Putting the word "facts" and the words "Los Angeles" into a single phrase is an automatic way to create an exercise in frustration.
A fact about Los Angeles is a tricky thing. It might apply to one part of the city but be totally wrong when applied to another. What you think you know may not be true at all.
Tens of millions of people visit Los Angeles every year for their vacation. Many of them have ideas about the city that are - shall we say - less than accurate. LA is a complex, messy, chaotic metropolis that's hard to summarize in a few hundred words — or a handful of facts. This page is designed to summarize a few of the easier to prove facts about LA.
Because the LA metropolitan area is so dense, it is impossible to know when you enter or leave the city of Los Angeles, or even Los Angeles County, except when you see a city limits sign. Because of that, many of these facts apply to the larger five-county Los Angeles metro area.
Los Angeles Facts and Figures
Almost 20 million people live in the Greater Los Angeles Metro Area: Los Angeles, Riverside, Ventura, Orange, and San Bernardino Counties. That area covers almost 34,000 square miles, which makes it the largest metropolitan region in the United States by land area.
The five-county Los Angeles area would be the fourth largest state in the United States if it stood on its own, after California, Texas, and Florida.
In 1781, the Los Angeles population was 44. When Los Angeles was founded that year 14 families lived in El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles de la Porciuncula (Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angeles of the Small Portion). The population grew, but the name shrank to simply "Los Angeles."
In 1950, about 2 million people lived in LA County. Today, it's more than 10 million.
The city flower is the bird of paradise, a plant which is a native of South Africa. The city tree is the coral tree. It's also a South African native. Both of them bloom in the winter.
More than 100 miles of beaches rim the metro area. No wonder Los Angeles is the home of the original Bay Watch television show. Los Angeles County has 75 miles of beaches, with 42 more miles in Orange County.
More than 80 stage theaters perform in LA, and Los Angeles has more than 300 museums, more than any other city in the United States.
Los Angeles is the busiest container shipping port in the U.S. and one of the most active in the world. Nearby Long Beach is almost as busy. If you combine their traffic, they rank among the world's busiest ports.
Los Angeles is not a desert, despite what the fictitious Mayor Bagby had to say in the film Chinatown. While a desert gets less than 10 inches of rain per year, LA's annual rainfall is 15 inches (38 cm).
Residents are typically called Angelenos (rhymes with casinos).
Los Angeles traffic isn't as bad as you might think. According to Smarter Travel, it ranked fifth in the U.S. for traffic congestion in 2019. And don't let those self-righteous northern Californians make you think their roads are much better. Those traffic rankings only reflect what happens on the freeways everyone in LA does not sit around all day long in gridlock. There are other ways to handle driving in LA.
Los Angeles is home to the biggest boulder ever transported: Artist Michael Heizer's "Levitated Mass" It took 11 days to move the 340-ton piece of granite 85 miles to the LA County Museum of Art.
Los Angeles has mountain lions. It's one of only two megacities in the world (the other is Mumbai) that have big cats living within the city limits according to the National Park Service. The most famous is P-22, who lives in Griffith Park, but he had to cross two major freeways to get there.
Facts About Los Angeles Weather
Weather in Los Angeles is not always what visitors expect. Smog is worst in the summer, but so is fog (a component of smog). There are days in May, June, and July when the beach cities are foggy all day, making the beach communities look more like London than California. This phenomenon is known as "June Gloom."
Temperatures are moderate all year, and evenings are always cool. Skies are clearest in winter, especially after winter rain.
Nicknames for Los Angeles
Los Angeles is known by a number of nicknames, including L.A., the City of Angels ( a translation of the city's full name in Spanish), the Southland (typically used by local media), and La-La Land.
You may still have some misconceptions about Los Angeles. To find out how much you really know, take a look at some of the common myths about Los Angeles.