Santa Catalina Island is a rocky island off the coast of the U.S. State of California. The island is 22 miles (35 km) long and 8 miles (13 km) across at its greatest width. The island is located about 22 miles (35 km) south-southwest of Los Angeles, California. The highest point on the island is 2,097 feet (639 m) Mt. Orizaba. One of the Channel Islands of California archipelago, the island lies within the limits of Los Angeles County.
The island is thought to have been inhabited for more than eight thousand years. In fact, it was originally settled by Native Americans who called the island Pimugna or Pimu and referred to themselves as Pimugnans or Pimuvit. The first Europeans to arrive on the island claimed it for the Spanish Empire, who held the claim for years. Over time, territorial claims to the island transferred to Mexico and then eventually to the United States. During this time, the island was sporadically used for smuggling, otter hunting, and gold-digging, before successfully being developed into a tourist destination by the chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr. beginning in the 1920s. Since the 1970s, most of the island has been administered by the Catalina Island Conservancy.
The total population as of the 2010 census was 4,096 persons, 90 percent of whom live in the island’s only incorporated city, Avalon. The second center of population is the unincorporated village of Two Harbors at the island’s isthmus. Development also occurs at the smaller settlements of Rancho Escondido and Middle Ranch. The remaining population is scattered over the island between the two population centers.
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