Florida (abbr.: FL or Fla.), is located in the extreme southeast of the United States of America, 151,939 km2, of which approximately 11,000 km2 is water, with 13 million inhabitants; capital city: Tallahassee.
The state consists mainly of a peninsula between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Thick limestone formations, covered by heavily leached sands, form the subsoil of the peninsula. Karst phenomena cause the presence of many lakes, while drainage is relatively poor, partly due to the low relief (15–30 m high; highest point 100 m). The largest lake is Lake Okeechobee, 1900 km2, 3.5 m deep. The largest river is the 460 km long St. Johns. Especially the south has peat and swamp areas, especially the Everglades (partly national park). The coasts are flat. In the Florida Strait, which connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Gulf of Mexico, are the so-called Florida Keys, a chain of approximately 50 coral islands, off Florida’s coast. for the most part connected to each other and to the mainland by a more than 200 km long road. The climate has an almost semi-tropical monsoon character, with humid, warm summers and dry, very mild winters. In terms of vegetation and fauna, East and South Florida form a bridge to the Caribbean. In and around the rivers, the plant and animal world is more or less tropical, including the Mississippi alligator, manatee, black bear or baribal, puma, white-tailed deer and turkey (all protected), the red lynx (‘bobcat’), raccoon, Virginian possum, pelicans, herons, venomous snakes and turtles.
The average population density is 76 inhabitants. per km2. About 85% of the population lives in urban areas. The largest population centers are: Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa and St. Petersburg. See top cities in Florida.
Economic development began in the late 1800s, when Flagler and other financiers from the north built railroads and hotels for tourism. When rich phosphate fields were discovered in 1888, it was possible to exploit the poor sandy soils, partly due to imported potash. The development of the great cities in the north and east of the United States gave warm Florida a market for its early fresh fruit and vegetables; this development was stimulated by faster transport and better preservation options. The most important agricultural product is the citrus fruit. Furthermore, considerable (dairy) cattle and poultry farming. Tourism is the main source of livelihood (more than 20 million tourists a year), especially on the east coast (Palm Beach, Miami Beach, Fort Lauerdale, Dayton Beach). Tourist attractions are to the Walt Disney World Park at Orlando, the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, the Cypress Gardens at Winter Haven and the Everglades and Biscayne National Parks in the south. Many rentiers settled in Florida, especially on the quieter west coast.
Industry is the second most important livelihood after tourism. Air-polluting industries are kept out as much as possible in connection with tourism. The establishment in 1949 of the astronautics center at Cape Canaveral reinforced industrialization on the Atlantic coast, including factories for electronics and aircraft equipment (West Palm Beach). On the Gulf Coast, Tampa is not only a center of the cigar industry (North Florida produces tobacco), but Tampa is one of the world’s largest producers of canned dried fruits. Pensacola has important synthetic fiber industry; nearby is Eglin Air Force Base, a huge air force base. Fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico and forestry (paper industry) are also important.
Florida originally comprised the entire area from Florida Strait to Chesapeake Bay. It was discovered in 1513 by Juan Ponce de León and then traveled by Narváez (1528), De Soto (1539–1542) and many others after that. The first definitive settlement followed in 1565 in St. Augustine by Pedro Menendez de Avilés. He completely massacred a French colony led by Ribault and Laudonnière; the escaped Laudonnière wrote his famous Histoire notable de la Floride (1586) about this. In 1586 Francis Drake landed in Florida and destroyed St. Augustine. In 1607 the English settled in Virginia, limiting Florida to only the southern part of the east coast. The English moved further and further south (1670, Charleston; 1733, Savannah) and the Spanish position became untenable. In 1763 the area was ceded to England. This divided it into East and West Florida. In 1783 Florida was returned to Spain, because England at least wanted to keep Gibraltar. It remained Spanish until 1821.
In 1819, the Adams-Onis Treaty forced Spain to cede Florida to the United States after Andrew Jackson invaded it in 1818. In 1821 the Spaniards officially withdrew. The area now became a territory of the United States. The sudden intrusion of numerous whites caused conflict with the Indians, leading to the protracted Seminole War (1835–42). In 1845 Florida became a state (the 27th) of the Union. After the American Civil War, in which Florida sided with the Confederates, Florida quickly developed into a prosperous area that, like the other Southern states, was always politically democratic. After the Second World War, the Republicans gradually gained more and more ground. In 1966, the first Republican governor was appointed. In general, opposition to racial integration was quite strong, a fact that continues to manifest itself in periodic disturbances (Miami, 1988). In 1992, Hurricane Andrew caused massive damage in Florida. Dozens of people were killed and about 160,000 people were left homeless.
Florida National Parks
Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park was created in 1947 and consists of many mangrove forests, creeks, rivers, bays, and many swamp grasses. The park has an area of 5663 km².
When you first enter the park you will notice that it is a very flat landscape. If you really want to see everything in the Everglades National Park, it is strongly recommended to enter the park on foot or by boat. Calusa Indians and Seminole Indians used to live in this park. The last kind of Indians were driven here by the white settlers. More than 300 bird species have been observed in the park. There are also some bald eagles in this park which are extremely rare. In this park, the bald eagle has been nicknamed the Keeper of the Everglades.
Biscayne National Park
This is one of the largest coastal reserves managed by the National Park Service. The park is located south of Miami and consists mainly of water and coral reefs. Inside the park are also 32 small uninhabited islands and the park has an area of 711 km². Many fish live in the park that live on the nutrient-rich coral reef at a depth of about 12 meters. Some fish that occur here are the emperor fish, surgeon fish, snappers, stone fish, dwarf emperor fish and sea bass. Between the 32 small islands, also called atolls, are magrove forests with an ideal environment for some fish. If you want to go into the park you will have to rent a boat from Convoy Point.
Dry Tortugas National Park
This park is located in the Gulf of Mexico and, like the Biscayne National Park, consists largely of water and some coral islands. These small coral islands are called Keys and all together referred to as the Dry Tortugas. The park was created in 1992 and its former name was then Fort Jefferson National Monument. Fort Jefferson is located on the coral island of Garden Key and is open to tourists.