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Well, the United States Census numbers for the year 2020 have been released and the most populated cities in California have new numbers. Even though the methods of the most recent census were debated, the city size rankings were probably unaffected by the numbers counted. The top four largest cities shouldn’t surprise anyone as they anchor the largest metropolitan areas of California.

Below is a list of the top ten biggest cities in California with their most recent population.

1. Los Angeles – 3,898,747

Los Angeles is the hub of the most populated county in the United States. With almost 4 million people in a county of 10 million, LA surprisingly represents just 39% of Los Angeles County. It’s the second most populous city in the US after New York City. Images of LA are dominated by the movie industry, celebrities, beaches and surfing all which support a strong tourism industry. The gross domestic product of the LA metropolitan area exceeds $1 trillion making it the third largest city GDP in the world!

2. San Diego – 1, 386,932

The southernmost California metro area is San Diego. This city’s land area is second only to Los Angeles making it the lowest density of the largest cities in California (those over 500k population). The disconnected southern part of the city follows the Mexican Border and includes several border crossing locations. See skyline photo below.

3. San Jose – 1,013,240

Silicon Valley’s largest city is San Jose with just over half of the population of Santa Clara County. San Jose is located at the south end San Francisco Bay. The 1M+ population of San Jose puts it in the top 10 in the USA (number 10).

4. San Francisco – 873,965

The city of San Francisco is also the county of San Francisco. With a small footprint, this city/county is has the highest population density of all the major cities in the state of California. It also has a gorgeous skyline (see photo above).

5. Fresno – 542,107

South of Sacramento you’ll find Fresno in the San Joaquin Valley. Fresno barely edges out the capital to claim the most populous city in the entire California Central Valley.

6. Sacramento – 524,943

The state capital of California is Sacramento located about an hour northeast of San Francisco Bay in the Central Valley. Sacramento is the gateway to the Lake Tahoe region of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

7. Long Beach – 466,742

LA County’s second largest city is Long Beach. It’s home to the second largest port in California (and the US) after the Port of Los Angeles. Together these two ports combine to handle one-quarter of the US container trade.

8. Oakland – 440,646

Oakland is the largest city on the East Bay side of San Francisco Bay a highly populated area that stretches from Richmond to Fremont.

9. Bakersfield – 403,455

Bakersfield marks the south end of California’s agricultural heartland a.k.a. the Central Valley. It’s about a two hour drive to the north from Los Angeles and has easy access to the southern Sierra Nevada range.

10. Anaheim – 346,824

Known as the home of Disney’s theme parks, Anaheim is also the largest city in Orange County which has a population exceeding 3 million.

San Diego’s lovely skyline from Coronado

California’s overall population has reached 39,538,223 as of 2020. Amazingly it has 75 cities with a population over 100,000! It also has nearly 1000 ocean beaches which we are super proud of.