Riverside is the most populous city in the Inland Empire and Riverside County, located about 50 miles (80 km) southeast of downtown Los Angeles. It is also part of the Los Angeles metropolitan area, with more than 336,000 residents. Riverside is known for its citrus industry, and an entire empire was built around the sweet and tasty navel orange. Riverside County was an important focal point of civil rights movements in the United States, especially the African-American sections of Riverside and the heavily Mexican-American communities of the Coachella Valley visited by Cesar Chavez of the agricultural union struggle.
The Riverside County Sheriff provides judicial protection, jail administration, and forensic services for all of Riverside County. Amtrak trains stop at Riverside and Palm Springs, and Amtrak California offers bus connections to San Joaquins at Riverside, Beaumont, Palm Springs, Thousand Palms, Indio, Moreno Valley, Perris, Sun City and Hemet. California's endemic blue oak, Quercus douglasii, is found in the southernmost part of its range in Riverside County. Riverside County is organized as a general law county under the provision of the California Government Code.
When California's initial 27 counties were established in 1850, the area now known as Riverside County was divided between Los Angeles County and San Diego County. In 1916, a community college was established in Riverside, and the city is also home to La Sierra University (1922; Seventh-day Adventist) and California Baptist University (1950). Riverside County voted 64.8% in favor of Proposition 8, which amended the California Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriages.