California has been inhabited for thousands of years. When Europeans first arrived there were a number of Native American tribes in the area including the Chumash, Mohave, Yuma, Pomo, and Maidu. These tribes spoke a number of different languages. They were often separated by geography such as mountain ranges and desserts. As a result, they had different cultures and languages from the Native Americans to the east. They were mostly peaceful people who hunted, fished, and gathered nuts and fruit for food.


1542 - Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo is the first European to visit the coast of California.

1579 - Sir Francis Drake lands on the coast of California and claims it for Great Britain.

1769 - The Spanish begin to build missions. They build 21 total missions along the coast.

1781 - The city of Los Angeles is established.

1821 - California becomes part of the country of Mexico.

1840s - Settlers begin to arrive from the east on the Oregon Trail and the California Trail.

1846 - California declares its independence from Mexico.

1848 - The United States gains control of California after the Mexican-American war.

1848 - Gold is discovered at Sutter's Mill. The Gold Rush begins.

1850 - California is admitted to the Union as the 31st state.

1854 - Sacramento becomes the state capital. It is named the permanent capital in 1879.

1869 - The First Transcontinental Railroad is completed connecting San Francisco with the east coast.

1890 - Yosemite National Park is established.

1906 - A huge earthquake destroys much of San Francisco.

1937 - The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is opened for traffic.

1955 - Disneyland opens in Anaheim.