Cerritos (Spanish for little hills), known as Dairy Valley (1956-1967), is a city in Los Angeles County, California, United States, and is one of several cities that constitute the Gateway Cities of southeast Los Angeles County. It was incorporated on April 24, 1956. As of 2019, the population was 49,859. It is part of the Los Angeles–Long Beach–Anaheim, California Metropolitan Statistical Area designated by the Office of Management and Budget.
Cerritos was originally inhabited by Native Americans belonging to the Tongva (or "People of the Earth"). The Tongva were called the "Gabrieleños" by the Spanish settlers after the nearby Mission San Gabriel Arcangel. The Tongva were the largest group of indigenous peoples in Southern California as well as the most developed in the region. The Tongva lived off the land, deriving food from the animals or plants that could be gathered, snared or hunted, and grinding acorns as a staple.
Beginning in the late 15th century, Spanish explorers arrived in the New World and worked their way to the California coast in 1542. The colonization process included "civilizing" the native populations in California by establishing various missions. Soon afterward, a town called El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula (Los Angeles today) would be founded and prosper with the aid of subjects from New Spain and Native American labor.
One soldier, José Manuel Nieto, was granted a large plot of land by the Spanish King Carlos III, which he named Rancho Los Nietos.