California Ten Largest Cities by Population

Unless it falls into the sea, Los Angeles will always be California's most populated city. It is approx. three times more populated than the next most populated city, San Diego.

Population of the next largest cities certainly can change as evidenced when San Jose outpaced San Francisco to become the third most populated city in California. Another such example occurred when Fresno overtook Long Beach as the 5th most populated city in California. Sacramento is not far behind Long Beach and as of this writing, we feel confident Sacramento will overtake Long Beach, as well. Statistics for the previous year usually come out in the mid-year around May, and are issued by California Department of Finance.

10 Largest Cities in California by Population

City Population January 1, 2010 / Percent Change 2009-10

1. Los Angeles 4,094,764 1.1
Located in Southern California, the most populated city in California contains ocean frontage and mountains. It is the only city in the United States with a mountain range that separates portions of the city. Los Angeles has one of the largest ports in the United States for import / export trade, has a major airport and is considered the birthplace of the entertainment industry.

2. San Diego 1,376,173 1.3
San Diego is located near the Mexico border and is known for having some of the finest weather in the world. San Diego beaches are one of the top tourist attractions but there are also several theme parks - Sea World, San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park and an amazing Balboa Park filled with 13 museums.

3. San Jose 1,023,083 1.6
Located south of San Francisco in Northern California, San Jose is an inland city that grew and expanded, attracting high tech business when there was ample land and a pro-business policy. San Jose continues to lead the way with high-tech industries finding the weather and business climate favorable.

4. San Francisco 856,095 1.1
San Francisco is one of the most popular tourist attractions with the best natural branding around the globe. Golden Gate Park, Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz tours, cable car rides, and Pier 39 are a few of the icons that attract newcomers to one of the most dense cities, population-wise, in California.

5. Fresno 502,303 1.4
Fresno has grown because of the affordability factor. While many other cities have seen job loss, Fresno has attracted high-tech and professional companies and jobs, making it a desirable place to relocate.

6. Long Beach 494,709 0.8
Long Beach has a thriving port next to Port of Los Angeles. The port brings many jobs and revenue to the city. It is located in Los Angeles County and has also had many jobs tied to the aeronautical industry.

7. Sacramento 486,189 1.0
Sacramento is the state's capitol and has expanded, along with the government and industries surrounding it--nonprofit organizations, lobbyists, marketing companies, etc. Sacramento also has strong tourist appeal as one of the state's most historic cities and the best place for students to take trips tied to lessons about California history and politics.

8. Oakland 430,666 1.2
Oakland's great bay location across the bay and overlooking San Francisco makes it a popular attraction. Oakland Airport is considered a better option for many travelers because it has less fog than San Francisco Airport, and Oakland provides a gateway with its airport and roads that connect to San Francisco, San Jose and Napa.

9. Santa Ana 357,754 0.7
Santa Ana is the county seat of Orange County, the densest county in California. Poised to grow with plans on the slate to build high-rise mixed use projects, Santa Ana is poised to increase its population.

10. Anaheim 353,643 1.6
Anaheim's growth continues, as does Disneyland and surrounding hotels, shopping and businesses. With the state's top theme park by the numbers (around 15 million visit Disneyland Resort in a year) attracting such a large influx, one problem has been finding a supply of housing for workers servicing the tourism industry. Anaheim is the only city of the Top 10 without an airport.

Los Angeles 3,792,621 Los Angeles Los Angeles is one of the world's centers of media, business, and international trade. It is home to renowned institutions covering a broad range of educational and professional fields and it is one of the most substantial economic engines of the United States. Los Angeles leads the world in producing popular entertainment such as motion picture, television, and recorded music --all of which forms the base of its fame and global status.

2 San Diego 1,307,402 San Diego Self proclaimed "America's finest city", San Diego sits on the border with Mexico and hosts miles of beaches and a number of U.S. military facilities within the area. San Diego's economy is largely composed of agriculture, biotechnology/biosciences, computer sciences, electronics manufacturing, defense-related manufacturing, ship repair and construction, and tourism.

3 San Jose 945,942 Santa Clara San Jose was founded on November 29, 1777 as the first town in the Spanish colony of Nueva California, which later became Alta California.[2] When California gained statehood in 1850, the town of San Jose served as its first capital.[3] After more than 150 years as an agricultural center, San Jose grew due to some demand for housing from soldiers returning from World War II, as well as the city's aggressive expansion policy during the 1950s and 1960s as it annexed large portions of land area which helped increase its population. By the 1990s, San Jose's location within the then-booming local technology industry earned the city the nickname Capital of Silicon Valley.

4 San Francisco 805,235 San Francisco San Francisco is a popular international tourist destination renowned for its beauty, cosmopolitan flare, steep rolling hills, and eclectic mix of Victorian and modern architecture. The city is surrounded by water on three sides and has many famous landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, the cable cars and streetcars, Coit Tower, and Chinatown. The city is well-known for its liberal politics and for its diverse population, including large and long-established Asian American and LGBT communities. It is the most densely populated major city in California, and the second most densely populated major city in the United States. It is the only consolidated city-county in the state of California.

5 Fresno 494,665 Fresno Fresno is at the heart of the San Joaquin Valley, a leading agricultural area of the United States. Fresno is the closest major city to Yosemite National Park. Fresno is the largest inland city in California.

6 Sacramento 489,488 Sacramento Sacramento has been the state capital of California since 1879. Once the state's second largest city, Sacramento was a major distribution center during the California Gold Rush and was the western terminus of the Pony Express. The American River, where gold was first discovered in California in the middle of the 19th century, flows through the city. In the market boom between 2003 and 2008, the population of the metropolitan area reached 2.4 million people as suburbs such as Roseville, Lincoln, and Elk Grove grew. According to the 2010 census, Sacramento is the nineteenth most-populous metropolitan area in the United States.

7 Long Beach 462,257 Los Angeles Long Beach is a coastal city lying in the Greater Los Angeles area metropolitan area. Long Beach partially borders the city of Los Angeles to its west and is home to the Long Beach Grand Prix and the RMS Queen Mary which is docked in Long Beach Harbor. The Port of Long Beach is one of the world's largest shipping ports. The city also has a large oil industry; oil is found both underground and offshore. Manufacturers include aircraft, automobile parts, electronic and audiovisual equipment. It is also home to the headquarters for corporations such as Epson America, Molina Healthcare, and Scan Health Care. Long Beach has grown with the development of high-technology and aerospace industries in the area.

8 Oakland 390,724 Alameda Oakland is a major West Coast port, and is home to several major corporations including Kaiser Permanente and Clorox, as well as corporate headquarters for nationwide businesses like Dreyer's and Cost Plus World Markets. Attractions include Jack London Square, the Oakland Museum of California, the Chabot Space and Science Center, Lake Merritt, the East Bay Regional Park District ridge line parks and preserves, and Chinatown.

9 Bakersfield 347,483 Kern Bakersfield sits at the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley, an especially petroleum-rich area of California. It has quickly become the fastest growing city in California. Bakersfield is known for its musical achievements such as its own genre called the "Bakersfield Sound". Bakersfield is also in close proximity with The Sequoia National Forest.

10 Anaheim 336,265 Orange Located in Orange County, California, Anaheim is the most populous city in the county and second largest in terms of land area; it is known for its theme parks, sports teams, and convention center.

11 Santa Ana 324,528 Orange County Seat of Orange County. Home to the famous Bowers museum, Discovery Science Center, and John Wayne Airport.

12 Riverside 303,871 Riverside Riverside is the most populous city of Southern California's Inland Empire region. Riverside is the birthplace of California's citrus industry and home to the University of California, Riverside (UCR). Its downtown is home to the Mission Inn, one of the two historic landmark hotels in California. The Mission Inn Festival of Lights is said to be the 3rd largest Christmas lights display in the nation[citation needed].

13 Stockton 291,707 San Joaquin San Joaquin River Delta and is sometimes considered the divider between the Sacramento Valley and the San Joaquin Valley. For much of the later 19th century, starting with the Gold Rush, Stockton was one of the largest cities in the state, for a while the third largest city. With a sea port on the San Joaquin River, it was an important agricultural and shipping center, roles which it continues to fulfill.

14 Chula Vista 243,916 San Diego A South Bay suburban city of San Diego, Chula Vista is just seven miles (11 km) from the Mexican border. One of the most economically and culturally diverse cities in Southern California.

15 Fremont 214,089 Alameda Fremont was created as a single city in 1956, from the unification of several unincorporated communities that had historically been small but grew rapidly in the years after World War II.

16 Irvine 212,375 Orange Irvine is a planned city in Orange County, California, mainly developed by the Irvine Company since the 1960s. Irvine is home to the University of California, Irvine (UCI) and to a number of corporations, particularly in the technology sector. It is regarded for its good schools, jobs and housing by, for low crime by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Census Bureau ranks Irvine highly in median income.

17 San Bernardino 209,924 San Bernardino San Bernardino is the second largest city in the Inland Empire area of California, and the county seat of San Bernardino County, the largest county in geographic area in the 48 contiguous states.

18 Modesto 201,165 Stanislaus Modesto is in the center of the Central Valley east of San Francisco and south of the capital Sacramento. The city is surrounded by fertile farmland. Its population is growing fast due to affordable housing in the area and is quickly becoming a bedroom community for commuters to Sacramento, Fresno, and the San Francisco Bay Area.

19 Oxnard 197,899 Ventura One of only a handful of cities in the state that is the largest in its county, but not the county seat.

20 Fontana 196,069 San Bernardino Home of the California Speedway.

21 Moreno Valley 193,365 Riverside Incorporated in 1984, the city lies 65 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. Moreno Valley is also home to the March Air Reserve Base.

22 Glendale 191,719 Los Angeles Glendale is the focal point of the Verdugo Mountains subregion and is well-known for hosting a large Armenian-American community.

23 Huntington Beach 189,992 Orange This Orange county coastal city is best known for its 8.5-mile (13.7 km) beach. It is often referred to as "Surf City" due to its long association with the sport of surfing. It often hosts surfing contests.

24 Santa Clarita 176,320 Los Angeles Home to Six Flags Magic Mountain. Incorporated in 1987 as the union of several previously existing communities, including Canyon Country, Newhall, Saugus, and Valencia.

25 Garden Grove 170,883 Orange Crystal Cathedral with Spire

26 Santa Rosa 167,815 Sonoma Santa Rosa is the largest city in California's Wine Country and the Redwood Empire. The county seat of Sonoma County since 1854, it also grew as a center of agriculture, shipping, and industry. It is today still an important local center of business and tourism. The city actually suffered the most destruction of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, which destroyed Santa Rosa's entire downtown. Notable residents have included famed horticulturalist Luther Burbank, and Peanuts cartoonist Charles M. Schulz.

27 Oceanside 167,086 San Diego The largest city in San Diego's North County, Oceanside is home to the longest wooden pier on the west coast and is directly south of Camp Pendleton, the busiest military base in the United States.

28 Rancho Cucamonga 165,269 San Bernardino One of the newer cities in the state, Rancho Cucamonga was until the late 1970s a small, unincorporated rural area that incorporated as a city only in 1977.

29 Ontario 163,924 San Bernardino Ontario City Library05apr2006

Ontario is the third principal city of the Inland Empire area of California and home to the area's international airport and the region's largest shopping mall, Ontario Mills.

30 Lancaster 156,663 Los Angeles Largest city of the California deserts.

31 Elk Grove 153,015 Sacramento Elk Grove was a sleepy suburb of Sacramento until the housing boom of the 1990s and 2000s. Between the decades, the population has nearly tripled from around 50,000 to more than 150,000 inhabitants. The population has grown so much that Elk Grove has surpassed all of the other suburbs in size and inhabitants. in fact, the city was rated the fasted growing city in the United States in 2006. About 15 miles (24 km) from Downtown Sacramento, Elk Grove has emerged as a popular place for young families to live and commute to the job centers of the area.

32 Palmdale 152,750 Los Angeles Commonly referred to as the Aerospace Capital of America. The city is the birthplace of the Space Shuttle, X-15, B-2 Spirit, F-117 Nighthawk, F-35 Lightning II, SR-71 Blackbird, Lockheed L-1011 Tristar, and many other aircraft that have been used in the United States Air Force, NASA and air forces and airlines around the world. It is the sixth largest city in Los Angeles County and one of the fastest growing cities in the United States.

33 Corona 152,374 Riverside CoronaCA

34 Salinas 150,441 Monterey Salinas is known for being an agricultural center as well as being the hometown of famed writer and Nobel prize laureate John Steinbeck.

35 Pomona 149,058 Los Angeles Home of the Los Angeles County Fair, the largest county fair in the United States.

36 Torrance 145,438 Los Angeles Torrance, 21 square miles (54 km2), is situated 11 miles (18 km) south of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), 8 miles (13 km) north of the Port of Los Angeles, 30 miles (48 km) west of Disneyland and bounded by the Pacific Ocean on the west with 1.5 miles (2.4 km) of beach. Incorporated in 1921, it is the eighth largest city in Los Angeles County and the 36th largest city in California. Torrance averages 12.55 inches of rainfall per year.[4]

37 Hayward 144,186 Alameda Hayward was an historic salt and agricultural processing center and is the home of California State University, East Bay.

38 Escondido 143,911 San Diego Situated in San Diego's north county, Escondido is home to the San Diego Wild Animal Park. 39 Sunnyvale 140,081 Santa Clara Murphystreetsunnyvale

40 Pasadena 137,122 Los Angeles Pasadena City Hall 2 Premier City of the San Gabriel Valley subregion; home of the Rose Bowl and Rose Parade, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the California Institute of Technology.

41 Orange 136,416 Orange Former ATSF Station in Orange CA 7-14-04

42 Fullerton 135,161 Orange Fullerton city hall

43 Thousand Oaks 126,683 Ventura ThousandOaksCA typical street

44 Visalia 124,442 Tulare Visalia Acequia Ave. Visalia is the oldest city between Stockton and Los Angeles. It is also one of the fastest growing cities in California.

45 Simi Valley 124,327 Ventura Simi Valley surroundings Home of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

46 Concord 122,067 Contra Costa Don Francisco Galindo House (Concord, CA)

47 Roseville 118,788 Placer Roseville - City Civic Center Roseville is a suburb of Sacramento. It is very family oriented with many parks and bike trails. The average income of this city is one of the highest in California, however, this city is known throughout California for being very affordable. Roseville holds the Galleria mall, which is the second biggest in Northern California, and has many stores for those of the higher class.

48 Santa Clara 116,468 Santa Clara Santaclaraconventioncenter Santa Clara is located in the center of Silicon Valley, and is home to the headquarters of Intel, Applied Materials, Sun Microsystems, NVIDIA, Agilent Technologies, and many other high-tech companies.

49 Vallejo 115,942 Solano Vallejo Ferry Terminal Vallejo was home of the Mare Island U.S. Naval Shipyard, one of the most important naval shipyards in the country, from the 1850s until its closure in the 1990s. It was also very briefly the capital of California in the early 1850s. It is the largest city in Solano County.

50 Victorville 115,903 San Bernardino Route 66 Motel Sign - Victorville, CA

51 El Monte 113,475 Los Angeles Friendly El Monte

52 Berkeley 112,580 Alameda Berkeleyfromclaremont800x600

Home to the University of California, Berkeley.

53 Downey 111,772 Los Angeles Downey City Hall

Hometown of Tampa Bay Rays star Evan Longoria.

54 Costa Mesa 109,960 Orange OC-Performing-Arts-Center

55 Inglewood 109,673 Los Angeles 2008-0914-RandysDonuts Home of Randy's Donuts

56 San Buenaventura (Ventura) 106,433 Ventura Mission San Buenaventura

57 West Covina 106,098 Los Angeles Wcovina

58 Norwalk 105,549 Los Angeles Norwalk Transit Bus and Bee

59 Carlsbad 105,328 San Diego Calsbad-late-night

60 Fairfield 105,321 Solano Fairfield is the county seat of Solano County, but not the largest city in the county, which is Vallejo.

61 Richmond 103,701 Contra Costa Point Richmond, Richmond, California

62 Murrieta 103,466 Riverside Murrieta01 Formerly just a small town outside of Temecula, Murrieta has become one of the fastest growing cities in the state.

63 Burbank 103,340 Los Angeles Burbankeast

Media Capital of the World.

64 Antioch 102,372 Contra Costa Elcampanilthratre

65 Daly City 101,123 San Mateo Daly City San Francisco's southern neighbor, Daly City houses the famous Cow Palace (which many people mistakenly believe is in San Francisco), as well as the largest Filipino population outside of the Philippines.

66 Temecula 100,097 Riverside Old Town Temecula

The heart of Southern California Wine Country. Goes by the motto of "Old Traditions, New Encounters".

67 Santa Maria 99,553 Santa Barbara Foxen

68 El Cajon 99,478 San Diego Cuyamacacollegesign

69 Rialto 99,171 San Bernardino 1907 First Christian Church

70 Clovis 97,218 Fresno Pollasky Ave. Clovis

71 San Mateo 97,207 San Mateo MCB-san-mateo-aerial

72 Compton 96,455 Los Angeles Compton martin luther king monument An inner-suburb of Los Angeles, Compton is home to Richland Farms, one of the last urban farming communities in the Los Angeles metro area. Richland Farms is often caught in the battle between Compton's rich agricultural past and ideas for a brighter future than the crime-ridden image Compton has attained. This brighter future includes shopping centers with big box retailers, lofts, and a landscape that resembles the suburban communities to which many former city residents have moved.

73 South Gate 94,396 Los Angeles South Gate CIty Hall

74 Vista 93,834 San Diego View of South Santa Fe

75 Mission Viejo 93,305 Orange Snow at Lake Mission Viejo 005

76 Vacaville 92,428 Solano Aerial view of Vacaville, California

77 Carson 91,714 Los Angeles HomeDepotCenter Location of the Home Depot Center, housing both of the Major League Soccer teams for Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA.

78 Hesperia 90,173 San Bernardino HesperiaCA

79 Redding 89,861 Shasta Sundialbridge1.png Located on the banks of the Sacramento River, Redding is the largest city in California north of Sacramento. It is the gateway to numerous recreation areas including Shasta Lake, the Trinity Alps, and Mount Shasta. It is also home to the Sundial Bridge, designed by Santiago Calatrava, which is also the world's largest sundial.

80 Santa Monica 89,736 Los Angeles Santa monica beach dehk

Home of the world famous Santa Monica Pier.

81 Westminster 89,701 Orange Asian Garden Little Saigon

82 Santa Barbara 88,410 Santa Barbara Santa Barbara mission CA1 One of the oldest and most noted cities in California and the original site of one of four Alta California Spanish Presidios, Santa Barbara is now home to the most visited ecclesiastical structures in the Western United States, Mission Santa Barbara. It is also widely considered to be one of the most desirable spots to live in, due to its downtown Moorish-Spanish style architecture, coastal weather, beautiful mountain backdrops and numerous sandy beaches.

83 Chico 86,187 Butte Bidwell Mansion

Chico is the retail hub of the mid-Sacramento Valley and is home to institutions such as Bidwell Park, California State University Chico, and Sierra Nevada Brewing Company.

84 Whittier 85,331 Los Angeles Southern Pacific Railroad Depot, Whittier

85 Newport Beach 85,186 Orange Balboa-beach Newport Beach is one of the most affluent cities in the United States. The city is one of the largest and most influential in Orange County.

86 San Leandro 84,950 Alameda San Leandro Marina

Historically a town with dozens of huge cherry farms and a Spanish missionary ranch, San Leandro today is a rapidly growing city of worldwide industries and a suburb of Oakland. Founded in 1872, it is one of the oldest cities in California.

87 Hawthorne 84,293 Los Angeles Hawthorne is known to rock and roll fans as the home of Brian, Carl, and Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys. The Wilson brothers' boyhood home was demolished in the late 1980s during the construction of the Century Freeway, although it was honored by the dedication of the Beach Boys Historic Landmark (California Landmark 1041) in May 2005.

88 San Marcos 83,781 San Diego SanMarcospan

89 Citrus Heights 83,301 Sacramento Sunrise Mall - inside

90 Alhambra 83,089 Los Angeles Alhambra, CA

91 Tracy 82,922 San Joaquin 11th and Central Tracy California 14-May-2006

92 Livermore 80,968 Alameda LLNL Aerial View

Home of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

93 Buena Park 80,530 Orange Buena Park Sign Home of Knott's Berry Farm.

94 Lakewood 80,048 Los Angeles Lakewood ca city hall

95 Merced 78,958 Merced Bob Hart Square clock1

96 Hemet 78,657 Riverside Hemet City Hall

97 Chino 77,983 San Bernardino Mama's--Chino, California

98 Menifee 77,519 Riverside 99 Lake Forest 77,264 Orange LakeForestCA photo D Ramey Logan

100 Napa 76,915 Napa Napa River floodwall USACE


Subscribe to our newsletter!

More Info