Central California

Last updated

Central California
Central California county map.png
Central California is most commonly identified with 10 counties in the southeast part of Northern California
Country United States
State California
RegionCentral California
Time zone Pacific Standard Time
  Summer (DST) Pacific Daylight Time
Area code(s) 209, 559, 661, 805, 831

Central California is generally thought of as the middle third of the state, north of Southern California, which includes Los Angeles, and south of Northern California, which includes San Francisco. It includes the northern portion of the San Joaquin Valley (which itself is the southern portion of the Central Valley, beginning at the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta), part of the Central Coast, the central hills of the California Coast Ranges and the foothills and mountain areas of the central Sierra Nevada.


Central California is considered to be west of the crest of the Sierra Nevada. East of the Sierra is Eastern California. The largest cities in the region (over 50,000 population), from most to least populous, are Fresno, Bakersfield, Stockton, Modesto, Salinas, Visalia, Clovis, Santa Maria, Merced, Turlock, Madera, Lodi, Tulare, Porterville, Hanford and Delano. Over time, droughts and wildfires have increased in frequency and become less seasonal and more year-round, further straining the region's water security. [1] [2] [3]


Central California can have widely varying definitions depending on the context. Some divide the state by lines of latitude making northern, central and southern sections. Others divide by county lines or watershed boundaries. Some definitions include more of the San Joaquin Valley and even larger portions of the Central Valley. Some have less or none of Central Coast.

Merced River from Yosemite Yosemite.JPG
Merced River from Yosemite
Big Sur Big Sur June 2008.jpg
Big Sur

Generally the widest definition of central California is the middle third of the state by latitude.[ citation needed ] The southern boundary of that area would be 35° 41', which nearly coincides with the county lines already used for the southern boundary that cross the state west-to-east below Monterey, Kings and Tulare Counties. The northern boundary of that area at 38° 51' crosses just north of the Sacramento metro area. However, the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento metro areas are traditionally considered parts of Northern California, intuitively grouped together as the northern urban center within the state. That leaves the most accepted definitions of central California to the areas south of there.[ citation needed ]


Central California as defined above includes the following 10 counties:

The following counties are partially contained within central California:


Area cities and towns listed below are major regional centers or county seats.

Salinas Valley Greenfield California.JPG
Salinas Valley


The following regions are entirely contained within central California:

The following regions are partially contained within central California:


Central California has opened two new universities recently, one in each of the past two decades.

The University of California has one campus in the region. University of California, Merced opened on a newly constructed site on the east side of Merced in 2005.

The California State University system has four campuses in the region. California State University, Monterey Bay opened on the site of the former Fort Ord army base in 1994. California State University, Stanislaus in Turlock opened in 1957. California State University, Fresno opened in 1911.

The Monterey Institute of International Studies is a graduate school that offers eleven master's degree programs in international policy, international management, language teaching, and translation and interpretation. The Monterey Institute of International Studies is a graduate school of Middlebury College.

San Joaquin College of Law is a private, nonprofit law school located in Clovis.

Fresno Pacific University is a private university in Fresno.

The Naval Postgraduate School and Defense Language Institute are located in Monterey.

The following community college campus sites are in the region: [4]

There are no community colleges in Mariposa or San Benito Counties.


Major highways

Most of the major highways in the region run north-south around the mountains. Interstate 5 and State Route 99 are the primary highways in the San Joaquin Valley. US 101 and State Route 1 are the major coastal highways.


Passenger rail in the region consists of the Amtrak long-haul Coast Starlight and Amtrak California San Joaquin routes.

The California High-Speed Rail system is under planning. If built, it would have stations in Fresno and Merced on the initial line between San Francisco/San Jose and Los Angeles.

Freight rail is served by commercial railroads. Union Pacific Railroad and BNSF Railway operate mainline freight through the region in the Central Valley.


Major and regional airline service are available at Fresno Yosemite International Airport and Monterey Regional Airport. Regional airline service is also available at Modesto City-County Airport, Merced Municipal Airport and Visalia Municipal Airport.

General Aviation airports exist in all 10 counties. The largest are former military bases converted to civilian airports

An active military air base is at Naval Air Station Lemoore in Kings County and the 144th Fighter Wing is stationed at Fresno Air National Guard Base in Fresno County


Variations on significant/influential definitions of the term central California are collected in this section.

The following counties are self-described as being in central California or central within California:

The following are definitions by influential organizations:

Related Research Articles

California League Baseball league in California, US

The California League is a Minor League Baseball league that operates in California. Having been classified at various levels throughout its existence, it operated at Class A-Advanced from 1990 until its demotion to Single-A following Major League Baseball's 2021 reorganization of the minor leagues. The league temporarily operated for the 2021 season as the Low-A West before reassuming its original moniker in 2022.

Northern California American geographic and cultural region

Northern California is a geographic and cultural region that generally comprises the northern portion of the U.S. state of California. Spanning the state's northernmost 48 counties, its main population centers include the San Francisco Bay Area, the Greater Sacramento area, the Redding, California area south of the Cascade Range, and the Metropolitan Fresno area. Northern California also contains redwood forests, along with most of the Sierra Nevada, including Yosemite Valley and part of Lake Tahoe, Mount Shasta, and most of the Central Valley, one of the world's most productive agricultural regions.

San Joaquin Valley Area of the Central Valley in California

The San Joaquin Valley is the area of the Central Valley of the U.S. state of California that lies south of the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta and is drained by the San Joaquin River. It comprises seven counties of Northern and one of Southern California, including, in the north, all of San Joaquin and Kings counties, most of Stanislaus, Merced, and Fresno counties, and parts of Madera and Tulare counties, along with a majority of Kern County, in Southern California. Although the valley is predominantly rural, it has densely populated urban centers: Fresno, Bakersfield, Stockton, Modesto, Tulare, Visalia, Hanford, and Merced.

Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno Diocese of the Catholic Church in central California

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno is a particular church of the Latin Church of the Roman Catholic Church in the western region (XI) of the United States, in the State of California. It is a suffragan diocese of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Geographically, the diocese consists of 35,239 square miles (91,270 km2) of the Southern San Joaquin Valley of California, a portion of the Sierra Nevada and some eastern valleys. The diocese consists of all of the Counties of Fresno, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, and Tulare. The total population of the diocesan region is about 2.4 million inhabitants, of whom 1,074,944 are registered Catholic as of 2012. For administrative purposes the diocese is sub-divided into five deaneries: Fresno City, Fresno (rural), Tulare/Kings, Kern/Inyo, and Merced/Mariposa.

Area code 559 Telephone code in California

Area code 559 is a California telephone area code that was split from area code 209 on November 14, 1998.

Districts in California geographically divide the U.S. state into overlapping regions for political and administrative purposes.

Outline of California Overview of and topical guide to California

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the U.S. state of California.

The California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) is a sports association community colleges in the U.S. state of California. It oversees 108 athletic programs throughout the state. The organization was formed in 1929 as the California Junior College Federation to unify programs in Northern and Southern California.

There are 45 routes assigned to the "J" zone of the California Route Marker Program, which designates county routes in California. The "J" zone includes county highways in Alameda, Calaveras, Contra Costa, Fresno, Kern, Inyo, Mariposa, Merced, Sacramento, San Benito, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Tulare counties.

The California High School Speech Association, or CHSSA, is a speech and debate organization offered to all schools in the state of California. It is the governing body for local and state speech and debate competitions in California, with higher-level competition under the auspices of the National Forensic League and the National Catholic Forensic League. The league held its first championship tournament in 1958, and continues to hold championship tournaments every April.

The Stockton–Los Angeles Road, also known as the Millerton Road, Stockton–Mariposa Road, Stockton–Fort Miller Road or the Stockton–Visalia Road, was established about 1853 following the discovery of gold on the Kern River in Old Tulare County. This route between Stockton and Los Angeles followed by the Stockton–Los Angeles Road is described in "Itinerary XXI. From Fort Yuma to Benicia, California", in The Prairie Traveler: A Hand-book for Overland Expeditions by Randolph Barnes Marcy. The Itinerary was derived from the report of Lieutenant R. S. Williamson on his topographical survey party in 1853, that was in search of a railroad route through the interior of California.

The California Digital Newspaper Collection (CDNC) is a freely-available, archive of digitized California newspapers; it is accessible through the project's website. The collection contains over six million pages from over forty-two million articles. The project is part of the Center for Bibliographical Studies and Research (CBSR) at the University of California Riverside.

Clement Renzi American sculptor (1925–2009)

Clement Renzi was an American sculptor whose figurative bronze and terra cotta works depict people, human relationships, animals, and birds. His work has been popular with collectors in California's Central Valley and is placed in more than 60 public venues, primarily in that region.

The Tulare Merchants were a minor league baseball team based in Tulare, California in 1910 and 1911. The Tulare Merchants played exclusively as members of the Class D level San Joaquin Valley League, winning the 1911 league championship in their final season of play.

The Cross Valley Corridor is a proposed passenger rail service in the California Central Valley, connecting Visalia, Hanford, Porterville, and surrounding cities to each other and California High-Speed Rail's planned Kings–Tulare Regional Station.


  1. www.drought.gov https://www.drought.gov . Retrieved November 20, 2021.{{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. Boxall, Bettina; St. John, Paige (November 10, 2018). "California's most destructive wildfire should not have come as a surprise". Los Angeles Times . Retrieved November 11, 2018.
  3. "Advancing Drought Science and Preparedness across the Nation". National Integrated Drought Information System. Archived from the original on November 11, 2018. Retrieved November 11, 2018.
  4. "College Listings". California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office. Archived from the original on January 21, 2010. Retrieved January 23, 2010.
  5. "Oakhurst Community College Center". Oakhurst Community College Center. Retrieved December 8, 2020.
  6. "About the County". Fresno County, California. Archived from the original on July 18, 2011. Retrieved January 24, 2010.
  7. "Madera County Statistical Information". Madera County, California. Archived from the original on January 16, 2010. Retrieved January 24, 2010.
  8. "Madera County Economic Development Commission". Madera County Economic Development Commission. Retrieved January 24, 2010.
  9. "About Tulare County". Tulare County, California. Archived from the original on January 10, 2010. Retrieved January 24, 2010.
  10. "Map of California". National Register of Historic Places . Retrieved January 24, 2010.
  11. "Highway Information Area Maps". California Department of Transportation . Retrieved January 24, 2010.
  12. "Contact Us". Central California Better Business Bureau . Retrieved January 24, 2010.

Coordinates: 37°N120°W / 37°N 120°W / 37; -120