California is a state located on the western side of the United States. It was officially made a state on September 9, 1850. However, the history of the this state can be traced back many years. In 1602 it was claimed for New Spain and remained under Spanish control until 1821 when Mexico gained independence from Spain. In 1846 American settlers declared independence and created the (unrecognized) California Republic. The US army took the area during the Mexican–American War and the Republic ceded control to the United States. Let’s find out where the name California came from.
How did California get its name?
The name California was first used by the Spanish for the southern tip of Baja California peninsula, which they called the Island of California (they thought it was an island at this time). The state of California gets its name from the region, which was originally called California by the Spanish. This area included the Baja California peninsula along with the current US states of California, Nevada, Utah and parts of Wyoming, New Mexico and Arizona.
Unfortunately the exact origin of the name California is unknown, but there are several theories. The most popular of these theories is that the name came from a fictional island paradise called California in the romance novel Las Sergas de Esplandián (The Adventures of Esplandián) by Spanish author García Ordóñez de Montalvo. The explorers thought that the “island” they had discovered resembled the location in the story.
Another strong theory is that the name comes from the Spanish words caliente fornalla, which means ‘hot furnace’ and could relate to the heat often experienced in this region.
Did you know?
The name California is the fifth oldest place-name still used in the United States.