Best & Worst States: What is CALIFORNIA #1 at?


Article by Diana Rus
April 27, 2021

California is the state we all love and cherish. But in a purely patriotic manner, let's compare California with the other states and see where we excel and where we still have to work.

California is the most populous and the third-largest U.S. state by area. It is also the most populated subnational entity in North America and the 34th most populous in the world. The Greater Los Angeles area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation's second and fifth most populous urban regions respectively, with the former having more than 18.7 million residents and the latter having over 9.6 million.

The economy of California, with a gross state product of $3.2 trillion as of 2019, is the largest sub-national economy in the world. If it were a country, it would be the 37th most populous country and the fifth largest economy as of 2020. The Greater Los Angeles area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation's second and third-largest urban economies ($1.0 trillion and $0.5 trillion respectively as of 2020), after the New York metropolitan area ($1.8 trillion).

Notable contributions to popular culture, for example in entertainment, and sports, have their origins in California. The state also has made noteworthy contributions in the fields of communication, information, innovation, environmentalism, economics, and politics.

With that said, it is obvious that California is a great U.S. power. These are the areas where California stands out in front of other states:

Best at: diversity

California has earned the title of the most diverse state in the United States, meaning there is no single ethnic group or race that makes up the majority of the population.

In order to determine the most and least diverse states in America, WalletHub compared the 50 states across six key dimensions: 1) Socio-economic Diversity, 2) Cultural Diversity, 3) Economic Diversity, 4) Household Diversity, 5) Religious Diversity and 6) Political Diversity.

The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that by 2044 the U.S. will no longer have a single ethnic majority, currently non-Hispanic whites, and will grow increasingly more diverse in the years to follow.

Worst at: quality of life

California ranks last in quality of life in new report. California ranked 50th in quality of life by fairing poorly in the natural and social environment categories.

The report ranks states based on a healthy environment and a sense of community. It takes into account each state's urban air quality, pollution and voter participation, among other measures.

California ranked last in urban air quality and 45th in "low pollution health risk," although it was 13th in drinking water quality. The state also found itself second-to-last in voter participation, 44th in community engagement and 38th in social support.

The states with the best quality of life crowd the northern part of the U.S.: North Dakota ranked first followed by Minnesota, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and South Dakota.

Best at: lowest gender pay gap

California women make 89 cents for every dollar a man makes -- certainly not perfect, but a higher rate than in any other state.

Worst at: lowest high school attainment

Roughly one in six Californians have not finished high school, the highest rate in the country.

Bonus: crazy facts about California

  1. More turkeys are raised in California than in any other state in the United States.
  2. Totaling nearly three million acres, San Bernardino County is the largest county in the country.
  3. Sequoia National Park contains the largest living tree. Its trunk is 102 feet in circumference.
  4. One out of every eight United States residents lives in California.
  5. It is estimated there are approximately 500,000 detectable seismic tremors in California annually.
  6. California produces more than 17 million gallons of wine each year.
  7. The Hollywood Bowl is the world's largest outdoor amphitheater.
  8. The Country Store in Baker has sold more winning California State Lottery tickets than any outlet in the state.
  9. Located in Sacramento, the California State Railroad Museum is the largest museum of its kind in North America.
  10. Fallbrook is known as the Avocado Capital of the World and hosts an annual Avocado Festival. More avocados are grown in the region than any other county in the nation.