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It’s all about California! 

Who can tell me of which country California is a part?
It's the USA.

Why isn’t it ‘America’?
America is the continent, and The United States of America is the country.

Remember that all countries are what we call ‘political entities’. No land mass (literally - the land) is a country by nature. People have created a country on that land. Any country that has straight lines along the borders - see picture 1.

About 180 years ago, California was just a lump of land on the Western edge of America. Now, it’s probably the most valuable ‘lump’ of land in the world.

So what made people go there?
Gold! (Pictures 6, 7 and 8.)

The Californian Gold Rush (picture 2) (when people really do rush to find gold) happened in about 1848 and finished in about 1855. It was a time when people went to California as fast as they could before all the gold was gone. Look again at the pictures below (picture 3-7)The gold didn’t run out, of course, but it became harder to find without a huge amount of machinery and lots of investment. Today, gold is not sought after in California.

But why not?
Simply because there’s not enough gold to repay any investment.

The gold rush ended, but people stayed. Why do you think that was? There are two main reasons. 
It is because of a) OIL and b) the climate is rather nice. Temperate - which means a reasonable mixture of rain and sunshine. We’ll concentrate on b) because oil really isn’t interesting in our context.

But that’s mainly in the South - and there’s even a song - It Never Rains in Southern California.

Have a quick listen and I think that nearly all of you have heard it. California became a great place to live, mostly in the southern part. Have a look at the pictures below again (here).

Social amusements were built too (picture 9). Some people became very rich through business and oil (picture 10); but as usual where there are rich people, there are poor too (picture 11). It really did become a nice place to live (picture 12). Everyone really was allowed to have fun - at that time there was little discrimination or prejudice against people of colour. After the Second World War, things did change for coloured or black people - discrimination reared it’s ugly head all over America, and people were segregated (seperated). That’s a whole subject in itself, so we will will not look at it.

So here we are, up to the 1950s and 1960s. The American Dream! Looking at the pictures you can see how things changed.

Does anyone know which geographical fault causes many problems in California?
The San Andreas Fault.

It is said by some odd people that if there’s a major earthquake along that fault line, the whole of California might crack off away from the mainland! Can you imagine? Of course, that’s not likely to happen.

But in 1908 there WAS a massive earthquake, and as most towns were made from wooden buildings, they fell over and caught fire. Californians now say they are ‘waiting for the big one’ because scientists think that there IS going to be a big earthquake soon. 

What about the cultural development of California? It started as a desert-land; was ripped apart by gold diggers to find gold; when they left, some stayed and went into agriculture.

After that someone discovered oil, which meant more people went to California and pumped up the oil. 

California was still a desert land, but slowly it became populated with peoples from all over the world. Even the Chinese came as base workers and labourers in the gold fields and oil fields (picture 13). Massive developments took place - engineering feats never before achieved (picture 14).

Slowly but surely, Californian towns became more modern (picture 15) and much of the investment was fuelled (literally) by oil (picture 16). Again - social facilities were created for the people (picture 9) and for everyone, life became very good (picture 12). Some people became very rich (picture 17) and some stayed poor (18).

In the 1950s and 1960s, California developed even more, the climate drew people, and even the music was fantastic! Just listen to that!

Fashion too became ultra-modern - although it looks very dated today (picture 19), but the American CAR was the thing that created the American Dream, really. Pictures 20, 21 and 22 show how much the car was used - even popping to the local shop was done by car.

Pictures 23 and 24 show how much things were relaxed - hippies!

Who knows what a ‘hippy’ is?
It's a person who decides not to follow standard culture.

You might have seen people walking around Bangkok looking like hippies (Westerners) who think they are going to ‘find themselves’, spiritually, here.


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