Felicity California

Situated in the southeast corner of California, just a few miles from Mexico and Arizona lies the “official” center of the world. The tiny town of Felicity California, with a population of fewer than ten people, is recognized by France and several other EU countries as the world’s center. 

While the USA and some other nations have yet to endorse this claim, the owner of this location has turned it into a delightful tourist attraction that draws hundreds of visitors each week. I had the opportunity to visit this unique spot during a rather remote drive in 2016 and again in 2024, and I was impressed by how much it had to offer. Continue reading for more details about Felicity California.

Key Highlights of Felicity California

  • The tiny town of Felicity California is home to just two residents: its founder and mayor, Jacques-André Istel, and his wife, Felicia. 
  • They claim that Felicity holds the title of the ‘center of the world,’ a notion officially recognized in May 1985 when the Imperial County Board of Supervisors designated it as the Official Centre of the World. 
  • The town’s establishment in 1986 was inspired by a children’s book titled “Coe, the Good Dragon at the Centre of the World.

Felicity California History and Geographic Location

Felicity California is strategically located a few miles west of the Colorado River and the Arizona state line, with the nearest major city being Yuma, Arizona. The town is enveloped by the expansive Sonoran Desert, characterized by its extreme temperatures and sparse, rugged terrain that adds to the mystique and isolation of being at the “center of the world.”

Jacques-André Istel, a former Marine parachutist and successful businessman, founded Felicity in 1986. The town’s name, derived from his wife Felicia’s name, symbolizes happiness and serenity. Istel’s vision came to life when the Imperial County Board of Supervisors officially recognized Felicity as the “Center of the World,” a designation that has since captivated the imagination of many.

Related: Felicity Arizona

Felicity California – Journey to the Center of the World

Felicity California offers a unique journey to the self-proclaimed “Center of the World.” This small but fascinating town, nestled in the vast expanse of the California desert near the Arizona border, captivates visitors with its unusual claim. Established by Jacques-André Istel in 1986, Felicity is not only the geographic heart of Istel’s imaginative world but also a physical manifestation of his vision, marked by the iconic Center of the World Pyramid. 

Visitors to Felicity can explore the Museum of History in Granite, which etches human history onto massive granite panels meant to endure through the ages. Each visit promises a mix of introspection, education, and a sense of adventure as one steps onto the bronze disk at the pyramid’s base, symbolically standing at the nexus of the world according to Istel’s creative lore. 

This tiny town turns a simple visit into a memorable expedition to a place that blends myth with reality, inviting everyone to ponder their place in the vast tapestry of the universe.

Felicity California Directions

Felicity California is conveniently located in the southeastern part of the state, close to the borders with Arizona and Mexico. To reach Felicity from Yuma, Arizona, one of the nearest major cities, you simply take Interstate 8 (I-8) west toward San Diego. After about 8 miles, exit on Sidewinder Road and turn right.

Continue for about a mile until you see the entrance to Felicity, marked by distinctive signs and landmarks, including the famed Center of the World Pyramid. The journey is straightforward and well-signposted, making Felicity accessible for visitors coming from both California and Arizona. The trip offers scenic views of the desert landscape, enhancing the travel experience to this unique destination.

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Felicity California Population

Felicity California is one of the smallest incorporated communities in the United States, boasting a population of less than a dozen permanent residents. This unique town, located in the southeastern corner of California near the Arizona border, is primarily known for its designation as the “Center of the World.” The population consists mainly of its founder, Jacques-André Istel, his wife Felicia, and a few caretakers who manage the town’s attractions and maintain its facilities. 

Despite its tiny population, Felicity attracts a significant number of tourists intrigued by its unique claim and the Museum of History in Granite, which aims to preserve human history on etched granite panels. The small population adds to the town’s charm and mystique, making it a fascinating destination for those seeking a truly unique experience.

Major Attractions of Felicity California

Major Attractions of Felicity California

At the heart of Felicity is the Center of the World Pyramid, a small granite pyramid that marks a precise point designated as the world’s center. Visitors can stand on this spot, often experiencing a unique sense of place and time.

Nearby, the Museum of History in Granite offers a permanence of civilization through etched granite panels that recount significant global histories and achievements. Another notable landmark includes a section of the original spiral staircase from the Eiffel Tower, adding a touch of international heritage.

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Felicity California Pyramid

The Felicity California Pyramid, a remarkable monument situated in the small town of Felicity, holds a special place as the focal point of what is designated the “Center of the World.” This pyramid is not just an architectural marvel but also a symbol of philosophical reflection and human endeavor. Constructed of polished granite, the pyramid encases a bronze disk that marks the exact spot claimed to be the world’s precise center. Visitors who step onto this disk often experience a moment of connection with the earth’s supposed epicenter. 

Created by town founder Jacques-André Istel, the pyramid serves as a poignant reminder of humanity’s quest for meaning and continuity, drawing visitors from around the globe who seek to engage with this unique geographic and metaphysical claim. Surrounding this central monument are various historical panels that tell the story of human civilization, making the Felicity California Pyramid not only a tourist attraction but a profound educational experience.

Cultural and Educational Impact

Felicity serves as a beacon of education and reflection. Each granite panel within the museum serves as a chapter in a textbook of humanity, designed to endure the ages. Schools and historians regard the museum as a significant resource for educational tours, promoting a deeper understanding of our collective past and aspirations.

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Tourism and the Economy of Felicity California

Tourism is the lifeblood of Felicity, drawing visitors from across the globe intrigued by its unique designation and monumental offerings. The town thrives on this influx, with local businesses catering primarily to tourists. Visitors are encouraged to participate in guided tours, and special events, and purchase certificates that verify their visit to the center of the world.

Community and Lifestyle

The community in Felicity is small but vibrant, consisting of a few residents who manage and maintain the town’s attractions. The lifestyle here is quiet and introspective, influenced heavily by the desert environment and the philosophical undertones established by its founder.

Looking ahead, Jacques-André Istel plans further expansions for Felicity, including additional historical monuments and educational facilities. These developments aim to enhance the town’s educational impact and ensure that it continues to offer meaningful experiences for all who visit.

Why is Felicity California the Center of the World?

Felicity California holds the unique designation as the “Center of the World” due to a blend of legal recognition and imaginative conceptualization by its founder, Jacques-André Istel. This title was officially sanctioned in 1985 when the Imperial County Board of Supervisors accepted Istel’s proposal, cementing Felicity’s status in a ceremonial decree. 

Istel, inspired by the whimsical and philosophical elements of this idea, constructed the Center of the World Pyramid, where a bronze disk marks this symbolic point. This designation is part of a broader vision to create a meaningful destination that combines historical education with a touch of creative storytelling, drawing visitors from around the globe to this small spot in the California desert. 

The claim is celebrated with certificates issued to visitors who stand on the disk, further enhancing the town’s allure as a unique tourist and cultural site.


Felicity California offers more than just a geographical curiosity; it is a thoughtful experiment in creating a lasting legacy of human history and achievement. Whether you’re drawn by the allure of standing at the center of the world or the educational value of its granite museums, Felicity promises a unique and enriching experience, making it a must-visit location on the map of curiosities.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Felicity California

Here are a few commonly asked questions about Felicity California. Let’s check them out.

What is Felicity California known for?

Felicity is famously known as the “Center of the World,” a title officially recognized by the Imperial County Board of Supervisors. Key attractions include the Center of the World Pyramid and the Museum of History in Granite.

How did Felicity get its name?

Felicity was named by its founder, Jacques-André Istel, after his wife, Felicia. The name also represents the happiness and ambition behind creating such a unique landmark.

Can visitors really stand at the Center of the World?

Yes, visitors can stand on a marked bronze disk inside the Center of the World Pyramid in Felicity, which is claimed to mark the precise center of the world. Visitors can receive a certificate commemorating their visit.

What can you see at the Museum of History in Granite?

The Museum of History in Granite features engraved granite monuments that chronicle significant global histories and achievements. These panels are designed to last thousands of years and cover a wide range of topics from human history to the history of humanity’s best friend, the dog.

Is there an entrance fee to visit Felicity?

There might be a small entrance fee or donation requested for visiting Felicity, particularly if you want a guided tour of the Museum of History in Granite or to receive a certificate from the Center of the World.

What is the best time of year to visit Felicity?

The best time to visit Felicity is during the cooler months from November to March. The town is located in the desert, and temperatures can be extremely high during the summer months.

How do you get to Felicity California?

Felicity is located near the California-Arizona border, close to the city of Yuma, Arizona. It is accessible by car via Interstate 8, making it a convenient stop for travelers heading between San Diego and Phoenix. The nearest major airport is in Yuma, Arizona.