California: An Island Of Islands

Thanks to Adolpho Rene Morales

BoomCalifornia tells the tale of a cartographic blunder that originally rendered California as an island. While it took over two centuries to fix the error, the idea of California as an island seems to have lived on in the imagination and firmly taken hold in our consciousness.

We may not technically be an island, but we are distinct from the rest of the country in terms of geography, climate, and culture. Separated from the rest of the lower 47 by deserts and mountain ranges, containing the highest and lowest points in the US, with record snowfalls, rainforests, great rivers, salt lakes, massive grasslands, and some of the richest farmland in the world. Home to the hubs of the movie, game, and technology industries, wine country, a robust fishing industry, agriculture that supplies two thirds of the nation’s produce, and almost every ethnicity on Earth.

“An island that is a world in miniature” as BoomCalifornia puts it, and that island is composed of still smaller islands within that all have their own character. The powerful city-states that dominate the coast give California its left-of-center reputation and they tend to overshadow the more conservative pockets of Jefferson and the central valley. And yet, taken as a whole, these islands are more dissimilar to the mainland than they are to each other.

Geography has shaped us, and our separateness has allowed us to independently develop values that have influenced the rest of the US for many years. America needs to accept that the California that existed as an island in our imagination so long ago is, in reality, a nation all its own.

Notes on California as an Island