California's population was counted by the US Census Bureau at 37,253,956 for the 2010 census, making it the most populous state. Between 2000 and 2009, there was a natural increase of 3,090,016 (5,058,440 births minus 2,179,958 deaths). 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. The State of California's own statistics show a population of 38,292,687 for January 1, 2009.
California is the second-most-populous sub-national entity of the Western Hemisphere, exceeded only by the State of São Paulo,Brazil.California's population is greater than that of all but 34 countries of the world. Also, Los Angeles County has held the title of most populous U.S. county for decades, and it alone is more populous than 42 U.S. states. In addition, California is home to eight of the 50 most populous cities in the United States: Los Angeles (2nd), San Diego (8th), San Jose (10th), San Francisco (13th), Fresno (34th), Sacramento (35th), Long Beach (36th), and Oakland (47th). The center of population of California is located in the town of Buttonwillow, Kern County.
In 2010, illegal aliens constituted an estimated 7.3 percent of the population, the third highest percentage of any state in the country, totaling nearly 2.6 million. More then half originate from Mexico.
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.
Racial and ancestral makeup
Whereas according to 2010s U.S. Census Bureau:
- 57.6% White (40.1% non-Hispanic white)
- 13.0% Asian
- 6.2% Black or African American
- 1.0% Native American
- 4.9% Multiracial
- 0.4% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- 37.6% are Hispanic or Latino (of any race)
With regard to demographics, California has the largest population of White Americans in the U.S., an estimated 22,189,514 residents, although most demographic surveys do not measure actual genetic ancestry. The state has the fifth-largest population of African Americans in the U.S., an estimated 2,250,630 residents. California's Asian American population is estimated at 4.4 million, approximately one-third of the nation's 13.1 million Asian Americans. California's Native American population of 285,162 is the most of any state.
According to estimates from 2008, California has the largest minority population in the United States by numbers, making up 57% of the state population. In 2000, Hispanicscomprised 32% of the population; that number grew to 37% in 2008. Non-Hispanic whites decreased from 80% of the state's population in 1970 to 42% in 2008.
Approximately 27% of California’s students in the 2009–10 school year identified themselves as white, and almost 50.4% of the state's students identified themselves as Hispanic or Latino. While the population of minorities accounts for 102 million of 301 million U.S. residents, 20% of the national total live in California.
In California, as of 2002, the US Department of Defense had
- 123,948 active-duty military personnel
- 7,932 US Army personnel
- 96,047 US Navy (including 20,000+US Marines)
- 19,969 Air Force
- 58,076 DOD civilian personnel
In California, as of 2000 there were 2,569,340 veterans of US military service: 504,010 served in World War II, 301,034 in the Korean War, 754,682 during the Vietnam War, and 278,003 during 1990–2000 (including the Persian Gulf War).
California's military forces consist of the Army and Air National Guard, the naval and state military reserve (militia), and the California Cadet Corps.
As of 2005, 57.6% of California residents age five and older spoke English as a first language at home, while 28.2% spoke Spanish. In addition to English and Spanish, 2.0% spoke Filipino, 1.6% spoke Chinese(which included Cantonese [0.6%] and Mandarin [0.4%]), 1.4% spoke Vietnamese, and 1.1% spoke Korean as their mother tongue. In total, 42.4% of the population spoke languages other than English.California was historically one of the most linguistically diverse areas in the world, and is home to more than 70 indigenous languages derived from 64 root languages in 6 language families. About half of the indigenous languages are no longer spoken, and all of California's living indigenous languages are endangered. There are some efforts toward language revitalization, such as for the Karuk language.
The official language of California has been English since the passage of Proposition 63 in 1986. However, many state, city, and local government agencies still continue to print official public documents in numerous languages. For example, the California Department of Motor Vehicles offers the written exam for the standard C Class driver's license in 31 languages along with English, and the audio exam in 11 languages.
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 influences. As a border and coastal state, Californian culture has been greatly influenced by several large immigrant populations, especially those from Latin America.
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.
In terms of socio-cultural mores and national politics, Californians are perceived as more liberal than other Americans, especially those who live in the inland states. In some ways, California is the quintessential Blue State-- accepting of alternative lifestyles, not uniformly religious, and preoccupied with environmental issues.
The 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.
The largest religious denominations by number of adherents as a percentage of California's population in 2008 were the Catholic Church with 31 percent; Evangelical Protestants with 18 percent; and Mainline Protestants with 14 percent. Those unaffiliated with any religion represented 21 percent of the population.
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.
A Pew Research Center survey revealed that California is somewhat less religious than the rest of the US: 62 percent of Californians say they are "absolutely certain" of the 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.