California’s name is derived from a bestselling novel. In 1510, Spanish author Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo penned “Las Sergas de Esplandián” (“The Deeds of Esplandián”), a novel in which Amazon-like warriors who lived on the island of California, a paradise that abounded in gold and precious stones, aided the protagonist Esplandián. The story was so popular that when Spanish explorers under the command of Hernan Cortes landed on what they believed to be an island on the Pacific coast, they named it California after Montalvo’s mythical island.

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