|California is the third largest state of the US with a total land area of 163,696 square miles. It is surrounded by Nevada to the east, Oregon to the north and Arizona to the southeast. Its western coastline is largely flanked by the Pacific Ocean. The state of Arizona is known for diversity in geographical feature, population, and climate. Sierra Nevada mountain range in the east, Mojave desert areas in the southeast, Redwood-Douglas fir forests in the northwest and the Central Valley in the central part comprise the whole of the state. It is the most populous state of the USA with approximately 36,756,666 residents according to a 2008 estimate. Climate varies from Mediterranean to subarctic with cool weather, dry summers and rainy winters in most part of the state. Colonized by the Spanish Empire in late 18th century, California became an independent republic in 1821 along with Mexico. The Mexican-American war in 1846 forced Mexico to cede the region to the United States, which subsequently made it the 31st state in 1850. Sacramento is the capital while Los Angeles, San Jose, San Diego and San Francisco are the other cities of importance.