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Geography of Florida

Learn Ten Geographic Facts about the U.S. State of Florida

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Aerial view of residential coastline
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Updated May 27, 2014

Capital: Tallahassee
Population: 18,537,969 (July 2009 estimate)
Largest Cities: Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Hialeah and Orlando
Area: 53,927 square miles (139,671 sq km)
Highest Point: Britton Hill at 345 feet (105 m)

Florida (map of Florida) is a state located in the southeastern United States. It is bordered by Alabama and Georgia to the north, while the rest of the state is a peninsula that is bordered by the Gulf of Mexico to the west, the Strait of Florida to the south and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Because of its warm subtropical climate, Florida is known as the "sunshine state" and is a popular tourist destination for its many beaches, wildlife in areas like the Everglades, large cities such as Miami and theme parks like Walt Disney World.

The following is a list of ten more important things to know about Florida, provided in an effort to educate readers about this famous U.S. state.

1) Florida was first inhabited by a number of different Native American tribes thousands of years prior to any European exploration of the region. The largest known tribes in Florida were the Seminole, Apalachee, Ais, Calusa, Timucua and Tocabago.

2) On April 2, 1513, Juan Ponce de León was one of the first Europeans to discover Florida. He named it as the Spanish term for "flowered land." Following Ponce de León's discovery of Florida, both the Spanish and the French began to build settlements in the region. In 1559, Spanish Pensacola was established as the first permanent European settlement in what would become the United States.

3) Florida officially entered the U.S. on March 3, 1845 as the 27th state. As the state grew, settlers began to force out the Seminole tribe. This resulted in the Third Seminole War which lasted from 1855 to 1858 and resulted in most of the tribe being moved to other states such as Oklahoma and Mississippi.

4) Today Florida is popular and growing state. Its economy is based mainly on services related to tourism, financial services, trade, transportation, public utilities, manufacturing and construction. Tourism is the largest sector of Florida's economy.

5) Fishing is also a large industry in Florida and in 2009, it made $6 billion and employed 60,000 Floridians. A large oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010 threatened both the fishing and tourism industries in the state.

6) Most of Florida's land area is built on a large peninsula between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Because Florida is surrounded by water, much of it is low lying and flat. Its highest point, Britton Hill, is only 345 feet (105 m) above sea level. This makes it the lowest high point of any U.S. state. Northern Florida has a more varied topography with gently rolling hills but it too has relatively low elevations.

7) Florida's climate is highly affected by its maritime location as well as its southern U.S. latitude. The northern parts of the state have a climate considered humid subtropical, while the southern portions (including the Florida Keys) are tropical. Jacksonville, in northern Florida, has an average January low temperature of 45.6°F (7.5°C) and a July high of 89.3°F (32°C). Miami on the other hand has a January low of 59°F (15°C) and a July high of 76°F (24°C). Rain is common year-round in Florida and the state is also prone to hurricanes.

8) Wetlands like the Everglades are common throughout Florida and as a result the state is rich in biodiversity. It is home to many endangered species and marine mammals like the bottlenose dolphin and the manatee, reptiles like the alligator and sea turtles, large land mammals like the Florida panther, as well as plethora of birds, plants and insects. Many species, for example the Northern Right Whale, also breed in Florida due to its mild climate and warm waters.

9) Florida has the fourth highest population of any state in the U.S. and it is one of the country's fastest growing. A large portion of Florida's population is considered Hispanic but the majority of the state is Caucasian. South Florida also has significant populations of people from Cuba, Haiti and Jamaica. Additionally, Florida is known for its large retirement communities.

10) In addition to its biodiversity, large cities and famous theme parks, Florida is also known for its well-developed university system. There are a number of large public universities in the state such as Florida State University and the University of Florida as well as many large private universities and community colleges.

To learn more about Florida, visit the state's official website and Florida Travel at About.com.

References

Infoplease.com. (n.d.). Florida: History, Geography, Population, and State Facts - Infoplease.com. Retrieved from: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0108198.html

Wikipedia. (14 June 2010). Florida - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida

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