floor. By May 2005 the valley floor had resumed its more familiar role as Badwater Basin, a salt-coated salt flats. In time, this freshly dissolved and recrystallized salt will darken.

The western margin of Death Valley is traced by alluvial fans. During flash floods, rainfall from the steep mountains to the west pours through narrow canyons, picking up everything from fine clay to large rocks. When these torrents reach the mouths of the canyons, they widen and slow, branching out into distributary channels. The paler the fans, the younger they are.

Ecology[edit]

Death Valley in 2005 springtime bloom

In spite of the overwhelming heat and sparse rainfall, Death Valley exhibits considerable biodiversity. Wildflowers, watered by snowmelt, carpet the desert floor each spring, continuing into June.[32] Bighorn sheep, red-tailed hawks, and wild burros may be seen. Death Valley has over 600 springs and ponds. Salt Creek, a mile-long shallow depression in the center of the valley, supports Death Valley Pupfish.[36] These isolated pupfish populations are remnants of the wetter Pleistocene climate.[36]

Darwin Falls, on the western edge of Death Valley Monument, falls 100 feet (30 m) into a large pond surrounded by willows and cottonwood trees. Over 80 species of birds have been spotted around the pond.[37]

History[edit]

Death Valley is home to the Timbisha tribe of Native Americans, formerly known as the Panamint Shoshone, who have inhabited the valley for at least the past millennium. The Timbisha name for the valley, tümpisa, means “rock paint” and refers to the red ochre paint that can be made from a type of clay found in the valley. Some families still live in the valley at Furnace Creek. Another village was in Grapevine Canyon near the present site of Scotty’s Castle. It was called in the Timbisha language maahunu, whose meaning is uncertain, although it is known that hunu means “canyon”.

Badlands at Zabriskie Point in Death Valley

The valley received its English name in 1849 during the California Gold Rush. It was called Death Valley by prospectors[38] and others who sought to cross the valley on their way to the gold fields, after 13 pioneers perished from one early expedition of wagon trains.[39][40] During the 1850s, gold and silver were extracted in the valley. In the 1880s, borax was discovered and extracted by mule-drawn wagons.

Death Valley National Monument was proclaimed on February 11, 1933, by President Herbert Hoover, placing the area under federal protection. In 1994, the monument was redesignated as Death Valley National Park, as well as being substantially expanded to include Saline and Eureka Valleys.

Notable attractions and locations[edit]

Flash flood near Panamint Butte, Death Valley

In popular culture[edit]

Films[edit]

A number of movies have been filmed in Death Valley, such as the following:[41]

Music[edit]

Television[edit]

  • Death Valley (TV series), a 2011 MTV horror comedy series[42]
  • Death Valley Days (1930–1945 radio series; 1952–1970 TV series), an American radio and television anthology series featuring true stories of the old American West, particularly the Death Valley area.

See also[edit]

Uncategorized

California

California

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Coordinates37°N 120°W

California
State of California
Nickname(s):
The Golden State
Motto(s):
Eureka[1]
Anthem: “I Love You, California
MENU
0:00
Map of the United States with California highlighted
Map of the United States with California highlighted
Country United States
Before statehood California Republic
Admitted to the Union September 9, 1850 (31st)
Capital Sacramento
Largest city Los Angeles
Largest metro Greater Los Angeles
Government
 • Governor Gavin Newsom (D)
 • Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis (D)
Legislature State Legislature
 • Upper house State Senate
 • Lower house State Assembly
U.S. senators Dianne Feinstein (D)
Kamala Harris (D)
U.S. House delegation 46 Democrats
7 Republicans (list)
Area
 • Total 163,696 sq mi (423,970 km2)
 • Land 155,959 sq mi (403,932 km2)
 • Water 7,737 sq mi (20,047 km2)  4.7%
Area rank 3rd
Dimensions
 • Length 770 mi (1,240 km)
 • Width 250 mi (400 km)
Elevation
2,900 ft (880 m)
Highest elevation 14,505 ft (4,421.0 m)
Lowest elevation −279 ft (−85.0 m)
Population
 (2019)
 • Total 39,512,223[7][8]
 • Rank 1st
 • Density 253.6/sq mi (97.9/km2)
 • Density rank 11th
 • Median household income
$71,228 (2,018)[9]
 • Income rank
9th
Demonym(s) Californian
Language
 • Official language English
 • Spoken language Language spoken at home[10]
Time zone UTC-08:00 (PST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-07:00 (PDT)
USPS abbreviation
CA
ISO 3166 code US-CA
Trad. abbreviation Calif., Cal.
Latitude 32°32′ N to 42° N
Longitude 114°8′ W to 124°26′ W
Website www.ca.gov
California state symbols

California is a state in the Pacific Region of the United States. With 39.5 million residents across a total area of about 163,696 square miles (423,970 km2), California is the most populous U.S. state and the third-largest by area. The state capital is Sacramento. The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation’s second- and fifth-most populous urban regions, with 18.7 million and 9.7 million residents respectively.[13] Los Angeles is California’s most populous city, and the country’s second-most populous, after New York City. California also has the nation’s most populous countyLos Angeles County, and its largest county by area, San Bernardino County. The City and County of San Francisco is both the country’s second most densely populated major city after New York City and the fifth most densely populated county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs.

California’s economy, with a gross state product of $3.0 trillion, is the largest sub-national economy in the world.[14] If it were a country, California would be the fifth-largest economy in the world (larger than the United KingdomFrance, or India),[15] and the 36th-most populous as of 2017.[16] The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation’s second- and third-largest urban economies ($1.3 trillion and $1.0 trillion respectively as of 2018), after the New York metropolitan area.[17] The San Francisco Bay Area PSA had the nation’s highest gross domestic product per capita in 2018 ($106,757) among large primary statistical areas,[17] and is home to three of the world’s ten largest companies by market capitalization[18] and three of the world’s ten richest people.[19]

California culture is considered a global trendsetter in popular culturecommunicationinformationinnovationenvironmentalismeconomicspolitics, and entertainment. As a result of the state’s diversity and migration, California integrates foods, languages, and traditions from other areas across the country and around the globe. It is considered the origin of the American film industry, the hippie counterculture, fast foodbeach and car culture, the Internet,[20] and the personal computer,[21] among others.[22][23] The San Francisco Bay Area and the Greater Los Angeles Area are widely seen as centers of the global technology and entertainment industries, respectively. California’s economy is very diverse: 58% of it is based on financegovernmentreal estate servicestechnology, and professional, scientific, and technical business services.[24] Although it accounts for only 1.5% of the state’s economy,[24] California’s agriculture industry has the highest output of any U.S. state.[25][26][27]

California shares a border with Oregon to the north, Nevada and Arizona to the east, and the Mexican state of Baja California to the south. The state’s diverse geography ranges from the Pacific Coast in the west to the Sierra Nevada mountain range in the east, and from the redwood and Douglas fir forests in the northwest to the Mojave Desert in the southeast. The Central Valley, a major agricultural area, dominates the state’s center. Although California is well-known for its warm Mediterranean climate, the large size of the state results in climates that vary from moist temperate rainforest in the north to arid desert in the interior, as well as snowy alpine in the mountains. Over time, drought and wildfires have become more frequent.[28][29]

What is now California was first settled by various Native Californian tribes before being explored by a number of European expeditions during the 16th and 17th centuries. The Spanish Empire then claimed and conquered it. In 1804 it was included in Alta California province, within Spanish New Spain Viceroyalty. The area became a part of Mexico in 1821 following its successful war for independence but was ceded to the United States in 1848 after the Mexican–American War. The western portion of Alta California was then organized and admitted as the 31st state on September 9, 1850. The California Gold Rush starting in 1848 led to dramatic social and demographic changes, with large-scale emigration from the east and abroad with an accompanying economic boom.

Etymology

The Spaniards gave the name Las Californias to the peninsula of Baja California and to Alta California, the region that became the present-day states of California, Nevada, and Utah, and parts of ArizonaNew MexicoTexas, and Wyoming.[30]

The name likely derived from the mythical island of California in the fictional story of Queen Calafia, as recorded in a 1510 work The Adventures of Esplandián by Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo.[31] This work was the fifth in a popular Spanish chivalric romance series that began with Amadis de Gaula.[31][32][33][34] Queen Calafia’s kingdom was said to be a remote land rich in gold and pearls, inhabited by beautiful black women who wore gold armor and lived like Amazons, as well as griffins and other strange beasts.[31][35][36] In the fictional paradise, the ruler Queen Calafia fought alongside Muslims and her name may have been chosen to echo the title of a Muslim leader, the Caliph. It is possible the name California was meant to imply the island was a Caliphate.[31][37]

Know ye that at the right hand of the Indies there is an island called California, very close to that part of the Terrestrial Paradise, which was inhabited by black women without a single man among them, and they lived in the manner of Amazons. They were robust of body with strong passionate hearts and great virtue. The island itself is one of the wildest in the world on account of the bold and craggy rocks.

— Chapter CLVII of The Adventures of Esplandián[38]

Shortened forms of the state’s name include CA, Cal., Calif., and US-CA.

History

A map of California tribal groups and languages at the time of European contact

The first inhabitants

Settled by successive waves of arrivals during the last 10,000 years, California was one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse areas in pre-Columbian North America. Various estimates of the native population range from 100,000 to 300,000.[39] The Indigenous peoples of California included more than 70 distinct ethnic groups of Native Americans, ranging from large, settled populations living on the coast to groups in the interior. California groups also were diverse in their political organization with bands, tribes, villages, and on the resource-rich coasts, large chiefdoms, such as the ChumashPomo and Salinan. Trade, intermarriage and military alliances fostered many social and economic relationships among the diverse groups.

Colonial and Spanish periods

Mission San Diego de Alcalá drawn as it was in 1848. Established in 1769, it was the first of the California Missions.

The Russian Empire established their largest settlement in California at Fort Ross in 1812.

The first European to explore the coast as far north as the Russian River was a Spanish sailing expedition, led by Portuguese captain Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, in 1542. Some 37 years later English explorer Francis Drake also explored and claimed an undefined portion of the California coast in 1579. Spanish traders made unintended visits with the Manila galleons on their return trips from the Philippines beginning in 1565.[40] The first Asians to set foot on what would be the United States occurred in 1587, when Filipino sailors arrived in Spanish ships at Morro Bay.[41] Sebastián Vizcaíno explored and mapped the coast of California in 1602 for New Spain.

Despite the on-the-ground explorations of California in the 16th century, Rodríguez’s idea of California as an island persisted. That depiction appeared on many European maps well into the 18th century.[42]

After the Portolà expedition of 1769–70, Spanish missionaries began setting up 21 California Missions on or near the coast of Alta (Upper) California, beginning in San Diego. During the same period, Spanish military forces built several forts (presidios) and three small towns (pueblos). The San Francisco Mission grew into the city of San Francisco, and two of the pueblos grew into the cities of Los Angeles and San Jose. Several other smaller cities and towns also sprang up surrounding the various Spanish missions and pueblos, which remain to this day.

The Spanish colonization began decimating the natives through epidemics of various diseases for which the indigenous peoples had no natural immunity, such as measles and diphtheria.[43] The establishment of the Spanish systems of government and social structure, which the Spanish settlers had brought with them, also technologically and culturally overwhelmed the societies of the earlier indigenous peoples.

During this same period, Russian ships also explored along the California coast and in 1812 established a trading post at Fort Ross. Russia’s early 19th-century coastal settlements in California were positioned just north of the northernmost edge of the area of Spanish settlement in San Francisco Bay, and were the southernmost Russian settlements in North America. The Russian settlements associated with Fort Ross were spread from Point Arena to Tomales Bay.[44]

California under Mexican rule

Map showing Alta California in 1838, when it was a sparsely populated Mexican province[45]

In 1821, the Mexican War of Independence gave Mexico (including California) independence from Spain. For the next 25 years, Alta California remained as a remote, sparsely populated, northwestern administrative district of the newly independent country of Mexico.

After Mexican independence from Spain, the missions, which controlled most of the best land in the state, were secularized by 1834 and became the property of the Mexican government.[46] The governor granted many square leagues of land to others with political influence. These huge ranchos or cattle ranches emerged as the dominant institutions of Mexican California. The ranchos developed under ownership by Californios (Hispanics native of California) who traded cowhides and tallow with Boston merchants. Beef did not become a commodity until the 1849 gold Rush.

From the 1820s, trappers and settlers from the United States and the future Canada arrived in Northern California. These new arrivals used the Siskiyou TrailCalifornia TrailOregon Trail and Old Spanish Trail to cross the rugged mountains and harsh deserts in and surrounding California.

The flag used by Juan Bautista Alvarado in his 1836 independence movement

The early government of the newly independent Mexico was highly unstable, and in a reflection of this, from 1831 onwards, California also experienced a series of armed disputes, both internal and with the central Mexican government.[47] During this tumultuous political period Juan Bautista Alvarado was able to secure the governorship during 1836–1842.[48] The military action which first brought Alvarado to power had momentarily declared California to be an independent state, and had been aided by American and British residents of California,[49] including Isaac Graham.[50] In 1840, one hundred of those residents who did not have passports were arrested, leading to the Graham affair.[49]

One of the largest ranchers in California was John Marsh. After failing to obtain justice against squatters on his land from the Mexican courts, he determined that California should become part of the United States. Marsh conducted a letter-writing campaign espousing the California climate, the soil, and other reasons to settle there, as well as the best route to follow, which became known as “Marsh’s route”. His letters were read, reread, passed around, and printed in newspapers throughout the country, and started the first wagon trains rolling to California.[51] He invited immigrants to stay on his ranch until they could get settled, and assisted in their obtaining passports.[52]

After ushering in the period of organized emigration to California, Marsh helped end the rule of the last Mexican governor of California, thereby paving the way to California’s ultimate acquisition by the United States.[53]

California Republic and American invasion

The original Bear Flag, photographed in 1890

In 1846, a group of American settlers in and around Sonoma rebelled against Mexican rule during the Bear Flag Revolt. Afterwards, rebels raised the Bear Flag (featuring a bear, a star, a red stripe and the words “California Republic”) at Sonoma. The Republic’s only president was William B. Ide,[54] who played a pivotal role during the Bear Flag Revolt. This revolt by American settlers served as a prelude to the later American military invasion of California, and was closely coordinated with nearby American military commanders.

The California Republic was short lived;[55] the same year marked the outbreak of the Mexican–American War (1846–48).[56] When Commodore John D. Sloat of the United States Navy sailed into Monterey Bay and began the military occupation of California by the United States, Northern California capitulated in less than a month to the United States forces.[57] After a series of defensive battles in Southern California, the Treaty of Cahuenga was signed by the Californios on January 13, 1847, securing American control in California.[58]

Early American statehood period

Miners during the California Gold Rush
California being Admitted to the Union under the Compromise of 1850
Merchant ships at San Francisco harbor; c. 1850–51
Guidon of the California 100 Company (Company A) during the Civil War
Depiction of the 1869 completion of the first transcontinental railway. The Last Spike (1881) by Thomas Hill.

Following the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (February 2, 1848) that ended the war, the westernmost portion of the annexed Mexican territory of Alta California soon became the American state of California, and the remainder of the old territory was then subdivided into the new American Territories of ArizonaNevadaColorado and Utah. The lightly populated and arid lower region of old Baja California remained as a part of Mexico. In 1846, the total settler population of the western part of the old Alta California had been estimated to be no more than 8,000, plus about 100,000 Native Americans, down from about 300,000 before Hispanic settlement in 1769.[59]

In 1848, only one week before the official American annexation of the area, gold was discovered in California, this being an event which was to forever alter both the state’s demographics and its finances. Soon afterward, a massive influx of immigration into the area resulted, as prospectors and miners arrived by the thousands. The population burgeoned with United States citizens, Europeans, Chinese and other immigrants during the great California Gold Rush. By the time of California’s application for statehood in 1850, the settler population of California had multiplied to 100,000. By 1854, more than 300,000 settlers had come.[60] Between 1847 and 1870, the population of San Francisco increased from 500 to 150,000.[61] California was suddenly no longer a sparsely populated backwater, but seemingly overnight it had grown into a major population center.

The seat of government for California under Spanish and later Mexican rule had been located in Monterey from 1777 until 1845.[46] Pio Pico, last Mexican governor of Alta California, had briefly moved the capital to Los Angeles in 1845. The United States consulate had also been located in Monterey, under consul Thomas O. Larkin.

In 1849, a state Constitutional Convention was first held in Monterey. Among the first tasks of the Convention was a decision on a location for the new state capital. The first full legislative sessions were held in San Jose (1850–1851). Subsequent locations included Vallejo (1852–1853), and nearby Benicia (1853–1854); these locations eventually proved to be inadequate as well. The capital has been located in Sacramento since 1854[62] with only a short break in 1862 when legislative sessions were held in San Francisco due to flooding in Sacramento.

Once the state’s Constitutional Convention had finalized its state constitution, it applied to the U.S. Congress for admission to statehood. On September 9, 1850, as part of the Compromise of 1850, California became a free state and September 9 a state holiday.

During the American Civil War (1861–1865), California was able to send gold shipments eastwards to Washington in support of the Union cause;[63] however, due to the existence of a large contingent of pro-South sympathizers within the state, the state was not able to muster any full military regiments to send eastwards to officially serve in the Union war effort. Still, several smaller military units within the Union army were unofficially associated with the state of California, such as the “California 100 Company”, due to a majority of their members being from California.

At the time of California’s admission into the Union, travel between California and the rest of the continental United States had been a time-consuming and dangerous feat. Nineteen years afterwards, in 1869, shortly after the conclusion of the Civil War, a more direct connection was developed with the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad in 1869. California was then easy to reach.

Much of the state was extremely well suited to fruit cultivation and agriculture in general. Vast expanses of wheat, other cereal crops, vegetable crops, cotton, and nut and fruit trees were grown (including oranges in Southern California), and the foundation was laid for the state’s prodigious agricultural production in the Central Valley and elsewhere.

Indigenous peoples

Yokayo-People-at-Ukiah-California-1916.JPG

Under earlier Spanish and Mexican rule, California’s original native population had precipitously declined, above all, from Eurasian diseases to which the indigenous people of California had not yet developed a natural immunity.[64] Under its new American administration, California’s harsh governmental policies towards its own indigenous people did not improve. As in other American states, many of the native inhabitants were soon forcibly removed from their lands by incoming American settlers such as miners, ranchers, and farmers. Although California had entered the American union as a free state, the “loitering or orphaned Indians” were de facto enslaved by their new Anglo-American masters under the 1853 Act for the Government and Protection of Indians.[citation needed] There were also massacres in which hundreds of indigenous people were killed.

Between 1850 and 1860, the California state government paid around 1.5 million dollars (some 250,000 of which was reimbursed by the federal government)[65] to hire militias whose purpose was to protect settlers from the indigenous populations. In later decades, the native population was placed in reservations and rancherias, which were often small and isolated and without enough natural resources or funding from the government to sustain the populations living on them.[citation needed] As a result, the rise of California was a calamity for the native inhabitants. Several scholars and Native American activists, including Benjamin Madley and Ed Castillo, have described the actions of the California government as a genocide.[66]

1900–present

Hollywood film studios, 1922

The “Birthplace of Silicon Valley” garage, where Stanford University graduates William Hewlett and David Packard developed their first product in the 1930s

Migration to California accelerated during the early 20th century with the completion of major transcontinental highways like the Lincoln Highway and Route 66. In the period from 1900 to 1965, the population grew from fewer than one million to the greatest in the Union. In 1940, the Census Bureau reported California’s population as 6.0% Hispanic, 2.4% Asian, and 89.5% non-Hispanic white.[67]

To meet the population’s needs, major engineering feats like the California and Los Angeles Aqueducts; the Oroville and Shasta Dams; and the Bay and Golden Gate Bridges were built across the state. The state government also adopted the California Master Plan for Higher Education in 1960 to develop a highly efficient system of public education.

Meanwhile, attracted to the mild Mediterranean climate, cheap land, and the state’s wide variety of geography, filmmakers established the studio system in Hollywood in the 1920s. California manufactured 8.7 percent of total United States military armaments produced during World War II, ranking third (behind New York and Michigan) among the 48 states.[68] California however easily ranked first in production of military ships during the war (transport, cargo, [merchant ships] such as Liberty shipsVictory ships, and warships) at drydock facilities in San Diego, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area.[69][70][71][72] After World War II, California’s economy greatly expanded due to strong aerospace and defense industries,[73] whose size decreased following the end of the Cold War.[73][74] Stanford University and its Dean of Engineering Frederick Terman began encouraging faculty and graduates to stay in California instead of leaving the state, and develop a high-tech region in the area now known as Silicon Valley.[75] As a result of these efforts, California is regarded as a world center of the entertainment and music industries, of technology, engineering, and the aerospace industry, and as the United States center of agricultural production.[76] Just before the Dot Com Bust, California had the fifth-largest economy in the world among nations.[77] Yet since 1991, and starting in the late 1980s in Southern California, California has seen a net loss of domestic migrants in most years. This is often referred to by the media as the California exodus.[78]

During the 20th century, two great disasters happened in California. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake and 1928 St. Francis Dam flood remain the deadliest in U.S history.[79]

Although air pollution problems have been reduced, health problems associated with pollution have continued. The brown haze known as “smog” has been substantially abated after the passage of federal and state restrictions on automobile exhaust.[80][81]

An energy crisis in 2001 led to rolling blackouts, soaring power rates, and the importation of electricity from neighboring states. Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas and Electric Company came under heavy criticism.[82]

Housing prices in urban areas continued to increase; a modest home which in the 1960s cost $25,000 would cost half a million dollars or more in urban areas by 2005. More people commuted longer hours to afford a home in more rural areas while earning larger salaries in the urban areas. Speculators bought houses they never intended to live in, expecting to make a huge profit in a matter of months, then rolling it over by buying more properties. Mortgage companies were compliant, as everyone assumed the prices would keep rising. The bubble burst in 2007-8 as housing prices began to crash and the boom years ended. Hundreds of billions in property values vanished and foreclosures soared as many financial institutions and investors were badly hurt.[83][84]

Geography

California is the 3rd largest state in the United States in area, after Alaska and Texas.[85] California is often geographically bisected into two regions, Southern California, comprising the 10 southernmost counties,[86][87] and Northern California, comprising the 48 northernmost counties.[88][89] It is bordered by Oregon to the north, Nevada to the east and northeast, Arizona to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and it shares an international border with the Mexican state of Baja California to the south (with which it makes up part of The Californias region of North America, alongside Baja California Sur).

In the middle of the state lies the California Central Valley, bounded by the Sierra Nevada in the east, the coastal mountain ranges in the west, the Cascade Range to the north and by the Tehachapi Mountains in the south. The Central Valley is California’s productive agricultural heartland.

Divided in two by the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the northern portion, the Sacramento Valley serves as the watershed of the Sacramento River, while the southern portion, the San Joaquin Valley is the watershed for the San Joaquin River. Both valleys derive their names from the rivers that flow through them. With dredging, the Sacramento and the San Joaquin Rivers have remained deep enough for several inland cities to be seaports.

The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is a critical water supply hub for the state. Water is diverted from the delta and through an extensive network of pumps and canals that traverse nearly the length of the state, to the Central Valley and the State Water Projects and other needs. Water from the Delta provides drinking water for nearly 23 million people, almost two-thirds of the state’s population as well as water for farmers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.

Suisun Bay lies at the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers. The water is drained by the Carquinez Strait, which flows into San Pablo Bay, a northern extension of San Francisco Bay, which then connects to the Pacific Ocean via the Golden Gate strait.

The Channel Islands are located off the Southern coast, while the Farallon Islands lie west of San Francisco.

The Sierra Nevada (Spanish for “snowy range”) includes the highest peak in the contiguous 48 statesMount Whitney, at 14,505 feet (4,421 m).[2][3][4] The range embraces Yosemite Valley, famous for its glacially carved domes, and Sequoia National Park, home to the giant sequoia trees, the largest living organisms on Earth, and the deep freshwater lake, Lake Tahoe, the largest lake in the state by volume.

To the east of the Sierra Nevada are Owens Valley and Mono Lake, an essential migratory bird habitat. In the western part of the state is Clear Lake, the largest freshwater lake by area entirely in California. Although Lake Tahoe is larger, it is divided by the California/Nevada border. The Sierra Nevada falls to Arctic temperatures in winter and has several dozen small glaciers, including Palisade Glacier, the southernmost glacier in the United States.

About 45 percent of the state’s total surface area is covered by forests,[90] and California’s diversity of pine species is unmatched by any other state. California contains more forestland than any other state except Alaska. Many of the trees in the California White Mountains are the oldest in the world; an individual bristlecone pine is over 5,000 years old.[91][92]

In the south is a large inland salt lake, the Salton Sea. The south-central desert is called the Mojave; to the northeast of the Mojave lies Death Valley, which contains the lowest and hottest place in North America, the Badwater Basin at −279 feet (−85 m).[6] The horizontal distance from the bottom of Death Valley to the top of Mount Whitney is less than 90 miles (140 km). Indeed, almost all of southeastern California is arid, hot desert, with routine extreme high temperatures during the summer. The southeastern border of California with Arizona is entirely formed by the Colorado River, from which the southern part of the state gets about half of its water.

A majority of California’s cities are located in either the San Francisco Bay Area or the Sacramento metropolitan area in Northern California; or the Los Angeles area, the Riverside-San Bernardino-Inland Empire, or the San Diego metropolitan area in Southern California. The Los Angeles Area, the Bay Area, and the San Diego metropolitan area are among several major metropolitan areas along the California coast.

As part of the Ring of Fire, California is subject to tsunamisfloods, droughts, Santa Ana windswildfireslandslides on steep terrain, and has several volcanoes. It has many earthquakes due to several faults running through the state, the largest being the San Andreas Fault. About 37,000 earthquakes are recorded each year, but most are too small to be felt.[93]

Climate

Although most of the state has a Mediterranean climate, due to the state’s large size the climate ranges from polar to subtropical. The cool California Current offshore often creates summer fog near the coast. Farther inland, there are colder winters and hotter summers. The maritime moderation results in the shoreline summertime temperatures of Los Angeles and San Francisco being the coolest of all major metropolitan areas of the United States and uniquely cool compared to areas on the same latitude in the interior and on the east coast of the North American continent. Even the San Diego shoreline bordering Mexico is cooler in summer than most areas in the contiguous United States. Just a few miles inland, summer temperature extremes are significantly higher, with downtown Los Angeles being several degrees warmer than at the coast. The same microclimate phenomenon is seen in the climate of the Bay Area, where areas sheltered from the sea experience significantly hotter summers than nearby areas closer to the ocean.

Northern parts of the state have more rain than the south. California’s mountain ranges also influence the climate: some of the rainiest parts of the state are west-facing mountain slopes. Northwestern California has a temperate climate, and the Central Valley has a Mediterranean climate but with greater temperature extremes than the coast. The high mountains, including the Sierra Nevada, have an alpine climate with snow in winter and mild to moderate heat in summer.

California’s mountains produce rain shadows on the eastern side, creating extensive deserts. The higher elevation deserts of eastern California have hot summers and cold winters, while the low deserts east of the Southern California mountains have hot summers and nearly frostless mild winters. Death Valley, a desert with large expanses below sea level, is considered the hottest location in the world; the highest temperature in the world,[95][96] 134 °F (56.7 °C), was recorded there on July 10, 1913. The lowest temperature in California was −45 °F (−43 °C) in 1937 in Boca.[citation needed]

The table below lists average temperatures for January and August in a selection of places throughout the state; some highly populated and some not. This includes the relatively cool summers of the Humboldt Bay region around Eureka, the extreme heat of Death Valley, and the mountain climate of Mammoth in the Sierra Nevadas.

Average temperatures and precipitation for selected communities in California[97]
Location August
(°F)
August
(°C)
January
(°F)
January
(°C)
Annual
Precipitation
(mm/in)
Los Angeles 83/64 29/18 66/48 20/8 377/15
LAX/LA Beaches 75/64 23/18 65/49 18/9 326/13
San Diego 76/67 24/19 65/49 18/9 262/10
San Jose 82/58 27/14 58/42 14/5 401/16
San Francisco 67/54 20/12 56/46 14/8 538/21
Fresno 97/66 34/19 55/38 12/3 292/11
Sacramento 91/58 33/14 54/39 12/3 469/18
Oakland 73/58 23/14 58/44 14/7 588/23
Bakersfield 96/69 36/21 56/39 13/3 165/7
Riverside 94/60 35/18 67/39 19/4 260/10
Eureka 62/53 16/11 54/41 12/5 960/38
Death Valley 113/84 45/29 64/37 18/3   53/2
Mammoth Lakes 77/45 25/7 40/15 4/ -9 583/23

Ecology

Mount Whitney (top) is less than 90 miles (140 km) away from Badwater Basin in Death Valley (bottom).

California is one of the richest and most diverse parts of the world, and includes some of the most endangered ecological communities. California is part of the Nearctic ecozone and spans a number of terrestrial ecoregions.[98]

California’s large number of endemic species includes relict species, which have died out elsewhere, such as the Catalina ironwood (Lyonothamnus floribundus). Many other endemics originated through differentiation or adaptive radiation, whereby multiple species develop from a common ancestor to take advantage of diverse ecological conditions such as the California lilac (Ceanothus). Many California endemics have become endangered, as urbanization, logging, overgrazing, and the introduction of exotic species have encroached on their habitat.

Flora and fauna

California boasts several superlatives in its collection of flora: the largest trees, the tallest trees, and the oldest trees. California’s native grasses are perennial plants.[99] After European contact, these were generally replaced by invasive species of European annual grasses; and, in modern times, California’s hills turn a characteristic golden-brown in summer.[100]

Because California has the greatest diversity of climate and terrain, the state has six life zones which are the lower Sonoran (desert); upper Sonoran (foothill regions and some coastal lands), transition (coastal areas and moist northeastern counties); and the Canadian, Hudsonian, and Arctic Zones, comprising the state’s highest elevations.[101]

A Joshua Tree (Yucca brevifolia) in Joshua Tree

Plant life in the dry climate of the lower Sonoran zone contains a diversity of native cactus, mesquite, and paloverde. The Joshua tree is found in the Mojave Desert. Flowering plants include the dwarf desert poppy and a variety of astersFremont cottonwood and valley oak thrive in the Central Valley. The upper Sonoran zone includes the chaparral belt, characterized by forests of small shrubs, stunted trees, and herbaceous plants. NemophilamintPhaceliaViola, and the California poppy (Eschscholzia californica, the state flower) also flourish in this zone, along with the lupine, more species of which occur here than anywhere else in the world.[101]

The transition zone includes most of California’s forests with the redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) and the “big tree” or giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum), among the oldest living things on earth (some are said to have lived at least 4,000 years). Tanbark oakCalifornia laurelsugar pinemadronabroad-leaved maple, and Douglas-fir also grow here. Forest floors are covered with swordfern, alumnroot, barrenwort, and trillium, and there are thickets of huckleberryazalea, elder, and wild currant. Characteristic wild flowers include varieties of mariposa, tulip, and tiger and leopard lilies.[102]

The high elevations of the Canadian zone allow the Jeffrey pinered fir, and lodgepole pine to thrive. Brushy areas are abundant with dwarf manzanita and ceanothus; the unique Sierra puffball is also found here. Right below the timberline, in the Hudsonian zone, the whitebark, foxtail, and silver pines grow. At about 10,500 feet (3,200 m), begins the Arctic zone, a treeless region whose flora include a number of wildflowers, including Sierra primroseyellow columbinealpine buttercup, and alpine shooting star.[101][103]

Common plants that have been introduced to the state include the eucalyptusacaciapepper tree, geranium, and Scotch broom. The species that are federally classified as endangered are the Contra Costa wallflowerAntioch Dunes evening primroseSolano grassSan Clemente Island larkspursalt marsh bird’s beakMcDonald’s rock-cress, and Santa Barbara Island liveforever. As of December 1997, 85 plant species were listed as threatened or endangered.[101]

In the deserts of the lower Sonoran zone, the mammals include the jackrabbitkangaroo rat, squirrel, and opossum. Common birds include the owlroadrunnercactus wren, and various species of hawk. The area’s reptilian life include the sidewinder viperdesert tortoise, and horned toad. The upper Sonoran zone boasts mammals such as the antelopebrown-footed woodrat, and ring-tailed cat. Birds unique to this zone are the California thrasherbushtit, and California condor.[101][104][105][106]

In the transition zone, there are Colombian black-tailed deerblack bearsgray foxescougarsbobcats, and Roosevelt elk. Reptiles such as the garter snakes and rattlesnakes inhabit the zone. In addition, amphibians such as the water puppy and redwood salamander are common too. Birds such as the kingfisher, chickadee, towhee, and hummingbird thrive here as well.[101][107]

The Canadian zone mammals include the mountain weaselsnowshoe hare, and several species of chipmunks. Conspicuous birds include the blue-fronted jaySierra chickadee, Sierra hermit thrushwater ouzel, and Townsend’s solitaire. As one ascends into the Hudsonian zone, birds become scarcer. While the Sierra rosy finch is the only bird native to the high Arctic region, other bird species such as the hummingbird and Clark’s nutcracker.[citation needed] Principal mammals found in this region include the Sierra coney, white-tailed jackrabbit, and the bighorn sheep. As of April 2003, the bighorn sheep was listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The fauna found throughout several zones are the mule deercoyotemountain lionnorthern flicker, and several species of hawk and sparrow.[101]

Aquatic life in California thrives, from the state’s mountain lakes and streams to the rocky Pacific coastline. Numerous trout species are found, among them rainbowgolden, and cutthroat. Migratory species of salmon are common as well. Deep-sea life forms include sea bassyellowfin tunabarracuda, and several types of whale. Native to the cliffs of northern California are seals, sea lions, and many types of shorebirds, including migratory species.[101]

As of April 2003, 118 California animals were on the federal endangered list; 181 plants were listed as endangered or threatened. Endangered animals include the San Joaquin kitfoxPoint Arena mountain beaverPacific pocket mousesalt marsh harvest mouseMorro Bay kangaroo rat (and five other species of kangaroo rat), Amargosa voleCalifornia least ternCalifornia condorloggerhead shrikeSan Clemente sage sparrowSan Francisco garter snake, five species of salamander, three species of chub, and two species of pupfish. Eleven butterflies are also endangered[108] and two that are threatened are on the federal list.[109][110] Among threatened animals are the coastal California gnatcatcherPaiute cutthroat troutsouthern sea otter, and northern spotted owl. California has a total of 290,821 acres (1,176.91 km2) of National Wildlife Refuges.[101] As of September 2010, 123 California animals were listed as either endangered or threatened on the federal list.[111] Also, as of the same year, 178 species of California plants were listed either as endangered or threatened on this federal list.[111]

Rivers

The most prominent river system within California is formed by the Sacramento River and San Joaquin River, which are fed mostly by snowmelt from the west slope of the Sierra Nevada, and respectively drain the north and south halves of the Central Valley. The two rivers join in the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta, flowing into the Pacific Ocean through San Francisco Bay. Many major tributaries feed into the Sacramento–San Joaquin system, including the Pit RiverFeather River and Tuolumne River.

The Klamath and Trinity Rivers drain a large area in far northwestern California. The Eel River and Salinas River each drain portions of the California coast, north and south of San Francisco Bay, respectively. The Mojave River is the primary watercourse in the Mojave Desert, and the Santa Ana River drains much of the Transverse Ranges as it bisects Southern California. The Colorado River forms the state’s southeast border with Arizona.

Most of California’s major rivers are dammed as part of two massive water projects: the Central Valley Project, providing water for agriculture in the Central Valley, and the California State Water Project diverting water from northern to southern California. The state’s coasts, rivers, and other bodies of water are regulated by the California Coastal Commission.

Regions

Demographics

Population

Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 92,597
1860 379,994 310.4%
1870 560,247 47.4%
1880 864,694 54.3%
1890 1,213,398 40.3%
1900 1,485,053 22.4%
1910 2,377,549 60.1%
1920 3,426,861 44.1%
1930 5,677,251 65.7%
1940 6,907,387 21.7%
1950 10,586,223 53.3%
1960 15,717,204 48.5%
1970 19,953,134 27.0%
1980 23,667,902 18.6%
1990 29,760,021 25.7%
2000 33,871,648 13.8%
2010 37,253,956 10.0%
Est. 2019 39,512,223 6.1%
Sources: 1790–1990, 2000, 2010, 2019[112][113][114]
Chart does not include Indigenous population figures.
Studies indicate that the Native American
population in California in 1850 was close to 150,000
before declining to 15,000 by 1900.[115]

Los Angeles is the second most populous city in the U.S., after New York City.

The population density of California

The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of California was 39,512,223 on July 1, 2019, a 6.06% increase since the 2010 United States Census.[7][8] The population is projected to reach 40 million by 2020 and 50 million by 2060.[116]

Between 2000 and 2009, there was a natural increase of 3,090,016 (5,058,440 births minus 2,179,958 deaths).[117] During this time period, international migration produced a net increase of 1,816,633 people while domestic migration produced a net decrease of 1,509,708, resulting in a net in-migration of 306,925 people.[117] The state of California’s own statistics show a population of 38,292,687 for January 1, 2009.[118] However, according to the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, since 1990 almost 3.4 million Californians have moved to other states, with most leaving to Texas, Nevada, and Arizona.[119]

Within the Western hemisphere California is the second most populous sub-national administrative entity (behind the state of São Paulo in Brazil)[120] and third most populous sub-national entity of any kind outside Asia (in which wider category it also ranks behind England in the United Kingdom, which has no administrative functions). California’s population is greater than that of all but 34 countries of the world.[121][122] The Greater Los Angeles Area is the 2nd-largest metropolitan area in the United States, after the New York metropolitan area, while Los Angeles, with nearly half the population of New York City, is the second-largest city in the United States. Conversely, San Francisco, with nearly one-quarter the population density of Manhattan, is the most densely populated city in California and one of the most densely populated cities in the United States. Also, Los Angeles County has held the title of most populous United States county for decades, and it alone is more populous than 42 United States states.[123][124] Including Los Angeles, four of the top 15 most populous cities in the U.S. are in California: Los Angeles (2nd), San Diego (8th), San Jose (10th), and San Francisco (13th). The center of population of California is located in the town of ButtonwillowKern County.[note 1]

Cities and towns

The state has 482 incorporated cities and towns, of which 460 are cities and 22 are towns. Under California law, the terms “city” and “town” are explicitly interchangeable; the name of an incorporated municipality in the state can either be “City of (Name)” or “Town of (Name)”.[126]

Sacramento became California’s first incorporated city on February 27, 1850.[127] San JoseSan Diego, and Benicia tied for California’s second incorporated city, each receiving incorporation on March 27, 1850.[128][129][130] Jurupa Valley became the state’s most recent and 482nd incorporated municipality on July 1, 2011.[131][132]

The majority of these cities and towns are within one of five metropolitan areas: the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area, the San Francisco Bay Area, the Riverside-San Bernardino Area, the San Diego metropolitan area, or the Sacramento metropolitan area.

Largest metropolitan statistical areas in California
CA Rank U.S. Rank Metropolitan statistical area[134] 2018 Estimate[135] 2010 Census[135] Change Counties[134]
1 2 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA MSA 13,291,486 12,828,837 +3.61% Los AngelesOrange
2 12 San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA MSA 4,729,484 4,335,391 +9.09% AlamedaContra CostaMarinSan FranciscoSan Mateo
3 13 Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA MSA 4,622,361 4,224,851 +9.41% RiversideSan Bernardino
4 17 San Diego-Carlsbad, CA MSA 3,343,364 3,095,313 +8.01% San Diego
5 27 Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, CA MSA 2,345,210 2,149,127 +9.12% El DoradoPlacerSacramentoYolo
6 35 San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA MSA 1,999,107 1,836,911 +8.83% San BenitoSanta Clara
7 55 Fresno, CA MSA 994,400 930,450 +6.87% Fresno
8 62 Bakersfield, CA MSA 896,764 839,631 +6.80% Kern
9 67 Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA MSA 850,967 823,318 +3.36% Ventura
10 76 Stockton-Lodi, CA MSA 752,660 685,306 +9.83% San Joaquin
Largest combined statistical areas in California
CA Rank U.S. Rank Combined statistical area[136] 2017 estimate[136] 2010 Census[136] Change Counties[134]
1 2 Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA Combined Statistical Area 18,788,800 17,877,006 +5.10% Los AngelesOrangeRiversideSan BernardinoVentura
2 5 San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA Combined Statistical Area 8,837,789 8,153,696 +8.39% AlamedaContra CostaMarinNapaSanta CruzSan BenitoSan FranciscoSan JoaquinSan MateoSanta ClaraSolanoSonoma
3 22 Sacramento-Roseville, CA Combined Statistical Area 2,598,377 2,414,783 +7.60% El DoradoNevadaPlacerSacramentoSutterYoloYuba
4 49 Fresno-Madera, CA Combined Statistical Area 1,146,145 1,081,315 +6.00% FresnoMadera
5 62 Modesto-Merced, CA Combined Statistical Area 820,572 770,246 +6.53% MercedStanislaus
6 81 Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, CA Combined Statistical Area 614,594 595,161 +3.27% KingsTulare
7 123 Redding-Red Bluff, CA Combined Statistical Area 243,847 240,686 +1.31% ShastaTehama

Migration

Starting in the year 2010, for the first time since the California Gold Rush, California-born residents make up the majority of the state’s population.[137] Along with the rest of the United States, California’s immigration pattern has also shifted over the course of the late 2000s to early 2010s.[138] Immigration from Latin American countries has dropped significantly with most immigrants now coming from Asia.[139] In total for 2011, there were 277,304 immigrants. 57% came from Asian countries vs. 22% from Latin American countries.[139] Net immigration from Mexico, previously the most common country of origin for new immigrants, has dropped to zero/less than zero since more Mexican nationals are departing for their home country than immigrating.[138] As a result it is projected that Hispanic citizens will constitute 49% of the population by 2060, instead of the previously projected 2050, due primarily to domestic births.[138][140]

The state’s population of undocumented immigrants has been shrinking in recent years, due to increased enforcement and decreased job opportunities for lower-skilled workers.[141] The number of migrants arrested attempting to cross the Mexican border in the Southwest decreased from a high of 1.1 million in 2005 to 367,000 in 2011.[142] Despite these recent trends, illegal aliens constituted an estimated 7.3 percent of the state’s population, the third highest percentage of any state in the country,[143][note 2] totaling nearly 2.6 million.[144] In particular, illegal immigrants tended to be concentrated in Los AngelesMontereySan BenitoImperial, and Napa Counties—the latter four of which have significant agricultural industries that depend on manual labor.[145] More than half of illegal immigrants originate from Mexico.[144] The state of California and some California cities, including Los AngelesOakland and San Francisco,[146] have adopted sanctuary policies.[147][148]

National origins

According to the United States Census Bureau in 2016 the population self-identifies as (alone or in combination):[149]

By ethnicity, in 2016 the population was 61.1% non-Hispanic (of any race) and 38.9% Hispanic or Latino (of any race). Hispanics are the largest single ethnic group in California.[149] Non-Hispanic whites constituted 37.7% of the state’s population.[149] Californios are the Hispanic residents native to California, who are culturally or genetically descended from the Spanish-speaking community which has existed in California since 1542, of varying Mexican American/ChicanoCriollo Spaniard, and Mestizo origin.[150]

As of 2011, 75.1% of California’s population younger than age 1 were minorities, meaning they had at least one parent who was not non-Hispanic white (white Hispanics are counted as minorities).[151]

In terms of total numbers, California has the largest population of White Americans in the United States, an estimated 22,200,000 residents. The state has the 5th largest population of African Americans in the United States, an estimated 2,250,000 residents. California’s Asian American population is estimated at 4.4 million, constituting a third of the nation’s total. California’s Native American population of 285,000 is the most of any state.[152]

According to estimates from 2011, California has the largest minority population in the United States by numbers, making up 60% of the state population.[114] Over the past 25 years, the population of non-Hispanic whites has declined, while Hispanic and Asian populations have grown. Between 1970 and 2011, non-Hispanic whites declined from 80% of the state’s population to 40%, while Hispanics grew from 32% in 2000 to 38% in 2011.[153] It is currently projected that Hispanics will rise to 49% of the population by 2060, primarily due to domestic births rather than immigration.[140] With the decline of immigration from Latin America, Asian Americans now constitute the fastest growing racial/ethnic group in California; this growth is primarily driven by immigration from ChinaIndia and the Philippines, respectively.[154]

Languages

Non-English Languages Spoken in California by more than 100,000 persons 

English serves as California’s de jure and de facto official language. In 2010, the Modern Language Association of America estimated that 57.02% (19,429,309) of California residents age 5 and older spoke only English at home, while 42.98% spoke another primary language at home. According to the 2007 American Community Survey, 73% of people who speak a language other than English at home are able to speak English well or very well, with 9.8% not speaking English at all.[161] Like most U.S. states (32 out of 50), California law enshrines English as its official language, and has done so since the passage of Proposition 63 by California voters. Various government agencies do, and are often required to, furnish documents in the various languages needed to reach their intended audiences.[162][163][164]

In total, 16 languages other than English were spoken as primary languages at home by more than 100,000 persons, more than any other state in the nation. New York State, in second place, had nine languages other than English spoken by more than 100,000 persons.[165] The most common language spoken besides English was Spanish, spoken by 28.46% (9,696,638) of the population.[140][138] With Asia contributing most of California’s new immigrants, California had the highest concentration nationwide of Vietnamese and Chinese speakers, the second highest concentration of Korean, and the third highest concentration of Tagalog speakers.[161]

California has historically been one of the most linguistically diverse areas in the world, with more than 70 indigenous languages derived from 64 root languages in six language families.[166][167] A survey conducted between 2007 and 2009 identified 23 different indigenous languages among California farmworkers.[168] All of California’s indigenous languages are endangered, although there are now efforts toward language revitalization.[note 3]

As a result of the state’s increasing diversity and migration from other areas across the country and around the globe, linguists began noticing a noteworthy set of emerging characteristics of spoken American English in California since the late 20th century. This variety, known as California English, has a vowel shift and several other phonological processes that are different from varieties of American English used in other regions of the United States.[169]

Culture

Sunset at Venice Beach

The culture of California is a Western culture and most clearly has its modern roots in the culture of the United States, but also, historically, many Hispanic Californio and Mexican influences. As a border and coastal state, Californian culture has been greatly influenced by several large immigrant populations, especially those from Latin America and Asia.[170][failed verification]

California has long been a subject of interest in the public mind and has often been promoted by its boosters as a kind of paradise. In the early 20th century, fueled by the efforts of state and local boosters, many Americans saw the Golden State as an ideal resort destination, sunny and dry all year round with easy access to the ocean and mountains. In the 1960s, popular music groups such as The Beach Boys promoted the image of Californians as laid-back, tanned beach-goers.

The California Gold Rush of the 1850s is still seen as a symbol of California’s economic style, which tends to generate technology, social, entertainment, and economic fads and booms and related busts.

Religion

Religion in California (2014)[171]
religion percent
Protestantism
32%
Roman Catholicism
28%
No religion
27%
Judaism
2%
Buddhism
2%
Hinduism
2%
Islam
1%
Mormonism
1%
Other
5%

The largest religious denominations by number of adherents as a percentage of California’s population in 2014 were the Catholic Church with 28 percent, Evangelical Protestants with 20 percent, and Mainline Protestants with 10 percent. Together, all kinds of Protestants accounted for 32 percent. Those unaffiliated with any religion represented 27 percent of the population. The breakdown of other religions is 1% Muslim, 2% Hindu and 2% Buddhist.[171] This is a change from 2008, when the population identified their religion with the Catholic Church with 31 percent; Evangelical Protestants with 18 percent; and Mainline Protestants with 14 percent. In 2008, those unaffiliated with any religion represented 21 percent of the population. The breakdown of other religions in 2008 was 0.5% Muslim, 1% Hindu and 2% Buddhist.[172] The American Jewish Year Book placed the total Jewish population of California at about 1,194,190 in 2006.[173] According to the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA) the largest denominations by adherents in 2010 were the Roman Catholic Church with 10,233,334; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with 763,818; and the Southern Baptist Convention with 489,953.[174]

The first priests to come to California were Roman Catholic missionaries from Spain. Roman Catholics founded 21 missions along the California coast, as well as the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco. California continues to have a large Roman Catholic population due to the large numbers of Mexicans and Central Americans living within its borders. California has twelve dioceses and two archdioceses, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Archdiocese of San Francisco, the former being the largest archdiocese in the United States.

Pew Research Center survey revealed that California is somewhat less religious than the rest of the states: 62 percent of Californians say they are “absolutely certain” of their belief in God, while in the nation 71 percent say so. The survey also revealed 48 percent of Californians say religion is “very important”, compared to 56 percent nationally.[175]

Sports

California has nineteen major professional sports league franchises, far more than any other state. The San Francisco Bay Area has six major league teams spread in its three major cities: San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland, while the Greater Los Angeles Area is home to ten major league franchises. San Diego and Sacramento each have one major league team. The NFL Super Bowl has been hosted in California 11 times at four different stadiums: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the Rose Bowl, Stanford Stadium, and San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium. A twelfth, Super Bowl 50, was held at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara on February 7, 2016.[176]

California has long had many respected collegiate sports programs. California is home to the oldest college bowl game, the annual Rose Bowl, among others.

California is the only U.S. state to have hosted both the Summer and Winter Olympics. The 1932 and 1984 summer games were held in Los AngelesSquaw Valley Ski Resort in the Lake Tahoe region hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics. Los Angeles will host the 2028 Summer Olympics, marking the fourth time that California will have hosted the Olympic Games.[177] Multiple games during the 1994 FIFA World Cup took place in California, with the Rose Bowl hosting eight matches (including the final), while Stanford Stadium hosted six matches.

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum hosted the Olympic Games in 1932 and 1984.

Below is a list of major league sports teams in California:

Team Sport League
Los Angeles Rams American football National Football League (NFL)
Los Angeles Chargers American football National Football League
San Francisco 49ers American football National Football League
Los Angeles Dodgers Baseball Major League Baseball (MLB)
Los Angeles Angels Baseball Major League Baseball
Oakland Athletics Baseball Major League Baseball
San Diego Padres Baseball Major League Baseball
San Francisco Giants Baseball Major League Baseball
Golden State Warriors Basketball National Basketball Association (NBA)
Los Angeles Clippers Basketball National Basketball Association
Los Angeles Lakers Basketball National Basketball Association
Sacramento Kings Basketball National Basketball Association
Los Angeles Sparks Basketball Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA)
Anaheim Ducks Ice hockey National Hockey League (NHL)
Los Angeles Kings Ice hockey National Hockey League
San Jose Sharks Ice hockey National Hockey League
Los Angeles Galaxy Soccer Major League Soccer (MLS)
San Jose Earthquakes Soccer Major League Soccer
Los Angeles Football Club Soccer Major League Soccer

Education

Torrance High School, one of the oldest high schools in continuous use in California

Public secondary education consists of high schools that teach elective courses in trades, languages, and liberal arts with tracks for gifted, college-bound and industrial arts students. California’s public educational system is supported by a unique constitutional amendment that requires a minimum annual funding level for grades K–12 and community colleges that grow with the economy and student enrollment figures.[178]

In 2016, California’s K–12 public school per-pupil spending was ranked 22nd in the nation ($11,500 per student vs. $11,800 for the U.S. average).[179]

For 2012, California’s K–12 public schools ranked 48th in the number of employees per student, at 0.102 (the U.S. average was 0.137), while paying the 7th most per employee, $49,000 (the U.S. average was $39,000).[180][181][182]

A 2007 study concluded that California’s public school system was “broken” in that it suffered from over-regulation.[183]

California’s public postsecondary education offers three separate systems:

  • The research university system in the state is the University of California (UC), a public university system. As of fall 2011, the University of California had a combined student body of 234,464 students.[184] There are ten general UC campuses, and a number of specialized campuses in the UC system, as the UC San Francisco, which is entirely dedicated to graduate education in health care, and is home to the UCSF Medical Center, the highest ranked hospital in California.[185] The system was originally intended to accept the top one-eighth of California high school students, but several of the schools have become even more selective.[186][187][188] The UC system was originally given exclusive authority in awarding PhDs, but this has since changed and the CSU is also able to award several Doctoral degrees.
  • The California State University (CSU) system has almost 430,000 students. The CSU was originally intended to accept the top one-third of California high school students, but several of the schools have become much more selective.[188][189] The CSU was originally set up to award only bachelor’s and master’s degrees, but has since been granted the authority to award several Doctoral degrees.
  • The California Community Colleges System provides lower division coursework as well as basic skills and workforce training. It is the largest network of higher education in the U.S., composed of 112 colleges serving a student population of over 2.6 million.

California is also home to such notable private universities as Stanford University, the University of Southern California, the California Institute of Technology, and the Claremont Colleges. California has hundreds of other private colleges and universities, including many religious and special-purpose institutions.

Twinned regions

California has twinning arrangements with the region of Catalonia in Spain[190] and with the Province of Alberta in Canada.[191][192]

Economy

A tree map depicting the distribution of occupations across the state of California

California’s economy ranks among the largest in the world. As of 2018, the gross state product (GSP) was $3.0 trillion ($76,000 per capita), the largest in the United States.[193] California is responsible for 1/7 of the United States’ approximate $21 trillion gross domestic product (GDP).[194] As of 2018, California’s nominal GDP is larger than all but four countries (the United StatesChinaJapan, and Germany).[195][196] In terms of Purchasing Power Parity,[197] it is larger than all but eight countries (the United States, China, India, Japan, Germany, Russia, Brazil and Indonesia).[198] California’s economy is larger than Africa and Australia and is almost as large as South America.[199]

-Total Non farm Employment 2016

  • 14,600,349

-Total employer establishments 2016

The five largest sectors of employment in California are trade, transportation, and utilities; government; professional and business services; education and health services; and leisure and hospitality. In output, the five largest sectors are financial services, followed by trade, transportation, and utilities; education and health services; government; and manufacturing.[201] As of September 2016, California has an unemployment rate of 5.5%.

California’s economy is dependent on trade and international related commerce accounts for about one-quarter of the state’s economy. In 2008, California exported $144 billion worth of goods, up from $134 billion in 2007 and $127 billion in 2006.[202] Computers and electronic products are California’s top export, accounting for 42 percent of all the state’s exports in 2008.[202]

Agriculture is an important sector in California’s economy. Farming-related sales more than quadrupled over the past three decades, from $7.3 billion in 1974 to nearly $31 billion in 2004.[203] This increase has occurred despite a 15 percent decline in acreage devoted to farming during the period, and water supply suffering from chronic instability. Factors contributing to the growth in sales-per-acre include more intensive use of active farmlands and technological improvements in crop production.[203] In 2008, California’s 81,500 farms and ranches generated $36.2 billion products revenue.[204] In 2011, that number grew to $43.5 billion products revenue.[205] The Agriculture sector accounts for two percent of the state’s GDP and employs around three percent of its total workforce.[206] According to the USDA in 2011, the three largest California agricultural products by value were milk and cream, shelled almonds, and grapes.[207]

Per capita GDP in 2007 was $38,956, ranking eleventh in the nation.[208] Per capita income varies widely by geographic region and profession. The Central Valley is the most impoverished, with migrant farm workers making less than minimum wage. According to a 2005 report by the Congressional Research Service, the San Joaquin Valley was characterized as one of the most economically depressed regions in the United States, on par with the region of Appalachia.[209] Using the supplemental poverty measure, California has a poverty rate of 23.5%, the highest of any state in the country.[210] However, using the official measure the poverty rate was only 13.3% as of 2017.[211] Many coastal cities include some of the wealthiest per-capita areas in the United States. The high-technology sectors in Northern California, specifically Silicon Valley, in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, have emerged from the economic downturn caused by the dot-com bust.

In 2010, there were more than 663,000 millionaires in the state, more than any other state in the nation.[212] In 2010, California residents were ranked first among the states with the best average credit score of 754.[213]

State finances

State spending increased from $56 billion in 1998 to $127 billion in 2011.[216][217] California, with 12% of the United States population, has one-third of the nation’s welfare recipients.[218] California has the third highest per capita spending on welfare among the states, as well as the highest spending on welfare at $6.67 billion.[219] In January 2011, California’s total debt was at least $265 billion.[220] On June 27, 2013, Governor Jerry Brown signed a balanced budget (no deficit) for the state, its first in decades; however the state’s debt remains at $132 billion.[221][222]

With the passage of Proposition 30 in 2012 and Proposition 55 in 2016, California now levies a 13.3% maximum marginal income tax rate with ten tax brackets, ranging from 1% at the bottom tax bracket of $0 annual individual income to 13.3% for annual individual income over $1,000,000 (though the top brackets are only temporary until Proposition 55 expires at the end of 2030). While Proposition 30 also enacted a minimum state sales tax of 7.5%, this sales tax increase was not extended by Proposition 55 and reverted to a previous minimum state sales tax rate of 7.25% in 2017. Local governments can and do levy additional sales taxes in addition to this minimum rate.[223]

All real property is taxable annually; the ad valorem tax is based on the property’s fair market value at the time of purchase or the value of new construction. Property tax increases are capped at 2% annually or the rate of inflation (whichever is lower), per Proposition 13.

Infrastructure

Energy

Part of the 354 MW SEGS solar complex in northern San Bernardino County, California

Because it is the most populous state in the United States, California is one of the country’s largest users of energy. However because of its high energy rates, conservation mandates, mild weather in the largest population centers and strong environmental movement, its per capita energy use is one of the smallest of any state in the United States.[224] Due to the high electricity demand, California imports more electricity than any other state, primarily hydroelectric power from states in the Pacific Northwest (via Path 15 and Path 66) and coal- and natural gas-fired production from the desert Southwest via Path 46.[225]

As a result of the state’s strong environmental movement, California has some of the most aggressive renewable energy goals in the United States, with a target for California to obtain a third of its electricity from renewables by 2020.[226] Currently, several solar power plants such as the Solar Energy Generating Systems facility are located in the Mojave DesertCalifornia’s wind farms include Altamont PassSan Gorgonio Pass, and Tehachapi Pass. Several dams across the state provide hydro-electric power. It would be possible to convert the total supply to 100% renewable energy, including heating, cooling and mobility, by 2050.[227]

The state’s crude oil and natural gas deposits are located in the Central Valley and along the coast, including the large Midway-Sunset Oil Field. Natural gas-fired power plants typically account for more than one-half of state electricity generation.

California is also home to two major nuclear power plants: Diablo Canyon and San Onofre, the latter having been shut down in 2013. Voters banned the approval of new nuclear power plants since the late 1970s because of concerns over radioactive waste disposal.[228][note 4] In addition, several cities such as Oakland, Berkeley and Davis have declared themselves as nuclear-free zones.

Transportation

One of Caltrans‘s tall “stack” interchanges

California’s vast terrain is connected by an extensive system of controlled-access highways (‘freeways’), limited-access roads (‘expressways’), and highways. California is known for its car culture, giving California’s cities a reputation for severe traffic congestion. Construction and maintenance of state roads and statewide transportation planning are primarily the responsibility of the California Department of Transportation, nicknamed “Caltrans”. The rapidly growing population of the state is straining all of its transportation networks, and California has some of the worst roads in the United States.[230][231] The Reason Foundation’s 19th Annual Report on the Performance of State Highway Systems ranked California’s highways the third-worst of any state, with Alaska second, and Rhode Island first.[232]

The state has been a pioneer in road construction. One of the state’s more visible landmarks, the Golden Gate Bridge, was the longest suspension bridge main span in the world at 4,200 feet (1,300 m) between 1937 (when it opened) and 1964. With its orange paint and panoramic views of the bay, this highway bridge is a popular tourist attraction and also accommodates pedestrians and bicyclists. The San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge (often abbreviated the “Bay Bridge”), completed in 1936, transports about 280,000 vehicles per day on two-decks. Its two sections meet at Yerba Buena Island through the world’s largest diameter transportation bore tunnel, at 76 feet (23 m) wide by 58 feet (18 m) high.[233] The Arroyo Seco Parkway, connecting Los Angeles and Pasadena, opened in 1940 as the first freeway in the Western United States.[234] It was later extended south to the Four Level Interchange in downtown Los Angeles, regarded as the first stack interchange ever built.[235]

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), the 6th busiest airport in the world, and San Francisco International Airport (SFO), the 23rd busiest airport in the world, are major hubs for trans-Pacific and transcontinental traffic. There are about a dozen important commercial airports and many more general aviation airports throughout the state.

California also has several important seaports. The giant seaport complex formed by the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach in Southern California is the largest in the country and responsible for handling about a fourth of all container cargo traffic in the United States. The Port of Oakland, fourth largest in the nation, also handles trade entering from the Pacific Rim to the rest of the country. The Port of Stockton is the farthest inland port on the west coast of the United States.[236]

The California Highway Patrol is the largest statewide police agency in the United States in employment with more than 10,000 employees. They are responsible for providing any police-sanctioned service to anyone on California’s state-maintained highways and on state property.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles is by far the largest in North America. By the end of 2009, the California DMV had 26,555,006 driver’s licenses and ID cards on file.[237] In 2010, there were 1.17 million new vehicle registrations in force.[238]

Inter-city rail travel is provided by Amtrak California; the three routes, the Capitol CorridorPacific Surfliner, and San Joaquin, are funded by Caltrans. These services are the busiest intercity rail lines in the United States outside the Northeast Corridor and ridership is continuing to set records. The routes are becoming increasingly popular over flying, especially on the LAX-SFO route.[239] Integrated subway and light rail networks are found in Los Angeles (Metro Rail) and San Francisco (MUNI Metro). Light rail systems are also found in San Jose (VTA), San Diego (San Diego Trolley), Sacramento (RT Light Rail), and Northern San Diego County (Sprinter). Furthermore, commuter rail networks serve the San Francisco Bay Area (ACEBARTCaltrainSMART), Greater Los Angeles (Metrolink), and San Diego County (Coaster).

The California High-Speed Rail Authority was created in 1996 by the state to implement an extensive 800-mile (1,300 km) rail system. Construction was approved by the voters during the November 2008 general election,[240] with the first phase of construction estimated to cost $64.2 billion.[241]

Nearly all counties operate bus lines, and many cities operate their own city bus lines as well. Intercity bus travel is provided by GreyhoundMegabus, and Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach.

Water

An aerial view of the Delta–Mendota Canal (left) and the California Aqueduct, at the Interstate 205 crossing west of Tracy, conveying water from Northern to Southern California

California’s interconnected water system is the world’s largest, managing over 40,000,000 acre feet (49 km3) of water per year, centered on six main systems of aqueducts and infrastructure projects.[242] Water use and conservation in California is a politically divisive issue, as the state experiences periodic droughts and has to balance the demands of its large agricultural and urban sectors, especially in the arid southern portion of the state. The state’s widespread redistribution of water also invites the frequent scorn of environmentalists.

The California Water Wars, a conflict between Los Angeles and the Owens Valley over water rights, is one of the most well-known examples of the struggle to secure adequate water supplies.[243] Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said: “We’ve been in crisis for quite some time because we’re now 38 million people and not anymore 18 million people like we were in the late 60s. So it developed into a battle between environmentalists and farmers and between the south and the north and between rural and urban. And everyone has been fighting for the last four decades about water.”[244]

Government and politics

State government

The California State Capitol in Sacramento, which has served as California’s capital since 1854

Democrats Jerry Brown and Eric Garcetti, serving as Governor of California and Mayor of Los Angeles

The capital of California is located within Sacramento.[245] The state is organized into three branches of government—the executive branch consisting of the Governor[246] and the other independently elected constitutional officers; the legislative branch consisting of the Assembly and Senate;[247] and the judicial branch consisting of the Supreme Court of California and lower courts.[248] The state also allows ballot propositions: direct participation of the electorate by initiativereferendumrecall, and ratification.[249] Before the passage of California Proposition 14 (2010), California allowed each political party to choose whether to have a closed primary or a primary where only party members and independents vote. After June 8, 2010, when Proposition 14 was approved, excepting only the United States President and county central committee offices,[250] all candidates in the primary elections are listed on the ballot with their preferred party affiliation, but they are not the official nominee of that party.[251] At the primary election, the two candidates with the top votes will advance to the general election regardless of party affiliation.[251] If at a special primary election, one candidate receives more than 50% of all the votes cast, they are elected to fill the vacancy and no special general election will be held.[251]

Executive branch

The California executive branch consists of the Governor of California and seven other elected constitutional officers: Lieutenant GovernorAttorney GeneralSecretary of StateState ControllerState TreasurerInsurance Commissioner, and State Superintendent of Public Instruction. They serve four-year terms and may be re-elected only once.[252]

Legislative branch

The California State Legislature consists of a 40-member Senate and 80-member Assembly. Senators serve four-year terms and Assembly members two. Members of the Assembly are subject to term limits of three terms, and members of the Senate are subject to term limits of two terms.

Judicial branch

California’s legal system is explicitly based upon English common law[253] (as is the case with all other states except Louisiana) but carries a few features from Spanish civil law, such as community property. California’s prison population grew from 25,000 in 1980 to over 170,000 in 2007.[254] Capital punishment is a legal form of punishment and the state has the largest “Death Row” population in the country (though Oklahoma and Texas are far more active in carrying out executions).[255][256]

California’s judiciary system is the largest in the United States with a total of 1,600 judges (the federal system has only about 840). At the apex is the seven-member Supreme Court of California, while the California Courts of Appeal serve as the primary appellate courts and the California Superior Courts serve as the primary trial courts. Justices of the Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal are appointed by the Governor, but are subject to retention by the electorate every 12 years. The administration of the state’s court system is controlled by the Judicial Council, composed of the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, 14 judicial officers, four representatives from the State Bar of California, and one member from each house of the state legislature.

Local government

Counties