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Southern California, or SoCal, is defined as the southern portion of the U.S. state of Californiamarker. Its population encompasses three major metropolitan areas, each of which have over 3 million people; the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area with over 12 million inhabitants, the San Bernardino-Riverside Metropolitan Areamarker with over 4 million inhabitants, and the San Diego Metropolitan Areamarker with over 3 million inhabitants. The region is home to approximately 24 million people, which is more than half of California's population, and is the nation's second most populous region behind the urban seaboard of the Northeastern United States.

Though there is no official definition for the northern boundary of Southern California, most definitions in use include all the land south of the Tehachapi Mountains, located about north of Los Angeles.

On the west of Southern California lies the Pacific Oceanmarker; to the south is the international border between the United States and Mexicomarker; to the east are the Mojave and Colorado Deserts and the Colorado Rivermarker at the state's border with Arizonamarker and Nevadamarker.


Within its boundaries is a major world city, Los Angeles, and three of the country's largest metropolitan areas.
With a population of 1,336,865, San Diego is the second most populous city in California, and the eighth most populous in the U.S.Its counties of Los Angeles, Orangemarker, San Diegomarker, San Bernardinomarker, and Riversidemarker are in the top 15 most populous counties in the United States and all five are the top 5 most populous counties in California. The region is also home to Los Angeles International Airportmarker, the third-busiest airport in the United States by passenger volume (see World's busiest airports by passenger traffic) and the second by international passenger volume, San Diego International Airportmarker the busiest single runway airport in the world, Van Nuys Airportmarker (see Busiest airports in the United States by international passenger traffic), the world's busiest general aviation airport, major commercial airports at Orange Countymarker, Ontariomarker, Burbankmarker and Long Beachmarker and numerous smaller commercial and general aviation airports. Southern California is also home to the Port of Los Angelesmarker, the United States' busiest commercial port, the adjacent Port of Long Beachmarker, and the Port of San Diego. Also of note in the region is the freeway system, which is the world's busiest. Six of the seven lines of the commuter rail system, Metrolink, run out of Downtown Los Angelesmarker, connecting Los Angeles, Venturamarker, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, and San Diego counties with the other line connecting San Bernardino, Riverside, and Orange counties directly.
The Tech Coast is a moniker that has gained use as a descriptor for the region's diversified technology and industrial base as well as its multitude of prestigious and world-renowned research universities and other public and private institutions. Amongst these include five University of California campuses (Los Angeles marker, Irvinemarker, Riversidemarker, Santa Barbaramarker, and San Diego marker campuses), 10 California State University campuses (Channel Islandsmarker, Dominguez Hillsmarker, Fullertonmarker, Long Beachmarker, Los Angelesmarker, Pomona marker, Northridge marker, San Bernardinomarker, San Diego marker, and San Marcosmarker campuses), as well as private institutions such as Caltechmarker, the University of Southern Californiamarker, Pepperdine Universitymarker, Loyola Marymount Universitymarker,Chapman University, the Claremont Colleges and the University of San Diego (USD).

Southern California is also the entertainment (motion picture, television, and recorded music) capital of the world and is home to Hollywoodmarker, the center of the motion picture industry. Headquartered in Southern California are The Walt Disney Company (which also owns ABC), Sony Pictures, Universal, MGM, Paramount Pictures (parent company of Dreamworksmarker), 20th Century Fox and Warner Brothers, and as well as Univision, Activision, and THQ. Southern California is also home to the world's largest adult entertainment industry, located primarily in the San Fernando Valleymarker.

Southern California is home to many sports franchises and sports networks such as Fox Sports Net. Professional teams that are located in the region include the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Galaxy, Chivas USA, Los Angeles Riptide, and San Diego Chargers. Southern California also is home to a number of popular NCAA sports programs, such as the UCLA Bruins, the USC Trojans, and the SDSU Aztecsmarker.

Northern boundary

Southern California counties
The region's northern boundary is subject to a broader degree of interpretation than those of the West, East, and South. The most commonly used physical boundary between "Southern California" and the rest of the state is the Tehachapi Range , located about north of Los Angeles, and the Transverse Ranges in Santa Barbara Countymarker west to Point Conceptionmarker. Seven full counties (listed in descending order of population) are included: Los Angeles, San Diegomarker, Orangemarker, San Bernardinomarker, Riversidemarker, Venturamarker, and Imperialmarker, as well as the southern part of Santa Barbaramarker.

A more inclusive definition coinciding neatly with county lines uses the sixth standard parallel south of Mount Diablomarker (144 miles south of Mt. Diablo at 35°47′28″N) which forms the northern borders of San Luis Obispomarker, Kernmarker, and San Bernardinomarker counties as the boundary. San Luis Obispomarker, Kern County, Californiamarker and the remainder of Santa Barbaramarker, are included under this definition as well, for a total of ten counties.

Population, Land Area & Population Density (2008-07-01 est.)

Los Angeles County
Orange Countymarker
San Diego Countymarker
Riverside Countymarker
San Bernardino Countymarker
Kern Countymarker
Ventura Countymarker
Santa Barbara Countymarker
San Luis Obispo Countymarker
Imperial County
Southern California

Kern County is also part of the San Joaquin Valleymarker, and San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties are also considered part of California's Central Coast.

Urban landscape

Southern California consists of a heavily developed urban environment, along with vast arid areas that have been left undeveloped. It is the second-largest urbanized region in the United States, second only to the Washington, D.C.marker/Philadelphiamarker/New Yorkmarker/Bostonmarker Northeastern Megalopolis. Whereas these cities are dense, with major downtown populations and significant rail and transit systems, much of Southern California is famous for its large, spread-out, suburban communities and use of automobiles and highways. The dominant areas are Los Angelesmarker, Orange Countymarker, San Diegomarker, Riversidemarker, and San Bernardinomarker, each of which is the center of its respective metropolitan area, composed of numerous smaller cities and communities.

Traveling south on Interstate 5, the main gap to continued urbanization is Camp Pendletonmarker. The communities along Interstate 15 and Interstate 215 are so inter-related that Temeculamarker has as much connection with San Diego County as it does with the Inland Empiremarker. To the east, the United States Census Bureau considers the San Bernardino and Riverside County areas, Riverside-San Bernardino Areamarker as a separate metropolitan area from Los Angeles County. While many commute to L.A. and Orange Counties, there are some differences in development, as most of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties were developed in the 1980s and 1990s.


Major cities (over 200,000 inhabitants)

Population figures for California cities are 2008 State of California estimates

Other cities with over 100,000 inhabitants

Ventura City Hall in Old Town Ventura
Downtown Santa Monica

Other county seats (under 100,000 inhabitants)


South of the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountains

North of the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountains

Santa Barbaramarker, San Luis Obispomarker, and Venturamarker are also counties in the Central Coast.

Geographical regions

Marriott Hotel in downtown San Diego
Southern California is also divided into the Coastal Region (Orange County, Los Angeles County, San Diego County, Santa Barbara County, and Ventura County) and the larger, more sparsely populated, desert Inland Empiremarker (San Bernardino County, Riverside County, and Imperial County). The division between the Coastal Regions and the Inland Empire winds along the backs of the coastal mountain ranges such as the Santa Ana Mountains.A related geographical term is cismontane Southern California, which refers to the portion of California on the coastal side of the Transverse and Peninsular mountain ranges. The term "Southern California" often refers to this region specifically, as opposed to largely desert areas comprising the rest of the southern portion of the state, which are referred to as transmontane Southern California.

Geographic features

Los Angeles at night
View from La Jolla Cove in San Diego
Coachella Valley Preserve in the Colorado Desert in Riverside County


Each year the southern California area has about 10,000 earthquakes. Nearly all of them are so small that they are not felt. Only several hundred are greater than magnitude 3.0, and only about 15-20 are greater than magnitude 4.0.

The Great Southern California ShakeOut

The Great Southern Californiamarker ShakeOut is based on a potential magnitude 7.8 earthquake on the southern San Andreas Fault— approximately 5,000 times larger than the magnitude 5.4 earthquake that shook southern California on July 29, 2008.


One of the large LAX signs that greet visitors to LAX.
This sign is at the Century Boulevard entrance to Los Angeles International Airport


The following airports currently have regularly scheduled commercial service:

Major Central business districts

The following are major central business districts in Southern California:



Interstate Highways

U.S. Highway system California State Routes
Note: highway segments with names listed in italics are surface streets and not freeways.


Major public transit organizations

Metrolink commuter lines


Telephone area codes

Map of major area codes in the Los Angeles region, San Diego and the Inland Empire (San Bernardino-Riverside) are their own separate regions



Law Schools

Medical Schools

Graphic Design Schools

Beauty Schools

Dental Schools

Art Schools

Sports teams

Team Sport League Venue
Los Angeles Avengers Arena football Arena Football League Staples Centermarker
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Baseball American League (Major League Baseball) Angel Stadium of Anaheimmarker
Los Angeles Dodgers National League (Major League Baseball) Dodger Stadiummarker
San Diego Padres PETCO Parkmarker
Los Angeles Clippers Basketball National Basketball Association Staples Centermarker
Los Angeles Lakers
San Diego Chargers Football National Football League Qualcomm Stadiummarker
Anaheim Ducks Ice hockey National Hockey League Honda Centermarker
Los Angeles Kings Staples Centermarker
Chivas USA Soccer Major League Soccer The Home Depot Centermarker
Los Angeles Galaxy

See also


  1. The three metropolitan areas are: 1) Los Angeles–Long Beach–Santa Ana (the second largest in the US), 2) Riverside–San Bernardino–Ontario (the Inland Empire) and 3) San Diego–Carlsbad–San Marcos - see: United States metropolitan areas
  3. Sector 9 Incorporated - San Diego, CA
  4. Surfline - Huntington Beach, CA
  5. X Games Take a Turn for the Better - Los Angeles Times
  6. California's Coastal Mountains
  7. Revisions to the California State Implementation Plan, San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District

External links

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