Florida, abbreviated FL and Fla., Is a state south of the United States between the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. Florida borders the north to Alabama and Georgia, otherwise to the ocean with a total coastline of approximately 2170 km. Of the US states, only Alaska has a longer coastline. The area was named in 1513 by the Spanish Juan Ponce de León after Spanish Pascua Florida, ‘Palm Sunday’, because it was the day he landed.
Florida has a total area of approximately 170 300 km2, and with 20 984 400 residents (US Census, 2017) is the third most populous state in the United States after California and Texas. Florida was listed as state number 27 in the United States on March 3, 1845. The capital is Tallahassee, and the largest city is Jacksonville. Florida elects two senators and 27 representatives to Congress.
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Florida includes the peninsula of the same name as well as a low coastline along the Gulf of Mexico. The Atlantic coast is shallow, has a belt of sand dunes and no incisions. Within elongated coastal reefs are a number of lagoons. The coast along the Gulf of Mexico is more cut, shallow and swampy. To the south toward the Florida Strait is a hundreds of miles of coral reefs, the Florida Keys. The state is the flattest and lowest part of the United States. The average height of the sea is 30 meters, and the highest point of the state is Britton Hill in the north-west. (105 masl). The subsurface consists mostly of limestone, and has many caves.
In the inner parts of the state there are many marshes and large lakes; the largest is Okeechobee, which in the south goes into the large swamp areas of Big Cypress and The Everglades. About 20 percent of the Everglades are protected as a national park. It was adopted in 1934, opened in 1947 and covers 5667 km2. The park is the first in the United States to maintain an entire ecosystem. A federal protection plan (1996) for the Everglades swamp area was long sought to be undermined by business interests, especially the sugar industry, and was also threatened by state road projects. The long-term plan was adopted in a modified form by Congress in 2000, but implementation is slow due to disagreement between local development interests and federal protection interests.
Florida is exposed to tropical hurricanes, with September being the most vulnerable month. Plant and animal life is subtropical, in the rivers there are alligators and American manatees (sea cows). It is a rich bird life with pelicans, herons, white-tailed eagles and many wintering duck and waders.
The population has almost always increased very rapidly. In 1830 there were around 35,000 Florida residents, in 1870 about 188,000, in 1910 753,000, in 1930 1.5 million, in 1950 2.8 million, in 1970 6.8 million, in 1990 13 million, in 2000 16 million and in 2010 approximately 18.8 million. The population increased by 43 per cent in the period 1970-1980, which was almost four times more than the national average. Between 1980 and 1990, the state had a net occupancy of 32 percent, 1990-2000 23.5 percent and 2000-2010 17.5 percent. A lot of retirees have settled in Florida, mainly because of the climate (“Snowbirds”).
Whites make up 77.4 percent of the population, of which 25.6 percent are Hispanic / Latino (US Census, 2017). African Americans, who numbered about 40 percent in 1910, have grown weaker in numbers, and in 2017 made up 16.9 percent of the population. Immigration from Cuba was considerable throughout the 20th century, and 25.6 percent of the population is considered Spanish-speaking. More recently, the state has received a large group of immigrants from Haiti.
Florida is one of the most urbanized states in the United States, with over 91 percent of the population living in cities (2010). The largest city is Jacksonville, with 892,062 residents (US Census, 2017). Miami has 463,347 residents, and together with neighboring cities Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Port St. Lucie and others. a continuous metropolitan region along the southeast coast, Miami – Fort Lauderdale with 6,158,824 residents (US Census, 2017). Tampa has 385,430 residents, Orlando 280,257.
Florida’s main source of revenue is tourist traffic. In 2011, over 61 million tourists visited the state. Especially the beaches on the Atlantic coast are popular (Miami Beach, Palm Beach, Daytona Beach). Two of the other major tourist attractions are Walt Disney World with its associated Epcot Center (opened in 1982) near Orlando, and the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral. Although only a small part of the acreage is cultivated, Florida produces most of the country’s citrus fruit and is the most important state after Californiawhen it comes to vegetables. By the way, tobacco, sugar, cotton and maize are grown. The animal husbandry is considerable. Along the coast, many shrimp are caught, as well as mushrooms, oysters and turtles. Some phosphate is extracted, the mineral resources are otherwise modest. The most important industrial sectors are electronic and electrotechnical, food and aeronautical. Miami, Tampa and Jacksonville are important centers for shipping and air traffic.
In pre-colonial times, Florida was inhabited by indigenous peoples, essentially the Muskogi tribe, who mostly ran a single farm. The Spaniards founded in 1565 St. Augustine, the oldest city in the United States, but the colonization attempts proved otherwise poor. From 1763 to 1783, Florida was under England and received many immigrants.
In 1821, Spain sold Florida to the United States. The Seminoles, a muskogist tribe, had been allowed to live in peace for the Spaniards, but the demand for space for immigrants from the north led them to agree to live in the reserves. After the Seminole War from 1836 to 1842, the indigenous people were deported to Oklahoma, except for a few hundred who managed to hide in the Everglades.
Immigrants brought with them the same business (cotton, corn and tobacco) as elsewhere in the southern states. Florida was organized as territory in 1822 and joined the Union in 1845, as the 27th state of the United States. It resigned and joined the Confederate States in 1861, but reopened in the Union in 1868.
Economic development began only at the turn of the century and seriously accelerated after the First World War. Rapid industrialization and post- WWII urbanization have, in many respects, transformed Florida into more of a northern state than part of the southern states. From the late 1970s, the population has increased explosively, and Florida has become the center for vacation and recreation.