Eastern California

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Eastern California
Downtown San Bernardino.jpg
Downtown San Bernardino, anchor of the largest metro area in East California and 12th in the United States.
Eastern California county map.png
Counties on California's Eastern Border
Country United States
State California
Time zone Pacific Standard Time
  Summer (DST) Pacific Daylight Time
Area codes 530, 442/760, 909, 951

Eastern California is a region defined as either the strip to the east of the crest of the Sierra Nevada or as the easternmost counties of California.[ citation needed ]



According to the 2010 census, the population of the eastern border counties of California was 5,129,384. However, 4,224,851 (82.4%) lived in San Bernardino and Riverside counties, which are very large and whose populations are concentrated near Los Angeles and Orange counties to the southwest.

Culture and history

Eastern California's history differs significantly from that of the coastal regions and the Central Valley. Northeastern California is very sparsely populated (except for the area around Lake Tahoe): the three least-populated counties of California lie in the northeast. [1] The area tends to be politically conservative, much like the rest of the rural Western United States. However, the counties of San Bernardino and Riverside form the 13th-largest metropolitan area of the United States, [2] [3] and El Dorado and Placer Counties are part of the Greater Sacramento area [2] and are culturally influenced by their respective metropolitan areas. Imperial County in the Southeast, though rural and agrarian, is heavily Democratic and has ties with the Mexicali Valley to the south.

Northeastern California has had strong ties to Nevada, with the exact boundary between the two states having once been a matter of dispute. [4] Residents of an area near Susanville, California tried to break away from the state in 1856, first by declaring themselves part of the Nataqua Territory [5] and then through annexation to Nevada. The two states further squabbled over ownership of Susanville in 1863. The town of Aurora, Nevada, was temporarily the county seat of both Mono County, California, and Esmeralda County, Nevada. Finally, the line between the two states was settled by a survey in 1892. [6] Over time, droughts and wildfires have increased in frequency and become less seasonal and more year-round, further straining the region's water security. [7] [8] [9]

There are many unique historical aspects of Eastern California including the Manzanar internment camp and the historical Carson and Colorado Railway. [10] [11]


The easternmost counties of California are (from north to south):

Cities within this region include San Bernardino, Riverside, Ontario, Corona, Rancho Cucamonga, Roseville, Victorville, Temecula, Palm Springs, Lincoln, El Centro, Barstow, South Lake Tahoe, Susanville, Truckee, Grass Valley, Placerville, and Alturas.

Cities larger than 50,000 population

The following incorporated places have a population of 50,000 or greater, according to the 2020 census: [12]

Placer County

San Bernardino County

  • Apple Valley: 75,791
  • Chino: 91,403
  • Chino Hills: 78,411
  • Colton: 53,909
  • Fontana: 208,393
  • Hesperia: 99,818
  • Highland: 56,999
  • Ontario: 175,265
  • Rancho Cucamonga: 174,453
  • Redlands: 73,168
  • Rialto: 104,026
  • San Bernardino: 222,101
  • Upland: 79,040
  • Victorville: 134,810
  • Yucaipa: 54,542

Riverside County

  • Beaumont: 53,036
  • Cathedral City: 51,493
  • Corona: 157,136
  • Eastvale: 69,757
  • Hemet: 89,833
  • Indio: 89,137
  • Jurupa Valley: 105,053
  • Lake Elsinore: 70,265
  • Menifee: 102,527
  • Moreno Valley: 208,634
  • Murrieta: 110,949
  • Palm Desert: 51,163
  • Perris: 78,700
  • Riverside: 314,998
  • San Jacinto: 53,898
  • Temecula: 110,003


Sand dunes in Death Valley Mesquite Sand Dunes in Death Valley.jpg
Sand dunes in Death Valley

Because Eastern California is generally in the rain shadow of the Sierra Nevada or the Transverse Ranges, the climate is extremely dry and can be considered a desert. Indeed, the hottest and lowest area in North America lies in Death Valley, in the heart of Eastern California.

Geologically, Eastern California is mostly part of the Basin and Range Province, marked by crustal extension, with horsts and grabens. Volcanism is also evident in this region.


The majority of Eastern California experiences two seasons, a long, dry summer and a milder winter in which the rain is concentrated. Most higher elevations experience four distinct seasons. There are some areas where the weather is very diverse. The Sierra Nevada mountain range has larger amounts of snowfall, while the Imperial Valley has more arid conditions. [13] The Sierra Nevada's average temperature is around 47 °F (8 °C) and the Imperial Valley is on average 73 °F (23 °C). A record-breaking heat temperature was recorded in Death Valley, at 134 °F (57 °C) on July 10, 1913. [14] With its low and often sporadic rainfall, California is susceptible to drought, and in many parts of the state including Eastern California, there is very high fire danger and there have been several devastating wildfires. [13]


Snowy forest at Boreal Mountain Resort Snowy forest in Boreal, California.jpg
Snowy forest at Boreal Mountain Resort

The northern counties of Eastern California are heavily timbered areas. The timber industry is a major contributor to the economy from sale of timber and forest products and the number of jobs that it provides. These timbered areas not only provide valuable income, but are also the main growing sector for the economy for recreation and tourism. In the Sierra Nevada National Forests they experience 50 million recreational visitor days per year. [15] When California became a state, it was one of the leading producers of these timber and forest products. Since then, it has held the third place for the top producer of softwoods since the 1940s. In California there were five counties that contributed to 55 percent of the wood harvested for the state. One of those counties, Plumas, is located in Eastern California. [16]


Major highways

Map of El Dorado County in Northern California Edcmap1.png
Map of El Dorado County in Northern California
View from State Route 158 Silver Lake Mammoth September 2016 001.jpg
View from State Route 158

Educational Institutions

Students at Deep Springs College driving cattle DeepSpringsCattleDrive.jpg
Students at Deep Springs College driving cattle

Private institutions

Community Colleges

Public Institutions

National Parks

Mount Lassen Mount Lassen (3639369082).jpg
Mount Lassen


See also

Related Research Articles

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lassen County, California</span> County in California, United States

Lassen County is a county in the northeastern portion of the U.S. state of California. As of the 2020 census, the population was 32,730. The county seat and only incorporated city is Susanville. Lassen County comprises the Susanville, California, micropolitan statistical area. A former farming, mining and lumber area, its economy now depends on employment at one federal and two state prisons; the former in Herlong and the latter two in Susanville. In 2007, half the adults in Susanville worked in one of the facilities.

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The Nataqua Territory was a short-lived, unofficial territory of the United States. It consisted of a portion of what is now northeastern California and northwestern Nevada. Nataqua Territory was the first incarnation of the proposed "State of Jefferson". In 1849, the border between California and the Utah Territory was defined by geographical coordinates that were not surveyed. On April 26, 1856, local residents took advantage of this ambiguity and justified their resistance to tax collectors from Plumas County, California, by proclaiming themselves part of a new "Territory of Nataqua." The twenty men of the Susanville convention who announced the Nataqua Territory had defined a rectangle-shaped territory by latitude and longitude, which inadvertently did not include their own Honey Lake Valley but did encompass most of what soon became western Nevada, along with 600 unsuspecting inhabitants. The Territory of Nataqua was a frontier land club or claim association, designed to protect the property rights of individual settlers until regular government reached the area. The movement was led by Peter Lassen and Isaac Roop. Association with the Utah Territory was unpalatable to the residents due to anti-Mormonism.

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Further reading