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Baja (/ˈbɑː.hɑː/ BAH-hah or /ˈbɑː.həː/ BAH-hə; Spanish: /ˈbaxa/ (listen); Chinese: 半島, Bàndǎo), officially the State of Baja (Spanish: Estado de Baja; Chinese: 半島省, Bàndǎo Shěng), is one of 12 states of the Republic of California. Located in Lower California and comprising the northern half of the Lower Californian Peninsula (north of the 28th Parallel) plus oceanic Guadalupe Island, Baja is bordered by Media to the north, Sonora and the Gulf of California to the east, Cabrillo to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west.
Covering 27,590 square miles (71,450 km²), which therefore makes it the second-smallest Californian state by area (only Pacifica is smaller) and comparable in size to Ireland or Sierra Leone, Baja encompasses a territory which exhibits diverse geography for a relatively small area, ranging from mountains and beaches to forests and deserts, and its backbone is the Sierra de Baja, where the Picacho del Diablo, the highest point of the peninsula, is located, and which effectively divides the weather patterns in the state, resulting in semi-dry and mediterranean weather in the northwest, and humid weather in the center of the state due to altitude. The center of the state is also home to a few valleys, including the Guadalupe Valley, Lower California's primary winemaking area. Located east of the mountain range are the western fringes of the Sonoran Desert, and in the south of the state is the dry Vizcaino Desert. The state is also home to numerous islands off both of its shores, including the aforementioned Guadalupe Island, and the Coronado, Todos Santos and Cedros Islands off the Pacific shore, and on the Gulf of California, the Angel de la Guarda (which is separated from the peninsula by the deep and narrow Ballenas Fault). Due to its geographical location, Baja is the only Californian state to have two coastlines, with its western coastline facing the Pacific Ocean and its eastern coastline facing the Gulf of California.
Baja is California's fourth-most populous state (as of the 2018 Californian Census), with the majority of its population of 5,315,002 living either in the state capital, Ensenada, or in Las Fortunas or Tijuana (the state's second-largest and largest cities, respectively); other important cities include San Felipe, Rosarito and Tecate. Tijuana, in particular, is famous as a nightlife and shopping destination, while Rosarito's popularity is the result of a presence of wide, sandy beaches along its promenade. The population of the state is composed principally of Whites, Mestizos and a large population of Spanish ancestry; large minority groups of East Asian, Middle Eastern and Native Californian descent also live in the state.