The Origin of the Name "California"

Check out this interesting an informative article on the origin of the name "California" by Robert Petersen, in which the author points to the influence of a 16th century romance novel written by a Spanish author named Garcia Ordonez de Montalvo.

For an idea of one way in which Europeans understood the topography of California in the 16th century, here is a 1597 map by Cornelius Wytfliet, the first printed map to focus on California and the American Southwest, from the first atlas devoted entirely to maps of the Americas.