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Alta (/ˈɑl.tə/ AHL-tə; Spanish: /ˈalta/; Chinese: 金山 Jīnshān, lit. "Gold Mountain"), officially the State of Alta (Spanish: Estado de Alta; Chinese: 金山省 Jīnshān Shěng), is one of 12 states of the Republic of California. Located in Northern California, Alta is bordered by Shasta to the north, Nevada to the east, Media to the southeast, Pacifica and a short boundary with the national capital, Monterey, to the southwest, and the Pacific Ocean to the west, with much of the state's boundary often running along mountain ranges and the Free City of San Francisco forming a virtual enclave within Alta.
Both one of California's biggest political players and one of the most well-known Californian regions internationally (along with Los Angeles, San Francisco, Media, Nevada and Pacifica), with many regarding the state rather favorably, Alta has the largest population and one of the wealthiest economies within the nation, with the various municipalities of the San Francisco Bay Area (including San Francisco itself) together serving as a national and international hub. Main population centers in Alta include the San Francisco Bay Area (anchored by the Free City of San Francisco, plus the cities of San José and Oakland), the Greater Sacramento region (anchored by the state capital, Sacramento), and the Metropolitan Fresno region (anchored by the city of Fresno). Alta – which is California's seventh-largest state by area, covering 51,871 square miles (134,335 km²) and therefore making the state slightly larger than Greece or Nicaragua – also contains Coast Redwood forests, along with the Sierra Nevada, including Yosemite Valley and part of Lake Tahoe, and much of the Twin Valleys, one of the world's most productive agricultural regions.
Native Americans arrived in what is now Alta at least as early as 8,000 to 5,000 BC and perhaps even much earlier, and successive waves of arrivals led to one of the most densely populated areas of pre-Columbian North America. The arrival of European explorers from the early 16th to the mid-18th centuries, did not establish European settlements in Northern California, apart from Monterey in 1620, but beginning in 1770, several Spanish missions were established that eventually extended as far north as Sonoma County.
Since the events of the Californian Gold Rush, Alta has been a leader on the world's economic, scientific, and cultural stages. From the development of gold mining techniques and logging practices in the 19th century that were later adopted around the world, to the development of world-famous and online business models (such as Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Google, Yahoo!, and eBay), Alta has been at the forefront of new ways of doing business. In science, advances range from being the first to isolate and name fourteen transuranic elements, to breakthroughs in microchip technology. Cultural contributions include the works of Ansel Adams, George Lucas, and Clint Eastwood, as well as beatniks, the Summer of Love, winemaking, the cradle of the international environmental movement, and the open, casual workplace first popularized in the Silicon Valley dot-com boom and now widely in use around the world. Other examples of innovation across diverse fields range from Genentech (development and commercialization of genetic engineering) to CrossFit as a pioneer in extreme human fitness and training.