Southern California, often abbreviated to SoCal, is a geographic and cultural region that generally comprises California's southernmost 10 counties. The region is traditionally described as "eight counties", based on demographics and economic ties: Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Ventura. The more extensive 10-county definition, including Kern and San Luis Obispo counties, is also used based on historical political divisions. Southern California is a major economic center for the state of California and the United States.
The 8- and 10-county definitions are not used for the greater Southern California Megaregion, one of the 11 megaregions of the United States. The megaregion's area is more expansive, extending east into Las Vegas, Nevada, and south across the Mexican border into Tijuana.
Southern California includes the heavily built-up urban area stretching along the Pacific coast from Ventura, through the Greater Los Angeles Area and the Inland Empire, and down to Greater San Diego. Southern California's population encompasses seven metropolitan areas, or MSAs: the Los Angeles metropolitan area, consisting of Los Angeles and Orange counties; the Inland Empire, consisting of Riverside and San Bernardino counties; the San Diego metropolitan area; the Oxnard–Thousand Oaks–Ventura metropolitan area; the Santa Barbara metro area; the San Luis Obispo metropolitan area; and the El Centro area. Out of these, three are heavy populated areas: the Los Angeles area with over 12 million inhabitants, the Riverside-San Bernardino area with over 4 million inhabitants, and the San Diego area with over 3 million inhabitants. For CSA metropolitan purposes, the five counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura are all combined to make up the Greater Los Angeles Area with over 17.5 million people. With over 22 million people, southern California contains roughly 60 percent of California's population.
To the east is the Colorado Desert and the Colorado River at the border with Arizona, and the Mojave Desert at the border with the state of Nevada. To the south is the Mexico–United States border.