Spain founded its first civil settlement in 1777 in Alta (upper) California at what is now the city of San José (i.e, El Pueblo de San Jose de Guadalupe). Before 1777, Spain established a chain of eight missions and presidios in Alta California, which proved inadequate to secure the territory from invasion. Spain’s solution to this problem was to establish a permanent civilian population to produce food and other goods for the missions and presidios.
The civil settlements in Alta California had a profound influence on the development of the West Coast and the entire United States. The founding of El Pueblo de San Jose de Guadalupe dominates the history of the West Coast as the founding of the Plymouth Colony dominates the history of the East Coast. Alta California included the present states of California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and parts of Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico.