State of Florida
Flag of Florida State seal of Florida
Flag Seal
Nickname(s): The Sunshine State
Motto(s): In God We Trust (2006) [1] [2]
State song(s): " Old Folks at Home (State Song), Florida (Where the Sawgrass Meets the Sky) (State Anthem)"
Map of the United States with Florida highlighted
Official language English [3]
Spoken languages Predominantly English; Spanish is spoken by a sizable minority [4]
Demonym Floridian, Floridan
Capital Tallahassee
Largest city Jacksonville
Largest metro Miami metropolitan area
Area Ranked 22nd
 • Total 65,755 [5] sq mi
(170,304 [5] km2)
 • Width 361 miles (582 km)
 • Length 447 miles (721 km)
 • % water 17.9
 • Latitude 24° 27' N to 31° 00' N
 • Longitude 80° 02' W to 87° 38' W
Population Ranked 3rd
 • Total 20,984,400 (2017 est.) [6]
 •  Density 384.3/sq mi  (121.0/km2)
Ranked 8th
 •  Median household income $48,825 [7] (41st)
 • Highest point Britton Hill [8] [9]
345 ft (105 m)
 • Mean 100 ft  (30 m)
 • Lowest point Atlantic Ocean [8]
Sea level
Before statehood Florida Territory
Admission to Union March 3, 1845 (27th)
Governor Rick Scott ( R)
Lieutenant Governor Carlos López-Cantera (R)
Legislature Florida Legislature
 •  Upper house Senate
 •  Lower house House of Representatives
U.S. Senators Bill Nelson ( D)
Marco Rubio (R)
U.S. House delegation 16 Republicans, 11 Democrats ( list)
Time zones  
 • Peninsula and " Big Bend" region EST: UTC −5/ −4
 • Panhandle west of the Apalachicola River CST: UTC −6/ −5
ISO 3166 US-FL
Abbreviations FL, Fla.
Website myflorida.com
Florida state symbols
Flag of Florida.svg
Living insignia
Amphibian Barking tree frog
Bird Northern mockingbird
Butterfly Zebra longwing
Fish Florida largemouth bass, Atlantic sailfish
Flower Orange blossom
Mammal Florida panther, Manatee, Bottlenose dolphin, Florida Cracker Horse [10]
Reptile American alligator, Loggerhead turtle [10]
Tree Sabal palmetto
Inanimate insignia
Beverage Orange juice
Food Key lime pie, orange
Gemstone Moonstone
Rock Agatized coral
Shell Horse conch
Soil Myakka
Song " Old Folks at Home"
State route marker
Florida state route marker
State quarter
Florida quarter dollar coin
Released in 2004
Lists of United States state symbols

Florida ( ə/ ( About this sound  listen); Spanish for "land of flowers") is the southernmost contiguous state in the United States. The state is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the northwest by Alabama, to the north by Georgia, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the south by the Straits of Florida. Florida is the 22nd-most extensive (65,755 sq mi—170,304 km2), the 3rd-most populous (20,984,400 inhabitants), [11] and the 8th-most densely populated (384.3/sq mi—121.0/km2) of the U.S. states. Jacksonville is the most populous municipality in the state and the largest city by area in the contiguous United States (due to the consolidation of Jacksonville with Duval County). The Miami metropolitan area is Florida's most populous urban area. Tallahassee is the state's capital.

About two-thirds of Florida occupies a peninsula between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Florida has the longest coastline in the contiguous United States, approximately 1,350 miles (2,170 km), not including the contribution of the many barrier islands. It is the only state that borders both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Much of the state is at or near sea level and is characterized by sedimentary soil. Florida has the lowest high point of any U.S. state. The climate varies from subtropical in the north to tropical in the south. [12] The American alligator, American crocodile, Florida panther, and manatee can be found in Everglades National Park in the southern part of the state. Along with Hawaii, Florida is one of only two states that has a tropical climate, and is the only continental U.S. state with a tropical climate.

Since the first European contact was made in 1513 by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León – who named it La Florida ( [la floˈɾiða] "land of flowers") upon landing there in the Easter season, Pascua Florida [13] – Florida was a challenge for the European colonial powers before it gained statehood in the United States in 1845. It was a principal location of the Seminole Wars against the Native Americans, and racial segregation after the American Civil War.

Today, Florida is distinctive for its large Cuban expatriate community and high population growth, as well as for its increasing environmental issues. The state's economy relies mainly on tourism, agriculture, and transportation, which developed in the late 19th century. Florida is also world renowned for amusement parks, orange crops, winter vegetables, the Kennedy Space Center, and as a popular destination for retirees.

Florida's close proximity to the ocean influences many aspects of Florida culture and daily life. Florida is a reflection of influences and multiple inheritance; African, European, indigenous, and Latino heritages can be found in the architecture and cuisine. Florida has attracted many writers such as Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams, and continues to attract celebrities and athletes. It is internationally known for golf, tennis, auto racing and water sports.


By the 16th century (the earliest time for which there is a historical record), major Native American groups included the Apalachee (of the Florida Panhandle), the Timucua (of northern and central Florida), the Ais (of the central Atlantic coast), the Tocobaga (of the Tampa Bay area), the Calusa (of southwest Florida) and the Tequesta (of the southeastern coast).

European arrival

Map of Florida, likely based on the expeditions of Hernando de Soto (1539–1543).
St. Augustine is one of the oldest settlements in the Americas, established in 1565. The Spanish-Floridan color scheme of red and white is repeated throughout downtown.
The Castillo de San Marcos. Originally white with red corners, its design reflects the colors and shapes of the Cross of Burgundy and the subsequent Flag of Florida.

Florida was the first region of the continental United States to be visited and settled by Europeans. The earliest known European explorers came with the Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León. Ponce de León spotted and landed on the peninsula on April 2, 1513. He named the region La Florida ("land of flowers"). [14] The story that he was searching for the Fountain of Youth is mythical and only appeared long after his death. [15]

In May 1539, Conquistador Hernando de Soto skirted the coast of Florida, searching for a deep harbor to land. He described seeing a thick wall of red mangroves spread mile after mile, some reaching as high as 70 feet (21 m), with intertwined and elevated roots making landing difficult. [16] The Spanish introduced Christianity, cattle, horses, sheep, the Castilian language, and more to Florida. [17][ full citation needed] Spain established several settlements in Florida, with varying degrees of success. In 1559, Don Tristán de Luna y Arellano established a settlement at present-day Pensacola, making it the first attempted settlement in Florida, but it was mostly abandoned by 1561.

In 1565, the settlement of St. Augustine (San Agustín) was established under the leadership of admiral and governor Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, creating what would become one of the oldest, continuously-occupied European settlements in the continental U.S. and establishing the first generation of Floridanos and the Government of Florida. [18] Spain maintained tenuous control over the region by converting the local tribes to Christianity.

The geographical area of Florida diminished with the establishment of English settlements to the north and French claims to the west. The English attacked St. Augustine, burning the city and its cathedral to the ground several times. Spain built the Castillo de San Marcos in 1672 and Fort Matanzas in 1742 to defend Florida's capital city from attacks, and to maintain its strategic position in the defense of the Captaincy General of Cuba and the Spanish West Indies.

Grenadiers led by Bernardo de Gálvez at the Siege of Pensacola. Painting by Augusto Ferrer-Dalmau, 2015.

Florida attracted numerous Africans and African Americans from adjacent British colonies who sought freedom from slavery. In 1738, Governor Manuel de Montiano established Fort Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose near St. Augustine, a fortified town for escaped slaves to whom Montiano granted citizenship and freedom in return for their service in the Florida militia, and which became the first free black settlement legally sanctioned in North America. [19] [20]

In 1763, Spain traded Florida to the Kingdom of Great Britain for control of Havana, Cuba, which had been captured by the British during the Seven Years' War. It was part of a large expansion of British territory following their victory in the Seven Years' War. A large portion of the Floridano population left, taking along most of the remaining indigenous population to Cuba. [21] The British soon constructed the King's Road connecting St. Augustine to Georgia. The road crossed the St. Johns River at a narrow point, which the Seminole called Wacca Pilatka and the British named "Cow Ford", both names ostensibly reflecting the fact that cattle were brought across the river there. [22] [23] [24]

The British divided and consolidated the Florida provinces (Las Floridas) into East Florida and West Florida, a division the Spanish government kept after the brief British period. [25] The British government gave land grants to officers and soldiers who had fought in the French and Indian War in order to encourage settlement. In order to induce settlers to move to Florida, reports of its natural wealth were published in England. A large number of British settlers who were described as being "energetic and of good character" moved to Florida, mostly coming from South Carolina, Georgia and England. There was also a group of settlers who came from the colony of Bermuda. This would be the first permanent English-speaking population in what is now Duval County, Baker County, St. Johns County and Nassau County. The British built good public roads and introduced the cultivation of sugar cane, indigo and fruits as well the export of lumber. [26] [27]

As a result of these initiatives northeastern Florida prospered economically in a way it never did under Spanish administration. Furthermore, the British governors were directed to call general assemblies as soon as possible in order to make laws for the Floridas and in the meantime they were, with the advice of councils, to establish courts. This would be the first introduction of much of the English-derived legal system which Florida still has today including trial by jury, habeas corpus and county-based government. [26] [27] Neither East Florida nor West Florida would send any representatives to Philadelphia to draft the Declaration of Independence. Florida would remain a Loyalist stronghold for the duration of the American Revolution. [28]

Spain regained both East and West Florida after Britain's defeat in the American Revolution and the subsequent Treaty of Versailles in 1783, and continued the provincial divisions until 1821.

Joining the United States; Indian removal

Defense of Florida's northern border with the United States was minor during the second Spanish period. The region became a haven for escaped slaves and a base for Indian attacks against U.S. territories, and the U.S. pressed Spain for reform.

Americans of English descent and Americans of Scots-Irish descent began moving into northern Florida from the backwoods of Georgia and South Carolina. Though technically not allowed by the Spanish authorities and the Floridan government, they were never able to effectively police the border region and the backwoods settlers from the United States would continue to immigrate into Florida unchecked. These migrants, mixing with the already present British settlers who had remained in Florida since the British period, would be the progenitors of the population known as Florida Crackers. [29]

These American settlers established a permanent foothold in the area and ignored Spanish authorities. The British settlers who had remained also resented Spanish rule, leading to a rebellion in 1810 and the establishment for ninety days of the so-called Free and Independent Republic of West Florida on September 23. After meetings beginning in June, rebels overcame the garrison at Baton Rouge (now in Louisiana), and unfurled the flag of the new republic: a single white star on a blue field. This flag would later become known as the " Bonnie Blue Flag".

In 1810, parts of West Florida were annexed by proclamation of President James Madison, who claimed the region as part of the Louisiana Purchase. These parts were incorporated into the newly formed Territory of Orleans. The U.S. annexed the Mobile District of West Florida to the Mississippi Territory in 1812. Spain continued to dispute the area, though the United States gradually increased the area it occupied. In 1812, a group of settlers from Georgia, with de facto support from the U.S. federal government, attempted to overthrow the Floridan government in the province of East Florida. The settlers hoped to convince Floridans to join their cause and proclaim independence from Spain, but the settlers lost their tenuous support from the federal government and abandoned their cause by 1813. [30]

Seminoles based in East Florida began raiding Georgia settlements, and offering havens for runaway slaves. 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. The United States now effectively controlled East Florida. Control was necessary according to Secretary of State John Quincy Adams because Florida had become "a derelict open to the occupancy of every enemy, civilized or savage, of the United States, and serving no other earthly purpose than as a post of annoyance to them." [31]

Florida had become a burden to Spain, which could not afford to send settlers or garrisons. Madrid therefore decided to cede the territory to the United States through the Adams–Onís Treaty, which took effect in 1821. [32] President James Monroe was authorized on March 3, 1821 to take possession of East Florida and West Florida for the United States and provide for initial governance. [33] Andrew Jackson, on behalf of the U.S. federal government, served as a military commissioner with the powers of governor of the newly acquired territory for a brief period. [34] On March 30, 1822, the U.S. Congress merged East Florida and part of West Florida into the Florida Territory. [35]

A contemporaneous depiction of the New River Massacre in 1836

By the early 1800s, Indian removal was a significant issue throughout the southeastern U.S. and also in Florida. In 1830, the U.S. Congress passed the Indian Removal Act and as settlement increased, pressure grew on the U.S. government to remove the Indians from Florida. Seminoles harbored runaway blacks, known as the Black Seminoles, and clashes between whites and Indians grew with the influx of new settlers. In 1832, the Treaty of Payne's Landing promised to the Seminoles lands west of the Mississippi River if they agreed to leave Florida. Many Seminole left at this time.

Some Seminoles remained, and the U.S. Army arrived in Florida, leading to the Second Seminole War (1835–1842). Following the war, approximately 3,000 Seminole and 800 Black Seminole were removed to Indian Territory. A few hundred Seminole remained in Florida in the Everglades.

A Cracker cowboy, 19th century

On March 3, 1845, Florida became the 27th state to join the United States of America. [36] The state was admitted as a slave state and ceased to be a sanctuary for runaway slaves. Initially its population grew slowly.

As European settlers continued to encroach on Seminole lands, and the United States intervened to move the remaining Seminoles to the West. The Third Seminole War (1855–58) resulted in the forced removal of most of the remaining Seminoles, although hundreds of Seminole Indians remained in the Everglades. [37]

Slavery, war, and disenfranchisement

The Battle of Olustee during the American Civil War, 1864.

American settlers began to establish cotton plantations in north Florida, which required numerous laborers, which they supplied by buying slaves in the domestic market. By 1860, Florida had only 140,424 people, of whom 44% were enslaved. There were fewer than 1,000 free African Americans before the American Civil War. [38]

In January 10, 1861, nearly all delegates in the Florida Legislature approved an ordinance of secession, [39] declaring Florida to be "a sovereign and independent nation"—an apparent reassertion to the preamble in Florida's Constitution of 1838, in which Florida agreed with Congress to be a "Free and Independent State." Although not directly related to the issue of slavery, the ordinance declared Florida's secession from the Union, allowing it to become one of the founding members of the Confederate States, a looser union of states.

The confederal union received little help from Florida; the 15,000 men it offered were generally sent elsewhere. The largest engagements in the state were the Battle of Olustee, on February 20, 1864, and the Battle of Natural Bridge, on March 6, 1865. Both were Confederate victories. [40] The war ended in 1865.

Following the American Civil War, Florida's congressional representation was restored on June 25, 1868, albeit forcefully after Radical Reconstruction and the installation of unelected government officials under the final authority of federal military commanders. After the Reconstruction period ended in 1876, white Democrats regained power in the state legislature. In 1885 they created a new constitution, followed by statutes through 1889 that disfranchised most blacks and many poor whites.[ citation needed]

Until the mid-20th century, Florida was the least populous state in the southern United States. In 1900, its population was only 528,542, of whom nearly 44% were African American, the same proportion as before the Civil War. [41] The boll weevil devastated cotton crops.

Forty thousand blacks, roughly one-fifth of their 1900 population, left the state in the Great Migration. They left due to lynchings and racial violence, and for better opportunities. [42] Disfranchisement for most African Americans in the state persisted until the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s gained federal legislation in 1965 to enforce protection of their constitutional suffrage.

20th-century growth

Historically, Florida's economy has been based primarily upon agricultural products such as cattle, sugar cane, citrus fruits, tomatoes, and strawberries.

Economic prosperity in the 1920s stimulated tourism to Florida and related development of hotels and resort communities. 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 Great Depression, brought that period to a halt. Florida's economy did not fully recover until the military buildup for World War II.

In 1939, Florida was described as "still very largely an empty State." [43] Subsequently, the growing availability of air conditioning, the climate, and a low cost of living made the state a haven. Migration from the Rust Belt and the Northeast sharply increased Florida's population after 1945. In recent decades, more migrants have come for the jobs in a developing economy.

With a population of more than 18 million according to the 2010 census, Florida is the most populous state in the southeastern United States and the third-most populous in the United States.

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Florida
Alemannisch: Florida
አማርኛ: ፍሎሪዳ
Ænglisc: Florida
العربية: فلوريدا
aragonés: Florida
arpetan: Florida
asturianu: Florida
Avañe'ẽ: Florida
Aymar aru: Florida suyu
azərbaycanca: Florida
বাংলা: ফ্লোরিডা
Bân-lâm-gú: Florida
башҡортса: Флорида
беларуская: Фларыда (штат)
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Флорыда
भोजपुरी: फ्लोरिडा
Bikol Central: Florida
Bislama: Florida
български: Флорида
Boarisch: Florida
bosanski: Florida
brezhoneg: Florida
буряад: Флорида
català: Florida
Чӑвашла: Флорида
Cebuano: Florida
čeština: Florida
Chavacano de Zamboanga: Florida
chiShona: Florida
corsu: Florida
Cymraeg: Florida
dansk: Florida
davvisámegiella: Florida
Deutsch: Florida
eesti: Florida
Ελληνικά: Φλόριντα
emiliàn e rumagnòl: Flòrida
español: Florida
Esperanto: Florido
euskara: Florida
فارسی: فلوریدا
Fiji Hindi: Florida
føroyskt: Florida
français: Floride
Frysk: Floarida
Gaeilge: Florida
Gaelg: Florida
Gagauz: Florida
Gàidhlig: Florida
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Florida
хальмг: Флорида
한국어: 플로리다 주
Hawaiʻi: Pololika
Հայերեն: Ֆլորիդա
हिन्दी: फ़्लोरिडा
hornjoserbsce: Florida
hrvatski: Florida
Ido: Florida
Ilokano: Florida
বিষ্ণুপ্রিয়া মণিপুরী: ফ্লোরিডা
Bahasa Indonesia: Florida
interlingua: Florida
Interlingue: Florida
ᐃᓄᒃᑎᑐᑦ/inuktitut: ᑉᓘᕇᑖ
Iñupiak: Florida
Ирон: Флоридæ
isiZulu: Florida
íslenska: Flórída
italiano: Florida
עברית: פלורידה
Basa Jawa: Florida
ಕನ್ನಡ: ಫ್ಲಾರಿಡ
Kapampangan: Florida
къарачай-малкъар: Флорида
ქართული: ფლორიდა
қазақша: Флорида
kernowek: Florida
Kiswahili: Florida
Kreyòl ayisyen: Florid
Kurdî: Florida
кырык мары: Флорида
Ladino: Florida
лезги: Флорида
لۊری شومالی: فئلوریدا
Latina: Florida
latviešu: Florida
Lëtzebuergesch: Florida
lietuvių: Florida
Ligure: Florida
Limburgs: Florida
lumbaart: Florida
magyar: Florida
मैथिली: फ्लोरिडा
македонски: Флорида
Malagasy: Florida
മലയാളം: ഫ്ലോറിഡ
Māori: Florida
मराठी: फ्लोरिडा
მარგალური: ფლორიდა
مصرى: فلوريدا
مازِرونی: فلوریدا
Bahasa Melayu: Florida
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Florida
монгол: Флорида
မြန်မာဘာသာ: ဖလော်ရီဒါပြည်နယ်
Nāhuatl: Florida
Dorerin Naoero: Florida
Nederlands: Florida (staat)
Nedersaksies: Florida
नेपाली: फ्लोरिडा
नेपाल भाषा: फ्लोरिदा
日本語: フロリダ州
нохчийн: Флорида
Nordfriisk: Florida
norsk: Florida
norsk nynorsk: Florida
occitan: Florida
олык марий: Флорида
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Florida
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਫ਼ਲੌਰਿਡਾ
پنجابی: فلوریڈا
Papiamentu: Florida
Piemontèis: Florida
Plattdüütsch: Florida
polski: Floryda
português: Flórida
Qaraqalpaqsha: Florida
română: Florida
rumantsch: Florida
Runa Simi: Florida suyu
русиньскый: Флоріда
русский: Флорида
саха тыла: Флорида
संस्कृतम्: फ्लोरिडा
sardu: Flòrida
Scots: Florida
Seeltersk: Florida
shqip: Florida
sicilianu: Florida
Simple English: Florida
slovenčina: Florida
slovenščina: Florida
ślůnski: Florida
Soomaaliga: Florida
کوردی: فلۆریدا
српски / srpski: Флорида
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Florida
suomi: Florida
svenska: Florida
Tagalog: Florida
தமிழ்: புளோரிடா
татарча/tatarça: Флорида (штат)
తెలుగు: ఫ్లోరిడా
Türkçe: Florida
українська: Флорида
اردو: فلوریڈا
ئۇيغۇرچە / Uyghurche: Florida Shitati
vèneto: Florida
Tiếng Việt: Florida
Volapük: Florida
Winaray: Florida
ייִדיש: פלארידע
Yorùbá: Florida
Zazaki: Florida
Zeêuws: Florida
žemaitėška: Fluorėda