California's history is unique. It has been shaped, in part, by its geography. California has four main regions. The temperate coastal region, the Central Valley, once an inland sea, the desert, and the mountain region. The imposing Sierra Nevadas caused California to develop in relative isolation from the rest of the nation. After Americans began to settle in California in large numbers during the nineteenth century, it would usually be weeks before news would arrive from the East.
Four flags have flown in earnest over California. Russia, Spain, Mexico, and the United States.
The name "California" came from a knightly romance book that was published in 1510. It was about an island paradise near the Indies where beautiful Queen Califia ruled over a country of beautiful black Amazons with lots of pearls and gold. Men were only allowed there one day a year to help perpetuate the race. Cortez's men thought they found the island in 1535, because they found pearls. Later, Francisco de Ulloa found that the island was really a peninsula.