Florida is a state located in the extreme southeastern United States. It is a long, low peninsula bordered by the states of Georgia and Alabama to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the Gulf of Mexico to the west, and the Florida Straits to the south.
Tourism plays a primary role in the state’s economy and attractions include Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Busch Gardens, Silver Springs, and many other destinations that draw millions of people every year. There are many natural wonders such as coral reefs and Everglades National Park with its unusual plant and animal life. Events include the Daytona 500 automobile race and spaceship launches from the Kennedy Space Center.
Coastal resorts and hotels with beautiful beaches attract huge numbers of vacationers. With more than 4,000 sq.mi. (10,360 sq.km.) of inland water (lakes and rivers) and with the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico readily accessible from almost anywhere in the state, Florida is a fishing paradise.
Professional sports teams are located in Miami, Tampa, Orlando, and Jacksonville and many Major League Baseball teams have spring training facilities in Florida. There are three perennial collegiate athletic powerhouses: the University of Florida, Florida State University, and the University of Miami. Golf courses located all over Florida provide activity for people of all ages.
Known for its agriculture, Florida leads the nation in the production of citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits, and tangerines) and sugarcane production. Florida farmers also produce an abundance of market-ready tomatoes, watermelons, strawberries, blueberries, and many varieties of winter and subtropical vegetables. Cattle and dairy products are important, as is commercial fishing, with the catch including many varieties of fish and shellfish (crabs, lobsters, shrimp, and oysters).
Famous cities include Miami Beach, Daytona Beach, St. Augustine, Palm Beach, and Key West. Miami, Tampa, and Jacksonville are large coastal cities that serve as important ports of entry and shipping centers.
Florida’s population consists of large numbers of retired people and senior citizens from all parts of the United States, Canada, and many other countries. It also has a history as a home for the “rich and famous” who have built palatial estates in many coastal cities.
Area: 58,560 sq. mi. (151,670 sq. km.).
Population: approximately 18,000,000 (2007).
Largest City (area and population): Jacksonville.
Largest Metropolitan Area (population): Miami.
Nickname: Sunshine State.
Motto: In God We Trust.
State Bird: Mockingbird.
State Flower: Orange Blossom.
State Tree: Sabal Palmetto (Cabbage Palm).