California, fondly known as "the Golden State," contains the most populous area in the country, Los Angeles county. Present day California was first settled by a variety of Native American tribes before it was claimed by the Spanish Empire as part of the Alta California region of New Spain. After the Mexican-American War, the area was ceded to the United States. California has a uniquely diverse geography that includes the Sierra Nevada range in the east and the Pacific Coast in the west. The northwest contains redwood-Douglas fir forests an the southeast is almost entirely Mojave Desert land. California has both the highest point (Mount Whitney) and the lowest point (Death Valley) in the contiguous country.