The West Coast or Pacific Coast is the coastline along which the continental Western United States meets the North Pacific Ocean. As a region, this term most often refers to the coastal states of California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. More specifically, it refers to an area defined on the east by the Alaska Range, Cascade Range, Sierra Nevada, and Mojave Desert, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean. The United States Census groups the five states of California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii together as the Pacific States division.
West Coast of the United States
The states shown in purplish-red are included in the term West Coast or Pacific Coast.
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As of the 2010 Census, the estimated population of the Census Bureau's Pacific Region was approximately 47.8 million – about 15.3% of U.S. population. The largest city on the west coast of the United States is Los Angeles.
Major cities and metropolitan areas on the West Coast include (from north to south):
The history of the West Coast begins with the arrival of the earliest known humans of the Americas, Paleo-Indians, crossing the Bering Strait from Eurasia into North America over a land bridge, Beringia, that existed between 45,000 BCE and 12,000 BCE (47,000–14,000 years ago). Small isolated groups of hunter-gatherers migrated alongside herds of large herbivores far into Alaska. Between 16,500 BCE and 13,500 BCE (18,500–15,500 years ago), ice-free corridors developed along the Pacific coast and valleys of North America and possibly by sea.
Alaska Natives, indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast, and California indigenous peoples eventually descended from the Paleo-Indians. They developed various languages and established trade routes.
Later, Spanish, British, French, Russian, and American explorers and settlers began colonizing the area.
The West Coast of the United States has an oceanic climate in its Northern and Eastern edge towards the Canada–U.S. border, but from the California border towards the Mexico–U.S. border the climate is mediterranean. The coastline sees significantly mild temperatures when compared to the inland areas during summer. In far Northern California there is a difference of 17 °C (30 °F) between Eureka and Willow Creek in spite of only 25 miles (40 km) separating the locations and Willow Creek being located at a 500 metres (1,600 ft) elevation. Slightly narrower fluctuations can be seen all through the coastline, and could partially be explained by the cold currents in the Pacific Ocean moderating coastal temperatures and the mountain ranges blocking the maritime air from moving farther inland than its foothills during summer. Coastal fog is also prevalent in keeping shoreline temperatures cool. This does not only occur in the San Francisco Bay Area, but it also affects Santa Monica in Los Angeles, Southern California, with very little yearly temperature differences but with cool summers similar to those expected in Northern Europe. A short journey inland and summer temperatures are comparable with the rest of the United States on the same latitudes, sometimes warmer due to prevailing winds from the Nevada and Arizona hot desert climate.
Since the West Coast has been populated by immigrants and their descendants more recently than the East Coast, its culture is considerably younger. Additionally, its demographic composition underlies its cultural difference from the rest of the United States. California's history first as a major Spanish colony, and later Mexican territory, has given the lower West Coast a distinctive Hispanic tone, which it also shares with the rest of the Southwest. Similarly, two of the three cities in which Asian Americans have concentrated, San Francisco and Los Angeles, are located on the West Coast, with significant populations in other West Coast cities. San Francisco's Chinatown, the oldest in North America, is a vibrant cultural center.
On the other hand, French writer Guillaume Faye, comparing California to Europe, wrote that "as super-America, California stands out as the absolute antithesis of authentic Europe[...] California has set itself up as the world center of the simulacrum and the inauthentic, as the absolute synthesis of "cool" Stalinism. An hysterical land; focus and meeting-place for the rootless, California is the land of non-history, of the non-event, but at the same time the site of the constant swirl, the uninterrupted rhythm of fashion, that is to say, the site of tremors going nowhere, those tremors which so obsess it, constantly threatened as it is by earthquakes." Other writers, like Jean Baudrillard, Mike Davis, and Umberto Eco, have made related statements on Californian culture.
In the Pacific Northwest, Portland and Seattle are both considered among the coffee capitals of the world. While Starbucks originated in Seattle, both towns are known for small-scale coffee roasters and independent coffeeshops. The culture has also been significantly shaped by the environment, especially by its forests, mountains, and rain. This may account for the fact that the Northwest has many high-quality libraries and bookshops (most notably Powell's Books and the Seattle Central Library) and a "bibliophile soul". The region also has a marginal, but growing independence movement based on bioregionalism and a Cascadian identity. The Cascadian flag has become a popular image at Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers games.
Alaska is widely known for its outdoors and its inhabitants engage in a range of activities which are unique to the state. Some of these activities can be experienced through the state’s annual events, such as the Iron Dog snowmobile race from Anchorage to Nome and on to Fairbanks. Other events include the World Ice Art Championships (Fairbanks) and the Sitka Whalefest (Sitka).
Archaeological evidence, in fact, recognizes that people started to leave Beringia for the New World around 40,000 years ago, but rapid expansion into North America did not occur until about 15,000 years ago, when the ice had literally broken.
Arctostaphylos columbiana is a species of manzanita known by the common name hairy manzanita. It is native to the coast of western North America from northern California to southwestern British Columbia. This large manzanita is a shrub or small tree, usually 1-5 meters tall. It is erect with hairy branches. The leaves are oval-shaped and are usually 2-6 centimeters long and 2-3 wide, pale bluish green, fuzzy on both surfaces, occasionally glandular. The small, white, urn-shaped flowers are borne in bunched inflorescences. The fruit is a red drupe about a centimeter in diameter. The seed requires either fire or consumption by animals in order for germination to occur. This manzanita grows in open, rocky areas. It is sometimes grown as a garden ornamental. Hybrids with Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (named Arctostaphylos x media) commonly occur where the two parent species grow in proximity.Black-legged kittiwake
The black-legged kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla) is a seabird species in the gull family Laridae.
This species was first described by Linnaeus in his Systema naturae in 1758 as Larus tridactylus. The English name is derived from its call, a shrill 'kittee-wa-aaake, kitte-wa-aaake'. The genus name Rissa is from the Icelandic name Rita for this bird, and the specific tridactyla is from Ancient Greek tridaktulos, "three-toed", from tri-, "three-" and daktulos, "toe".In North America, this species is known as the black-legged kittiwake to differentiate it from the red-legged kittiwake, but in Europe, where it is the only member of the genus, it is often known just as kittiwake.Brandt's cormorant
The Brandt's cormorant (Phalacrocorax penicillatus) is a strictly marine bird of the cormorant family of seabirds that inhabits the Pacific coast of North America. It ranges, in the summer, from Alaska to the Gulf of California, but the population north of Vancouver Island migrates south during the winter. Its specific name, penicillatus is Latin for a painter's brush (pencil of hairs), in reference to white plumes on its neck and back during the early breeding season. The common name honors the German naturalist Johann Friedrich von Brandt of the Academy of Sciences at St. Petersburg, who described the species from specimens collected on expeditions to the Pacific during the early 19th century.
Brandt's cormorants feed either singly or in flocks, and are adaptable in prey choice and undersea habitat. It feeds on small fish from the surface to sea floor, obtaining them, like all cormorants, by pursuit diving using its feet for propulsion. Prey is often what is most common: in central California, rockfish from the genus Sebastes is the most commonly taken, but off British Columbia, it is Pacific herring. Brandt's cormorants have been observed foraging at depths of over 36.5 m (120 ft) .
During the breeding season, adults have a blue throat patch. This species nests on the ground or on rocky outcroppings.California Coast Ranges
The Coast Ranges of California span 400 miles (640 km) from Del Norte or Humboldt County, California, south to Santa Barbara County. The other three coastal California mountain ranges are the Transverse Ranges, Peninsular Ranges and the Klamath Mountains.Physiographically, they are a section of the larger Pacific Border province, which in turn are part of the larger Pacific Mountain System physiographic division. UNESCO has included the "California Coast Ranges Biosphere Reserve" in its Man and the Biosphere Programme of World Network of Biosphere Reserves since 1983.California gull
The California gull (Larus californicus), or seagull, is a medium-sized gull, smaller on average than the herring gull but larger on average than the ring-billed gull, though it may overlap in size greatly with both.Central Coast (California)
The Central Coast is an area of California, United States, roughly spanning the coastal region between Point Mugu and Monterey Bay. It lies northwest of Los Angeles County and south of San Francisco and San Mateo counties. Six counties make up the Central Coast: from south-to north, Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Cruz.The Central Coast is the location of the Central Coast American Viticultural Area.
Note: the geographic center of the California coast is north of Santa Cruz, near Año Nuevo State Park.Coastal California
Coastal California, also known as the California Coastline and the Golden Coast, refers to the coastal regions of the U.S. state of California. The term is not primarily geographical as it also describes an area distinguished by cultural, economic and political attributes.Coastal sage scrub
Coastal sage scrub, also known as coastal scrub, CSS, or soft chaparral, is a low scrubland plant community of the California coastal sage and chaparral subecoregion, found in coastal California and northwestern coastal Baja California. It is within the California chaparral and woodlands ecoregion, of the Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub biome.Del Taco
Del Taco Restaurants Inc., or Delicious Taco Inc., is an American fast food restaurant chain which specializes in American-style Mexican cuisine as well as American foods such as burgers, fries, and shakes. Del Taco is led by CEO John D. Cappasola, Jr., and is headquartered in Lake Forest, California.Macrocystis pyrifera
Macrocystis pyrifera, commonly known as giant kelp or giant bladder kelp, is a species of kelp (large brown algae), and one of four species in the genus Macrocystis. Giant kelp is common along the coast of the eastern Pacific Ocean, from Baja California north to southeast Alaska, and is also found in the southern oceans near South America, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. Individual algae may grow to more than 45 metres (150 feet) long at a rate of as much as 60 cm (2 ft) per day. Giant kelp grows in dense stands known as kelp forests, which are home to many marine animals that depend on the algae for food or shelter. The primary commercial product obtained from giant kelp is alginate, but humans also harvest this species on a limited basis for use directly as food, as it is rich in iodine, potassium, and other minerals. It can be used in cooking in many of the ways other sea vegetables are used, and particularly serves to add flavor to bean dishes.Maple bar
A maple bar is a rectangular doughnut topped with a maple glaze. They can be filled with custard, or cream, or left unfilled. Maple bars are prominent on the West coast of the United States.Maple bars are also known as a maple-glazed Long John, Maple-Creamstick or maple Bismarck.Pacific-slope flycatcher
The Pacific-slope flycatcher (Empidonax difficilis) is a small insectivorous bird of the family Tyrannidae. It is native to coastal regions of western North America, including the Pacific Ocean and the southern Gulf of California, as far north as British Columbia and southern Alaska, but is replaced in the inland regions by the Cordilleran flycatcher. These two species were classified as a single species, commonly called the western flycatcher, by the American Ornithologists’ Union until 1989. In winter, both species migrate south to Mexico, where they are virtually indistinguishable from one another.Pacific Coast Ranges
The Pacific Coast Ranges (officially gazetted as the Pacific Mountain System in the United States but referred to as the Pacific Coast Ranges), are the series of mountain ranges that stretch along the West Coast of North America from Alaska south to Northern and Central Mexico.
The Pacific Coast Ranges are part of the North American Cordillera (sometimes known as the Western Cordillera, or in Canada, as the Pacific Cordillera and/or the Canadian Cordillera), which includes the Rocky Mountains, Columbia Mountains, Interior Mountains, the Interior Plateau, Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Great Basin mountain ranges, and other ranges and various plateaus and basins.
The Pacific Coast Ranges designation, however, only applies to the Western System of the Western Cordillera, which comprises the Saint Elias Mountains, Coast Mountains, Insular Mountains, Olympic Mountains, Cascade Range, Oregon Coast Range, California Coast Ranges, Transverse Ranges, Peninsular Ranges, and the Sierra Madre Occidental.Picea engelmannii
Picea engelmannii, with common names Engelmann spruce, white spruce, mountain spruce, or silver spruce, is a species of spruce native to western North America, from central British Columbia and southwest Alberta, southwest to northern California and southeast to Arizona and New Mexico; there are also two isolated populations in northern Mexico. It is mostly a high altitude mountain tree, growing at 900 metres (3,000 ft) – 3,650 metres (11,980 ft) altitude, rarely lower in the northwest of the range; in many areas it reaches the alpine tree line.Ridgway's rail
Ridgway's rail (Rallus obsoletus) is a near-threatened species of bird. It is found principally in California's San Francisco Bay to southern Baja California. A member of the rail family, Rallidae, it is a chicken-sized bird that rarely flies.
This species is closely related to the clapper rail, and until recently was considered a subspecies. It has a long, downward curving bill and is grayish brown with a pale chestnut breast and conspicuous whitish rump patch. The population levels of Ridgway's rail are precariously low due to destruction of its coastal and estuarine marshland habitat by prior land development and shoreline fill. It has year-long, circadian activity and is most vocal nocturnally and crepuscularly.South Coast (California)
The South Coast is a term used in the West Coast region of the United States to refer to both the south Pacific Coast of California and the adjacent resort and residential communities.
It refers for the most part to the Southern California coastal counties of Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego due to the cosmopolitan "SoCal" atmosphere and location of major urban coastal centers. Of these counties only the western two thirds of San Diego, coastal half of Ventura, most of Los Angeles and all of Orange are included.However, some sources include the coastal half of Ventura, western part of Riverside, and southwestern part of San Bernardino Counties, and the northwestern corner of Baja California, because of their proximity to the Pacific Coast and because they are in the same bio-region and watershed.Tsuga heterophylla
Tsuga heterophylla, the western hemlock or western hemlock-spruce, is a species of hemlock native to the west coast of North America, with its northwestern limit on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska, and its southeastern limit in northern Sonoma County, California.Ulmus okanaganensis
Ulmus okanaganensis is an extinct species of flowering plant in the family Ulmaceae related to the modern elms. The species is known from fossil leaves, flowers, and fruits found in the early Eocene deposits of northern Washington State, United States and similar aged formations in British Columbia, Canada.West Coast Conference
The West Coast Conference (WCC) is a collegiate athletic conference affiliated in NCAA Division I consisting of ten member schools across the states of California, Oregon, Utah and Washington.
All of the current members are private, faith-based institutions. Seven members are Catholic Church affiliates, with four of these schools being Jesuit institutions. Pepperdine is an affiliate of the Churches of Christ. Brigham Young University is an affiliate of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). The conference's newest member, the University of the Pacific (which re-joined in 2013 after a 42-year absence), is affiliated with the United Methodist Church, although it has been financially independent of the church since 1969.
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