Riverside County is located in Southern California, stretching from the Los Angeles metropolitan area to the Arizona border. It covers an area of 7,208 square miles (18,670 km) and has a Mediterranean climate in the western part. The county is home to Joshua Tree National Park and the resort towns of Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Rancho Mirage and Desert Hot Springs. Riverside County was formed in 1893 and named after the city of Riverside, the county seat.
The city was founded in 1870 and received its name due to its location next to the Santa Ana River. The indigenous peoples of Riverside County are the Luiseño, Cupeño and Cahuilla Indians. The first European settlement in the county was a ranch or farm of the Saint Louis King Mission of France in the Luiseño village of Temescal. In 1819, Leandro Serrano was granted permission to occupy the land for grazing and agriculture purposes, and established Rancho Temescal.
In 1893, seventy percent of voters approved the formation of Riverside County and chose the city of Riverside as the county seat. Riverside County was officially formed on March 8th, when the Board of Commissioners presented the final ballot count. Riverside County is an important focal point of civil rights movements in the United States, especially for African-Americans and Mexican-Americans. There is a diversity of flora and fauna within Riverside County, with desert flora in most areas but also wooded areas.
California's endemic blue oak, Quercus douglasii, is found in the southernmost part of its range in Riverside County. The population of Riverside County is dispersed with a median age of 33 years old. For every 100 women there are 99.1 men and for every 100 females age 18 and over there are 96.8 men. The municipal departments within the county are Banning, Beaumont, Blythe, Calimesa, Cathedral City, Corona, Desert Hot Springs, Hemet, Indio, Menifee, Murrieta, Palm Springs, Riverside and Riverside Community College.
Amtrak trains stop at Riverside and Palm Springs with bus connections to San Joaquins at various locations throughout the county. There are 12 federally recognized Indian reservations in Riverside County linking it to Sandoval County in New Mexico by being the second county in the United States with this connection. San Diego County has 18 reservations making it have more than any other county in California. Riverside is a city located in Riverside County with a population of more than 300,000 inhabitants making it one of the largest cities in California.
It is a higher education center with a community college, a large state university and two private universities making it an important hub for trade and transport. In 1916 a community college was established in Riverside followed by La Sierra University (1922; Seventh-day Adventist) and California Baptist University (1950). The Riverside County Sheriff provides judicial protection, prison administration and forensic services for all of Riverside County. In 2008 64.8% voted in favor of Proposition 8 which amended the California Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriages. Riverside could be perceived as a suburb of Los Angeles but its population would make it a substantial city virtually anywhere else making it the 61st most populous city in the United States and 12th most populous city in California.
It is also home to several law firms, accounting firms, engineering firms and banking firms as well as having its own airport which does not have commercial airline service. After arriving at Ontario airport you can use Southern California's highway system to get to Riverside making it easily accessible from anywhere else in California or even outside of it.