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State of Florida
Flag of Florida State seal of Florida
Flag Seal
Nickname(s): The Sunshine State
Motto(s): In God We Trust
before statehood, known as
the Florida Territory
Map of the United States with Florida highlighted
Official language(s) English [1]
English and Spanish (de facto) [2]
Demonym Floridian
Capital Tallahassee
Largest city Jacksonville
Largest metro area Miami
Area  Ranked 22nd in the US
 - Total 65,795[3] sq mi
(170,304[3] km2)
 - Width 361 miles (582 km)
 - Length 447 miles (721 km)
 - % water 17.9
 - Latitude 24°27′ N to 31° N
 - Longitude 80°02′ W to 87°38′ W
Population  Ranked 4th in the US
 - Total 18,537,969 (2009 est.)[4]

15,982,378 (2000)

 - Density 338.4/sq mi  (130.67/km2)
Ranked 8th in the US
 - Median income  $41,171 (36th)
Elevation  
 - Highest point Britton Hill[5]
345 ft  (105 m)
 - Mean 98 ft  (30 m)
 - Lowest point Atlantic Ocean[5]
0 ft  (0 m)
Admission to Union  March 3, 1845 (27th)
Governor Charlie Crist (R)
Lieutenant Governor Jeff Kottkamp (R)
U.S. Senators Bill Nelson (D)
George LeMieux (R)
U.S. House delegation 15 Republicans, 10 Democrats (list)
Time zones  
 - Peninsula and
"Big Bend" region
Eastern: UTC-5/DST-4
 - Panhandle Central: UTC-6/DST-5
Abbreviations FL Fla. US-FL
Website http://www.myflorida.com
Florida State Symbols
Flag of Florida.svg
The Flag of Florida.

Animate insignia
Bird(s) Mockingbird
Butterfly Zebra Longwing
Fish Florida largemouth bass, Atlantic sailfish
Flower(s) Orange blossom
Insect Zebra Longwing
Mammal(s) Florida panther, Manatee, Bottle-nosed dolphin
Reptile American Alligator
Tree Sabal Palmetto

Inanimate insignia
Beverage Orange juice
Food Key lime pie, Orange
Fossil agatized Coral
Gemstone Moonstone
Rock agatized Coral
Shell Horse conch
Slogan(s) Visit Florida
Soil Myakka
Song(s) Old Folks at Home (Way Down Upon The Swanee River)

Route marker(s)
Florida Route Marker

State Quarter
Quarter of Florida
Released in 2004

Lists of United States state insignia

Florida (Listeni /ˈflɒrɪdə/) is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States, bordering Alabama to the northwest and Georgia to the north. It was the 27th state admitted to the United States. Much of the land mass of the state is a large peninsula with the Gulf of Mexico to the west, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east.

It is nicknamed the "Sunshine State" because of its generally warm climatesubtropical in the northern and central regions of the state, with a true tropical climate in the southern portion.[6] The state has four large urban areas, a number of smaller industrial cities, and many small towns. The United States Census Bureau estimates that the state population was 18,328,340 in 2008, ranking Florida as the fourth most populous state in the U.S.[7][8] Tallahassee is the state capital, Jacksonville is the largest city, and the Miami metropolitan area is the largest metropolitan area.

Contents

History

Archaeological research indicates that Florida had been inhabited for thousands of years before any European settlements. Of the many indigenous peoples, the largest known were the Ais, the Apalachee, the Calusa, the Timucua and the Tocobago tribes.

"Florida" is the oldest surviving European place-name in the U.S. Juan Ponce de León, a Spanish conquistador, named Florida in honor of his discovery of the land on the evening April 2, 1513, six days after Easter and still during Pascua Florida, a Spanish term for the "Flowery Easter" season, and for the land's appearance as a "flowered land." "It was named for these two reasons." [9] (Juan Ponce de León may not have been the first European to reach Florida; according to one report, at least one indigenous tribesman whom he encountered in Florida in 1513 spoke Spanish.)[10] From that date forward, the land became known as "La Florida," although after 1630 Tegesta (after the Tequesta tribe) was throughout the 1700s an alternate name of choice for the Florida peninsula following publication of a map by the Dutch cartographer Hessel Gerritsz in Joannes de Laet's History of the New World.[11][12]

The five flags of Florida from the right, Spain (1565–1763), the Kingdom of Great Britain, Spain (1784–1821), the Confederacy, and the United States. France (not featured) also controlled part of Florida.

Over the following century, both the Spanish and French established settlements in Florida, with varying degrees of success. In 1559, Spanish Pensacola was established by Don Tristán de Luna y Arellano as the first European settlement in the continental United States. It was abandoned by 1561 due to hurricanes, famine and warring tribes, and was not re-inhabited until the 1690s. French Huguenots founded Fort Caroline in modern-day Jacksonville in 1564, but the fort was conquered by forces from the new Spanish colony of St. Augustine (called San Agustín in Spanish) the following year. After Huguenot leader Jean Ribault had learned of the new Spanish threat, he launched an expedition to sack the Spanish settlement; en route, however, severe storms at sea waylaid the expedition, which consisted of most of the colony's men, allowing St. Augustine founder Pedro Menéndez de Avilés time to march his men over land and conquer Fort Caroline. Most of the Huguenots were slaughtered, and Menéndez de Avilés marched south and captured the survivors of the wrecked French fleet, ordering all but a few Catholics executed beside a river subsequently called Matanzas (Spanish for 'killings'). The Spanish never had a firm hold on Florida, and maintained tenuous control over the region by converting the local tribes, briefly with Jesuits and later with Franciscan friars. The local leaders (caciques) demonstrated their loyalty to the Spanish by converting to Roman Catholicism and welcoming the Franciscan priests into their villages.

Bernard Picart copper plate engraving of Florida Indians, Circa 1721 "Cérémonies et Coutumes Religieuses de tous les Peuples du Monde"

The area of Spanish Florida diminished with the establishment of English colonies to the north and French colonies to the west. The English weakened Spanish power in the area by supplying their Creek Indian allies with firearms and urging them to raid the Timucuan and Apalachee client-tribes of the Spanish. The English attacked St. Augustine, burning the city and its cathedral to the ground several times, while the citizens hid behind the walls of the Castillo de San Marcos.

The Spanish, meanwhile, encouraged slaves to flee the English-held Carolinas and come to Florida, where they were converted to Roman Catholicism and given freedom. They settled in a buffer community north of St. Augustine, called Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose, the first completely black settlement in what became the United States.

Great Britain gained control of Florida diplomatically in 1763 through the Peace of Paris. The British divided the colony into East Florida, with its capital at St. Augustine, and West Florida, with its capital at Pensacola. Britain tried to develop the Floridas through the importation of immigrants for labor, including some from Minorca and Greece, but this project ultimately failed. Spain regained the Floridas after Britain's defeat by the American colonies and the subsequent Treaty of Versailles in 1783, continuing the division into East and West Florida. They offered land grants to anyone who settled in the colonies, and many Americans moved to them.

Florida split into East and West in 1810

After settler attacks on Indian towns, Seminole Indians based in East Florida began raiding Georgia settlements, purportedly at the behest of the Spanish. The United States Army led increasingly frequent incursions into Spanish territory, including the 1817–1818 campaign against the Seminole Indians by Andrew Jackson that became known as the First Seminole War. Following the war, the United States effectively controlled East Florida. In 1819, by terms of the Adams-Onís Treaty, Spain ceded Florida to the United States in exchange for the American renunciation of any claims on Texas that they might have from the Louisiana Purchase and $5 million.

As settlement increased, pressure grew on the United States government to remove the Indians from their lands in Florida. To the chagrin of Georgia landowners, the Seminoles harbored and integrated runaway blacks, and clashes between whites and Indians grew with the influx of new settlers. In 1832, the United States government signed the Treaty of Payne's Landing with some of the Seminole chiefs, promising them lands west of the Mississippi River if they agreed to leave Florida voluntarily. Many of the Seminoles left at this time, while those who remained prepared to defend their claims to the land. White settlers pressured the government to remove all of the Indians, by force if necessary, and in 1835, the U.S. Army arrived to enforce the treaty.

St. Augustine is the oldest city in the United States, established in 1565 by Spain.

The Second Seminole War began at the end of 1835 with the Dade Massacre, when Seminoles ambushed Army troops marching from Fort Brooke (Tampa) to reinforce Fort King (Ocala), killing or mortally wounding all but one of the 108 troops. Between 900 and 1,500 Seminole Indian warriors effectively employed hit and run guerrilla tactics against United States Army troops for seven years. Osceola, a charismatic young war leader, came to symbolize the war and the Seminoles after he was arrested at truce negotiations in 1837 and died in prison less than a year later. The war dragged on until 1842. The U.S. government is estimated to have spent between US$20 million and US$40 million on the war, at the time an astronomical sum. On March 3, 1845, Florida became the 27th state of the United States of America. Its population grew slowly. White settlers continued to encroach on lands used by the Seminoles, and the United States government resolved to make another effort to move the remaining Seminoles to the West. The Third Seminole War lasted from 1855 to 1858, and resulted in the removal of most of the remaining Seminoles. Even after three bloody wars, the U.S. failed to force all of the Seminole Indians in Florida to the West.[13] Though most of the Seminoles were forcibly exiled to Creek lands west of the Mississippi, hundreds, including Seminole leader Aripeka (Sam Jones), remained in the Everglades and refused to leave the native homeland of their ancestors. Their descendants remain there to this day.

The Battle of Olustee during the Civil War in 1864

White settlers began to establish cotton plantations in Florida, which required numerous laborers. By 1860 Florida had only 140,424 people, of whom 44% were enslaved. There were fewer than 1000 free African Americans before the Civil War.[14]

Winter in Florida, 1893

On January 10, 1861, before the start of the American Civil War, Florida declared its secession from the Union; ten days later, the state became a founding member of the Confederate States of America. The war ended in 1865. On June 25, 1868, Florida's congressional representation was restored. After Reconstruction, white Democrats succeeded in regaining power in the state legislature. In 1885 they created a new constitution, followed by statutes through 1889 that effectively disfranchised most blacks and many poor whites over the next several years. Provisions included poll taxes, literacy tests, and residency requirements. Disfranchisement for most African Americans in the state persisted until the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s gained federal legislation to protect their suffrage.

The Prinz Valdemar capsized and blocked the Port of Miami for several weeks in 1926, helping to usher in the end of the 1920s Miami real estate boom.
Soldiers and crowds in Downtown Miami 20 minutes after surrender during World War II.

Until the mid-twentieth century, Florida was the least populous Southern state. In 1900 its population was only 528,542, of whom nearly 44 percent were African American.[15] The boll weevil devastated cotton crops, and early 20th century lynchings and racial violence caused a record number of African Americans to leave the state in the Great Migration to northern and midwestern industrial cities. Forty thousand blacks, roughly one-fifth of their 1900 population, left for better opportunities.[16] National economic prosperity in the 1920s stimulated tourism to Florida. Combined with its sudden elevation in profile was the Florida land boom of the 1920s, which brought a brief period of intense land development. Devastating hurricanes in 1926 and 1928, followed by the stock market crash and Great Depression, brought that period to a halt.

Florida's economy did not fully recover until the buildup for World War II. The climate, tempered by the growing availability of air conditioning, and low cost of living made the state a haven. Migration from the Rust Belt and the Northeast sharply increased the population after the war. In recent decades, more migrants have come for the jobs in a developing economy. Today, with an estimated population of more than 18 million, Florida is the most populous state in the Southeastern United States, the second most populous state in the South behind Texas, and the fourth most populous in the United States. The Census Bureau estimated that "Florida, now the fourth most populous state, will edge past New York into third place in total population by 2011".[17]

Geography

Topographic map of Florida

Much of the state of Florida is situated on a peninsula between the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Straits of Florida. Spanning two time zones, It extends to the northwest into a panhandle, extending along the northern Gulf of Mexico. It is bordered on the north by the states of Georgia and Alabama, and on the west, at the end of the panhandle, by Alabama. It is near several Caribbean countries, particularly The Bahamas and Cuba. Florida's extensive coastline made it a perceived target during World War II, so the government built airstrips throughout the state; today, approximately 400 airports are still in service. According to the National Drug Intelligence Center, Florida has 131 public airports, and more than 700 private airports, airstrips, heliports, and seaplane bases.[18] Florida is one of the largest states east of the Mississippi River, and only Alaska and Michigan are larger in water area.

The Florida peninsula is a porous plateau of karst limestone sitting atop bedrock known as the Florida Platform. The emergent portion of the platform was created during the Eocene to Oligocene as the Gulf Trough filled with silts, clays, and sands. Flora and fauna began appearing during the Miocene. No land animals were present in Florida prior to the Miocene.

Extended systems of underwater caves, sinkholes and springs are found throughout the state and supply most of the water used by residents. The limestone is topped with sandy soils deposited as ancient beaches over millions of years as global sea levels rose and fell. During the last glacial period, lower sea levels and a drier climate revealed a much wider peninsula, largely savanna.[19] The Everglades, an enormously wide, very slow-flowing river encompasses the southern tip of the peninsula.

Because Florida is not located near any tectonic plate boundaries, earthquakes are very rare, but not totally unknown. In January, 1879, a shock occurred near St. Augustine. There were reports of heavy shaking that knocked plaster from walls and articles from shelves. Similar effects were noted at Daytona Beach 50 miles (80 km) south. The tremor was felt as far south as Tampa and as far north as Savannah, Georgia. In January 1880, Cuba was the center of two strong earthquakes that sent severe shock waves through the city of Key West, Florida.[20] Another earthquake centered outside Florida was the 1886 Charleston earthquake. The shock was felt throughout northern Florida, ringing church bells at St. Augustine and severely jolting other towns along that section of Florida's east coast. Jacksonville residents felt many of the strong aftershocks that occurred in September, October, and November 1886.[21] As recently as 2006, a magnitude 6.0 earthquake centered about 260 miles (420 km) southwest of Tampa in the Gulf of Mexico sent shock waves through southwest and central Florida. The earthquake was too small to trigger a tsunami and no damage was reported.[22]

A map of Florida showing county names and boundaries
The beach at Bahia Honda in the Florida Keys

At 345 feet (105 m) above mean sea level, Britton Hill is the highest point in Florida and the lowest highpoint of any U.S. state.[23] Much of the state south of Orlando is low-lying and fairly level; however, some places, such as Clearwater, feature vistas that rise 50 to 100 feet (15 – 30 m) above the water. Much of Central and North Florida, typically 25 miles (40 km) or more away from the coastline, features rolling hills with elevations ranging from 100 to 250 feet (30 – 76 m). The highest point in peninsular Florida, Sugarloaf Mountain, is a 312-foot (95 m) peak in Lake County.[24]

Areas under control of the National Park Service include:[25]

Areas under the control of the USDA United States Forest Service include:

Boundaries

The state line begins in the Atlantic Ocean, traveling west, south, and north up the thalweg of the Saint Mary's River. At the origin of that river, it then follows a straight line nearly due west and slightly north, to the point where the confluence of the Flint River (from Georgia) and the Chattahoochee River (down the Alabama/Georgia line) used to form Florida's Apalachicola River. (Since Woodruff Dam was built, this point has been under Lake Seminole.) The border with Georgia continues north through the lake for a short distance up the former thalweg of the Chattahoochee, then with Alabama runs due west along latitude 31°N to the Perdido River, then south along its thalweg to the Gulf via Perdido Bay. Much of the state is at or near sea level.

Climate

Royal Poinciana tree in full bloom in the Florida Keys, an indication of South Florida's tropical climate.
Typical summer afternoon shower from the Everglades traveling eastward over Miami Beach.

The climate of Florida is tempered somewhat by the fact that no part of the state is very distant from the ocean. North of Lake Okeechobee, the prevalent climate is humid subtropical, while coastal areas south of the lake (including the Florida Keys) have a true tropical climate.[26] High temperatures in the state seldom exceed 100 °F (38 °C), with much of Florida commonly seeing a high summer temperature of 90s °F (32+ °C).

During late autumn and winter months, Florida has experienced occasional cold fronts that can bring high winds and relatively cooler temperatures for the entire state, with high temperatures that could remain into the 40s and 50s (4 to 15 °C) and lows of 20s and 30s (-7 to 4 °C) for few days in the northern and central parts of Florida, although below-freezing temperatures are very rare in the southern part of the state.

Fall foliage is a common sight in Central and North Florida starting around late November, and into Winter.
Snow is not common in Florida, but has occurred in every major Florida city at least once. Snow also falls occasionally in North Florida.

The hottest temperature ever recorded in Florida was 109 °F (43 °C), which was set on June 29, 1931 in Monticello. The coldest temperature was –2 °F (−19 °C), on February 13, 1899, just 25 miles (40 km) away, in Tallahassee. Mean high temperatures for late July are primarily in the low 90s Fahrenheit (32–35 °C). Mean low temperatures for late January range from the low 40s Fahrenheit (4–7 °C) in northern Florida to the mid-50s (≈13 °C) in southern Florida.

The seasons in Florida are determined more by precipitation than by temperature, with the hot, wet springs and summers making up the wet season, and mild to cool, and the relatively dry winters and autumns, making the dry season. Fall foliage is a common sight in Central and North Florida starting around late November, and into Winter.

The Florida Keys, because they are completely surrounded by water, have lesser variability in temperatures. At Key West, temperatures rarely exceed 90 °F (32 °C) in the summer or fall below 60 °F (16 °C) in the winter, and frost has never been reported in the Keys.

Florida's nickname is the "Sunshine State", but severe weather is a common occurrence in the state. Central Florida is known as the lightning capital of the United States, as it experiences more lightning strikes than anywhere else in the country.[27] Florida has the highest average precipitation of any state, in large part because afternoon thunderstorms are common in most of the state from late spring until early autumn. A fair day may be interrupted with a storm, only to return to sunshine an hour or so later. These thunderstorms, caused by overland collisions of moist masses of air from the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean[citation needed], pop up in the early afternoon and can bring heavy downpours, high winds, and sometimes tornadoes. Florida leads the United States in tornadoes per square mile (when including waterspouts)[28] but they do not typically reach the intensity of those in the Midwest and Great Plains. Hail often accompanies the most severe thunderstorms.

Snow in Florida is a rare occurrence, especially on the peninsula. During the Great Blizzard of 1899, Florida experienced blizzard conditions; the Tampa Bay area had "gulf-effect" snow, similar to lake-effect snow in the Great Lakes region.[29] During the 1899 blizzard was the only time the temperature in Florida is known to have fallen below 0 degrees Fahrenheit (−18 °C). The most widespread snowfall in Florida history occurred on January 19, 1977, when snow fell over much of the state, with flurries as far south as Homestead. Snow flurries also fell on Miami Beach for the only time in recorded history. A hard freeze in 2003 brought "ocean-effect" snow flurries to the Atlantic coast as far south as Cape Canaveral.[30] The 1993 Superstorm brought blizzard conditions to the panhandle, while heavy rain and tornadoes beset the peninsula. The storm is believed to have been similar in composition to a hurricane, some Gulf coast regions even seeing storm surges of six feet or more.

Hurricane Andrew bearing down on Florida on August 23, 1992.

Hurricanes pose a severe threat during hurricane season, which lasts from June 1 to November 30, although some storms have been known to form out of season. Florida is the most hurricane-prone US state, with subtropical or tropical water on a lengthy coastline. From 1851 to 2006, Florida has been struck by 114 hurricanes, 37 of them major—category 3 and above.[31] It is rare for a hurricane season to pass without any impact in the state by at least a tropical storm. For storms, category 4 or higher, 83% have either hit Florida or Texas.[31] August to October is the most likely period for a hurricane in Florida.

In 2004, Florida was hit by a record four hurricanes. Hurricanes Charley (August 13), Frances (September 4–5), Ivan (September 16), and Jeanne (September 25–26) cumulatively cost the state's economy $42 billion. Additionally, the four storms caused an estimated $45 billion in damage.[32] In 2005, Hurricane Dennis (July 10) became the fifth storm to strike Florida within eleven months. Later, Hurricane Katrina (August 25) passed through South Florida and Hurricane Rita (September 20) swept through the Florida Keys. Hurricane Wilma (October 24) made landfall near Cape Romano, just south of Marco Island, finishing another very active hurricane season. Wilma is the second most expensive hurricane in Florida history, due in part to a five year window in which to file claims.[33]

Florida was the site of the second costliest weather disaster in U.S. history, Hurricane Andrew, which caused more than US$25 billion in damage when it struck on August 24, 1992. In a long list of other infamous hurricane strikes are the 1926 Miami hurricane, the 1928 Okeechobee hurricane, the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, Hurricane Donna in 1960, and Hurricane Opal in 1995. Recent research suggests the storms are part of a natural cycle and not a result of global warming.[34][35]

Average High and Low temperatures for various Florida Cities
City Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Jacksonville[36] 65/43 68/45 74/50 80/56 86/64 90/70 92/73 91/73 87/70 80/61 73/51 66/44
Key West[37] 75/65 76/66 79/69 82/72 85/76 88/78 89/80 90/80 88/78 85/76 80/71 76/67
Melbourne[38] 72/51 73/53 77/57 81/61 85/67 88/71 90/73 90/73 88/72 83/67 78/60 73/53
Miami[39] 76/60 77/61 80/64 83/68 86/72 88/75 90/77 90/77 88/76 85/72 81/67 77/62
Pensacola[40] 61/43 64/46 70/51 76/58 84/66 89/72 90/74 90/74 87/70 80/60 70/50 63/45
Tallahassee[41] 64/40 67/42 73/48 80/53 87/62 91/69 91/72 91/72 88/68 81/57 72/47 66/41
Tampa[42] 71/51 72/52 77/57 82/62 88/68 90/73 90/75 90/75 89/73 84/66 77/58 72/52

Fauna

Key Deer in the lower Florida Keys
The Florida Scrub Jay is found only in Florida.

Florida is host to many types of wildlife including:

The only known calving area for the Northern Right Whale is off the coasts of Florida and Georgia.[44]

Since their accidental importation from South America into North America in the 1930s, the Red imported fire ant population has increased its territorial range to include most of the Southern United States, including Florida. They are more aggressive than most native ant species and have a painful sting.[45]

A number of non-native snakes have been released in the wild. In 2010 the state created a hunting season for Burmese and Indian pythons, African rock pythons, green anacondas, and Nile monitor lizards.[46]

Environmental issues

Florida ranks 45th out of 50 states in total energy consumption per capita, despite the heavy reliance on air conditioners and pool pumps. This includes coal, natural gas, petroleum, and retail electricity sales.[47] It is estimated that approximately 4% of energy in the state is generated through renewable resources.[48] Florida's energy production is 6 percent of the nation's total energy output, while total production of pollutants is lower, with figures of 5.6 percent for nitrogen oxide, 5.1 percent for carbon dioxide, and 3.5 percent for sulfur dioxide.[48]

It is believed that significant energy resources are located off of Florida's western coast in the Gulf of Mexico, but that region has been closed to exploration since 1981.[49] Governor Charlie Crist and both of Florida's U.S. Senators, Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez, oppose offshore drilling and exploration. Former Governor Jeb Bush, who was originally opposed to all drilling,[50] changed his position in 2005 when he supported a bill introduced into the House of Representatives which allowed unrestricted drilling 125 miles (201 km) or more from the coast.[51] Crist, Martinez and Nelson opposed that bill, but Martinez and Nelson voted for a Senate alternative which prohibited drilling within 125 miles (201 km) of the Panhandle coast, and 235 miles (378 km) of the peninsular coast.[52]

In July 2007, Florida Governor Charlie Crist announced plans to sign executive orders that would impose strict new air-pollution standards in the state, with aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent of 1990 levels by 2050. Crist's orders would set new emissions targets for power companies, automobiles and trucks, and toughen conservation goals for state agencies and require state-owned vehicles to use alternative fuels.[53]

Red tide has been an issue on the Southwest coast of Florida, as well as other areas. While there has been a great deal of conjecture over the cause of the toxic algae bloom, there is no evidence that it is being caused by pollution or that there has been an increase in the duration or frequency of red tides.[54]

The Florida panther is close to extinction. A record 23 were killed in 2009 by hunters and in car accidents which leaves only about 100 individuals in the wild. The Center for Biological Diversity and others have therefore called for a special protected area for the panther to be established.[55] Manatees are also dying at a rate higher than their reproduction.

Demographics

Population

Historical populations
Census Pop.  %±
1830 34,730
1840 54,477 56.9%
1850 87,445 60.5%
1860 140,424 60.6%
1870 187,748 33.7%
1880 269,493 43.5%
1890 391,422 45.2%
1900 528,542 35.0%
1910 752,619 42.4%
1920 968,470 28.7%
1930 1,468,211 51.6%
1940 1,897,414 29.2%
1950 2,771,305 46.1%
1960 4,951,560 78.7%
1970 6,789,443 37.1%
1980 9,746,324 43.6%
1990 12,937,926 32.7%
2000 15,982,378 23.5%
Est. 2008 18,328,340 14.7%

Florida has the 4th highest state population in the United States. The center of population of Florida is located in Polk County, in the town of Lake Wales.[56] As of 2008, Florida's population was estimated to be 18,328,340. The state grew 128,814, or 0.7% from 2007. Using the latest population estimates, Florida is the nation's thirtieth-fastest-growing state. During Florida's peak growth year of 2005, it was the nation's fifth fastest growing state and grew at an annual rate of 2.2%.[4]

The state had the third largest illegal immigrant population in the country in 2009.[57]

There were 186,102 military retirees living in the state in 2008.[58]

Ancestry groups

Demographics of Florida (csv)
By race White Black AIAN* Asian NHPI*
2000 (total population) 82.45% 15.66% 0.75% 2.11% 0.16%
2000 (Hispanic only) 15.94% 0.74% 0.14% 0.09% 0.03%
2005 (total population) 81.47% 16.31% 0.84% 2.52% 0.18%
2005 (Hispanic only) 18.48% 0.87% 0.21% 0.11% 0.04%
Growth 2000–05 (total population) 9.99% 15.93% 23.95% 33.09% 29.08%
Growth 2000–05 (non-Hispanic only) 5.43% 15.23% 15.67% 32.55% 24.49%
Growth 2000–05 (Hispanic only) 28.99% 29.93% 58.98% 45.89% 45.66%
* AIAN is American Indian or Alaskan Native; NHPI is Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander

Racial and ancestral makeup

The largest reported ancestries in the 2000 Census were German (11.8%), Irish (10.3%), English (9.2%), American (8%), Italian (6.3%), French (2.8%), Polish (2.7%) and Scottish (1.8%).[59]

Florida Population Density Map

Before the American Civil War, when slavery was legal, and during the Reconstruction era that followed, blacks made up nearly half of the state's population.[60] Their proportion declined over the next century, as many moved north in the Great Migration while large numbers of northern whites moved to the state. Recently, the state's proportion of black residents has begun to grow again. Today, large concentrations of black residents can be found in northern Florida (notably in Jacksonville, Gainesville, Tallahasssee, and Pensacola), the Tampa Bay area, the Orlando area, especially in Orlando and Sanford. Also, there has been a large increase of Black Americans of Hispanic decent in South Florida; where their numbers have been bolstered by significant immigration from Cuba, Haiti, and Jamaica.

Florida's Hispanic population includes large communities of Cuban Americans in Miami and Tampa, Puerto Ricans in Orlando and Tampa, and Central American migrant workers in inland West-Central and South Florida. The Hispanic community continues to grow more affluent and mobile. Between the years of 2000 and 2004, Lee County in Southwest Florida, which is largely suburban in character, had the fastest Hispanic population growth rate of any county in the United States.

White Americans of all European backgrounds are present in all areas of the state. Those of British and Irish ancestry are present in large numbers in all the urban/suburban areas across the state. There is a large German population in Southwest Florida, a large Greek population in the Tarpon Springs area, a sizable and historic Italian community in the Miami area, and white Floridians of longer-present generations in the culturally southern areas of inland and northern Florida. Native white Floridians, especially those who have descended from long-time Florida families, affectionately refer to themselves as "Florida crackers." Like all the other southern states, they descend mainly from Scots-Irish as well as some other British settlers.[citation needed] In and around St. Augustine are also several descendants of the Minorcans who fled there from British physician Andrew Turnbull's New Smyrna colony in 1768.[61]

Metropolitan areas

Distribution of Metropolitan Statistical Areas in Florida

Florida has twenty Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) defined by the United States Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Thirty-nine of Florida's sixty-seven counties are in an MSA. Reflecting the distribution of population in Florida, Metropolitan areas in the state are concentrated around the coast of the peninsula. They form a continuous band on the east coast of Florida, stretching from the Jacksonville MSA to the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach MSA, including every county on the east coast, with the exceptions of Monroe County. There is also a continuous band of MSAs on the west coast of the peninsula from the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater MSA to the Naples-Marco Island MSA, including all of the coastal counties from Hernando County to Collier County. The interior of the northern half of the peninsula also has several MSAs, connecting the east and west coast MSAs. A few MSAs are scattered across the Florida panhandle.

The largest metropolitan area in the state as well as the entire southeastern United States is the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach Metropolitan Statistical Area, with over five million people. The Tampa Bay area, with over 2.7 million people, is the second largest metro area and Greater Orlando, with over 2.6 million people, is the third.

Downtown Miami, Florida's largest central business district. With the construction of many new office and residential towers, Miami ranks as the third largest skyline in the United States.[62]

Most populous cities and towns

City Population > 500,000

City Population > 200,000

City Population > 150,000

City Population > 100,000


Languages

As of 2000, 76.91 percent of Florida residents age 5 and older spoke English at home as a first language, while 16.46 percent spoke Spanish, and French Creole (predominantly Haitian Creole) was spoken by 1.38 percent of the population. French was spoken by 0.83 percent, followed by German at 0.59 percent, and Italian at 0.44 percent of all residents. Also, Portuguese comprised 0.36 percent, while Tagalog made up 0.25 percent of speakers, Arabic was at 0.21 percent and Vietnamese at 0.20 percent. In all, 23.80 percent of Florida's population age 5 and older spoke a language other than English at home.[63]

As of 2005, 74.54 percent of Florida residents age 5 and older spoke English at home as a first language, while 18.65 percent spoke Spanish, and French Creole (predominantly Haitian Creole) was spoken by 1.73 percent of the population. French was spoken by 0.63 percent, followed by German at 0.45 percent, and Portuguese at 0.44 percent of all residents. Also, Italian comprised 0.32 percent, while Tagalog made up 0.30 percent of speakers, Vietnamese was at 0.25 percent and Arabic at 0.23 percent. In all, 25.45 percent of Florida's population age 5 and older spoke a language other than English.[63]

This means English decreased by -2.37%, Spanish increased +2.21%, French Creole (including Haitian Creole) increased by +0.35%, French decreased by -0.20%, German decreased by -0.14%, Italian decreased by -0.12%, Portuguese increased by +0.08%, Tagalog increased by +0.05%, Arabic increased by +0.02%, and Vietnamese increased by +0.05% of languages spoken.[63]

Florida's climate makes it a popular state for immigrants. Florida's public education system identifies over 200 first languages other than English spoken in the homes of students. In 1990, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) won a class action lawsuit against the state Florida Department of Education that required educators to be trained in teaching English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).

Article II, Section 9, of the Florida Constitution provides that "English is the official language of the State of Florida." This provision was adopted in 1988 by a vote following an Initiative Petition.

Religion

Florida is mostly Protestant, but Roman Catholicism is the single largest denomination in the state. There is also a sizable Jewish community, located mainly in South Florida; no other Southern state has such a large Jewish population. Florida's current religious affiliations are shown in the table below:[64]

Government

Florida Capitol buildings
Presidential elections results
Year Republican Democratic
2008 48.22% 4,045,624 50.96% 4,282,074
2004 52.10% 3,964,522 47.09% 3,583,544
2000 48.85% 2,912,790 48.84% 2,912,253
1996 42.32% 2,244,536 48.02% 2,546,870
1992 40.89% 2,173,310 39.00% 2,072,698
1988 60.87% 2,618,885 38.51% 1,656,701
1984 65.32% 2,730,350 34.66% 1,448,816
1980 55.52% 2,046,951 38.50% 1,419,475
1976 46.64% 1,469,531 51.93% 1,636,000
1972 71.91% 1,857,759 27.80% 718,117
1968 40.53% 886,804 30.93% 676,794
1964 48.85% 905,941 51.15% 948,540
1960 51.51% 795,476 48.49% 748,700

The basic structure, duties, function, and operations of the government of the State of Florida are defined and established by the Florida Constitution, which establishes the basic law of the state and guarantees various rights and freedoms of the people. The state government consists of three separate branches: judicial, executive, and legislative. The legislature enacts bills, which, if signed by the governor, become Florida Statutes.

The Florida Legislature comprises the Florida Senate, which has 40 members, and the Florida House of Representatives, which has 120 members. The current Governor of Florida is Republican Charlie Crist. The Florida Supreme Court consists of a Chief Justice and six Justices.

There are 67 Counties in Florida, but some reports show only 66 because of Duval County, which is consolidated with the City of Jacksonville. There are 379 cities in Florida (out of 411) that report regularly to the Florida Department of Revenue, but there are other incorporated municipalities that do not. The primary source of revenue for the State government is sales tax, but the primary revenue source for cities and counties is property tax.

Political history

After Reconstruction, white-elite Democrats wrestled for power until they regained it in 1877, partly through violent paramilitary tactics targeting freedmen and allies to reduce their voting.[citation needed] From 1885 to 1889, the state legislature passed statutes with provisions to reduce voting by blacks and poor whites, which had threatened white Democratic power with a populist coalition. As these groups were stripped from voter rolls, white Democrats established power in a one-party state, as happened across the South. In 1900 African Americans comprised 44% of the state's population,[65] the same proportion as before the Civil War, but they were effectively disfranchised. From 1877 to 1948, Florida voted for the Democratic candidate for president in every election except for the 1928 election.

In response to segregation, disfranchisement and agricultural depression, many African Americans migrated from Florida to northern cities in the Great Migration, in waves from 1910–1940, and again starting in the later 1940s. They moved for jobs, better education for their children and the chance to vote and participate in society. Given migration of other groups into Florida (as noted in other sections of this article), by 1960 the proportion of African Americans in the state had declined to 18%.[66]

From 1952 through 2008, despite having a majority of registered Democrats, the state voted for the Republican presidential candidate in every election except for the 1964, 1976, 1996, and 2008 elections. The first post-reconstruction Republican congressional representative was elected in 1954.[67] The state's first post-reconstruction Republican senator was elected in 1968,[68] two years after the first post-reconstruction Republican governor.[69]

In 1998, Democrats were described as most dominant in areas of the state with high percentages of racial minorities, as well as transplanted white liberals coming primarily from the Northeastern United States.[70] The South Florida metropolitan area was a good example of this as it had a particularly high level of both racial minorities and white liberals. Because of this, the area has been one of the most Democratic areas of the state. The Daytona metropolitan area has been, to a lesser extent, somewhat similar to South Florida demographically and the city of Orlando had a large Hispanic population, which often favored Democrats. Republicans remain dominant through out much of the rest of Florida particularly in the more rural and suburban areas.[70]

The fast growing I-4 corridor area, which runs through Central Florida and connects the cities of Daytona Beach, Orlando, and Tampa/St. Petersburg, had a fairly similar number of both Republican and Democratic voters. The area is often seen as a merging point of the conservative northern portion of the state and the liberal southern portion making it the biggest swing area in the state. In recent times, whichever way the I-4 corridor area, containing 40% of Florida voters, votes has often determined who will win the state of Florida in presidential elections.[71]

Recent elections

The Democratic Party has maintained an edge in voter registration, both statewide and in 40 of the 67 counties, including Miami-Dade County, Broward County, and Palm Beach County, the state's three most populous counties.[72] Despite the Democratic advantage in registration, as of 2008, Republicans controlled the governorship and most other statewide elective offices; both houses of the state legislature; and 15 of the state's 25 seats in the House of Representatives. Florida has been listed as a swing state in Presidential elections since 1950, voting for the losing candidate once in that period of time.[73] In the closely contested 2000 election the state played a pivotal role.

In 2008, delegates of both the Republican Florida primary election and Democratic Florida primary election were stripped of half of their votes when the conventions met in August due to violation of both parties' national rules.

Statutes

All potable water resources have been controlled by the state government through five regional water authorities since 1972.[74]

The state repealed mandatory auto inspection in 1981.[75]

Health and public safety

Florida was ranked the fifth most dangerous state in 2009. Ranking was based on the record of serious felonies committed in 2008.[76]

There were 2.7 million Medicaid patients in Florida in 2009. The governor has proposed adding $2.6 billion to care for the expected 300,000 additional patients in 2011.[77]

Medicaid paid for 60% of all births in Florida in 2009.[78]

The state has a program for those not covered by Medicaid.

Funding

In 2009, the state government had a budget of $66.5 billion.[32]

Architecture

While many houses and commercial buildings look similar to those elsewhere in the country, the state has appropriated some unique styles in some section of the state including Spanish revival, Florida vernacular, and Mediterranean Revival Style.[79][80]

Economy

The Port of Miami is the world's largest cruise ship port, and is the headquarters of many of the world's largest cruise companies.
The Brickell Financial District in Miami, contains the largest concentration of international banks in the U.S.[81][82]
South Florida's climate is ideal for growing sugarcane.

The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Florida in 2007 was $734.5 billion. Its GDP is the fourth largest economy in the United States.[83] The major contributors to the state's gross output in 2007 were general services, financial services, trade, transportation and public utilities, manufacturing and construction respectively.

Personal income

Per Capita personal income was $38,417, ranking 20th in the nation.[84]

The state was one of the few states to not have a state minimum wage law until 2004, when voters passed a constitutional amendment establishing a state minimum wage and (unique among minimum wage laws) mandating that it be adjusted for inflation every six months. Currently, the minimum wage in the state of Florida is $7.21 as of January 1, 2009.[85]

Florida is one of the nine states that do not impose a personal income tax (list of others).

There were 2.4 million Floridians living in poverty in 2008. 18.4% of children 18 and younger were living in poverty.[86]

The state also had the second-highest credit card delinquency rate, with 1.45% of cardholders in the state more than 90 days delinquent on one or more credit cards.[87]

In 2010, over 2.5 million Floridians were on food stamps, up from 1.2 million in 2007. To qualify Floridians must make less than 133% of the federal poverty level. Under $29,000 for a family of four.[88]

Real estate

In the early 1900, land speculators discovered Florida, and businessmen such as Henry Plant and Henry Flagler developed railroad systems, which led people to move in, drawn by the weather and local economies. From then on, tourism boomed, fueling a cycle of development that overwhelmed a great deal of farmland.

Because of the collective effect on the insurance industry of the hurricane claims of 2004, homeowners insurance has risen 40% to 60% and deductibles have risen.[32]

At the end of the third quarter in 2008, Florida had the highest mortgage delinquency rate in the country, with 7.8% of mortgages delinquent at least 60 days.[87] A 2009 list of national housing markets that were hard hit in the real estate crash included a disproportionate number in Florida.[89] The early 2000s building boom left Florida with 300,000 vacant homes in 2009, according to state figures.[90] In 2009, the US Census Bureau estimated that Floridians spent an average 49.1% of personal income on housing-related costs, the third highest percentage in the country.[91]

In the third quarter of 2009, there were 278,189 delinquent loans, 80,327 foreclosures.[92]

Labor

The unemployment rate in November 2009 was 11.5%. 1,056,000 were out of work.[32]

Tourism

Tourism makes up the largest sector of the state economy. Warm weather and hundreds of miles of beaches attract about 60 million visitors to the state every year. Amusement parks, especially in the Orlando area, make up a significant portion of tourism. The Walt Disney World Resort is the largest vacation resort in the world, consisting of four theme parks and more than 20 hotels in Lake Buena Vista, Florida; it, and Universal Orlando Resort, Busch Gardens, SeaWorld, and other major parks drive state tourism. Many beach towns are also popular tourist destinations, particularly in the winter months. 23.2 million tourists visited Florida beaches in 2000, spending $21.9 billion.[93]

Industry

Phosphate mining, concentrated in the Bone Valley, is the state's third-largest industry. The state produces about 75 percent of the phosphate required by farmers in the United States and 25 percent of the world supply, with about 95 percent used for agriculture (90 percent for fertilizer and 5 percent for livestock feed supplements) and 5 percent used for other products.[94]

Since the arrival of the NASA Merritt Island launch sites on Cape Canaveral (most notably Kennedy Space Center) in 1962, Florida has developed a sizable aerospace industry.

Another major economic engine in Florida is the United States Military. There are currently 24 military bases in the state, housing three Unified Combatant Commands; United States Central Command in Tampa, United States Southern Command in Doral, and United States Special Operations Command in Tampa. There are 109,390 U.S. military personnel currently stationed in Florida,[95] contributing, directly and indirectly, $52 billion a year to the state's economy.[96]

Agriculture

Historically, Florida's economy was based upon cattle farming and agriculture (especially sugarcane, citrus, tomatoes, and strawberries).

The second largest industry is agriculture. Citrus fruit, especially oranges, are a major part of the economy, and Florida produces the majority of citrus fruit grown in the U.S. – in 2006 67 percent of all citrus, 74 percent of oranges, 58 percent of tangerines, and 54 percent of grapefruit. About 95 percent of commercial orange production in the state is destined for processing (mostly as orange juice, the official state beverage).[97] Citrus canker continues to be an issue of concern. Other products include sugarcane, strawberries, tomatoes and celery.[98] The Everglades Agricultural Area is a major center for agriculture. The environmental impact of agriculture—especially water pollution—is a major issue in Florida today.

Fishing

In 2009, fishing was a $6 billion industry, employing 60,000 jobs for sports and commercial purposes.[99]

Education

Florida's public primary and secondary schools are administered by the Florida Department of Education.

State University System of Florida

The State University System of Florida is a university system that was founded in 1905, and is currently governed by the Florida Board of Governors. During the 2008 academic year there was a total of 301,570 students who attended one of these member institutions.

Private Universities in Florida

The Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida is an association of 28 private, educational institutions in the state of Florida.[100]

Florida has many large and small private institutions. The "Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida", serves the interests of the private universities in Florida. This Association reported that their member institutions served over 121,000 students in the fall of 2006.[101]

Additionally, there are 20 colleges and universities that are not affiliated with the ICUF, but are fully-accredited universities in the state of Florida.

Florida College System

The Florida College System manages and funds Florida's twenty-eight public colleges.

Transportation

Highways

Map of Florida with major roads and cities

Florida's interstates, state highways and U.S. Highways are maintained by the Florida Department of Transportation. Florida's interstate highway system contains 1,473 miles (2,371 km) of highway, and there are 9,934 miles (15,987 km) of non-interstate highway in the state, such as Florida state highways and U.S. Highways.

Florida's primary interstate routes include:

Miami's Palmetto Expressway is one of Florida's busiest roads

Prior to the construction of routes under the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, Florida began construction of a long cross-state toll road, Florida's Turnpike. The first section, from Fort Pierce south to the Golden Glades Interchange was completed in 1957. After a second section north through Orlando to Wildwood (near present-day The Villages), and a southward extension around Miami to Homestead, it was finished in 1974.

State highways are numbered according to a specific convention. The first digits of state highways, with some exceptions (such as State Road 112 connecting Interstate 95 to the Miami International Airport), are numbered with the first digit indicating what area of the state the road is in, from 1 in the north and east to 9 in the south and west. Major north-south state roads generally have one- or two-digit odd route numbers that increase from east to west, while major east-west state roads generally have one- or two-digit even route numbers that increase from north to south. Roads of secondary importance usually have three-digit route numbers. The first digit x of their route number is the same as the first digit of the road with two-digit number x0 to the immediate north. The three-digit route numbers also increase from north to south for even numbers and east to west for odd numbers.

Following this convention, State Road 907, or Alton Rd. on Miami Beach, is farther east than State Road 997, which is Krome Ave, or the farthest west north-south road in Miami-Dade County. One notable exception to the convention is State Road 826, or the Palmetto Expressway (pictured at the right heading north) which, although even numbered, is signed north-south. State roads can have anywhere from one to four digits depending on the importance and location of the road.[102] County roads often follow this same system.

Intercity rail

Miami International Airport is the world's 10th-largest cargo airport

Florida is served by Amtrak: Sanford, in Greater Orlando, is the southern terminus of the Amtrak Auto Train, which originates at Lorton, Virginia, south of Washington, DC. Orlando is also the eastern terminus of the Sunset Limited, which travels across the southern United States via New Orleans, Houston, and San Antonio to its western terminus of Los Angeles. Florida is served by two additional Amtrak trains (the Silver Star and the Silver Meteor), which operate between New York City and Miami.

Airports

Major international airports in Florida which processed more than 15 million passengers each in 2006 are Orlando International Airport (34,128,048), Miami International Airport (32,533,974), Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport(21,369,577) and Tampa International Airport (18,867,541).

Secondary airports, with annual passenger traffic exceeding 5 million each in 2006, include Southwest Florida International Airport (Fort Myers) (7,643,217), Palm Beach International Airport (West Palm Beach) (7,014,237),[103] and Jacksonville International Airport (5,946,188).

Regional Airports which processed over one million passengers each in 2006 are Pensacola (1,620,198) and Sarasota-Bradenton (1,423,113). Sanford, which is primarily served by international charter airlines processed 1,649,565 passengers in 2006.[104]

Sports

The American Airlines Arena in Miami, homecourt of the Miami Heat.
The Amway Arena in Orlando, homecourt of the Orlando Magic.

Most Major League Baseball's spring training, and nearly 2/3 of all MLB teams have a spring training presence in the state. Yet Florida did not have a permanent major-league-level professional sports team until the American Football League added the Miami Dolphins in 1966. The state now has three NFL teams, two MLB teams, two NBA teams, and two NHL teams.

Two of the Arena Football League's teams are in Florida.

Golf, tennis, and auto racing are popular.

Minor league baseball, football, basketball, ice hockey, soccer and indoor football teams are based in Florida. Florida's universities have a number of collegiate sport teams.

Club League Venue Championships
Miami Dolphins National Football League Sun Life Stadium (Miami) 2 (1972, 1973)
Miami Heat National Basketball Association American Airlines Arena (Miami) 1 (2006)
Florida Marlins Major League Baseball Sun Life Stadium (Miami) 2 (1997, 2003)
Florida Panthers National Hockey League BankAtlantic Center (Sunrise) 0
Miami FC USL First Division (Soccer) Tropical Park Stadium (Miami) 0
Tampa Bay Buccaneers National Football League Raymond James Stadium (Tampa) 1 (2003)
Tampa Bay Rays Major League Baseball Tropicana Field (St. Petersburg) 0
Tampa Bay Lightning National Hockey League St. Pete Times Forum (Tampa) 1 (2004)
Tampa Bay Storm Arena Football League St. Pete Times Forum (Tampa) 5 (1991, 1993, 1995, 1996, 2003)
Orlando Magic National Basketball Association Amway Arena (Orlando) 0
Orlando Predators Arena Football League Amway Arena (Orlando) 2 (1998, 2000)
Jacksonville Jaguars National Football League Jacksonville Municipal Stadium 0

Spring training

Florida is the traditional home for Major League Baseball spring training, with teams informally organized into the "Grapefruit League." For 2010, Florida will host the following major league teams for spring training:

Club Location
Atlanta Braves Walt Disney World
Baltimore Orioles Sarasota
Boston Red Sox Fort Myers
Detroit Tigers Lakeland
Florida Marlins Jupiter
Houston Astros Kissimmee
Minnesota Twins Fort Myers
New York Mets Port St. Lucie
New York Yankees Tampa
Philadelphia Phillies Clearwater
Pittsburgh Pirates Bradenton
St. Louis Cardinals Jupiter
Tampa Bay Rays Port Charlotte
Toronto Blue Jays Dunedin
Washington Nationals Viera

Auto-racing tracks

Sister states

Sister jurisdiction Country Year[105]
Kyonggi South Korea South Korea 2000
Languedoc-Roussillon France France 1989
Nueva Esparta Venezuela Venezuela 1999
Taiwan Province Republic of China Taiwan, R.O.C. 1992
Wakayama Prefecture Japan Japan 1995
Western Cape South Africa South Africa 1995

See also

References

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  2. ^ Florida - Languages. City Data. http://www.city-data.com/states/Florida-Languages.html. Retrieved 2010-01-26. .
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  7. ^ behind California, Texas, and New York
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  9. ^ From the 1601 publication by the pre-eminent historian of 16th century Spanish exploration in America, Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas, in Stewart, George (1945). Names on the Land: A Historical Account of Place-Naming in the United States. New York: Random House. pp. 11–12. 
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  47. ^ "Energy Consumption by Source and Total Consumption per Capita, Ranked by State, 2004" (PDF). US Department of Energy. http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/states/sep_sum/html/pdf/rank_use_per_cap.pdf. Retrieved 2008-01-27. 
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  51. ^ Bousquet, Steve (7 November 2005). "Offshore drilling separates hopefuls". St. Petersburg Times. http://www.sptimes.com/2005/11/07/State/Offshore_drilling_sep.shtml. Retrieved 2008-02-02. 
  52. ^ Senator Bill Nelson (July 27, 2006). "Senate leaders pledge Florida will be protected from oil, gas rigs". Press release. http://billnelson.senate.gov/news/details.cfm?id=259767&. Retrieved 2008-02-02. 
  53. ^ Loney, Jim (12 July 2007). "Florida To Introduce Tough Greenhouse Gas Targets". Environmental News Network. Reuters. http://www.enn.com/climate/article/6914. Retrieved 2007-12-03. 
  54. ^ Daley, Beth (28 March 2005). "Tide's toxins trouble lungs ashore". Boston Globe. http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2005/03/28/tides_toxins_trouble_lungs_ashore/. Retrieved 2007-12-03. 
  55. ^ Williams Hale, Leslie (29 December 2009). "Record number of panthers killed by vehicles in 2009". Naples News. http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2009/dec/29/16-record-number-panthers-killed-vehicles-2009/. Retrieved 2010-01-01. 
  56. ^ "Population and Population Centers by State: 2000". US Census Bureau. http://www.census.gov/geo/www/cenpop/statecenters.txt. Retrieved 2007-11-17. 
  57. ^ "Illegals on rise in Southeast". Melbourne, Florida: Florida Today. 24 February 2010. pp. 6A. http://www.star-telegram.com/2010/02/23/1991912/illegal-immigrant-numbers-rise.html. 
  58. ^ "Retired Military Personnel". Patrick Air Force Base, Florida: The Intercom (publication of the Military Officers Association of Cape Canaveral). June 2009. pp. 4. 
  59. ^ "Florida Factstreet". US Census Bureau. http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/SAFFFacts?_event=Search&geo_id=&_geoContext=&_street=&_county=&_cityTown=&_state=04000US12&_zip=&_lang=en&_sse=on&pctxt=fph&pgsl=010. Retrieved 2007-12-03. 
  60. ^ "Compendium of the Ninth Census:Population, with race." (.PDF). US Census Bureau. p. 14. http://www2.census.gov/prod2/decennial/documents/1870e-02.pdf. Retrieved 2007-12-03. 
  61. ^ Waitley,Douglas. "Roadside History of Florida" (1997)pp230
  62. ^ World skyline rankings
  63. ^ a b c "Most spoken languages in Florida". Modern Language Association. http://www.mla.org/map_data. Retrieved 2007-12-03. 
  64. ^ Religion and Politics 2008:Florida - Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life
  65. ^ "Historical Census Browser: 1900 US Census". University of Virginia, Geospatial and Statistical Data Center. University of Virginia Library. 2004. http://fisher.lib.virginia.edu/collections/stats/histcensus/php/start.php?year=V1900. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  66. ^ "Historical Census Browser: 1960 US Census". University of Virginia, Geospatial and Statistical Data Center. University of Virginia Library. 2004. http://fisher.lib.virginia.edu/collections/stats/histcensus/php/start.php?year=V1960. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  67. ^ Saxon, Wolfgang (October 27, 2003). "William C. Cramer, 81, a Leader Of G.O.P. Resurgence in South". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E03EFDF1131F934A15753C1A9659C8B63. Retrieved 2008-02-26. 
  68. ^ Thomas, Jr, Robert McG (May 23, 1996). "E. J. Gurney, 82, Senator Who Backed Nixon". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D01E4DD1E39F930A15756C0A960958260. Retrieved 2008-02-26. 
  69. ^ "Claude Roy Kirk, Jr.". Office of Cultural and Historic Programs, State of Florida. http://dhr.dos.state.fl.us/museum/collections/governors/about.cfm?id=43. Retrieved 2008-02-26. 
  70. ^ a b Navarro, Mireya. "Florida's Split: Will It Play in the Panhandle?". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C01E1D81330F932A1575AC0A96E958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all. 
  71. ^ Lengell, Sean. "As I-4 corridor goes, so goes Florida". The Washington Times. http://www.washingtontimes.com/article/20080128/NATION/3421225/1001. 
  72. ^ "Voter Registration by Party Affiliation and County". Florida Department of State. January 2008. http://election.dos.state.fl.us/voterreg/registration.asp. Retrieved 2008-02-26. 
  73. ^ "Florida". 270towin.com. 2010-01-02. http://www.270towin.com/states/Florida. 
  74. ^ Florida Statutes
  75. ^ "New laws include auto inspection repeal". Big Sun. Ocala Star-Banner. 1981-09-27. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=aJoTAAAAIBAJ&sjid=SgYEAAAAIBAJ&pg=6830,6180921&dq=state+auto+inspection+florida+history&hl=en. 
  76. ^ [3] retrieved March 23, 2009
  77. ^ Hobson, Will (16 January 2010). "County Medicaid tab rises, could get worse". Miami, Florida: Miami Herald. http://www.newsherald.com/articles/tab-80645-city-worse.html. 
  78. ^ Reed, Matt (31 January 2010). "Watchdog:10 ugly truths about our politicians". Melbourne, Florida: Florida Today. pp. 1B. http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20100131/COLUMNISTS0207/1310316/Matt-Reed--10-ugly-truths-about-our-politicians. 
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  80. ^ [5]
  81. ^ Brickell Neighborhood Guide
  82. ^ Brickell Real Estate - Millionaires Row
  83. ^ "Gross Domestic Product by state Table 8:Gross Domestic Product by State in Current Dollars, 2003-2006" (PDF). Bureau of Economic Analysis, United States Department of Commerce. July 2007. http://www.bea.gov/scb/pdf/2007/07%20July/0707_gdp_state.pdf. Retrieved 2008-03-02. 
  84. ^ "State BEARFACTS 1996–2006". Bureau of Economic Analysis, United States Department of Commerce. September 30, 2007. http://www.bea.gov/regional/bearfacts/stateaction.cfm?fips=12000&yearin=2006. Retrieved 2008-03-02. 
  85. ^ "Florida's Minimum Wage". State of Florida, Agency for Workforce Innovation. October 15, 2008. http://www.floridajobs.org/minimumwage/index.htm. Retrieved 2009-02-04. 
  86. ^ Flemming, Paul (29 November 2009). "Poverty estimates pain sad picture". Melbourne, Florida: Florida Today. pp. 8B. http://www.flapolitics.com/diary/4285/florida-political-news-november-28-2009. 
  87. ^ a b "State scores well in credit card, mortgage payment delinquency". The Burlington Free Press. December 3, 2008. http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20081203/BUSINESS/812030301/1003/BUSINESS. Retrieved 2008-12-03. 
  88. ^ "2.5 million on Fla. food stamps". Melbourne, Florida: Florida Today. 11 March 2010. pp. 5B. http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2010-03-09/news/fl-food-stamps-record-20100308_1_food-stamps-don-winstead-canned. 
  89. ^ Orr, Deborah (January 7, 2009). "America's 25 Weakest Housing Markets". Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/realestate/2009/01/07/housing-cities-realestate-forbeslife-cx_do_0107realestateweak.html?partner=relatedstoriesbox. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  90. ^ "Our views:Playing with fire". Florida Today. March 20, 2009. http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20090320/OPINION/90319027/1006/NEWS01. Retrieved March 22, 2009. 
  91. ^ McCaffrey, Scott (October 15, 2009). "Census Bureau: 1 in 3 Virginians Pays Plenty for Housing". Arlington Sun Gazette. http://www.sungazette.net/articles/2009/10/16/quarterly_real_estate_guide/re790d.txt. Retrieved October 16, 2009. 
  92. ^ Enrique, Eric (27 February 2010). "Guest Column:No to noncourt foreclosures". Melbourne, Florida: Florida Today. pp. 13A. http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20100227/COLUMNISTS0205/100226017/1138/opinion/No+to+noncourt+foreclosures. 
  93. ^ Waymer, Jim (15 February 2010). "Beaches get pumped up". Melbourne, Florida: Florida Today. pp. 13A. http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20100215/NEWS01/2150312/Beaches-get-pumped-up. 
  94. ^ "About Phosphate". The Mosaic Company. http://www.phosphateflorida.com/mosaic.asp?page=about_phosphate. Retrieved 2007-11-17. 
  95. ^ "State-by-State Listing of Major U.S. Military Bases - Florida". http://usmilitary.about.com/library/milinfo/statefacts/blfl.htm. Retrieved July 6, 2009. 
  96. ^ Ash, Jim (15 April 2009). "Military-friendly bill cruise". Melbourne, Florida: Florida Today. pp. 9B. 
  97. ^ "Commodity Profile: Citrus" (PDF). Agricultural Issues Center, University of California. http://aic.ucdavis.edu/profiles/Citrus-2006.pdf. Retrieved 2007-11-17. 
  98. ^ "Crop Profile for Celery in Florida". NSF Center for Integrated Pest Management, North Carolina State University. http://www.ipmcenters.org/cropprofiles/docs/FLCelery.html. Retrieved 2007-11-17. 
  99. ^ Price, Wayne T. (23 February 2010). "Locals to protest fish regulation". Melbourne, Florida: Florida Today. pp. 8C. http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20100223/BUSINESS/2230313/Locals-to-protest-fish-regulations. 
  100. ^ Official website of ICUF
  101. ^ Atherton, Blair (August 2006). "2005-2006 Accountability Report: Quality, Productivity, Diversity, and Access" (PDF). http://www.icuf.org/_docs/2005-2006_Acct_Report.pdf. Retrieved 2007-09-14. 
  102. ^ FHP State Road Listings accessed March 29, 2009
  103. ^ 2005 figure; 2006 data not available.
  104. ^ "2006 North America Airports Traffic Statistics". Airports Council International. http://www.aci-na.org/asp/traffic.asp?art=215. Retrieved 2007-10-18. 
  105. ^ "Florida Sister City/Sister State Directory 2001" (PDF). State of Florida. 2001. http://internationalaffairs.flgov.com/pdf/sister.pdf. Retrieved 2009-02-12. 

External links

Coordinates: 28°8′0″N 81°37′54″W / 28.133333°N 81.63167°W / 28.133333; -81.63167

Related information

Preceded by
Michigan
List of U.S. states by date of statehood
Admitted on March 3, 1845 (27th)
Succeeded by
Texas


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Florida article)

From Wikitravel

For other places with the same name, see Florida (disambiguation).
Fort Lauderdale
Fort Lauderdale

Florida[1] is the most south-eastern state in the United States of America. Known as "The Sunshine State", it became a popular winter destination for the well-to-do from colder climates over a century ago, and has gained ever greater popularity since. Its roots in agriculture are still present, with oranges being a chief export. The capital of Florida is Tallahassee, located in the eastern portion of the Florida Panhandle.

The beaches are one of the most popular attractions, along with some of the world's best known theme parks, including Disney World, Universal Studios, Busch Gardens and SeaWorld. However some of Florida's best secrets are in secluded locations away for tourist areas and well worth seeing. Regardless of preference Florida has something to offer for any kind of traveler.

Florida Panhandle
Cities include the State Capital of Tallahassee, Destin, Pensacola, and Panama City Beach.
North Florida
The most culturally "Southern" part of Florida, anchored by the city of Jacksonville. Historic St. Augustine and the college town of Gainesville are other destinations.
Central Florida
Theme park capital of the world, hosting Walt Disney World, SeaWorld, Universal Studios Florida, Kennedy Space Center, Cypress Gardens, Daytona International Speedway, and Gatorland.
South Florida
Home to the beaches of Miami, the swamps of the Everglades, and the beauty of the Florida Keys.

Cities

Below is a selection of nine of Florida's most notable cities. Other cities can be found under their specific regions.

Understand

Culture

Florida is the most southern of all U.S. states other than Hawaii and is a unique blend of societies. The northern part of the state is part of the cultural region of The South, where you will find traditional southern cooking, entertainment, dialect, and lifestyles, much as you would expect to find just north in Georgia, Alabama, and the Carolinas. Generally, the more south you go in the state, the more unlike the South it seems, and you should not expect to experience 'southern' culture everywhere. Cities such as Tampa and Orlando offer the feel of a midwestern or northeastern city whereas Miami is unique in seeming like a cross between an American metropolis and a major Latin American city (like Caracas, Rio, or Sao Paulo). There are some Seminole Indian reserves and villages throughout southern Florida (namely in the Everglades) and their indigenous culture can be experienced by visiting a gift shop and browsing arts and crafts. The southernmost Florida Keys offer yet another flavor, full of the slow paced and casual atmosphere of true beach life. All in all, Florida is its own region of the United States in its own right.

The Florida State Fair held every February near Tampa is the best event to attend to sense the varying cultures. The fairgrounds are host to a "cracker" village similar to the village which where found in rural Florida in the 19th century. It hosts an exposition of counties, where each Florida county has a display and a representative to answer questions. In addition, the fair has animal displays and shows, an exhibition dedicated to citrus, various dance & cheerleading com[petitions, and a large selection of rides and games. A few weeks later, nearby Plant City host the Strawberry Festival, usually the last few days of February and first week of March. Plant City is the "Strawberry Capital of the US" and almost every food vendor at the festival offers several dishes featuring strawberries.

Driving near Plant City in February and March, one can find many roadside vendors offering flats(~$10-12) and half-flats(~$5-8) of strawberries. Another common dish found at roadside vendors in north and central Florida is boiled peanuts-a southern dish usually found in "regular" and "cajun" flavors, which taste nothing like roasted peanut. Florida's Natural, a company which sells fruit juice, has a great roadside "welcome center" along US 27 in Lake Wales which includes a display and video on the history of citrus growing in Florida and offers samples of several flavors of juice.

Landscape

Florida's coastline is world class, with several gorgeous beaches, bays, and estuaries lying on the coast. The Floridian landscape is flat, with many lakes and wetlands throughout most parts of the state. The only exception is parts of the center in Highlands, Polk, Lake, and a few other counties where rolling hills are common. The highest point in the state is 345ft(105m) and "Iron mountain" in Polk county is the highest point on the peninsula at 298ft (81m). Florida's cities tend to be big, sprawling, and well developed. For such a highly populated area there are fortunately still several areas of wilderness left (although they are often found sitting right next to a large city). Many rural parts of the state grow citrus and sugar cane, but farmland tends to be far out from the usual tourist areas. The Florida Panhandle and North Florida is mostly farmland and pine trees, but as you travel south, you'll see more wetlands and urbanization. The Florida Keys, a small chain of tropical islands, have their own unique geography, surrounded by the beautiful waters of the Caribbean.

Hurricane Frances makes landfall on the morning of September 5, 2004 near Stuart. Its impact, however, was felt throughout central Florida and most of Florida's east coast.
Hurricane Frances makes landfall on the morning of September 5, 2004 near Stuart. Its impact, however, was felt throughout central Florida and most of Florida's east coast.

Florida is known around the world for its balmy weather. The state's mild winters have made it a haven for retirees year-round and temporary residents during the winter known as "snowbirds". Summers can be long and hot, with the interior being a few degree warmer than the immediate coast. Coastal areas also experience gentle breezes during the summer, and the beach is usually the coolest place to be.

While coastal breezes are a welcome relief from the scorching temperatures, they are also the cause of the most notorious Florida weather feature: thunderstorms. While the storms are often brief, they are common, and anyone visiting Florida during the rainy season (mid-June to September) should plan a few activities indoors in the afternoon as a backup plan. Florida's thunderstorms occur everyday during the rainy season and typically form 20-30mi inland and either move toward the center of the state or toward the coast. While most simply cool the air bringing a welcome relief to stifling temperatures, these storms produce considerable amouts of dangerous lightning and sometimes hail, high winds (50mph+), and tornadoes. See the "stay safe" section for thunderstorm safety. Many attractions such as Disney World have multiple attractions available even during downpours.

Average Annual Temperatures:

Summer: 80.5 °F degrees (26.9 °C) (North Florida) 82.7 °F degrees (28.2 °C) (South Florida)

Winter: 53.0 °F degrees (11.7 °C) (North Florida) 68.5 °F degrees (20.3 °C) (South Florida)

The above temperatures are average temperatures throughout the day. During the summer, high temperatures on the peninsula are usually around 90 on the coast and mid 90s inland...with lows ranging from around 80 on the coast to mid 70s inland. During the winter, temperatures are much more variable. Freezing temperatures (below 32ºF/0ºC) occur at least once a year as far south as central Florida, but even on the coldest days will warm back up into the 50s for a high. It is best to consult the individual city page for temperatures during the winter. The spring is the driest time of the year, which can lead to wildfires nearly every May and early June.

The six-month hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30 and Floridians have learned to be ready when a storm threatens the area. If you plan on visiting during the summer, stay abreast of the news and if a hurricane is forecast to hit Florida...LEAVE! More Information: National Hurricane Center .

Talk

English is the official language of the state. However, Spanish is the native language of approximately 20% of Florida residents. In some parts of South Florida, Spanish is the preferred language in everyday activities. Miami is most notable, where nearly 80% of residents do not speak English as a native language and 30% do not speak any English. Tampa also has a sizable Spanish speaking population, and areas where its almost exclusively spoken.

Native-born Floridians will usually speak in a southern accent. However, after the migration of millions of Americans from other states to Florida, the southern dialect is becoming diluted with other accents.

Full sized Hotel, with all anemnities and services, directly within Orlando International Airport itself.
Full sized Hotel, with all anemnities and services, directly within Orlando International Airport itself.
  • Orlando International Airport - your choice airport for Disney World or the other attractions in Central Florida. Located south of Downtown Orlando, this airport offers car rentals and free shuttles to Disney World for visitors.
  • Tampa International Airport-serves the Gulf Coast, namely the Tampa Bay area. Has a direct flight operated by British Airways to/from London Gatwick. Also international flights to Canada, Mexico, and the Cayman Islands. Rated #1 US Airport overall.
  • Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport - the forth largest airport in Florida and another valid option with many domestic low fare carriers.

Other large airports can be found in: Jacksonville, Fort Meyers, Tallahassee, St.Petersburg/Clearwater, West Palm Beach, Sarasota, Key West, Gainesville, Melbourne, & Sanford. Be aware that there are many more airports throughout Florida which may get you closer to your ultimate destination; watch for these smaller airports while researching your destination.

  • Amtrak Silver Star and Silver Meteor (Trains 91-92 and 97-98 respectively) - both routes begin in New York City and end in Miami. While the two routes are slightly different, within the borders of the state of Florida, the routes are exactly the same. This option can get you from most East Coast cities to Miami, or many Florida cities in between.

By car

Three Interstate highways connect Florida with adjacent states

  • Interstate 95 enters Florida from Georgia just north of Jacksonville and parallels the Atlantic coast (never more than 25 miles) until its southern terminus south of the Miami CBD. Interstate 95 provides the most convenient route for persons from the Atlantic Coast, New England, and the Canadian maritime provinces. Jacksonville, [[Daytona Beach, and the Miami-Ft.Lauderdale-West Palm Beach area are all serviced by I-95, with acess to Orlando provided via I-4
  • Interstate 75 also enters Florida from Georgia and passes through the center of the state until the Tampa Bay area, after which it follows 10-20mi inland from the Gulf of Mexico until Naples, after which it heads due east to Ft.Lauderdale. Interstate 75 is most convenient for travelers arriving from Atlanta and the Midwest.
  • Interstate 10 enters Florida from Alabama near Pensacola and passes through the center of the Panhandle and through northern Florida until its terminus in Jacksonville. Interstate 10 is most convenient for travelers from Louisiana, Texas, and areas further west.

Additional major highways entering Florida include,

  • US 1 enters Florida north of Jacksonville and snakes along the east coast between Interstate 95 and the Intercoastal Waterway/Atlantic Ocean. Unlike I-95, US 1 continues past Miami and is routed over a series of bridges connecting the FLorida Keys to its terminus at Key West.
  • US 231 enters Florida from Alabama (where it connects with Interstate 65 in Montgomery) and crosses the Panhandle north-south to its southern terminus at Panama City. US 231 provides convenient access to the Panhandle from the Midwest (via I-65).
  • US 98 enters Florida near Pensacola and remains close to the Gulf of Mexico coast until the base of the Florida peninsula("Big Bend" area). Unlike I-10 to the north which runs through the interior of the peninsula & away from the coast, US 98 provides convenient access to the coast and this section is very scenic. After the Panhandle, US 98 runs diagonally across the peninsula to West Palm Beach, running through primarily rural areas.
  • US 27 enters Florida from western Georgia, provides access to the state capital, Tallahassee, before routing through mostly rural areas of the peninsula. Between the Florida Turnpike and Miami, US 27 is a primary trucking route through the center of the state and, while two or three laned and having high speed limits, this route can be a hassle dealing with trucks and large volumes of traffic through this section.

By boat

Florida is possibly the largest state for cruise ship embarkation in the United States. Port Canaveral, Tampa, and Miami are all popular ports for embarkation, with cruises heading throughout the Carribean. There are also many casino cruises which depart from Pinellas County and South Florida.

Get around

By Bus

Bus service is provided by Greyhound[2] which connect the major cities in Florida. There are a number of local and regional Public Transportation organizations that offer inter-city bus services throughout the state.

By Car

Car rental agencies abound in Florida and many are available at every major airport. Orlando, in particular, known as the "Car Rental Capital of the World". The following companies are found at multiple airports throughout the state: Avis, Dollar, Enterprise [3], E-Z Rent-A-Car [4], Hertz [5], Payless Car Rental, Thrifty. And with Florida being the US most visited state, car rental rates here are among (if not the) lowest rates in the country.

Florida's major highways include:

  • Interstate 4 crosses diagonally from Tampa, heads east through Plant City & Lakeland, then heads northeast past Kissimmee, Walt Disney World, Orlando, and ends at Interstate 95 near Daytona Beach. Interstate 4 is the most traversed highway in Florida and due to the large volume of traffic, high speeds (70 outside of urban areas), construction (which is almost complete), and large number of tourists it is the most dangerous highway in the state, in terms of the number of accidents.
  • Interstate 95 enters Florida from Georgia north of Jacksonville and travels near the Atlantic coast (never more than 20mi or so), past St.Augustine, Daytona Beach, Cape Canaveral, Vero Beach, West Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, and ends at US 1 just south of downtown Miami.
  • Interstate 10 enters Florida from Alabama near Pensacola and travels across the Panhandle, past Tallahassee,and through north Florida to its terminus in Jacksonville.
  • Interstate 75 enters Florida from Georgia and runs south through Gainesville, Ocala, just east of Tampa, then parallels the Gulf coast past Bradenton, Sarasota, Fort Meyers, Naples, and then crosses due east across the Everglades swamp (a section known as 'Alligator Alley') to the Miami suburbs.
  • Florida's Turnpike is a toll road which runs from Interstate 75 south of Ocala, through Orlando, West Palm Beach, Ft.Lauderdale, and ending south of Miami. It provides the easiest access to Orlando and southeast Florida for persons entering the state via I-75 or I-10.
  • Interstate 275 is a secondary interstate which runs from I-75 north of Bradenton, past downtown St. Petersburg & downtown Tampa, before rejoining I-75 north of the Tampa area. Interstate 275 crosses the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, 5.5mi (8.8km) long and with a 193ft(58.8m) clearance, across the mouth of Tampa Bay and later across the Howard Frankland Bridge over Old Tampa Bay. (Note: Interstate 75 does not provide access to these areas, it passes through rural/suburban areas 10 miles (at closest) from Tampa. I-4 approaches Tampa from the east, but ends at I-275 just before downtown.)
  • U.S. Highway 1 is a historic and scenic highway which originates in Key West and continues up the east coast.
  • State Road A1A runs parallel to US 1 and Interstate 95, but lies to the east of the Intercoastal Waterway (mainly on the barrier islands) and running mostly along the ocean.
  • US 98 enters Florida from Alabama at Pensacola and travels a very scenic route along the Gulf Coast of the Panhandle, it continues diagonally across the peninsula to its terminus in West Palm Beach.
  • US 27 is a well-traveled alternative to the Florida's Turnpike and runs from Miami, along Lake Okeechobee, through the mostly-rural heartland of Florida, Ocala, Gainesville, Tallahassee
  • US 41 runs from Miami, makes a scenic 2-lane journey through the Everglades, and travels along the Gulf Coast , the east side of Tampa Bay, and north into Georgia.
Gatorland
Gatorland
  • Kennedy Space Center Visitor's Complex - America's space port for the manned missions to the moon and the Space Shuttle, in Cape Canaveral. The visitors complex contains spacecraft displays, two IMAX movies, the Astronaut's Hall of Fame, displays/exhibits chronicling the history and future of space exploration/travel, a new Space Shuttle Launch Experience, and more. [6]
  • Space Shuttle Launch-Florida is the only place in the world where one can watch the launch of a manned space vehicle launch, as Russia & China launch their space craft in remote, restricted areas. On clear days, a launch can be seen well from over 150mi(250km) away. However, seeing a launch from Titusville is worth attending, especially for international tourists. Furthermore, rockets (carrying satellite)s are launched almost every month. Click here for the launch schedule.
Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse in Ponce Inlet
Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse in Ponce Inlet
  • St. Augustine, founded by the Spanish in 1565, is the United State's oldest continually settled city. It contains a large fort, a museum concerning the city's history, and plenty of nearby shops.
  • Gatorland - Full of Florida's most unique animal, in Orlando.
  • Florida Lighthouses are numerous, historic, and beautiful, take some time to visit these iconic images of the coast.
  • Spring Training Baseball occurs throughout the state in March and offers the ability to watch your favorite players for discount prices (front row tickets can be purchased as low as $15-20) and in smaller, more intimate venues.
  • Salvador Dali Museum,[7], in downtown St. Petersburg, is the largest collection of Dali artwork outside of Europe.
  • Sunshine Skyway Bridge is part of Interstate 275 crossing the mouth of Tampa Bay. It is the longest cable-stayed bridge in the world and an engineering masterpiece. Furthermore, two long fishing piers beside the bridge, the approaches of the previous bridge, are renowned among local fishermen and provide a less expensive alternative for saltwater fishing.
  • Holocaust museum,[8], located in downtown St. Petersburg. The Holocaust museum is one of the largest in the US and exhibits a Polish box car used to transport prisoners to concentration camps.
  • Daytona International Speedway, located in downtown St.Petersburg1.5 miles off the Daytona Beach exit (261) on I-95. Home of the number one event in stock car racing - the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Daytona 500 (February) and other events throughout the year.
  • Ybor City, (just east of Downtown Tampa), [9]. Ybor City is one of the largest party districts in the country. Countless bars, restaurants, clubs, and cigar stores are located within this district near downtown Tampa. Has a very historic feel, with a combination of Latin and Italian influence.  edit
Parade on Main Street in Disneyworld
Parade on Main Street in Disneyworld
  • Go to the beach! You have numerous options here, Panama City Beach, Daytona Beach, and West Palm Beach are some of the best.
  • Visit Florida's world class water parks and theme parks.
    • Disney World - The biggest and most renowned theme park in the world.
    • Sea World, Wet and Wild, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and Discovery Cove in Orlando.
    • Busch Gardens in Tampa.
  • Visit Everglades National Park, a place like no other on earth, and take an airboat ride through the swamps. A drive across the Everglades on US 41 is a great way to get a sense of the size and scenery of the Everglades. Stop at Shark Valley and Everglades City for great attractions and scenery.
  • Visit the Seminole or Miccosukee Indian reservations throughout the state. Here you can find out about their history and culture, eat their food, and then gamble in the casinos on their land. [10][11]
  • Go diving-Florida coastlines offer many coral reefs, sunken vessels, and a diverse array of sea life.
  • Go hiking or backpacking-Florida has many state and national parks/forests which have nature trails suitable for hiking and camping.
    • Florida National Scenic Trail is a network of 1400 miles of hiking trails throughout the state. The most popular section of the trail is the 110-mile loop encircling Lake Okeechobee.
  • Go Fishing - Florida has some of the best fishing action in the world (both salt and freshwater). Several large and tough fighting species such as Sailfish, Tarpon, and Largemouth Bass can be found lurking in Florida water throughout the state. Info about charters and fishing locations can be found here [12]
  • Take a Cruise - leave from the Port of Miami,Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale, or Canaveral.
  • Go Parasailing in Destin!!!!

Eat

Florida cuisine has come under many influences and its styles vary across the state from north to south. Early Spanish and African and Southern cuisine has been influenced by Cuban and other Caribbean cultures, as well as "snowbirds" escaping from the Northern US winters. Northern Florida has a more Southern style; the south a more Caribbean one. Being on a peninsula, Florida's chefs have always had access to fresh seafood and the long growing season provides for fresh native vegetables.

  • Citrus is a main export, and the tourist is apt to see many roadside stands offering free samples of orange juice and fruits to be shipped or carried home. Florida also grows grapefruit, avocado, mango, papaya, passion fruit, kumquat, coconut and other tropical fruits. These often provide the base for sauces and marinades or are used in marmalades, soups, or desserts. Welcome centers located on I-10, I-75, and I-95 as you enter Florida offer free samples of orange juice to all visitors, a tradition which goes back decades.
  • Strawberries are another popular fruit in Florida. Plant City, off I-4 east of Tampa, is the center of Florida strawberry growing, where during the peak season (Feb-Mar) many roadside vendors offer flats(16 pints/12 lbs) and half-flats of strawberries for a small fraction of grocery store prices. Since most are owned by the individual farmers, often the fruit sold was harvested that morning or the day before. Fresh Florida strawberries are a treat no tourist should miss, at least if you visit while in season.
  • Grouper is a very popular seafood caught in Florida's coastal waters. Fresh grouper is offered in many coastal cities, where many local restaurants buy it straight from fishermen. In recent years, state inspectors have cracked down to insure that all restaurants offering "grouper" are in fact serving grouper, and not another less expensive white fish. Snapper, Snook, Tarpon, Marlin, & shark are other Florida fish which you can find at coastal restaurants, although they are not nearly as ubiquitous as grouper.
  • Southern food is available throughout most of north and central Florida. Barbeque is popular throughout the state, with many small "barbeque shacks" to choose from. Any platter costing over $10 ($15 for ribs), should be avoided as less expensive restaurants are almost always best. Sweet tea is common throughout the state, although unlike most areas in the south you have a choice between sweet and unsweet. Boiled peanuts can be found at roadside vendor in this area also, certainly worth trying. Dishes such as grits, okra, gravy 'n biscuits, and collard greens can also be found in buffets and restaurants throughout the region.
  • Cuban food is common in the Miami and Tampa areas. The most common dishes are Cuban sandwiches, desserts, & black beans and rice.
  • Local specialties, not readily available in many other locales, include alligator. It is healthier than chicken, which most say it tastes like, and it is often prepared similarly. Key lime pie, found elsewhere now, is a Florida Keys invention, made from the local key limes.

Drink

Alcoholic beverages abound throughout the state. However, five rural counties in the northern third of the state are "dry counties", and no alcohol is sold in them. Liquor stores are often built into strip malls, supermarkets, and pharmacies, and most grocery stores, gas stations, and convenience stores sell beer and wine. Bars and clubs are popular throughout the state. Miami Beach is well known for a variety of themed and upscale bars with innovative mixed drinks.

Like every other U.S. state, the purchase and possession age for alcohol is 21 and is fairly well enforced. Underage drinking "stings" are frequent in most tourist areas.

Extreme Temperatures

Never leave children or pets in a parked car for any length of time! Due to high temperature for most of the year, the interior of a parked car can easily heat to lethal temperatures in a short amount of time. During the summer, the interior of a parked car can reach 130-170ºF (55-75ºC) in just 15 minutes, regardless of the color of the exterior or interior, nor whether the windows are open a small amount. You not only risk death, but it is illegal and the consequences are taken VERY seriously...including thousands in fines and even imprisonment.

Florida has a high occurrence of hurricanes. You might want to check the Hurricane safety page if you are visiting Florida during Hurricane Season (June 1-November 30).

Watch where and when you swim. While the beaches are great they often harbor rip currents, bacteria, and jellyfish. Always check with the lifeguard stand before heading in if no one is in the water or the waves are rough. Volusia County is known for a high number of shark attacks, so be careful when surfing. Even so, the number of attacks are less than 50, with a fatal attack every 2-3 years, amongst millions of visitors and residents who swim in the ocean. Swimming near dusk and dawn is most hazardous. Never swim in the lakes or rivers unless signs tell you swimming is safe. In Florida, stagnant and slow moving freshwater often has alligators (as well as poisonous snakes). While they rarely attack humans, it's best not to take your chances.

Florida has varying crime intensity from city to city. In certain parts of large cities it may not be safe to walk alone or even in small groups at night. These are the exceptions however and most of Florida is safe enough for visitors. Touristy areas rarely have violent crimes, but theft is an occasional occurrence. If the area doesn't feel safe then it probably isn't.

Only central Africa experiences more lightning than Florida. The afternoon thunderstorms in Florida produce frequent lightning which kills many people each year and injures many more. Try to remain indoors during a thunderstorm and NEVER seek shelter under a tree. Most casualties occur on golf courses, but lightning strikes everywhere. If you must go outdoors, try to stay away from tall objects such as trees. Occasionally, summer thunderstorms will bring hail, high winds, and tornadoes. While historic numbers of tornadoes in Florida are somewhat high, the overwhelming majority occur during hurricanes (Jeanne alone spawned over 200 tornadoes in FL) and the rest during winter cold fronts and summer thunderstorms; however, 99% of them are F-0 or F-1. Thus, while statistics may suggest otherwise, tornadoes are not a big hazard in Florida.

Cope

Foreign Consulates in Florida

Please note that this list does not include Honorary Consulates. Always call ahead to determine if the consulate offers the services you require such as passports, visas & other official documents as these services are increasingly being centralized at other locations. Some websites are only available in Spanish. If a country isn't shown here, it will be represented by an Embassy in Washington DC.

  • Argentina-Miami, 1101 Brickell Ave., North Tower, 9th Floor, (305) 373-1889, [13].  edit
  • Bahamas-Miami, 25 SE 2 Ave., Ste. 818, (305) 373-6295.  edit
  • Barbados-Coral Gables, 150 Alhambra Circle, Ste. 1000, (305) 442-1994, [14].  edit
  • Bolivia-Miami, Airport Financial Center, 700 S. Royal Poinciana Blvd., Ste. 505, (305) 358-6303.  edit
  • Brazil-Miami, 80 SW 8th St., 26th floor, (305) 285-6200, [15].  edit
  • Canada-Miami, 200 South Biscayne Blvd., Ste. 1600, (305) 579-1600, [16].  edit
  • Chile-Miami, 800 Brickell Ave., Ste. 1230, (305) 373-8624.  edit
  • Colombia-Coral Gables, 280 Aragon Avenue, (305) 448-5558, [17].  edit
  • Costa Rica-Miami, 1101 Brickell Ave., Ste. 704, (305) 871-7485, [18].  edit
  • Denmark-Fort Lauderdale, 3107 Stirling Rd., Ste. 101, (954) 967-8800, [19].  edit
  • Dominican Republic-Miami, 1038 Brickell Ave., (305) 372-0099, [20].  edit
  • Ecuador-Miami, 1101 Brickell Ave, Suite M-102, (305) 373 8520, [21].  edit
  • El Salvador-Coral Gables, 2600 Douglas Road, Suite 104, (305) 774-0840, [22].  edit
  • France-Miami, Espirito Santo Plaza, 1395 Brickell Ave., Ste. 1050, (305) 403 4150, [23].  edit
  • Germany-Miami, 100 N Biscayne Blvd., 22nd Floor, (305) 358-0290, [24].  edit
  • Guatemala-Miami, 1101 Brickell Ave., South Tower, Ste. 1003, [25].  edit
  • Guyana-Miami, 795 NW 72nd St., (786) 235 0431, [26].  edit
  • Haiti-Miami, 259 SW 13th St., (305) 377-3547, [27].  edit
  • Honduras-Miami, 7171 Coral Way, Ste. 309, (904) 348-3550, [28].  edit
  • Israel-Miami, 100 N. Biscane Blvd., Ste. 1800-1801, (305) 358-8111, [29].  edit
  • Italy-Miami, 4000 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Ste. 590, (305) 374-6322, [30].  edit
  • Jamaica-Miami, 25 SE 2nd Ave., Ste. 842, (305) 374-8431, [31].  edit
  • Japan-Miami, 80 SW 8th St., Ste. 3200, (305)530-9090, [32].  edit
  • Mexico-Miami, 5975 SW 72nd Street, Ste. 301-303, (305) 716-4953, [33].  edit
  • Netherlands-Jacksonville, 644 Cesery Blvd, Ste. 200, (904)744-0275.  edit
  • Netherlands-Orlando, 4248 Town Center Blvd., (407) 702-6620, [34].  edit
  • Netherlands-Miami, 701 Brickell Ave., 5th floor, 1-877-388-2443, [35].  edit
  • Nicaragua-Miami, 8532 SW 8th St., Ste. 270, (305) 220-6900, [36].  edit
  • Panama-Miami, 5757 Blue Lagoon Dr., Ste. 320, (305) 447-3700, [37].  edit
  • Panama-Tampa, 5811 Memorial Hwy., Ste. 104, (813) 886-1427, [38].  edit
  • Paraguay-Miami, 25 S.E. 2nd. Ave., Ste. 705, (305) 374-9090, [39].  edit
  • Peru-Miami, 444 Brickell Ave., Ste. M-135, (305) 374-1305, [40].  edit
  • Portugal-Coral Gables, 1901 Ponce de Leon Blvd., 2nd Floor, (305) 444- 6311.  edit
  • Spain-Coral Gables, 2655 Le Jeune Rd., Ste. 203, (305) 446-5511, [41].  edit
  • St.Lucia-Miami, 1101 Brickell Ave., Ste. 1602, [42].  edit
  • Suriname-Miami, 6303 Blue Lagoon Dr., Ste. 325, (305) 265-4655, [43].  edit
  • Sweden-Fort Lauderdale, 101 NE Third Ave., Tower 101, Ste. 1700.  edit
  • Thailand-Coral Gables, 2801 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Ste. 1170, (305) 445-7577.  edit
  • Venezuela-Miami, 1101 Brickell Ave., Ste. 300, [44].  edit
  • United Kingdom-Miami, Brickell Bay Dr (appointment only - call ahead), (305) 374-3500. (212) 796-5773 (Visas), [45].  edit
  • United Kingdom-Orlando, S. Orange Ave., Ste. 2110 (appointment only - call ahead), (407) 254-3300. (212) 796-5773 (Visas), [46].  edit
  • Uruguay-Coral Gables, 1077 Ponce De Leon Blvd., Ste. B, (305) 443-9764, [47].  edit
  • Georgia - Heading out of Florida to the north is Georgia. Here you will find the historic city of Savannah and the resort beach of Jekyll Island.
  • Alabama - North of the Panhandle is Alabama, where Mobile is a historic port city and Gulf Shores is a popular resort.
  • Mississippi - A short trip west out of the Panhandle and across Alabama brings you to Mississippi which offers casino gaming in Biloxi and Gulfport.
  • Caribbean - The islands of the Caribbean are accessible by boat and plane from Florida and offer a variety of both relaxing and adventure travel amidst a tropical paradise. For those interested in visiting the Bahamas, many owners of small boats will make the day-long trip to the Bahamas and several small airlines offer fares to the Bahamas for under $70 each way.
This is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

FLORIDA, the most southern of the United States of America, situated between 24° 30' and 3 i° N. lat. and 79° 48' and 87° 38' W. long. It is bounded N. by Georgia and Alabama, E. by the Atlantic Ocean, S. by the Strait of Florida, which separates it from Cuba, and by the Gulf of Mexico, and W. by Alabama and the Gulf. The Florida Keys, a chain of islands extending in a general south-westerly direction from Biscayne Bay, are included in the state boundaries, and the city of Key West, on an island of the same name, is the seat of justice of Monroe county. The total area of the state is 58,666 sq. m., of which 3805 sq. m. are water surface. The coast line is greater than that of any other State, extending 472 m. on the Atlantic and 674 m. on the Gulf Coast. The peculiar outline of Florida gives it the name of " Peninsula State." The average elevation of the surface of the state above the sea-level is less than that of any other state except Louisiana, but there is not the monotony of unbroken level which descriptions and maps often suggest. The N.W. portion of the state is, topographically, similar to south-eastern Alabama, being a rolling, hilly country; the eastern section is a part of the Atlantic coastal plain; the western coast line is less regular than the eastern, being indented by a number of bays and harbours, the largest of which are Charlotte Harbour, Tampa Bay and Pensacola Bay. Along much of the western coast and along nearly the whole of the eastern coast extends a line of sand reefs and narrow islands, enclosing shallow and narrow bodies of water, such as Indian river and Lake Worth - called rivers, lakes, lagoons, bays and harbours. In the central part of the state there is a ridge, extending N. and S. and forming a divide, separating the streams of the east coast from those of the west. Its highest elevation above sea-level is about 300 ft. The central region is remarkable for its large number of lakes, approximately 30,000 between Gainesville in Alachua county, and Lake Okeechobee. They are due largely to sinkholes or depressions caused by solution of the limestone of the region. Many of the lakes are connected by subterranean channels, and a change in the surface of one lake is often accompanied by a change in the surface of another. By far the largest of these lakes, nearly all of them shallow, is Lake Okeechobee, a body of water about 1250 sq. m. in area and almost uniformly shallow, its depth seldom being greater than 15 ft. Caloosahatchee river, flowing into the Gulf of Mexico near Charlotte Harbour, is its principal outlet. Among the other lakes are Orange, Crescent, George, Weir, Harris, Eustis, Apopka, Tohopekaliga, Kissimmee and Istokpoga. The chief feature of the southern portion of the state is the Everglades, the term " Everglade State" being popularly applied to Florida. Within the state there are many swamps, the largest of which are the Big Cypress Swamp in the S. adjoining the Everglades on the W., and Okefinokee Swamp, extending from Georgia into the N.E. part of the state.

A peculiar feature of the drainage of the state is the large number of subterranean streams and of springs, always found to a greater or less extent in limestone regions. Some of them are of great size. Silver Spring and Blue Spring in Marion county, Blue Spring and Orange City Mineral Spring in Volusia county, Chipola Spring near Marianna in Jackson county, Espiritu Santo Spring near Tampa in Hillsboro county, Magnolia Springs in Clay county, Suwanee Springs in Suwanee county, White Sulphur Springs in Hamilton county, the Wekiva Springs in Orange county, and Wakulla Spring, Newport Sulphur Spring and Panacea Mineral Spring in Wakulla county are the most noteworthy. Many of the springs have curative properties, one of them, the Green Cove Spring in Clay county, discharging about 3000 gallons of sulphuretted water per minute. Not far from St Augustine a spring bursts through the sea itself with such force that the ocean breakers roll back from it as from a sunken reef. The springs often merge into lakes, and lake systems are usually the sources of the rivers, Lake George being the principal source of the St Johns, and Lake Kissimmee of the Kissimmee, while a number of smaller lakes are the source of the Oklawaha, one of the most beautiful of the Floridian rivers.

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Same Scale as main map Longitude Nest 84 Greenwich 0 Of the rivers the most important are the St Johns, which flows N. from about the middle of the peninsula, empties into the Atlantic a short distance below Jacksonville, and is navigable for about 250 m. from its mouth, the Withlacoochee, flowing in a general north-westerly direction from its source in the N.E. part of Polk county, and forming near its entrance into the Gulf of Mexico the boundary between Levy and Citrus counties, and four rivers, the Escambia, the Choctawatchee, the Apalachicola, and the Suwanee, having their sources in other states and traversing the north-western part of Florida. On account of its sand reefs, the east coast has not so many harbours as the west coast. The most important harbours are at Fernandina, St Augustine, and Miami on the E. coast, and at Tampa, Key West and Pensacola on the W. coast.

The soils of Florida have sand as a common ingredient.' They may be divided into three classes: the pine lands, which often have a surface of dark vegetable mould, under which is a sandy loam resting on a substratum of clay, marl or limestone - areas of such soil are found throughout the state; the " hammocks," which have soil of similar ingredients and are interspersed with the pine lands - large areas of this soil occur in Levy, Alachua, Citrus, Hernando, Pasco, Gadsden, Leon, Madison, Jefferson and Jackson counties; and the alluvial swamp lands, chiefly in E. and S. Florida, the richest class, which require drainage to fit them for cultivation.

As regards climate Florida may be divided into three more or less distinct zones. North and west of a line passing through Cedar Keys and Fernandina the climate is distinctly " southern," similar to that of the Gulf states; from this line to another extending from the mouth of the Caloosahatchee to Indian river inlet the climate is semi-tropical, and is well suited to the cultivation of oranges; S. of this the climate is sub-tropical, well adapted to the cultivation of pineapples. Since the semitropical and sub-tropical zones are nearer the course of the Gulf Stream, and are swept by the trade winds, their temperatures are more uniform than those of the zones of southern climate; indeed, the extremes of heat (103° F.) and cold (13° F.) are felt in the region of southern climate. The mean annual temperature of the state is 70.8° F., greater in the sub-tropical than in the other climate zones, and the Atlantic coast is in general warmer than the Gulf Coast. The rainfall averages 52.09 in. per annum. On account of its warm climate, Florida has many resorts for health and pleasure, which are especially popular in the season from January to April; the more important are St Augustine, Ormond, Daytona, Palm Beach, Miami, Tampa, White Springs, Hampton Springs, Worthington Springs and Orange Springs.

No metals have ever been discovered in Florida. The principal minerals are rock phosphate and (recently more important) land and river pebble phosphate, found in scattered deposits in a belt on the " west coast " about 30 m. wide and extending from Tallahassee to Lake Okeechobee. The centre of the quarries is Dunnellon in Marion county, and pebble phosphate is found in Hillsboro, Polk, De Soto, Osceola, Citrus and Hernando counties. Although the economic value of the phosphate deposits was first realized about 1889, between 1894 and 1907 Florida produced, each year, more than half of all the phosphate rock produced in the whole United States, the yield of Florida (1,357,365 long tons) in 1907 being valued at $ 6 ,577,757; that of the whole country at $10,653,558. Florida is also the principal source in the United States for fuller's earth, a deposit of which, near Quincy, was first discovered in 1893 and clay (including kaolin) is also mined to some extent. Other minerals that have been discovered but have not been industrially developed are gypsum, lignite and cement rock. The lack of a thorough geological survey has perhaps prevented the discovery of other minerals - certainly it is responsible for a late recognition of the economic value of the known mineral resources.

The flora of N. Florida is similar to that of south-eastern North America; that of S. Florida seems to be a link between the vegetation of North America and that of South America and the West Indies, for out of 247 species of S. Florida that have been examined, 187 are common to the West Indies, Mexico and South America. The forests cover approximately 37,700 sq. m., chiefly in the northern part of the state, including about half of the peninsula, yellow pine being predominant, except in the coastal marsh lands, where cypress, found throughout the state, particularly abounds. About half of the varieties of forest trees in the United States are found, and 1 Almost everywhere limestone is the underlying rock, but siliceous sands, brought out by the Atlantic rivers to the N.E., are carried the whole length of the Florida coast by marine action.

among the peculiar species are the red bay or" Florida Mahogany," satinwood and cachibou, and the Florida yew and savin, both almost extinct. The lumber industry is important: in 1905 the total factory product of lumber and timber was valued at $10,901,650, and lumber and planing mill products were valued at $1,690,455. In 1900 this was the most valuable industry in the state; in 1905 it was second to the manufacture of tobacco. The fauna is similar in general to that of the southern United States. Among the animals are the puma, manatee (sea cow), alligator and crocodile, but the number of these has been greatly diminished by hunting. Ducks, wild turkeys, bears and wild cats (lynx) are found, but in decreasing numbers.

The fisheries are very valuable; the total number of species of fish in Florida waters is about 600, and many species found on one coast are not found on the other. The king fish and tarpon are hunted for sport, while mullet, shad, redsnappers, pompano, trout, sheepshead and Spanish mackerel are of great economic value. The sponge and oyster fisheries are also important. The total product of the fisheries in 1902 was valued at about $2,000,000.

Table of contents

Industry and Commerce

The principal occupation is agriculture, in which 44% of the labouring population was engaged in 1900, but only 12.6% of the total land surface was enclosed in farms, of which only 34.6% was improved, and the total agricultural product for 1899 was valued at $18,309,104. As the number of farms increased faster than the cultivated area from 1850 to 1900, the average size of farms declined from 444 acres in 1860 to 140 in 1880 and to 106.9 in 190o, the largest class of farms being those with an acreage varying from 20 to 50 acres. Nearly three-fourths of the farms, in 1900, were cultivated by their owners, but the cash tenantry system showed an increase of 100% since 1890, being most extensively used in the cotton counties. One-third of the farms were operated by negroes, but one-half of these farms were rented, and the value of negro farm property was only one-eighth that of the entire farm property of the state. According to the state census of 1905 only 1,621,362 acres were improved; of 45,984 farms, 31,233 were worked by whites.

Fruits normally form the principal crop; the total value for 1907-8 of the fruit crops of the state (including oranges, lemons, limes, grape-fruit, bananas, guavas, pears, peaches, grapes, figs, pecans, &c.) was $6,160,299, according to the report of the State Department of Agriculture. The discovery of Florida's adaptability to the culture of oranges about 1875 may be taken as the beginning of the state's modern industrial development. But the unusual severity of the winters of 1887, 1894 and 1899 (the report of the Twelfth Census which gives the figures for this year being therefore misleading) destroyed three-fourths of the orange trees, and caused an increased attention to stockraising, and to various agricultural products. Orange culture has recovered much of its importance, but it is carried on in the more southern counties of the state. The cultivation of pineapples, in sub-tropical Florida, is proving successful, the product far surpassing that of California, the only other state in the Union in which pineapples are grown. Grape-fruit, guavas and lemons are also successfully produced in this part of the state. The cultivation of strawberries and vegetables (cabbage, cauliflower, beets, beans, tomatoes, egg-plant, cucumbers, water-melons, celery, &c.) for northern markets, and of orchard fruits, especially plums, pears and prunes, has likewise proved successful. In 1907-8, according to the State Department of Agriculture, the total value of vegetable and garden products was $3,928,657. In 1903, according to the statistics of the United States Department of Agriculture, Indian corn ranked next to fruits .(as given in the state reports), but its product as compared with that of various other states is unimportant - in 1907 it amounted to 7,017,000 bushels only; rice is the only other cereal whose yield in 1899 was greater than that of 1889, but the Florida product was surpassed (in 1899) by that of the Carolinas, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas; in 1907 the product of rice in Florida (69,000 bushels) was less than that of Texas, Louisiana, South Carolina, Arkansas and Georgia severally. Tobacco culture, which declined after 1860 on account of the competition of Cuba and Sumatra, has revived since 1885 through the introduction of Cuban and Sumatran seed; the product of 1907 (6,937,500 lb) was more than six times that of 1899, the product in 1899 (1,125,600 lb) being more than twice that of 1889 (470,443 lb), which in turn was more than twenty times that for 1880 (21,182 lb)-the smallest production recorded for many decades. In 1907 the average farm prices of tobacco was 45 cents per lb higher than that of any other state. In 1899, 84% of the product was raised in Gadsden county. The sweet potato and pea-nut crops have also become very valuable; on the other hand the Census of 1900 showed a decline in acreage and production of cotton. In 1907 the acreage (265,000 acres) was less than in any cotton-growing state except Missouri and Virginia; the crop for 1907-1908 was 49,794 bales. Sea-island cotton of very high grade is grown in Alachua county. The production of sugar, begun by the early Spanish settlers, declined, but that of syrup increased. Pecan nuts are a promising crop, and many groves were planted after 1905. In 1900 there were more than 1,900,000 acres of land in the state unoccupied. The low lands of the South are being drained partly by the state and partly by private companies. Irrigation, introduced in 1888 by the orange growers, has been adapted by other farmers, especially the tobacco-growers of Gadsden county, and so the evil effects of the droughts, so common from February to June, are avoided. The value of farm property in the southern counties, which have been developed very recently, shows a steady increase, that of Hillsboro county surpassing the other counties of the state. In 1907-8, according to the state Department of Agriculture, the total value of all field crops (cotton, cereals, sugar-cane, hay and forage, sweet potatoes, &c.) was $11,856,340, and the total value of all farm products (including live stock, $20,817,804, poultry and products, $1,688,433, and dairy products, $1,728,642) was $46,371,320.

The manufactures of Florida, as compared with those of other states, are unimportant. Their product in 1900 was more than twice the product in 1890, and the product in 1905 (from establishments under the factory system only) was $50,298,290, i.e. 47-1% greater than in 1900. The most important industries were those that depended upon the forests, their product amounting to nearly 45% of the entire manufactured product of the state. The lumber and timber products were valued in 1905 at $10,901,650, almost twice their valuation in 1890, and an increase of 1. 2% over the product of 1900. The manufacture of turpentine and rosin, material for which is obtained from the pine forests, had increased greatly in importance between 1890 and 1900, the product in 1890 being valued at only $191,859, that of 1900 at $6,469,605, and from the latter sum it increased in 1905 to $9,901,905, an increase of more than one-half. In 1900 the state ranked second and in 1905 first of all the states of the country in the value of this product; in 1905 the state's product amounted to 41.4% of that of the entire country. The manufacture of cigars and cigarettes (almost entirely of cigars, few cigarettes being manufactured), carried on chiefly by Cubans at Key West and Tampa, also increased in importance between 1890 and 1900, the products in the latter year being valued at $10,735,826, or more than one-quarter more than in 1890, and in 1905 there was a further increase of 56.2%, the gross value being $16,764,276, or nearly one-third of the total factory product of the state. In 1900 Florida ranked fourth in the manufacture of tobacco among the states of the Union, being surpassed by New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio; in 1905 it ranked third (after New York and Pennsylvania). Most of the tobacco used is imported from Cuba, though, as has been indicated, the production of the state has greatly increased since 1880. In the manufacture of fertilizers, the raw material for which is derived from the phosphate beds, Florida's aggregate product in 1900 was valued at $500,239, and in 1905 at $1,590,371, an increase of 217.9% in five years.

Florida's industrial progress has been mainly since the Civil War, for before that conflict a large part of the state was practically undeveloped. An important influence has been the railways. In 1880 the total railway mileage was 518 m.; in 1890 it was 2489 m.; in 1900, 3255 m., and in January 1909, 4,004.92 M. The largest system is the Atlantic Coast Line, the lines of which in Florida were built or consolidated by H. B. Plant (1819-1899) and once formed a part of the so-called " Plant System " of railways. The Florida East Coast Railway is also the product of one man's faith in the country, that of Henry M. Flagler (b. 1830). The Seaboard Air Line, the Louisville & Nashville, and the Georgia Southern & Florida are the other important railways. The Southern railway penetrates the state as far as Jacksonville, over the tracks of the Atlantic Coast Line. A state railway commission, whose members are elected by the people, has power to enforce its schedule of freight rates except when such rates would not pay the operating expenses of the railway. In 1882 the Florida East Coast Line Canal and Transportation Co. was organized to develop a waterway from Jacksonville to Biscayne Bay by connecting with canals the St Johns, Matanzas, and Halifax rivers, Mosquito Lagoon, Indian river, Lake Worth, Hillsboro river, New river, and Snake Creek; in 1908 this vast undertaking was completed. The development of marine commerce has been retarded by unimproved harbours, but Fernandina and Pensacola harbours have always been good. Since 1890 much has been done by the national Government, aided in many cases by the local authorities and by private enterprise, to improve the harbours and to extend the limits of river navigation. With the increase of trade between the United States and the West Indies following the SpanishAmerican War (1898), the business of the principal ports, notably of Fernandina, Tampa and Pensacola, greatly increased.

Population.-The population of Florida in 1880 was 269,493; in 1890, 391,422, an increase of 45-2%; and in 1900, 528,542, or a further increase of 35%; and in 1905, by a state census, 614,845; and in 1910, 751,139. In 1900, 95.5% were native born, 43' 7% were coloured (including 479 Chinese, Japanese and Indians), and in 1905 the percentages were little altered. The Seminole Indians, whose number is not definitely known, live in and near the Everglades. The urban population on the basis of places having a population of 4000 or more was 16.6% of the total in 1900 and 22.7% in 1905, the percentage for Florida, as for other Southern States; being small as compared with the percentage for most of the other states of the Union. In 1900 there were 92, and, in 1905, 125 incorporated cities, towns and villages; but only 14 (in 1905, 22) of these had a population of over 2000, and only 4 (in 1905, 8) a population of more than 5000. The four in 1900 were: Jacksonville (28,429); Pensacola (1 7,747); Key West (17,114); and Tampa (15,839). The eight in 1905 were Jacksonville (35,301), Tampa (22,823), Pensacola (21,505), Key West (20,498), Live Oak (7200), Lake City (6409), Gainesville (J413), and St Augustine (5121). Tallahassee is the capital of the state. In 1906 the Baptists were the strongest religious denomination; the Methodists ranked second, while the Roman Catholic, Presbyterian and Protestant Episcopal churches were of relatively minor importance.

Government.-The present constitution was framed in 1885 and was ratified by the people in 1886. Its most important feature, when compared with the previous constitution of 1868, is its provision for the choice of state officials other than the governor (who was previously chosen by election) by elections instead of by the governor's appointment, but the governor, who serves for four years and is not eligible for the next succeeding term, still appoints the circuit judges, the state' attorneys for each judicial circuit and the county commissioners; he may fill certain vacancies and may suspend, and with the Senate remove officers not liable to impeachment.. The governor is a member of the Board of Pardons, the other members being the attorney-general, the secretary of state, the comptroller and the commissioner of agriculture; he and the secretary of state, attorney-general, comptroller, treasurer, superintendent of public instruction, and commissioner of agriculture comprise a Board of Commissioners of State Institutions; he is also a member of the Board of Education. The office of lieutenantgovernor was abolished by the present constitution. The legislature meets biennially, the senators being chosen for four, the representatives for two years. By an amendment of 1896 the Senate consists of not more than 32, and the House of Representatives of not more than 68 members; by a two-thirds vote of members present the legislature maypass a bill over the governor's veto. The three judges of the Supreme Court and the seven of the circuit court serve for six years, those of the county courts for four years, and justices of the peace (one for each justice district, of which the county commissioners must form at least two in each county) hold office for four years. The constitutional qualifications for suffrage are: the age of twenty-one years, citizenship in the United States or presentation of naturalization certificates at registration centres, residence in the state one year and in the county six months, and registration. To these requirements the payment of a poll-tax has been added by legislative enactment, such an enactment having been authorized by the constitution. Insane persons and persons under guardianship are excluded by the constitution, and " all persons convicted of bribery, perjury, larceny or of infamous crime, or who shall make or become directly or indirectly interested in any bet or wager the result of which shall depend upon any election," or who shall participate as principal, second or challenger in any duel, are excluded by legislative enactment.

Amendments to the constitution may be made by a three-fifths vote of each house of the legislature, ratified by a majority vote of the people. A revision of the Constitution may be made upon a two-thirds vote of all members of both Houses of the legislature, if ratified by a majority vote of the people; a Constitutional Convention is then to be provided for by the legislature, such convention to meet within six months of the passage of the law therefor, and to consist of a number equal to the membership of the House of Representatives, apportioned among the counties, as are the members of this House.

A homestead of 160 acres, or of one-half of an acre in an incorporated town or city, owned by the head of a family residing in the state, with personal property to the value of $loon and the improvements on the real estate, is exempt from enforced sale except for delinquent taxes, purchase money, mortgage or improvements on the property. The wife holds in her own name property acquired before or after marriage; the intermarriage of whites and negroes (or persons of negro descent to the fourth generation) is prohibited. All these are constitutional provisions. By legislative enactment whites and blacks living in adultery are to be punished by imprisonment or fine; divorces may be secured only after two years' residence in the state and on the ground of physical incapacity, adultery, extreme cruelty, habitual indulgence in violent temper, habitual drunkenness, desertion for one year, previous marriage still existing, or such relationship of the parties as is within the degrees for which marriage is prohibited by law. Legitimacy of natural children can be established by subsequent marriage of the parents, and the age of consent is sixteen years.

The bonded debt was incurred during the Reconstruction Period (1865-1875). In 1871 7% 30 year bonds to the extent of $350,000 were issued and in 1873 another issue of 6% 30 year bonds to the value of $925,000 was made. Most of these were held by the Educational Fund at the time of their maturity. By 1901 all but $2671700 of the issue of 1871 had been retired and this amount was then refunded with 3% 50 year bonds which were taken by the Educational Fund. In 1903 $616,800 of the 1873 issue was held by the Educational Fund and $148,000 by individuals. The first part of this claim was refunded by a new bond issue, also taken by the Educational Fund, the second was paid from an Indian war claim of $692,946, received from the United States government in 1902, when $132,000 bonds of 1857, held by the United States government, were also extinguished. The bonded debt was thus reduced to $884,500; and on the 1st of January 1909 the debt, consisting of refunding bonds held as educational funds, amounted to $601,567.

Penal System

There is no penitentiary; the convicts are hired to the one highest bidder who contracts for their labour, and who undertakes, moreover, to lease all other persons convicted during the term of the lease, and sub-leases the prisoners. In 1889 the convicts were placed under the care of a supervisor of convicts, and in 1905 the law was amended so that one or more supervisors could be appointed at the will of the governors. In 1908 there were four supervisors and one state prison physician, and there are special laws designed to prevent abuses in the system. In 1908 the state received $208,148 from the lease of convicts. Decrepit prisoners were formerly leased, but in 1906 the lease excluded such as were thought unfit by the state prison physician. Women convicts were still leased with the men in 1908; of the 446 convicts committed in that year, there were 15 negro females, 356 negro males and 75 white males. In the same year 54 escaped, and 27 were recaptured. The leased convicts are employed in the turpentine and lumber industries and in the phosphate works.

The 1232 convicts " on hand" at the close of 1908 were held in 38 camps, 4 being the minimum, and 160 the maximum number, at a camp. In 1908 two central hospitals for the prisoners were maintained by the lessee company. County prison camps are under the supervision of the governor and the supervisors of convicts. The state supervisors must inspect each state prison camp and each county prison camp every thirty days.

Education

As early as 1831 an unsuccessful attempt was made to form an adequate public school fund; the first real effort to establish a common school system for the territory was made after 1835; in 1840 there were altogether 18 academies and 51 common schools, and in 1849 the state legislature made an appropriation in the interest of the public instruction of white pupils, and this was supplemented by the proceeds of land granted by the United States government for the same purpose. In 1852 Tallahassee established a public school; and in 1860 there were, according to a report of the United States census, 2032 pupils in the public schools of the state, and 4486 in " academies and other schools." The Civil War, however, interrupted the early progress, and the present system of common schools dates from the constitution of 1868 and the school law of 1869. The school revenue derived from the interest of a permanent school fund, special state and county taxes, and a poll-tax, in 1907-1908 amounted to $1,716,161; the per capita cost for each child of school age was $6.11 (white, $9.08; negro, $2.24), and the average school term was 108 days (112 for whites, 99 for negroes). The state constitution prescribes that " white and colored children shall not be taught in the same school, but impartial provision shall be made for both." The percentage of enrolment in 1907-1908 was 60 (whites, 66; negroes, 52). The percentage of attendance to enrolment was 70%,-68% for white and 74% for negro schools. Before 1905 the state provided for higher education by the Florida State College, at Tallahassee, formerly the West Florida Seminary (founded in 1857); the University of Florida, at Lake City, which was organized in 1903 by enlarging the work of the Florida Agricultural College (founded in 1884); the East Florida Seminary, at Gainesville (founded 1848 at Ocala); the normal school (for whites) at De Funiak Springs; and the South Florida Military Institute at Bartow; but in 1905 the legislature passed the Buckman bill abolishing all these state institutions for higher education and establishing in their place the university of the state of Florida and a state Agricultural Experiment Station, both now at Gainesville, and the Florida Female College at Tallahassee, which has the same standards for entrance and for graduation as the state university for men. Private educational institutions in Florida are John B. Stetson University at De Land (Baptist); Rollins College (1885) at Winter Park (non-sectarian), with a collegiate department, an academy, a school of music, a school of expression, a school of fine arts, a school of domestic and industrial arts, and a business school; Southern College (1901), at Sutherland (Methodist Episcopal, South); the Presbyterian College of Florida (1905), at Eustis; Jasper Normal Institute (1890), at Jasper, and the Florida Normal Institute at Madison. The negroes have facilities for advanced instruction in the Florida Baptist Academy, and Cookman Institute (Methodist Episcopal, South), both at Jacksonville, and in the Normal and Manual Training School (Congregational), at Orange Park. There are a school for the Blind, Deaf, and Dumb (1885) at St. Augustine, a hospital for the insane at Chattahoochee and a reform school at Marianna, all wholly supported by the state, and a Confederate soldiers' and sailors' home at Tallahassee, which is partially supported by the state.

History

The earliest explorations and attempts at colonization of Florida by Europeans were made by the Spanish. The Council of the Indies claimed that since 1510 fleets and ships had gone to Florida, and Florida is shown on the Cantino map of 1502. In 1513 Juan Ponce de Leon (c. 1 4 60-1521), who had been with Christopher Columbus on his second voyage and had later been governor of Porto Rico, obtained a royal grant authorizing him to discover and settle " Bimini," - a fabulous island believed to contain a marvellous fountain or spring whose waters would restore to old men their youth or at least had wonderful curative powers. Soon after Easter Day he came in sight of the coast of Florida, probably near the mouth of the St Johns river. From the name of the day in the calendar, Pascua Florida, or from the fact that many flowers were found on the coast, the country was named Florida. De Leon seems to have explored the coast, to some degree, on both sides of the peninsula, and to have turned homeward fully convinced that he had discovered an immense island. He returned to Spain in 1514, and obtained from the king a grant to colonize " the island of Bimini and the island of Florida," of which he was appointed adelantado, and in 1521 he made another expedition, this one for colonization as well as for discovery. He seems to have touched at the island of Tortugas, so named on account of the large number of turtles found there, and to have landed at several places, but many of his men succumbed to disease and he himself was wounded in an Indian attack, dying soon afterward in Cuba. Meanwhile, in 1516, another Spaniard, Diego Miruelo, seems to have sailed for some distance along the west coast of the peninsula. The next important exploration of Florida was that of Panfilo de Narvaez. In 1527 he sailed from Cuba with about 600 men (soon reduced to less than 400), landed (early in 1528) probably at the present site of Pensacola, and for six months remained in the country, he and his men suffering terribly from exposure, hunger and fierce Indian attacks. In September, his ships being lost and his force greatly reduced in number, he hastily constructed a crazy fleet, reembarked probably at Apalachee Bay, and lost his life in a storm probably near Pensacola Bay. Only four of his men, including Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, succeeded after eight years' of Indian captivity and of long and weary wanderings, in finding their way to Spanish settlements in Mexico. Florida was also partially explored by Ferdinando de Soto in 1539-1540. In the summer of 1559 another attempt at colonization was made by Tristan de Luna, who sailed from Vera Cruz, landed at Pensacola Bay, and explored a part of Florida and (possibly) Southern Alabama. Somewhere in that region he desired to make a permanent settlement, but he was abandoned by most of his followers and gave up his attempt in 1561.

In the following year, Jean Ribaut (1520-1565), with a band of French Huguenots, landed first near St Augustine and then at the mouth of the St Johns river, which he called the river of May, and on behalf of France claimed the country, which he described as " the fairest, fruitfullest and pleasantest of all the world "; but he made his settlement on an island near what is now Beaufort, South Carolina. In 1564 Rene de Laudonniere (? -c. 1586), with another party of Huguenots, established Fort Caroline at the mouth of the St Johns, but the colony did not prosper, and in 1565 Laudonniere was about to return to France when (on the 28th of August) he was reinforced by Ribaut and about 300 men from France. On the same day that Ribaut landed, a Spanish expedition arrived in the bay of St Augustine. It was commanded by Pedro Menendez de Aviles (1523-1574), one of whose aims was to destroy the Huguenot settlement. This he did, putting to death almost the entire garrison at Fort Caroline " not as Frenchmen, but as Lutherans," on the 10th of September 1565. The ships of Ribaut were soon afterwards wrecked near Matanzas Inlet; he and most of his followers surrendered to Menendez and were executed. Menendez then turned his attention to the founding of a settlement which he named St Augustine (q.v.); he also explored the Atlantic coast from Cape Florida to St Helena, and established forts at San Mateo (Fort Caroline), Avista, Guale and St Helena. In 1567 he returned to Spain in the interest of his colony.

The news of the destruction of Fort Caroline, and the execution of Ribaut and his followers, was received with indifference at the French court; but Dominique de Gourgues (c. 1530-1593), a friend of Ribaut but probably a Catholic, organized an expedition of vengeance, not informing his men of his destination until his three ships were near the Florida coast. With the co-operation of the Indians under their chief Saturiba he captured Fort San Mateo in the spring of 1568, and on the spot where the garrison of Fort Caroline had been executed, he hanged his Spanish prisoners, inscribing on a tablet of pine the words, " I do this not as unto Spaniards but as to traitors, robbers and murderers." Feeling unable to attack St Augustine, de Gourgues returned to France.

The Spanish settlements experienced many vicissitudes. The Indians were hostile and the missionary efforts among them failed. In 1586 St Augustine was almost destroyed by Sir Francis Drake and it also suffered severely by an attack of Captain John Davis in 1665. No until the last decade of the 17th century did the Spanish authorities attempt to extend the settlements beyond the east coast. Then, jealous of the French explorations along the Gulf of Mexico, they turned their attention to the west coast, and in 1696 founded Pensacola. When the English colonies of the Carolinas and Georgia were founded, there was constant friction with Florida. The Spanish were accused of inciting the Indians to make depredations on the English settlements and of interfering with English commerce and the Spanish were in constant fear of the encroachments of the British. In 1702, when Great Britain and Spain were contending in Europe, on opposite sides, in the war of the Spanish Succession, a force from South Carolina captured St Augustine and laid siege to the fort, but being unable to reduce it for lack of necessary artillery, burned the town and withdrew at the approach of Spanish reinforcements. In 1706 a Spanish and French expedition against Charleston, South Carolina, failed, and the Carolinians retaliated by invading middle Florida in 1708 and again in 1722. In 1740 General James Edward Oglethorpe, governor of Georgia, supported by a naval force, made an unsuccessful attack upon St Augustine; two years later a Spanish expedition against Savannah by way of St Simon's Island failed, and in 1745 Oglethorpe again appeared before the walls of St Augustine, but the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748 prevented further hostilities. Pensacola, the other centre of Spanish settlement, though captured and occupied (1719-1723) by the French from Louisiana, had a more peaceful history.

By the treaty of Paris in 1763 Florida was ceded to England in return for Havana. The provinces of East Florida and West Florida were now formed, the boundaries of West Florida being 31° N. lat. (when civil government was organized in 1767, the N. line was made 32° 28'), the Chattahoochee, and the Apalachicola rivers, the Gulf of Mexico, Mississippi Sound, Lakes Borgne, Pontchartrain and Maurepas, and the Mississippi river. A period of prosperity now set in. Civil in place of military government was instituted; immigration began; and Andrew Turnbull, an Englishman, brought over a band of about 1500 Minorcans (1769), whom he engaged in the cultivation of indigo at New Smyrna. Roads were laid out, some of which yet remain; and in the last three years of English occupation the government spent $580,000 on the two provinces. Consequently, the people of Florida were for the most part loyal to Great Britain during the War of American Independence. In 1776, the Minorcans of New Smyrna refused to work longer on the indigo plantations; and many of them removed to St Augustine, where they were protected by the authorities. Several plans were made to invade South Carolina and Georgia, but none matured until 1778, when an expedition was organized which co-operated with British forces from New York in the siege of Savannah, Georgia. In the following year, Spain having declared war against Great Britain, Don Bernardo de Galvez (1756-1794), the Spanish governor at New Orleans, seized most of the English forts in West Florida, and in 1781 captured Pensacola.

By the treaty of Paris (1783) Florida reverted to Spain, and, no religious liberty being promised, many of the English inhabitants left East and West Florida. A dispute with the United States concerning the northern boundary was settled by the treaty of 1795, the line 31° N. lat. being established.

The westward expansion of the United States made necessary American ports on the Gulf of Mexico; consequently the acquisition of West Florida as well as of New Orleans was one of the aims of the negotiations which resulted in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. After the cession of Louisiana to the United States, the people of West Florida feared that that province would be seized by Bonaparte. They, therefore, through a convention at Buhler's Plains (July 17, 1810), formulated plans for a more effective government. When it was found that the Spanish governor did not accept these plans in good faith, another convention was held on the 26th of September which declared West Florida to be an independent state, organized a government and petitioned for admission to the American Union. On the 27th of October President James Madison, acting on a theory of Robert R. Livingston that West Florida was ceded by Spain to France in 1800 along with Louisiana, and was therefore included by France in the sale of Louisiana to the United States in 1803, declared West Florida to be under the jurisdiction of the United States. Two years later the American Congress annexed the portion of West Florida between the Pearl and the Mississippi rivers to Louisiana (hence the so-called Florida parishes of Louisiana), and that between the Pearl and the Perdido to the Mississippi Territory.

In the meantime war between Great Britain and the United States was imminent. The American government asked the Spanish authorities of East Florida to permit an American occupation of the country in order that it might not be seized by Great Britain and made a base of military operations. When the request was refused, American forces seized Fernandina in the spring of 1812, an action that was repudiated by the American government after protest from Spain, although it was authorized in official instructions. About the same time an attempt to organize a government at St Mary's was made by American sympathizers, and a petty civil war began between the Americans, who called themselves " Patriots," and the Indians, who were encouraged by the Spanish. In 1814 British troops landed at Pensacola to begin operations against the United States. In retaliation General Andrew Jackson captured the place, but in a few days withdrew to New Orleans. The British then built a fort on the Apalachicola river, and there directed expeditions of Indians and runaway negroes against the American settlements, which continued long after peace was concluded in 1814. In 1818 General Jackson, believing that the Spanish were aiding the Seminole Indians and inciting them to attack the Americans, again captured Pensacola. By the treaty of 1819 Spain formally ceded East and West Florida to the United States; the treaty was ratified in 1821, when the United States took formal possession, but civil government was not established until 1822.

Indian affairs furnished the most serious problems of the new Territory of Florida. The aborigines, who seemed to have reached a stage of civilization somewhat similar to that of the Aztecs, were conquered and exterminated or absorbed by Creeks about the middle of the 18th century. There was a strong demand for the removal of these Creek Indians, known as Seminoles, and by treaties at Payne's Landing in 1832 and Fort Gibson in 1833 the Indian chiefs agreed to exchange their Florida lands for equal territory in the western part of the United States. But a strong sentiment against removal suddenly developed, and the efforts of the United States to enforce the treaty brought on the Seminole War (1836-42), which resulted in the removal of all but a few hundred Seminoles whose descendants still live in southern Florida.

In 1845 Florida became a state of the American Union. On the 10th of January 1861 an ordinance of secession, which declared Florida to be a " sovereign and independent nation," was adopted by a state convention, and Florida became one of the Confederate States of America. The important coast towns were readily captured by Union forces; Fernandina, Pensacola and St Augustine in 1862, and Jacksonville in 1863; but an invasion of the interior in 1864 failed, the Union forces being repulsed in a battle at Olustee (on the 20th of February 1864). In 1865 a provisional governor was appointed by President Andrew Johnson, and a new state government was organized. The legislature of 1866 rejected the Fourteenth Amendment to the Federal Constitution, and soon afterwards Florida was made a part of the Third Military District, according to the Reconstruction Act of 1867. Negroes were now registered as voters by the military authorities, and another Constitutional Convention met in January and February 1868. A factional strife in the dominant party, the Republican, now began; fifteen delegates withdrew from the convention; the others framed a constitution, and then resolved themselves into a political convention. The seceding members with nine others then returned and organized; but the factions were reconciled by General George M. Meade. A new constitution was framed and was ratified by the electors, and Florida passed from under a quasi-military to a full civil government on the 4th of July 1868.

The factional strife in the Republican party continued, a number of efforts being made to impeach Governor Harrison Reed (1813-1899). The decisive year of the Reconstruction Period was 1876. The Canvassing Board, which published the election returns, cast out some votes, did not wait for the returns from Dade county, and declared the Republican ticket elected. George F. Drew (1827-1900), the Democratic candidate for governor, then secured a mandamus from the circuit court restraining the board from going behind the face of the election returns; this was not obeyed and a similar mandamus was therefore obtained from the supreme court of Florida, which declared that the board had no right to determine the legality of a particular vote. According to the new count thus ordered, the Democratic state ticket was elected. By a similar process the board's decision in favour of the election of Republican presidential electors was nullified, and the Democratic electors were declared the successful candidates; but the electoral commission, appointed by Congress, reversed this decision. (See Electoral Commission.) Since 1876 Florida has been uniformly Democratic in politics.

American Governors Of Florida.

Territorial Governors.

Andrew Jackson. .

1821-1822

William P. Duval .

1822-1834

John H. Eaton .

1834-1835

Richard K. Call .

1835-1840

Robert R. Reid .

1840-1841

Richard K. Call. .

1841-1844

John Branch .

1844-1845

State Governors.

Democrat Whig Democrat Provisional Democrat Republican Democrat Bibliography. - Physical and economic conditions are discussed in a pamphlet (591 pp.) published by the State Department of Agriculture, Florida, a Pamphlet Descriptive of its History, Topography, Climate, Soil, eec. (Tallahassee, 1904); in Climate, Soil and Resources of Florida (United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, 1882); A Preliminary Report on the Soils of Florida (United States Department of Agriculture, Division of Soils, Bulletin 13, 1898); C. L. Norton's Handbook of Florida (2nd edition, New York, 1892); the volumes of the Twelfth Census of the United States (for 1900) which treat of Agriculture and Manufactures, and the Special Report on Mines and Quarries for 1902. J. N. MacGonigle's " Geography of Florida " (National Geographic Magazine, vol. 7), T. D. A. Cockerell's " West Indian Fauna in Florida " (Nature, vol. 46), L. F. Pourtales's " Flora and Fauna of the Florida Keys " (American Naturalist, vol. I I), and C. F. Millspaugh's Flora of the Sand Keys of Florida (Chicago, 1907), a Field Columbian Museum publication, are of value. To sportsmen, C. B. Cory's Hunting and Fishing Florida (Boston, 1896) and A. W. and x. 18 William D. Moseley Thomas Brown. James E. Broome. Madison S. Perry. John Milton.. William Marvin. David S. Walker .

Harrison Reed .

Ossian B. Hart. Marcellus L. Stearns George F. Drew. William D. Bloxham Edward A. Perry. Francis P. Fleming Henry L. Mitchell William D. Bloxham William S. Jennings Napoleon B. Broward Albert W. Gilchrist .

1845- 1849-1849 -1853 1853-1857 -1857-1861-1861-1865 1865- 1865-1868 1868- 1872-1873 -1874 1874-1877 -1877-1881 1881-1885 -1885-1889 1889-1893 -1893-1897 1897-1901 -1901-1905 1905-1909 .. 1909 J. A. Dimock's Florida Enchantments (New York, 1908) areof interest. For administration, see Wilbur F. Yocum's Civil Government of Florida (De Land, Florida, 1904); and the Revised Statutes of Florida (1892). The standard history is that by G. R. Fairbanks, History of Florida (Philadelphia, 1871). This should be supplemented by D. G. Brinton's Notes on the Floridian Peninsula, its Literary History, Indian Tribes and Antiquities (Philadelphia, 1859), which has an excellent descriptive bibliography of the early explorations; Woodbury Lowery, The Spanish Settlements within the Present Limits of the United States (New York, vol. i., 1901; vol. ii., sub-title Florida, 1905); R. L. Campbell's Historical Sketches of Colonial Florida (Cleveland, 1892), which treats at length of the history of Pensacola; H. E. Chambers's West Florida and its Relation to the Historical Cartography of the United States (Johns Hopkins Studies in Historical and Political Science, Series 16, No. 5); and Herbert B. Fuller's The Purchase of Florida; its History and Diplomacy (Cleveland, 0., 1906). The only published collections of documents relating to the state are Buckingham Smith's Collection de varios documentos para la historic de la Florida y tierras adyacentes (London, 1857), and Benjamin F. French's Historical Collections of Louisiana (New York, 1846-1875).


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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also florida

Contents

English

Map of US highlighting Florida

Etymology

From Spanish Pascua Florida, meaning "flowery Easter."

Pronunciation

Proper noun

Singular
Florida

Plural
-

Florida

  1. A southeast state of the United States of America. Capital: Tallahassee.

Derived terms

Translations

See also

External links


Genealogy

Up to date as of February 01, 2010

From Familypedia

State of Florida
Flag of Florida State seal of Florida
Flag of Florida SealImage:Wp_globe_tiny.gif
Nickname(s)Image:Wp_globe_tiny.gif: The Sunshine State
Motto(s)Image:Wp_globe_tiny.gif: In God We Trust
Map of the United States with Florida highlighted
Official language(s)Image:Wp_globe_tiny.gif English
CapitalImage:Wp_globe_tiny.gif Tallahassee
Largest cityImage:Wp_globe_tiny.gif Jacksonville
Largest metro areaImage:Wp_globe_tiny.gif Miami metropolitan area
AreaImage:Wp_globe_tiny.gif  Ranked 22ndImage:Wp_globe_tiny.gif
 - Total 65,795[1] sq miImage:Wp_globe_tiny.gif
(170,304[1] km²Image:Wp_globe_tiny.gif)
 - Width 361 miles (582 kmImage:Wp_globe_tiny.gif)
 - Length 447 miles (721 km)
 - % water 17.9
 - Latitude 24°27′ N to 31° N
 - Longitude 80°02′ W to 87°38′ W
PopulationImage:Wp_globe_tiny.gif  Ranked 4thImage:Wp_globe_tiny.gif
 - Total (2000Image:Wp_globe_tiny.gif) 15,982,378
 - DensityImage:Wp_globe_tiny.gif 309/sq mi 
117.3/km² (8th)
 - Median incomeImage:Wp_globe_tiny.gif  $41,171 (36th)
ElevationImage:Wp_globe_tiny.gif  
 - Highest point Britton Hill[2]
345 ft  (105 m)
 - Mean 98 ft  (30 m)
 - Lowest point Atlantic Ocean[2]
0 ft  (0 m)
Admission to UnionImage:Wp_globe_tiny.gif  March 3, 1845 (27th)
GovernorImage:Wp_globe_tiny.gif Charlie Crist (R)
U.S. SenatorsImage:Wp_globe_tiny.gif Bill Nelson (D)
Mel Martinez (R)
Congressional DelegationImage:Wp_globe_tiny.gif ListImage:Wp_globe_tiny.gif
Time zonesImage:Wp_globe_tiny.gif  
 - peninsula Eastern: UTC-5/DST-4
 - panhandle Central: UTC-6/DST-5
Abbreviations Fla., FL,Image:Wp_globe_tiny.gif Image:Wp_globe_tiny.gif US-FLImage:Wp_globe_tiny.gif
Web site www.myflorida.com
Florida map, with major roads/cities.
The beach at Bahia Honda in the Florida Keys.
Bernard Picart copper plate engraving of Florida Indians, Circa 1721 "Cérémonies et Coutumes Religieuses de tous les Peuples du Monde" (Private Collection of L.S. Morgan, St. Augustine Beach)


The State of Florida (IPA: /ˈflɒrɪdə/) is located in the southeastern region of the United States. Most of the state is a large peninsula with the Gulf of Mexico on its west and the Atlantic Ocean on its east. Much of the state has a humid subtropical climate, except for southern Florida, where the climate is tropical.[3] Florida was named by Juan Ponce de León, who landed on the peninsula on 2 April, 1513, during Pascua Florida (Spanish for "Flowery Easter," referring to the Easter season). Florida is the 4th most populated state in the country, behind California (1st), Texas (2nd) and New York (3rd).[4]

Contents

History

Main article: History of Florida
See also: Seminole Wars and Florida in the American Civil War

Archaeological research indicates that Florida had been inhabited for thousands of years before any European settlements. Of the many indigenous peoples, the largest known were the Ais, the Apalachee, the Calusa, the Timucua and the Tocobago tribes. Juan Ponce de León, a Spanish conquistador, named Florida in honor of his discovery of the land on April 2, 1513, during Pascua Florida, a Spanish term for the Easter season. From that date forward, the land became known as "La Florida." (Juan Ponce de León may not have been the first European to reach Florida; according to one report, at least one indigenous tribesman who he encountered in Florida in 1513 spoke Spanish.[5]

Over the following century, both the Spanish and French established settlements in Florida, with varying degrees of success. In 1559, Spanish Pensacola was established by Don Tristán de Luna y Arellano as the first European settlement in the continental United States, but it had become abandoned by 1561 and would not be reinhabited until the 1690s. French Huguenots founded Fort Caroline in modern-day Jacksonville in 1564, but the fort was conquered by forces from the new Spanish colony of St. Augustine the following year. After Huguenot leader Jean Ribault had learned of the new Spanish threat, he launched an expedition to sack the Spanish settlement; en route, however, severe storms at sea waylaid the expedition, which consisted of most of the colony's men, allowing St. Augustine founder Pedro Menéndez de Avilés time to march his men over land and conquer Fort Caroline. Most of the Huguenots were slaughtered, and Menéndez de Avilés marched south and captured the survivors of the wrecked French fleet, ordering all but a few Catholics executed beside a river subsequently called Matanzas (Spanish for 'killings'). The Spanish never had a firm hold on Florida, and maintained tenuous control over the region by converting the local tribes, briefly with Jesuits and later with Franciscan friars. The local leaders (caciques) demonstrated their loyalty to the Spanish by converting to Roman Catholicism and welcoming the Franciscan priests into their villages.

The area of Spanish Florida diminished with the establishment of English colonies to the north and French colonies to the west. The English weakened Spanish power in the area by supplying their Creek Indian allies with firearms and urging them to raid the Timucuan and Apalachee client-tribes of the Spanish. The English attacked St. Augustine, burning the city and its cathedral to the ground several times, while the citizens hid behind the walls of the Castillo de San Marcos.

The Spanish, meanwhile, encouraged slaves to flee the English-held Carolinas and come to Florida, where they were converted to Roman Catholicism and given freedom. They settled in a buffer community north of St. Augustine, called Gracie Real de Santa Teresa de Mose, the first completely black settlement in what would become the United States.

Great Britain gained control of Florida diplomatically in 1763 through the Peace of Paris (the Castillo de San Marcos surrendered for the first time, having never been taken militarily). Britain divided the colony into East Florida, with its capital at St. Augustine, and West Florida, with its capital at Pensacola. Britain tried to develop the Floridas through the importation of immigrants for labor, including some from Minorca and Greece, but this project ultimately failed. Spain regained the Floridas after Britain's defeat by the American colonies and the subsequent Treaty of Versailles in 1783, continuing the division into East and West Florida. They offered land grants to anyone who settled in the colonies, and many Americans moved to them. This Americanization resulted in 1819, by terms of the Adams-Onís Treaty, of Spain ceding Florida to the United States in exchange for the American renunciation of any claims on Texas and $5 million.

Winter in Florida, 1893

On March 3, 1845, Florida became the 27th state of the United States of America. On January 10, 1861, before the formal outbreak of the Civil War, Florida seceded from the Union; ten days later, the state became a founding member of the Confederate States of America. The war ended in 1865. On June 25, 1868, Florida's congressional representation was restored.

Until the mid-twentieth century, Florida was the least populous Southern state; however, the local climate, tempered by the growing availability of air conditioning, made the state a haven, and migration from the Rust Belt and the Northeast sharply increased the population. Economic prosperity combined with Florida's sudden elevation in profile led to the Florida land boom of the 1920s, which brought a brief period of intense land development before the Great Depression brought it all to a halt. Florida's economy would not fully recover until World War II. Today, with an estimated population over 18 million, Florida is the most populous state in the Southeastern United States, the second most populous state in the South behind Texas, and the fourth most populous in the United States. The Census Bureau estimates that "Florida, now the fourth most populous state, would edge past New York into third place in total population by 2011".[6] [7]

Geography

A map of Florida showing county names and boundaries.

Florida is situated mostly on a large peninsula between the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Straits of Florida. It extends to the northwest into a panhandle, extending along the northern Gulf of Mexico. It is bordered on the north by the states of Georgia and Alabama, and on the west, at the end of the panhandle, by Alabama. It is near the countries of the Caribbean, particularly the Bahamas and Cuba. Florida's extensive coast line made it a perceived target during World War II, so the government built airstrips all around the state. Today approximately 400 airports are still in service due to the coastal geography of the state. According to the National Drug Intelligence Center, Florida has 131 public airports, and more than 700 private airports, airstrips, heliports, and seaplane bases.[8] Florida is one of the largest states east of the Mississippi. Only Alaska and Michigan are larger in water area.

The Florida peninsula is a porous plateau of karst limestone sitting atop bedrock. Extended systems of underwater caves, sinkholes and springs are found throughout the state and supply most of the water used by residents. The limestone is topped with sandy soils deposited as ancient beaches over millions of years as global sea levels rose and fell. During the last Ice Age, lower sea levels and a drier climate revealed a much wider peninsula, largely desert. At the southern end of the peninsula, the Everglades are in fact an enormously wide, very slow-flowing river.

At 345 feet (105 m) above mean sea level, Britton Hill is the highest point in Florida and the lowest highpoint of any U.S. state.[9] Contrary to popular belief, however, Florida is not entirely "flat." Some places, such as Clearwater, feature vistas that rise 50 to 100 feet (15 – 30 m) above the water. Much of the interior of Florida, typically 25 miles (40 km) or more away from the coastline, features hills with elevations ranging from 100 to 250 feet (30 – 76 m) in many locations. Lake County holds the highest point of peninsular Florida, Sugarloaf Mountain, at 312 feet (95 m).[10]

Areas under control of the National Park Service include:

Areas under the control of the USDA United States Forest Service include:

See also: List of Florida state parks

Boundaries

The state line begins in the Atlantic Ocean, traveling west, south, and north up the thalweg of the Saint Mary's River. At the origin of that river, it then follows a straight line nearly due west and slightly north, to the point where the confluence of the Flint River (from Georgia) and the Chattahoochee River (down the Alabama/Georgia line) used to form Florida's Apalachicola River. (Since Woodruff Dam was built, this point has been under Lake Seminole.) The border with Georgia continues north through the lake for a short distance up the former thalweg of the Chattahoochee, then with Alabama runs due west along latitude 31°N to the Perdido River, then south along its thalweg to the Gulf via Perdido Bay. Florida is mostly at sea level.

Climate

Main articles: Climate of Florida and Climate change
See also: List of Florida hurricanes and List of all-time high and low temperatures by state
Hurricane Frances near peak strength.

The climate of Florida is tempered somewhat by its proximity to water. Most of the state has a humid subtropical climate, except for the southern part below Lake Okeechobee which has a true tropical climate.[11] Cold fronts can occasionally bring high winds and cool to cold temperatures to the entire state during late fall and winter. One such front swept through the peninsula on November 25, 1996, bringing cold temperatures and winds up to 95 miles per hour (150 km/h), knocking out power to thousands and damaging mobile homes. The seasons in Florida are actually determined more by precipitation than by temperature with mild to cool, relatively dry winters and autumns (the dry season) and hot, wet springs and summers (the wet season). The Gulf Stream has a moderating effect on the climate, and although much of Florida commonly sees a high summer temperature over 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 °C), the mercury seldom exceeds 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 °C). The hottest temperature ever recorded in the state was 109 °F (43 °C), set on June 29, 1931 in Monticello. The coldest was – 2 °F (−19 °C), on February 13, 1899, just 25 miles (40 km) away, in Tallahassee. Mean high temperatures for late July are primarily in the low 90s Fahrenheit (32 – 35 °C). Mean low temperatures for late January range from the low 40s Fahrenheit (4 – 7 °C) in northern Florida to the mid-50s (≈13 °C) in southern Florida.

Florida taken from NASA Shuttle Mission STS-95 on October 31, 1998

The Florida Keys, being surrounded by water, have a more tropical climate, with lesser variability in temperatures. At Key West, temperatures rarely exceed 90 °F in the summer or fall below 60 °F in the winter, and frost has never been reported in the Keys.

Florida's nickname is the "Sunshine State", but severe weather is a common occurrence in the state. Central Florida is known as the lightning capital of the United States, as it experiences more lightning strikes than anywhere else in the country. Florida has the highest average precipitation of any state, in large part because afternoon thunderstorms are common in most of the state from late spring until early autumn. A fair day may be interrupted with a storm, only to return to sunshine. These thunderstorms, caused by collisions between airflow from the Gulf of Mexico and airflow from the Atlantic Ocean, pop up in the early afternoon and can bring heavy downpours, high winds, and sometimes tornadoes. Florida leads the United States in tornadoes per square mile, but these tornadoes do not typically reach the intensity of those in the Midwest and Great Plains. Hail often accompanies the most severe thunderstorms.

Snow in Florida is a rare occurrence. During the Great Blizzard of 1899, Florida experienced blizzard conditions. During that time, the Tampa Bay area had "gulf-effect" snow, similar to lake-effect snow.[12] The Great Blizzard of 1899 is the only time the temperature in the state is known to have fallen below 0 degrees Fahrenheit (−18 °C). The most widespread snowfall in Florida history happened in January 19th 1977, when snow fell over much of the state in different times of the month, as far south as Homestead. Snow flurries fell on Miami Beach for the only time in recorded history. 1982's "Cold Sunday," which saw freezing conditions throughout much of the country, ruined that year's orange crops. In 1989, a severe hard freeze created lots of ice and also caused minor flurries in sections of the state and resulted in rolling blackouts from power failures caused by massive demands on the power grid for heating. A hard freeze in 2003 brought "ocean-effect" snow flurries to the Atlantic coast as far south as Cape Canaveral.[13]

1997 -Tornado in Downtown Miami.

The 1993 Superstorm brought blizzard conditions to the panhandle, while heavy rain and tornadoes beset the peninsula. The storm is believed to have been similar in composition to a hurricane, and even brought storm surges of six feet or more to regions of the Gulf coast.

Although some storms have formed out of season, tropical cyclones pose a severe threat during hurricane season, which lasts from June 1 to November 30. Florida is the most hurricane-prone US state, with subtropical or tropical water on three sides and a lengthy coastline. It is rare for a hurricane season to pass without any impact in the state by at least a tropical storm. August to October is the most likely period for a hurricane in Florida.

Florida saw a slew of destruction in 2004, when it was hit by a record four hurricanes. Hurricanes Charley (August 13), Frances (September 4 – 5), Ivan (September 16), and Jeanne (September 25 – 26) cumulatively cost the state's economy US$42 billion. In 2005, Hurricane Dennis (July 10) became the fifth storm to strike Florida within eleven months. Later, Hurricane Katrina (August 25) passed through South Florida and Hurricane Rita (September 20) swept through the Florida Keys. Hurricane Wilma made landfall in Florida in the early morning of October 24 as a Category 3 hurricane, with the storm's eye hitting near Cape Romano, just south of Marco Island, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Florida was the site of the second costliest weather disaster in U.S. history, Hurricane Andrew, which caused more than US$25 billion in damage when it struck on August 24, 1992. In a long list of other infamous hurricane strikes are the 1926 Great Miami Hurricane, the 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane, the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, Hurricane Donna in 1960, and Hurricane Opal in 1995.

Monthly Normal High and Low Temperatures For Various Florida Cities
City Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Apalachicola 62/43 65/46 70/51 76/58 83/65 88/72 90/74 89/74 87/71 80/60 72/52 65/45
Daytona Beach 70/47 71/49 76/54 80/58 85/64 89/71 91/72 90/73 88/72 83/65 77/57 71/50
Fort Myers 75/54 76/55 80/59 84/63 89/68 91/73 92/74 92/74 90/74 86/69 81/62 77/56
Gainesville 66/42 69/45 75/50 80/55 86/62 90/68 91/71 90/71 87/68 81/59 74/51 68/44
Jacksonville 64/42 67/44 73/50 79/55 84/62 89/69 91/72 89/72 86/69 79/60 72/51 66/44
Key West 75/65 76/66 79/69 82/72 85/76 88/79 89/80 90/79 88/78 85/76 81/72 77/67
Miami 76/60 78/60 81/64 84/68 87/72 90/75 91/76 91/76 89/76 85/72 81/68 78/62
Orlando 72/50 74/51 79/56 83/60 88/66 91/71 92/73 92/73 90/72 85/66 79/59 73/53
Pensacola 61/43 64/45 70/52 76/58 83/66 89/72 91/74 90/74 87/70 79/60 70/51 63/45
Tallahassee 64/40 67/42 74/48 80/53 86/62 91/70 92/73 92/73 88/69 81/57 73/48 66/42
Tampa 70/52 72/54 76/58 81/62 86/69 89/74 90/75 90/75 89/74 84/68 78/61 72/55
Vero Beach 73/53 74/54 78/58 81/62 85/67 89/72 90/73 90/73 89/73 84/68 79/62 75/55
West Palm Beach 75/57 76/58 79/62 82/65 86/70 88/74 90/75 90/75 89/75 85/71 80/66 76/60
[14]

Fauna

People Birding in Florida.
The Florida Scrub Jay is found only in Florida.

Florida is host to many types of wildlife including:

  • Marine Mammals : Bottlenose Dolphin, Pilot Whale, Northern Right Whale, Manatee
  • Reptiles : Alligator, Crocodile, Eastern Diamondback and Pygmy Rattlesnakes, Gopher Tortoise, Green & Leatherback Sea Turtles, Indigo Snake
  • Mammals : Panther, Whitetail Deer, Key Deer, Bobcats, Southern Black Bear, Armadillos
  • Birds : Bald Eagle, Crested Caracara, Snail Kite, Osprey, Pelicans, Sea Gulls, Whooping & Sandhill Cranes, Roseate Spoonbill, Florida Scrub Jay (State endemic), and many more. Note : Florida is a winter home for most species of eastern North American birds.

Environmental issues

Main article: Environment of Florida

Florida ranks forty-sixth in total energy consumption per capita, despite the heavy reliance on air conditioners and pool pumps. This includes coal, natural gas, petroleum, and retail electricity sales. It is estimated that only 1% of energy in the state is generated through renewable resources.[15]

Increasing landfill space is also an issue. St. Lucie County is planning to experiment with burning trash through plasma arc gasification to generate energy and reduce landfill space. The experiment will be the largest of its kind in the world to date, and begin operation no later than 2009. If successful, experts estimate that the entire St. Lucie County landfill, estimated to contain 4.3 million tons of trash, will disappear within 18 years. Materials created in the energy production can also be used in road construction.[16]

Some are concerned about the effects of climate change and blame it for the major hurricanes of 2004 and 2005; however, recent research suggests the storms are part of a natural cycle and not Global Warming.[17][18][19]

In July 2007, Florida Governor Charlie Crist announced plans to sign executive orders that would impose strict new air-pollution standards in the state, with aims to reduce so called "greenhouse-gas" emissions by 80 percent of 1990 levels by 2050. Crist's orders would set new emissions targets for power companies, automobiles and trucks, and toughen conservation goals for state agencies and require state-owned vehicles to use alternative fuels.[20]

Red tide has also been an issue on the Southwest coast of Florida. While there has been a great deal of conjecture over the cause of the toxic algae bloom, there is no evidence that it is being caused by pollution or that there has been an increase in the duration or frequency of red tides.[21]

Since their accidental importation from South America into North America in the 1930s, the Red imported fire ant population has increased its territorial range to include most of the Southern United States, including Florida. They are more aggressive than most native ant species and have a painful sting.[22]

Demographics

Population

Florida has the 4th highest state population in the United States . The center of population of Florida is located in Polk County, in the town of Lake Wales [19]. As of 2006, Florida's population was 18,089,888; an increase of 2,107,510 (over 13%) from 2000. The state grew 321,647, or 1.8% from 2005. Florida grows an average of 26,803 every month, 6700 every week, and 957 daily. Florida is the nation's third-fastest-growing state[23] due to its high job growth, mild climate, and relatively low cost of living.

Ancestry Groups

{{US DemogTable|Florida|03-12.csv|= | 82.45| 15.66| 0.75| 2.11| 0.16|= | 15.94| 0.74| 0.14| 0.09| 0.03|= | 81.47| 16.31| 0.84| 2.52| 0.18|= | 18.48| 0.87| 0.21| 0.11| 0.04|= | 9.99| 15.93| 23.95| 33.09| 29.08|= | 5.43| 15.23| 15.67| 32.55| 24.49|= | 28.99| 29.93| 58.98| 45.89| 45.66}} The largest reported ancestries in the 2000 Census were German (11.8%), Irish (10.3%), English (9.2%), American (8%), Italian (6.3%), French (2.8%), Polish (2.7%) and Scottish (1.8%).[24]

Florida Population Density Map

Before the American Civil War, when slavery was legal, and during the Reconstruction era that followed, African Americans made up nearly half of the state's population.[25] Their proportion declined over the next century, as many moved north in the Great Migration while large numbers of northern whites moved to the state. Recently, the state's proportion of black residents has begun to grow again. Today, large concentrations of black residents can be found in northern Florida (notably in Jacksonville, Gainesville and Pensacola), the Tampa Bay area, the Orlando area (especially in the city of Orlando and Sanford), and South Florida (where their numbers have been bolstered by significant immigration from Haiti and Jamaica).

Florida's Hispanic population includes large communities of Cuban Americans in Miami and Tampa, Puerto Ricans in Tampa and Orlando, and Central American migrant workers in inland West-Central and South Florida. The Hispanic community continues to grow more affluent and mobile: between the years of 2000 and 2004, Lee County in Southwest Florida, which is largely suburban in character, had the fastest Hispanic population growth rate of any county in the United States.[26]

Whites of all ethnicities are present in all areas of the state. Those of British and Irish ancestry are present in large numbers in all the urban/suburban areas across the state. There is a large German population in Southwest Florida, a large Greek population in the Tarpon Springs area, a sizable and historic Italian community in the Miami area, and white Floridians of longer-present generations in the culturally southern areas of inland and northern Florida. Native white Floridians, especially those who have descended from long-time Florida families, affectionately refer to themselves as "Florida crackers." Like all the other southern states, they descend mainly from Scots-Irish as well as some British settlers.

Metropolitan areas

See also: List of urbanized areas in Florida (by population) and Florida census statistical areas
Distribution of Metropolitan Statistical Areas in Florida

Florida has nineteen Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) defined by the United States Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Thirty-eight of Florida's sixty-seven counties are in an MSA. Reflecting the distribution of population in Florida, Metropolitan areas in the state are concentrated around the coast of the peninsula. They form a continuous band on the east coast of Florida, stretching from the Jacksonville MSA to the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach MSA, including every county on the east coast, with the exceptions of Monroe County. There is also a continuous band of MSAs on the west coast of the peninsula from the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater MSA to the Naples-Marco Island MSA, including all of the coastal counties from Hernando County to Collier County. The interior of the northern half of the peninsula also has several MSAs, connecting the east and west coast MSAs. A few MSAs are scattered across the Florida panhandle. The largest metropolitan area in the state as well as the entire southeastern United States is the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach Metropolitan Statistical Area, with over five million people.

Largest cities and towns

Orlando
File:Fort Lauderdale Skyline.jpeg
Tampa
St. Petersburg
Jacksonville
Main articles: List of cities in Florida and Florida locations by per capita income

City Population > 700,000

City Population > 300,000

City Population > 200,000

City Population > 150,000

City Population > 100,000


Languages

As of 2000, 76.91 percent of Florida residents age 5 and older spoke only English at home as a first language, while 16.46 percent spoke Spanish, and French-based creole languages (predominantly Haitian Creole) was spoken by 1.38 percent of the population. French was spoken by 0.83 percent, followed by German at 0.59 percent, and Italian at 0.44 percent of all residents.[27]. Florida's climate makes it a popular state for immigrants. Florida's public education system identifies over 200 first languages other than English spoken in the homes of students. In 1990, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) won a class action lawsuit against the state Department of Education that required educators to be trained in teaching English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).[28]

Article II, Section 9, of the Florida Constitution provides that "English is the official language of the State of Florida." This provision was adopted in 1988 by a vote following an Initiative Petition.

Religion

Florida is mostly Protestant, with a Roman Catholic community that is growing because of immigration; it is now the single largest denomination in the state. There is also a sizable Jewish community, located mainly in South Florida; no other Southern state has such a large Jewish population. Florida's current religious affiliations are shown in the table below:

Government

Main article: Government of Florida
See also: List of Florida Governors and United States Congressional Delegations from Florida
Florida Capitol buildings (Old Capitol in foreground)
Presidential elections results
Year Republican Democratic
2004 52.10% 3,964,522 47.09% 3,583,544
2000 48.85% 2,912,790 48.84% 2,912,253
1996 42.32% 2,244,536 48.02% 2,546,870
1992 40.89% 2,173,310 39.00% 2,072,698
1988 60.87% 2,618,885 38.51% 1,656,701
1984 65.32% 2,730,350 34.66% 1,448,816
1980 55.52% 2,046,951 38.50% 1,419,475
1976 46.64% 1,469,531 51.93% 1,636,000
1972 71.91% 1,857,759 27.80% 718,117
1968 40.53% 886,804 30.93% 676,794
1964 48.85% 905,941 51.15% 948,540
1960 51.51% 795,476 48.49% 748,700

The basic structure, duties, function, and operations of the government of the State of Florida are defined and established by the Florida Constitution, which establishes the basic law of the state and guarantees various rights and freedoms of the people. The state government consists of three separate branches: judicial, executive, and legislative. The legislature enacts bills, which, if signed by the governor, become Florida Statutes.

The Florida Legislature comprises the Florida Senate, which has 40 members, and the Florida House of Representatives, which has 120 members. The current Governor of Florida is Republican Charlie Crist. The Florida Supreme Court consists of a Chief Justice and six Justices.

There are 67 Counties in Florida, but some reports show only 66 because of Duval County, which is consolidated with the City of Jacksonville. There are 379 cities in Florida that report regularly to the Florida Department of Revenue, but there are other incorporated municipalities that do not. The primary source of revenue for the State government is sales tax, but the primary revenue source for cities and counties is property tax.

Florida was traditionally a Democratic state; at one time, 68.5 percent of all Floridians were registered Democrats. In the last decades of the twentieth century, the realignment of the "Solid South" has led many conservative Democrats of Florida to vote with the Republican Party. This tendency, combined with explosive population growth, which has brought many Republicans into the state as well as Cuban immigration has given Florida a Republican edge in practice. For instance, the Tampa area, once a major center of Democratic union support, is now almost evenly split between registered Republicans and Democrats, making it part of the important I-4 Corridor swing region. As a result, Republicans control the governorship and most other statewide elective offices: both houses of the state legislature, 16 of the state's 25 seats in the House of Representatives, and one of the state's two Senate seats. Because of the state's population and number of electoral votes, political analysts consider it to be a key swing state in presidential elections, which became obvious during the 2000 election where Florida played a key role in the election.

Economy

Florida's state quarter.
Walt Disney World, a major tourist attraction in Central Florida.
Florida's climate is ideal for growing sugarcane.

The gross state product of Florida in 2005 was $596 billion. Its GDP is one of the fastest-growing in the nation, with a 7.7% increase from 2004 to 2005.[29] Personal income was $30,098 per capita, ranking 26th in the nation.

Tourism makes up the largest sector of the state economy. Warm weather and hundreds of miles of beaches attract about 60 million visitors to the state every year. Amusement parks, especially in the Orlando area, make up a significant portion of tourism. The Walt Disney World Resort is the largest vacation resort in the world, consisting of four theme parks and more than 20 hotels in Lake Buena Vista; it, and Universal Orlando Resort, Busch Gardens, SeaWorld, and other major parks drive state tourism. Many beach towns are also popular tourist destinations, particularly in the winter months.

The second largest industry is agriculture. Citrus fruit, especially oranges, are a major part of the economy, and Florida produces the majority of citrus fruit grown in the U.S. – in 2006 67 percent of all citrus, 74 percent of oranges, 58 percent of tangerines, and 54 percent of grapefruit. About 95 percent of commercial orange production in the state is destined for processing (mostly as orange juice, the official state beverage).[30] Citrus canker continues to be an issue of concern. Sugarcane also continues to be a major agricultural crop. Other products include celery.[31] The Everglades Agricultural Area is a major center for agriculture. The environmental impact of agriculture — especially water pollution is a major issue in Florida today.

The Port of Miami, the largest container port in Florida, as well as the "Cruise Capital of the World" and "Cargo Gateway of the Americas".

Phosphate mining, concentrated in the Bone Valley, is the state's third-largest industry. The state produces about 75 percent of the phosphate required by farmers in the United States and 25 percent of the world supply, with about 95 percent used for agriculture (90 percent for fertilizer and 5 percent for livestock feed supplements) and 5 percent used for other products.[32]

Since the arrival of the NASA Merritt Island launch sites on Cape Canaveral (most notably Kennedy Space Center) in 1962, Florida has developed a sizable aerospace industry.

In addition, the state has seen a recent boom in medical and bio-tech industries throughout its major metropolitan areas. Orlando was recently chosen as the official site for the new headquarters of the Burnham Institute, a major bio-tech and medical research company.

The state was one of the few states to not have a state minimum wage law until 2004, when voters passed a constitutional amendment establishing a state minimum wage and (unique among minimum wage laws) mandating that it be adjusted for inflation every six months. Currently, the minimum wage in the state of Florida is $6.67.

Historically, Florida's economy was based upon cattle farming and agriculture (especially sugarcane, citrus, tomatoes, and strawberries). In the early 1900, land speculators discovered Florida, and businessmen such as Henry Plant and Henry Flagler developed railroad systems, which led people to move in, drawn by the weather and local economies. From then on, tourism boomed, fueling a cycle of development that overwhelmed a great deal of farmland.

In 2004 and 2005, key industries along the west coast — commercial fishing and water-based tourist activities (sports fishing and diving) — were threatened by outbreaks of red tide, a discoloration of seawater caused by an efflorescence of toxin-producing dinoflagellates.

Florida is one of the nine states that do not impose a personal income tax (list of others). The state had imposed a tax on "intangible personal property" (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, money market funds, etc.), but this tax was abolished after 2006. The state sales tax rate is 6%[33]. Local governments may levy an additional local option sales tax of up to 1.5%. A locale's use-tax rate is the same as its sales-tax rate, including local options, if any. Use taxes are payable for purchases made out of state and brought into Florida within six months of the purchase date. Documentary stamps are required on deed transfers and mortgages. Other taxes include corporate income, communication services, unemployment, solid waste, insurance premium, pollutants, and various fuel taxes.

Education

Century Tower, University of Florida.
Westcott Building at Florida State University
See also: Education in Florida

Florida's public primary and secondary schools are administered by the Florida Department of Education.

The State University System of Florida manages and funds Florida's eleven public universities:

Supplementing the state's public university system is a network of 28 community colleges,with over 100 locations throughout the state.[34] One community college, Miami-Dade College, is the second-largest degree-granting institution in the United States, with over 54,000 students enrolled, and Broward Community College is among the 50 largest colleges and universities.[35]

Florida has many private universities as well, the largest of which are Nova Southeastern University, University of Miami, Saint Leo University, and Barry University. The "Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida", a group representing 28 private colleges and universities, reported that their member institutions served over 121,000 students in the fall of 2005.[36]

Transportation

See also: Transportation in Florida

Highways

Florida's interstates, state highways and U.S. Highways are maintained by the Florida Department of Transportation.

Florida's interstate highway system contains 1,473 miles (2,371 km) of highway, and there are 9,934 miles (15,987 km) of non-interstate highway in the state, such as Florida state highways and U.S. Highways.

Florida's primary interstate routes include:

Intercity rail

Florida is served by Amtrak: Sanford, in Greater Orlando, is the southern terminus of the Amtrak Auto Train, which originates at Lorton, south of Washington. Orlando is also the eastern terminus of the Sunset Limited, which travels across the southern United States via New Orleans, Houston, and San Antonio to its western terminus of Los Angeles. Florida is served by two additional Amtrak trains (the Silver Star and the Silver Meteor), which operate between New York City and Miami.

Airports

See also: List of airports in Florida

Major international airports in Florida which processed more than 15 million passengers each in 2005 are Orlando International Airport (34,128,048 est. 2006), Miami International Airport (32,533,974 est. 2006), Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport(22,390,285 est. 2006) and Tampa International Airport (19,045,390 est. 2006).

Secondary airports, with annual passenger traffic exceeding 5 million each in 2005, include Southwest Florida International Airport (Fort Myers) (7,518,169 est. 2006), Palm Beach International Airport (West Palm Beach) (7,014,237 est. 2006), Jacksonville International Airport (5,741,652).

Regional Airports which processed over one million passengers each in 2005 are Pensacola (1,638,605), Sarasota-Bradenton (1,337,571), and Tallahassee (1,129,947) and Sanford (1,649,237) which is primarily served by international charter airlines.[37]

Sports

See also: List of sports teams in Florida
The American Airlines Arena in Miami, home of the Miami Heat.
Dolphin Stadium in Miami Gardens, home of the Florida Marlins and the Miami Dolphins.

Although Florida is the traditional home to Major League Baseball's spring training, and nearly 2/3 of all MLB teams still have a spring training presence in the state, Florida did not have a permanent major-league-level professional sports team until the American Football League added the Miami Dolphins in 1966. The state now has three NFL teams, two MLB teams, two NBA teams, and two NHL teams. With two of its most historically-important teams, Florida is one of the most important markets for the Arena Football League. Golf, tennis and auto racing are also popular. Florida also hosts a variety of minor league baseball, football, basketball, ice hockey, soccer and indoor football teams.

Club Sport League Venue
Jacksonville Jaguars Football National Football League Jacksonville Municipal Stadium
Miami Dolphins Football National Football League Dolphin Stadium
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Football National Football League Raymond James Stadium
Miami Heat Basketball National Basketball Association American Airlines Arena
Orlando Magic Basketball National Basketball Association Amway Arena
Florida Panthers Ice hockey National Hockey League BankAtlantic Center
Tampa Bay Lightning Ice hockey National Hockey League St. Pete Times Forum
Florida Marlins Baseball Major League Baseball Dolphin Stadium
Tampa Bay Rays Baseball Major League Baseball Tropicana Field
Orlando Predators Arena football Arena Football League Amway Arena
Tampa Bay Storm Arena football Arena Football League St. Pete Times Forum

Spring training

Florida is the traditional home for Major League Baseball spring training, with teams informally organized into the "Grapefruit League." As of 2004, Florida hosts the following major league teams for spring training:

Club Location
Atlanta Braves Walt Disney World
Baltimore Orioles Fort Lauderdale
Boston Red Sox Fort Myers
Cincinnati Reds Sarasota
Cleveland Indians Winter Haven
Detroit Tigers Lakeland
Florida Marlins Jupiter
Houston Astros Kissimmee
Los Angeles Dodgers Vero Beach
Minnesota Twins Fort Myers
New York Mets Port St. Lucie
New York Yankees Tampa
Philadelphia Phillies Clearwater
Pittsburgh Pirates Bradenton
Saint Louis Cardinals Jupiter
Tampa Bay Rays St. Petersburg
Toronto Blue Jays Dunedin
Washington Nationals Viera
Daytona International Speedway

Auto-racing tracks

State symbols

Orange blossoms.

Sister states

See also

State Agencies

References

  1. ^ a b 2000 Census (ZIP). US Census Bureau. Retrieved on 2007-07-18.
  2. ^ a b Elevations and Distances in the United States. U.S Geological Survey (29 April 2005). Retrieved on November 3, 2006.
  3. ^ Köppen Climate Classification Map. John Abbott College, Geosciences Department. Retrieved on 2007-07-18.
  4. ^ United States population by states, United States Census Bureau.
  5. ^ Smith, Hale G., and Marc Gottlob. 1978. "Spanish-Indian Relationships: Synoptic History and Archaeological Evidence, 1500-1763." In Tacachale: Essays on the Indians of Florida and Southeastern Georgia during the Historic Period. Edited by Jerald Milanich and Samuel Proctor. Gainesville, Florida: University Presses of Florida. ISBN 0-8130-0535-3
  6. ^ U.S. Census Bureau News; “Florida, California and Texas to Dominate Future Population Growth, Census Bureau Reports”; April 21, 2005
  7. ^ http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/population/004704.html
  8. ^ Florida Drug Threat Assessment-Overview. National Drug Intelligence Center. Retrieved on 2007-07-18.
  9. ^ Florida, the Sunshine State. Welcome to America. Retrieved on 2007-07-18.
  10. ^ Sugarloaf Mountain. ColfCourseHome. Retrieved on 2007-07-18.
  11. ^ Ritter, Michael. Wet/Dry Tropical Climate. University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point. Retrieved on 2007-07-18.
  12. ^ James A. Henry, Kenneth Michael Portier, Jan Coyne, The Climate and Weather of Florida, Pineapple Press, 1994, p. 60. ISBN 1561640360.
  13. ^ {{cite web |url=http://www.srh.noaa.gov/mlb/surveys/012403/flurries.html |title=Cold Temperatures and Snow Flurries in East-Central Florida |publisher=[[National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration|]]
  14. ^ Florida Weather. US Travel Weather.com. Retrieved on 2007-07-18.
  15. ^ Swartz, Kristi E (2007). Emission Concern Unites Industry, Advocates. Harvard University: John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  16. ^ [1]
  17. ^ Many More Hurricanes To Come
  18. ^ A globally consistent reanalysis of hurricane variability and trends
  19. ^ NOAA Attributes Recent Increase In Hurricane Activity To Naturally Occurring Multi-Decadal Climate Variability
  20. ^ Florida To Introduce Tough Greenhouse Gas Targets
  21. ^ Tide's toxins trouble lungs ashore
  22. ^ Spread and Control of Imported Fire Ants: Florida Environment radio
  23. ^ See: [2]
  24. ^ Florida Factstreet
  25. ^ [3]Historical Census Browser at the University of Virginia (URL accessed 26 August 2006).
  26. ^ News-Press
  27. ^ Most spoken languages in Florida
  28. ^ Florida Information Resource Network (FIRN)
  29. ^ News Release: Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by State, 2005
  30. ^ Commodity Profile: Citrus
  31. ^ Florida Celery
  32. ^ About Phosphate
  33. ^ Florida Sales and Use Tax
  34. ^ Florida Community Colleges. Florida Department of Education. Retrieved on 2007-09-14.
  35. ^ Enrollment of the 120 largest degree-granting college and university campuses, by selected characteristics and institution: Fall 2005. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved on 2007-09-14.
  36. ^ Atherton, Blair (August 2006) (PDF), 2005-2006 Accountability Report: Quality, Productivity, Diversity, and Access, http://www.icuf.org/_docs/2005-2006_Acct_Report.pdf, retrieved 2007-09-14 
  37. ^ {{cite web |url=http://www.aci-na.org/asp/traffic.asp?art=215 |title=2005 North America Airports Traffic Statistics |publisher=[[Airports Council International|]]
  38. ^ § 15.0301, Fla. Stat. [4]
  39. ^ § 15.0345, Fla. Stat. [5]
  40. ^ § 15.0382, Fla. Stat. [6]
  41. ^ § 15.031, Fla. Stat. [7]
  42. ^ § 15.0385, Fla. Stat. [8]
  43. ^ § 15.0353, Fla. Stat. [9]
  44. ^ § 15.038, Fla. Stat. [10]
  45. ^ § 15.038, Fla. Stat. [11]
  46. ^ § 15.032, Fla. Stat. [12]
  47. ^ § 15.0315, Fla. Stat. [13]
  48. ^ § 15.033, Fla. Stat. [14]
  49. ^ § 15.037, Fla. Stat. [15]
  50. ^ § 15.036, Fla. Stat. [16]
  51. ^ § 15.052, Fla. Stat. [17]
  52. ^ § 15.034, Fla. Stat. [18]

External links

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Articles on this topic in other Wikimedia projects can be found at: Florida



CoordinatesImage:Wp_globe_tiny.gif: 28° N 81.5° W

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Florida. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.
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Simple English

State of Florida
File:Flag of [[File:|100px|State seal of Florida]]
Flag of Florida Seal of Florida
Also called: Sunshine State
Saying(s): In God We Trust
[[File:|center|Map of the United States with Florida highlighted]]
Official language(s) English
Capital Tallahassee
Largest city Jacksonville
Largest metro area Miami
Area  Ranked 22nd
 - Total 65,795[1] sq mi
(170,304[1] km²)
 - Width 162 miles (260 km)
 - Length 497 miles (800 km)
 - % water 17.9
 - Latitude 24°30'N to 31°N
 - Longitude 79°48'W to 87°38'W
Number of people  Ranked 4th
 - Total (2010) 18,801,310[2]
 - Density 350.6/sq mi 
134.6/km² (10th)
 - Average income  $41,171 (36th)
Height above sea level  
 - Highest point Britton Hill[3]
345 ft  (105 m)
 - Average 98 ft  (30 m)
 - Lowest point Atlantic Ocean[3]
0 ft  (0 m)
Became part of the U.S.  March 3, 1845 (27th)
Governor Charlie Crist (R)
U.S. Senators Bill Nelson (D)
Mel Martinez (R)
Time zones  
 - peninsula Eastern: UTC-5/DST-4
 - panhandle Central: UTC-6/DST-5
Abbreviations Fla., FL, US-FL
Web site www.myflorida.com

Florida is a state in the southeast United States. It is a peninsula, which means that water surrounds the state on three of four possible sides. To the west is the Gulf of Mexico, to the south is the Florida Straits, and to the east is the Atlantic Ocean. As of 2010, the population of Florida is 18,801,310. [[File:|thumb|left|175px|Bahia Honda beach in south Florida.]]

Cities in Florida

The capital of Florida is Tallahassee, and Jacksonville is the state's largest city. Tallahassee is in the part of Florida called the panhandle, or the narrow part. There are other big cities in Florida, like Tampa, Orlando and Miami. Orlando is home to many amusement and theme parks, like Walt Disney World Resort, Sea World, Epcot Center and Universal Studios. Millions of tourists visit Orlando each year. There is also Busch Gardens in Tampa. The University of Central Florida is the state's biggest university, although there are many other big universities, too.

File:Space Shuttle Columbia
Launch of the U.S. Space Shuttle Columbia, from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Sunshine State

Florida is the Sunshine State. The reason for this nickname is its warm temperature. During the summer, temperatures may rise up to as high as 109 degrees Fahrenheit (or 40.5 degrees Celsius). Its average temperature is much warmer than many of the other states, but during winter, temperatures occasionally fall below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. In Florida there are many palm trees. Palm trees grow in places that have a warm climate and a lot of sunshine. Florida has both a rainy season and a dry season. Southern Florida does not have four separate seasons.[4]

Florida's sunny climate is very popular with visitors. The summer is great for surfing the waves and enjoying the beaches. The most popular sport in Florida is fishing. A lot of people also like to visit the beaches on the west side of Florida, near Tampa.

References

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