The People and Culture of California

The population of California is a third bigger than the second largest state, Texas, in America. The 37 million people are made up of 44% white (non-Hispanic), 33% white (Hispanic), 13% Asian, 7% black, 2% Native American, 1% Hawaiian. This mix of ethnicity has always been a feature of the population of the State and it has left an indelible impression on the culture of the region. What is constantly changing are the ratios of different ethnic groups that make up the total population figures. The original indigenous native Indians contained 70 distinct groups and at one time their population reached close to 300,000. Sadly, disease saw this figure drop to 15,000 by the end of the 19th century. In 2005 it was estimated that the population had risen to nearly 700,000 people. This is the largest concentration of Native Indians in the States.

The Rancho Santa Ana Festival celebrating Native American crafts and culture

The communities have settled well into the cities with 54,236 being located in Los Angeles. The art music and dance are remembered at festivals that take place around the State every year. There are also many museums and galleries that have exhibitions of the crafts and arts of the Native American community. The Mexican community has made a significant contribution to the culture of the region over the centuries. Californian was once owned by Mexico and more people speak Spanish in Los Angeles than any other language. The food in California sees the Mexican dishes of tamales, totas, burritos, nachos and tacos eaten as regularly as any fast food in the state. The music has been heavily influenced by Mexican folk music, with Ritchie Valance and Carlos Santa being two musicians who incorporated Mexican folk into their American music.

The southern half of California is dominated by “Spanish architecture” with a dominance of mission type styled housing. These buildings were introduced by the Mexicans and still seen in the State today. There are many that feel that in the coming years the Hispanic community will become the largest ethnic group in California. There are more people crossing the border illegally, and the natural increase of the Hispanic community as a result of their religious beliefs.

The mission type houses of Southern California

The Black American influence on the culture in the area is huge. In music the airwaves are dominated by performers from this community. Whether it be blues, or soul, or jazz, or gospel or hip-hop the number of performers from the African American ethnic group that play instruments or sing or even dance is massive. This ethnic group has also played a huge role in fashion. Teenagers tend to follow the trends set by the younger black generation. Whether it basketball shoes or hoodie tops, role models from the entertainment, or sports, industry can set major buying sprees through the clothes they wear and the products they endorse.

The culture of Californian sport has been influenced massively by the contribution of the Black American to particular sports. Track and field, American Football and particularly basketball is dominated by these athletes. Basketball has been blessed with these sportsman as it is a cheap sport to play, and its popularity in the inner city poorer areas has given the young talented black Americans an opportunity to earn wealth from their success. A visit to any major Californian city will present the opportunity to view the wide array of different cultures that now are a part of the State. Whether it be the food, or the music, or the language, or the art, the beauty of California is that it is a melting pot of different ethnicities that have come together to produce the community that it is today.