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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Southern California (SoCal) is the southern area of the U.S. state of California. Though there is no official definition for the northern boundary of Southern California, most definitions in use include all the land south of the Tehachapi Mountains, located about 70 miles (113 km) north of Los Angeles.[1] Southern California can be divided into Greater Los Angeles, the Inland Empire, and the Southern Border. Southern California is a large cultural and economic center for the State of California.[citation needed]

Its population encompasses a total of five metropolitan areas: the Los Angeles metropolitan area, Riverside-San Bernardino metropolitan area, San Diego metropolitan area, Oxnard-Thousand Oaks metropolitan area and the El Centro metropolitan area. Out of these, three are major metropolitan areas, each of which have over 3 million people; the Los Angeles metropolitan area with over 12 million inhabitants, the Riverside-San Bernardino metropolitan area with over 4 million inhabitants, and the San Diego metropolitan area with over 3 million inhabitants. The region as a whole is home to approximately 24 million people, which is more than half of California's population, and is the nation's most populous region behind the urban seaboard of the Northeastern United States.

To the west of Southern California lies the Pacific Ocean; to the south is the international border between the United States and Mexico; to the east are the Mojave and Colorado Deserts and the Colorado River at the state's border with Arizona and Nevada.



Within its boundaries are two major world cities, Los Angeles and San Diego, as well as three of the country's largest metropolitan areas.[2] With a population of 1,336,865, San Diego is the second most populous city in California, and the eighth most populous in the U.S.

Its counties of Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, San Bernardino, and Riverside are in the top 15 most populous counties in the United States and all five are the top 5 most populous counties in California.[3] The region is also home to Los Angeles International Airport, the third-busiest airport in the United States by passenger volume (see World's busiest airports by passenger traffic) and the second by international passenger volume (see Busiest airports in the United States by international passenger traffic); San Diego International Airport the busiest single runway airport in the world; Van Nuys Airport, the world's busiest general aviation airport; major commercial airports at Orange County, Ontario, Burbank and Long Beach; and numerous smaller commercial and general aviation airports. Southern California is also home to the Port of Los Angeles, the United States' busiest commercial port, the adjacent Port of Long Beach, and the Port of San Diego. Also of note in the region is the freeway system, which is the world's busiest. Six of the seven lines of the commuter rail system, Metrolink, run out of Downtown Los Angeles, connecting Los Angeles, Ventura, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, and San Diego counties with the other line connecting San Bernardino, Riverside, and Orange counties directly.

The Tech Coast is a moniker that has gained use as a descriptor for the region's diversified technology and industrial base as well as its multitude of prestigious and world-renowned research universities and other public and private institutions. Amongst these include five University of California campuses (Los Angeles (UCLA), Irvine, Riverside, Santa Barbara, and San Diego (UCSD) campuses), 10 California State University campuses (Channel Islands, Dominguez Hills, Fullerton, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Pomona (Cal Poly Pomona), Northridge (CSUN), San Bernardino, San Diego (SDSU), and San Marcos campuses), as well as private institutions such as Caltech, the University of Southern California, Pepperdine University, Loyola Marymount University,Chapman University, the Claremont Colleges and the University of San Diego (USD).

The famous Hollywood sign in L.A., a symbol of the city's world famous entertainment culture.
Universal Studios at Hollywood

Southern California is also the entertainment (motion picture, television, and recorded music) capital of the world and is home to Hollywood, the center of the motion picture industry. Headquartered in Southern California are The Walt Disney Company (which also owns ABC), Sony Pictures, Universal, MGM, Paramount Pictures (parent company of Dreamworks), 20th Century Fox and Warner Brothers, and as well as Univision, Activision, and THQ. Southern California is also home to the world's largest adult entertainment industry, located primarily in the San Fernando Valley.

Besides the entertainment industry, Southern California is also home to a large home grown surf and skateboard culture. Companies such as Volcom, Quiksilver, O'Neill clothing division, No Fear, [Lost Enterprises, Sector 9[4], RVCA, Body Glove and Surfline[5] are all headquartered here. Professional skateboarder Tony Hawk, professional surfers Rob Machado, Tim Curran, Bobby Martinez, Pat O'Connell, Dane Reynolds, and Chris Ward, and professional snowboarder Shaun White live in Southern California. Some of the world's legendary surf spots are here as well, including Trestles, Rincon, The Wedge, Huntington Beach, and Malibu, and it is second only to the island of Oahu in terms of famous surf breaks. Some of the world's biggest extreme sports events including the X Games[6], Boost Mobile Pro[7], and the U.S. Open of Surfing are all in Southern California. Southern California is also important to the world of yachting. The annual Transpacific Yacht Race, or "Transpac", from Los Angeles to Hawaii, is one of yachting's premier events. The San Diego Yacht Club held the America's Cup, the most prestigious prize in yachting, from 1988 to 1995 and hosted three America's Cup races during that time.

Southern California is home to many sports franchises and sports networks such as Fox Sports Net. Professional teams that are located in the region include the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Galaxy, Chivas USA, and San Diego Chargers. Southern California also is home to a number of popular NCAA sports programs, such as the UCLA Bruins, the USC Trojans, and the San Diego State Aztecs.

Northern boundary

California counties below the sixth standard parallel
The famous Andaz West Hollywood Hotel on the Sunset Strip

There is a definition coinciding neatly with county lines uses the sixth standard parallel south[8] of Mount Diablo (144 miles south of Mt. Diablo at 35°47′28″N) which forms the northern borders of San Luis Obispo, Kern, and San Bernardino counties as the boundary. However counties most commonly thought of as making up Southern California are Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, Riverside, Ventura, San Bernardino and Imperial. Urbanized Santa Barbara is also commonly included. The counties of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo are part of the Central Coast and Kern County is part of the Central Valley, therefore they are not generally considered part of Southern California.[citation needed]

Population, Land Area & Population Density (2008-07-01 est.)
Los Angeles County[9] &0000000009862049.0000009,862,049 4,060.87 10,517.61 2,428.56 937.67
Orange County[10] &0000000003010759.0000003,010,759 789.40 2,044.54 3,813.98 1,472.59
San Diego County[11] &0000000003001072.0000003,001,072 4,199.89 10,877.67 714.56 275.89
Riverside County[12] &0000000002100516.0000002,100,516 7,207.37 18,667.00 291.44 112.53
San Bernardino County[13] &0000000002015355.0000002,015,355 20,052.50 51,935.74 100.50 38.80
Kern County[14] &0000000000800458.000000800,458 8,140.96 21,084.99 98.32 37.96
Ventura County[15] &0000000000797740.000000797,740 1,845.30 4,779.31 432.31 166.92
Santa Barbara County[16] &0000000000405396.000000405,396 2,737.01 7,088.82 148.12 57.19
San Luis Obispo County[17] &0000000000265297.000000265,297 3,304.32 8,558.15 80.29 31.00
Imperial County[18] &0000000000163972.000000163,972 4,174.73 10,812.50 39.28 15.17
Southern California &0000000022422614.00000022,422,614 56,512.35 146,366.31 396.77 153.19
California &0000000036756666.00000036,756,666 155,959.34 403,932.84 235.68 91.00

Urban landscape

Southern California consists of a heavily developed urban environment, along with vast arid areas that have been left undeveloped. It is the second-largest urbanized region in the United States, second only to the Washington/Philadelphia/New York/Boston Northeastern Megalopolis. Whereas these cities are dense, with major downtown populations and significant rail and transit systems, much of Southern California is famous for its large, spread-out, suburban communities and use of automobiles and highways. The dominant areas are Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, and San Bernardino, each of which is the center of its respective metropolitan area, composed of numerous smaller cities and communities.

Traveling south on Interstate 5, the main gap to continued urbanization is Camp Pendleton. The communities along Interstate 15 and Interstate 215 are so inter-related that Temecula has as much connection with SD Metro as it does with the Inland Empire. To the east, the United States Census Bureau considers the San Bernardino and Riverside County areas, Riverside-San Bernardino Area as a separate metropolitan area from Los Angeles County. While many commute to L.A. and Orange Counties, there are some differences in development, as most of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties were developed in the 1980s and 1990s.

The Downtown Los Angeles skyline seen on a sunset October day. At 1,018 feet (310 m), 73 floors, The U.S. Bank Tower stands as the West Coast's tallest since 1989.



Salton Sea in Imperial Valley
The Oceanside Pier in the Southern Border

Southern California is divided culturally, politically, and economically into distinctive regions, each containing its own culture and atmosphere anchored usually by a city with both national and sometimes global recognition which are often the hub of economic activity for its respective region and being home to many tourist destinations. Each region is further divided into many culturally distinct areas, but as a whole combine to create the Southern California atmosphere.

Metropolitan areas

Southern California consists of one Combined Statistical Area, the Greater Los Angeles Area, and five Metropolitan Statistical Areas.

Major cities (over 200,000 inhabitants)

Population figures for California cities are 2008 State of California estimates[19]

Other cities with over 100,000 inhabitants

Ventura City Hall in Old Town Ventura
Downtown Santa Monica

Other county seats (under 100,000 inhabitants)


South of the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountains
North of the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountains

Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura are also counties in the Central Coast.

Geographical regions

Satellite view of cismontane Southern California

Southern California is also divided into the Coastal Region (Orange County, Los Angeles County, San Diego County, Santa Barbara County, and Ventura County) and the larger, more sparsely populated, Desert Region of the Inland Empire (San Bernardino County and Riverside County) and Imperial Valley (Imperial County). The division between the Coastal Regions and the Inland Empire winds along the backs of the coastal mountain ranges such as the Santa Ana Mountains. A related geographical term is cismontane Southern California, which refers to the portion of California on the coastal side of the Transverse and Peninsular mountain ranges. The term "Southern California" often refers to this region specifically, as opposed to largely desert areas comprising the rest of the southern portion of the state, which are referred to as transmontane Southern California.

Geographic features

View from La Jolla Cove in San Diego
Summits in the eastern San Gabriel Mountains, Angeles National Forest, San Bernardino County
Coachella Valley Preserve in the Colorado Desert in Riverside County
The historic Mission Inn, located in the heart of downtown Riverside.


Each year the southern California area has about 10,000 earthquakes. Nearly all of them are so small that they are not felt. Only several hundred are greater than magnitude 3.0, and only about 15-20 are greater than magnitude 4.0.[20]

Major central business districts

The following are major central business districts in Southern California:


One of the large LAX signs that greet visitors to LAX. This sign is at the Century Boulevard entrance to Los Angeles International Airport


The following airports currently have regularly scheduled commercial service:


Interstate Highways

U.S. Highway system

California State Routes

Note: highway segments with names listed in italics are surface streets and not freeways.

Public transportation


Telephone area codes

Map of some major area codes in Southern California

Colleges and universities

Sports teams

Team Sport League Venue
Los Angeles Avengers Arena football Arena Football League Staples Center
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Baseball American League (Major League Baseball) Angel Stadium of Anaheim
Los Angeles Dodgers National League (Major League Baseball) Dodger Stadium
San Diego Padres PETCO Park
Los Angeles Clippers Basketball National Basketball Association Staples Center
Los Angeles Lakers
San Diego Chargers Football National Football League Qualcomm Stadium
Anaheim Ducks Ice hockey National Hockey League Honda Center
Los Angeles Kings Staples Center
Chivas USA Soccer Major League Soccer The Home Depot Center
Los Angeles Galaxy

See also


  1. ^ McWilliams, Carrey (1973). Southern California, An Island on the Land (9th ed.). Layton: Gibbs Smith. ISBN 9780879050078. 
  2. ^ The three metropolitan areas are: 1) Los Angeles–Long Beach–Santa Ana (the second largest in the US), 2) Riverside–San Bernardino–Ontario (the Inland Empire) and 3) San Diego–Carlsbad–San Marcos - see: United States metropolitan areas
  3. ^
  4. ^ Sector 9 Incorporated - San Diego, CA
  5. ^ Surfline - Huntington Beach, CA
  6. ^ X Games Take a Turn for the Better - Los Angeles Times
  7. ^ "Construction Stirs Debate on Effects on ‘Perfect Wave’". The New York Times. 2006-09-13. Retrieved 2008-09-13. 
  8. ^ Revisions to the California State Implementation Plan, San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District
  9. ^ U.S. Census Bureau (2008-07-01), Los Angeles County QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau, U.S. Census Bureau: State and County QuickFacts.,, retrieved 2009-11-19 
  10. ^ U.S. Census Bureau (2008-07-01), Orange County QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau, U.S. Census Bureau: State and County QuickFacts.,, retrieved 2009-11-19 
  11. ^ U.S. Census Bureau (2008-07-01), San Diego County QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau, U.S. Census Bureau: State and County QuickFacts.,, retrieved 2009-11-19 
  12. ^ U.S. Census Bureau (2008-07-01), Riverside County QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau, U.S. Census Bureau: State and County QuickFacts.,, retrieved 2009-11-19 
  13. ^ U.S. Census Bureau (2008-07-01), San Bernardino County QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau, U.S. Census Bureau: State and County QuickFacts.,, retrieved 2009-11-19 
  14. ^ U.S. Census Bureau (2008-07-01), Kern County QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau, U.S. Census Bureau: State and County QuickFacts.,, retrieved 2009-11-19 
  15. ^ U.S. Census Bureau (2008-07-01), Ventura County QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau, U.S. Census Bureau: State and County QuickFacts.,, retrieved 2009-11-19 
  16. ^ U.S. Census Bureau (2008-07-01), Santa Barbara County QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau, U.S. Census Bureau: State and County QuickFacts.,, retrieved 2009-11-19 
  17. ^ U.S. Census Bureau (2008-07-01), San Luis Obispo County QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau, U.S. Census Bureau: State and County QuickFacts.,, retrieved 2009-11-19 
  18. ^ U.S. Census Bureau (2008-07-01), Imperial County QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau, U.S. Census Bureau: State and County QuickFacts.,, retrieved 2009-11-19 
  19. ^ "Population Estimates for Cities, Counties and the State with Annual Percent Change". California Department of Finance. 
  20. ^ "USGS facts". data from Southern California Earthquake Center. Retrieved 2009-03-18. 

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Southern California is a region of California, comprised of the Los Angeles and San Diego metropolitan regions.


Southern California is most easily divisible by counties, from North to South:


English is the official language of California and is the predominant language in Southern California. However, Spanish is also spoken by large Hispanic populations and it is not uncommon in Southern California to see store and street signs written in both English and Spanish. Chinese, Tagalog, Japanese, Hindi, Korean, Vietnamese, and Cambodian are also spoken by various immigrant groups.

Get around

Most Southern Californians drive their personal cars to get around. Just listen to the evening traffic reports and you'll get an idea of how many cars are driven in the area each and every day.

The metropolitan regions of Southern California consist of many small cities that run into one another. It can be confusing and you can get lost very easily if you do not have a map, even with detailed directions. A Thomas Guide, which contains detailed maps of all neighborhoods, is a useful tool if you plan on doing any driving in Southern California. This book can be found in local stores and bookstores.

Mass transit is available throughout the area, with many connecting together at shared stops. The regional commuter train,MetroLink [1], connects many of the outreaching areas, where many commuters live, with Los Angeles and Orange County, where they work. This train system comes in handy when you need to get from one area to another, even with their limited schedule.

By thumb

It is not worth trying. Cities are too close together and there are too many access points to the highway, making it nearly impossible to find someone going your way. Your best bets are the 101 north of Santa Barbara, the 5 north of Santa Clarita, or east until you escape the sprawling cityscape.

  • Cabrillo National Monument - (San Diego) Climbing out of his boat and onto shore in 1542, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo stepped into history as the first European to set foot on what is now the West Coast of the United States. In addition to telling the story of 16th century exploration, the park is home to a wealth of cultural and natural resources.
  • Venice. also sometimes referred to as Venice Beach, is a district of Los Angeles in Southern California. Its colorful Boardwalk is a great scene: free, fun, and funky, making the "short list" of things to do in Los Angeles.  edit
  • Crime can be high in certain parts of southern California, particularly in the Los Angeles area, although the media tends to exaggerate this sometimes. However, some areas are extremely good and safe. Los Angeles is a extremely diverse place.
  • Many tourists may suffer respiratory problems due to the pollution in the air closer to southern California's major metropolitan areas. Drink plenty of fluids and keep outdoors activities within the city itself to a minimum.
  • There are no extremely dangerous animals in southern California. There are rattlesnakes in the open spaces, but they are typically shy and their bites are only considered to be potentially fatal to the very young and the elderly- even so, it's best to always be alert while hiking. Mountain lions (also known as pumas, cougars and catamounts) do exist in many (if not all) of the National Parks and open spaces in Southern California. These cats are, however, EXTREMELY shy and elusive- you have very little chance of seeing one, let alone being attacked by one. Most hikers who have been hiking these areas their whole lives have never even seen or heard a mountain lion. Attacks are rare but do happen every few years- make sure to always hike with another person, especially near dawn and dusk.
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Simple English

Southern California is a region of California. The definitions of it vary, but it usually contains the area around Los Angeles and San Diego, as well as the "Inland Empire" of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. Over twenty million people live in Southern California.

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