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Florida
State of Florida
Flag of Florida Official seal of Florida
Nickname(s): 
Sunshine State
Motto(s): 
Anthem: "Florida" (state anthem), “Old Folks at Home” (state song)
Map of the United States with Florida highlighted
Map of the United States with Florida highlighted
Country United States
Before statehood Florida Territory
Admitted to the Union March 3, 1845 (27th)
Capital Tallahassee
Largest city Jacksonville
Largest metro Miami
Legislature Florida Legislature
 • Upper house Senate
 • Lower house House of Representatives
Area
 • Total 65,758 sq mi (170,312 km2)
 • Land 53,625 sq mi (138,887 km2)
 • Water 12,133 sq mi (31,424 km2)  18.5%
Area rank 22nd
Dimensions
 • Length 447 mi (721 km)
 • Width 361 mi (582 km)
Elevation
100 ft (30 m)
Highest elevation 345 ft (105 m)
Lowest elevation
(Atlantic Ocean)
0 ft (0 m)
Population
 (2020)
 • Total 21,570,527
 • Rank 3rd
 • Density 384.3/sq mi (121.0/km2)
 • Density rank 8th
 • Median household income
$53,267
 • Income rank
40th
Demonym(s) Floridian, Floridan
Language
 • Official language English
 • Spoken language Predominantly English and Spanish
Time zones
Peninsula and "Big Bend" region UTC−05:00 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−04:00 (EDT)
Panhandle west of the Apalachicola River UTC−06:00 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−05:00 (CDT)
USPS abbreviation
FL
ISO 3166 code US-FL
Trad. abbreviation Fla.
Latitude 24° 27' N to 31° 00' N
Longitude 80° 02' W to 87° 38' W
Florida state symbols
Flag of Florida.svg
Seal of Florida.svg
Living insignia
Amphibian Barking tree frog
Bird Northern mockingbird
Fish Florida largemouth bass, Atlantic sailfish
Flower Orange blossom
Insect Zebra longwing
Mammal Florida panther, manatee, bottlenose dolphin, Florida Cracker Horse
Reptile American alligator, Loggerhead turtle, Gopher tortoise
Tree Sabal palmetto
Inanimate insignia
Beverage Orange juice
Food Key lime pie, Orange
Gemstone Moonstone
Rock Agatized coral
Shell Horse conch
Soil Myakka
State route marker
Florida state route marker
State quarter
Florida quarter dollar coin
Released in 2004
Lists of United States state symbols

Florida is a state located in the Southeastern region of the United States. Florida 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 Bahamas and Atlantic Ocean, and to the south by the Straits of Florida and Cuba; it is the only state that borders both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Spanning 65,758 square miles, Florida ranks 22nd in area among the 50 states, and with a population of over 21 million, is the third-most populous. The state capital is Tallahassee and the most populous city is Jacksonville. The Miami metropolitan area, with a population of almost 6.2 million, is the most populous urban area in Florida and the seventh-most populous in the United States; other urban conurbations with over one million people are Tampa Bay, Orlando, and Jacksonville.

Various Native American groups have inhabited Florida for at least 14,000 years. In 1513, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León became the first known European to make landfall, calling the region La Florida ([la floˈɾiða] for its lush greenery and the Easter season (Pascua Florida in Spanish). Florida subsequently became the first area in the continental U.S. to be permanently settled by Europeans, with the Spanish colony of St. Augustine, founded in 1565, being the oldest continuously inhabited city. Florida was repeatedly contested by Spain and Great Britain, before being ceded to the U.S. in 1819; it was admitted as the 27th state on March 3, 1845. Florida was the principal location of the Seminole Wars (1816–1858), the longest and most extensive of the Indian Wars in U.S. history. The state seceded from the Union on January 10, 1861, becoming one of the seven original Confederate States. After the Civil War, Florida was restored to the Union on June 25, 1868.

Since the mid-20th century, Florida has experienced rapid demographic and economic growth. Its $1.0 trillion economy is the fourth-largest of any U.S. state and the 16th-largest in the world; the main sectors are tourism, hospitality, agriculture, real estate, and transportation. Florida is world-renowned for its beach resorts, amusement parks, warm and sunny climate, and nautical recreation; attractions such as Walt Disney World, the Kennedy Space Center, and Miami Beach draw tens of millions of visitors annually. Florida is a popular destination for retirees, seasonal vacationers, and both domestic and international migrants; it hosts nine out of the ten fastest-growing communities in the U.S. The state's close proximity to the ocean has shaped its culture, identity, and daily life; its colonial history and successive waves of migration are reflected in African, European, Indigenous, Latino, and Asian influences. Florida has attracted or inspired writers such as Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams, and continues to attract celebrities and athletes, particularly in golf, tennis, auto racing, and water sports.

About two-thirds of Florida occupies a peninsula between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. It has the longest coastline in the contiguous United States, spanning approximately 1,350 miles (2,170 km), not including its many barrier islands. Florida has 4,510 islands that are ten acres (4 ha) or larger in area, the second highest number after Alaska. Much of the state is at or near sea level, and is characterized by sedimentary soil. Florida is the flattest state in the country, with the lowest high point of any U.S. state, at just 345 feet (105 meters). Lake Okeechobee is its largest freshwater lake, and the second-largest located entirely within the contiguous 48 states. Several beaches in Florida have turquoise and emerald-colored coastal waters.

Florida's climate varies from subtropical in the north to tropical in the south. It is the only state besides Hawaii to have a tropical climate, and is the only continental state with both a tropical climate (at the lower tip of the peninsula) and a coral reef. Consequently, Florida has several unique ecosystems, most notably Everglades National Park, the largest tropical wilderness in the U.S. and among the largest in the Americas. Unique wildlife include the American alligator, American crocodile, American flamingo, Roseate spoonbill, Florida panther, bottlenose dolphin, and manatee. The Florida Reef is the only living coral barrier reef in the continental United States, and the third-largest coral barrier reef system in the world (after the Great Barrier Reef and Belize Barrier Reef).

Florida's large population and economy give it considerable influence in national politics; since the late 20th century the state has been a major battleground in presidential elections, most notably in 2000. Miami, along with Orlando and Tampa, is recognized as a global city.

History

Chiaves-la-florida-1584
Map of Florida, likely based on the expeditions of Hernando de Soto (1539-1543).
St. Augustine Florida Panoramic View
St. Augustine is the oldest city in Florida, established in 1565. The Spanish-Floridan color scheme of red and white is repeated throughout downtown.

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).

Florida was the first part 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"). The story that he was searching for the Fountain of Youth is a myth.

A lot of south Florida used to be covered by a swamp called the Everglades. When Florida was first being settled, farmers found out the soil there was very good for growing plants. So they could use more of the land to plant, they drained a lot of the water away in 1882. In 1947, the state put in levees and canals to make more room for farming and houses. The Everglades is now about half the size it used to be. Most of what is left is now the Everglades National Park. Lots of animals live there, including alligators and Florida panthers. Recently, Florida has been trying to restore the Everglades.

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.

Remington A cracker cowboy
A Cracker cowboy, 19th century.

On March 3, 1845, Florida became the 27th state to join the United States of America. The state was admitted as a slave state and ceased to be a sanctuary for runaway slaves.

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

Forty thousand blacks, roughly one-fifth of their 1900 population, left the state in the Great Migration.

Historically, Florida's economy was based upon agricultural products such as cattle farming, sugarcane, citrus, tomatoes, and strawberries.

Economic prosperity in the 1920s stimulated tourism to Florida and related development of hotels and resort communities.

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 fourth most populous in the United States.

Geography

Florida topographic map-en
A topographic map of Florida.
FL koppen
Köppen climate types of Florida
See also: List of counties in Florida and List of Florida state parks

Much of the state of Florida is situated on a peninsula between the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean and the Straits of Florida. Spanning two time zones, it extends to the northwest into a panhandle, extending along the northern Gulf of Mexico. It is bordered on the north by the states of Georgia and Alabama, and on the west, at the end of the panhandle, by Alabama. It is the only state that borders both the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.

Florida is west of The Bahamas and 90 miles (140 km) north of Cuba. Florida is one of the largest states east of the Mississippi River, and only Alaska and Michigan are larger in water area. The water boundary is 3 nautical miles (3.5 mi; 5.6 km) offshore in the Atlantic Ocean and 9 nautical miles (10 mi; 17 km) offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.

Cuba-Florida map
Florida and its relation to Cuba and The Bahamas.

At 345 feet (105 m) above mean sea level, Britton Hill is the highest point in Florida and the lowest highpoint of any U.S. state. Much of the state south of Orlando lies at a lower elevation than northern Florida, and is fairly level. Much of the state is at or near sea level.

On average, Florida is the flattest state in the United States.

Climate

See also: List of Florida hurricanes

The climate of Florida is a humid subtropical, while areas south of the lake (including the Florida Keys) have a true tropical climate.

Due to its subtropical and tropical climate, Florida rarely receives snow. However, on rare occasions, a combination of cold moisture and freezing temperatures can result in snowfall in the farthest northern regions. Frost is more common than snow, occurring sometimes in the panhandle.

Florida's nickname is the "Sunshine State", but severe weather is a common occurrence in the state.

Central Florida is known as the lightning capital of the United States, as it experiences more lightning strikes than anywhere else in the U.S. Florida has one of the highest average precipitation levels of any state, in large part because afternoon thunderstorms are common in much of the state from late spring until early autumn.

Florida leads the United States in tornadoes per area (when including waterspouts) but they do not typically reach the intensity of those in the Midwest and Great Plains. Hail often accompanies the most severe thunderstorms.

Hurricanes pose a severe threat each year during the June 1 to November 30 hurricane season, particularly from August to October. Florida is the most hurricane-prone state, with subtropical or tropical water on a lengthy coastline.

Florida was the site of one of the costliest weather disasters in U.S. history, Hurricane Andrew, which caused more than $25 billion in damage when it struck in August 1992.

Fauna

Bottlenose Dolphin KSC04pd0178 head only
Bottlenose dolphin head, showing rostrum and blowhole

Florida is host to many types of wildlife including:

The only known calving area for the northern right whale is off the coasts of Florida and Georgia.

The native bear population has risen from a historic low of 300 in the 1970s, to 3,000 in 2011.

Since their accidental importation from South America into North America in the 1930s, the red imported fire ant population has increased its territorial range to include most of the Southern United States, including Florida. They are more aggressive than most native ant species and have a painful sting.

A number of non-native snakes and lizards have been released in the wild. In 2010 the state created a hunting season for Burmese and Indian pythons, African rock pythons, green anacondas, and Nile monitor lizards. Green iguanas have also established a firm population in the southern part of the state.

There are about 500,000 feral pigs in Florida.

Flora

There are about 3,000 different types of wildflowers in Florida. This is the third most diverse state in the union, behind California and Texas, both larger states.

On the east coast of the state, mangroves have normally dominated the coast from Cocoa Beach southward; salt marshes from St. Augustine northward. From St. Augustine south to Cocoa Beach, the coast fluctuates between the two, depending on the annual weather conditions.

Environmental issues

Crandon Park Modified
The beaches of Key Biscayne in Miami.

Red tide has been an issue on the southwest coast of Florida, as well as other areas. While there has been a great deal of conjecture over the cause of the toxic algae bloom, there is no evidence that it is being caused by pollution or that there has been an increase in the duration or frequency of red tides.

The Florida panther is close to extinction.

Much of Florida has an elevation of less than 12 feet (3.7 m), including many populated areas. Therefore, it is susceptible to rising sea levels associated with global warming.

Demographics

See also: Culture of Florida

Population

Florida population map
Florida's population density
Historical population
Census Pop.
1830 34,730
1840 54,477 56.9%
1850 87,445 60.5%
1860 140,424 60.6%
1870 187,748 33.7%
1880 269,493 43.5%
1890 391,422 45.2%
1900 528,542 35.0%
1910 752,619 42.4%
1920 968,470 28.7%
1930 1,468,211 51.6%
1940 1,897,414 29.2%
1950 2,771,305 46.1%
1960 4,951,560 78.7%
1970 6,789,443 37.1%
1980 9,746,324 43.6%
1990 12,937,926 32.7%
2000 15,982,378 23.5%
2010 18,801,310 17.6%
2020 21,538,187 14.6%
Sources: 1910–2020

The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Florida was 21,477,737 on July 1, 2019, a 14.24% increase since the 2010 United States Census. The population of Florida in the 2010 census was 18,801,310. Florida was the seventh fastest-growing state in the U.S. in the 12-month period ending July 1, 2012. In 2010, the center of population of Florida was located between Fort Meade and Frostproof. The center of population has moved less than 5 miles (8 km) to the east and approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) to the north between 1980 and 2010 and has been located in Polk County since the 1960 census. The population exceeded 19.7 million by December 2014, surpassing the population of the state of New York for the first time, making Florida the third most populous state. The Florida population was 21,477,737 residents or people according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2019 Population Estimates Program.

Florida contains the highest percentage of people over 65 (17%) in the US. There were 186,102 military retirees living in the state in 2008. About two-thirds of the population was born in another state, the second-highest in the U.S.

In 2010, undocumented immigrants constituted an estimated 5.7% of the population. This was the sixth highest percentage of any U.S. state. There were an estimated 675,000 illegal immigrants in the state in 2010. Florida has banned sanctuary cities.

Florida racial breakdown
Racial composition 1970 1990 2000 2010 2018
Black or African American alone 15.3% 13.6% 14.6% 16.0% 16.9%
Asian alone 0.2% 1.2% 1.7% 2.4% 3.0%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 6.6% 12.2% 16.8% 22.5% 26.1%
Native American alone 0.1% 0.3% 0.3% 0.4% 0.5%
Two or more races 2.3% 2.5% 2.2%
White alone, not Hispanic or Latino 77.9% 73.2% 65.4% 57.9% 53.5%
White alone 84.2% 83.1% 78.0% 75.0% 77.3%

Hispanic and Latinos of any race made up 22.5% of the population in 2010. As of 2011, 57% of Florida's population younger than age 1 had at least one parent who was not non-Hispanic white.

Cities and towns

See also: List of metropolitan areas of Florida, List of municipalities in Florida, and List of urbanized areas in Florida (by population)

The largest metropolitan area in the state as well as the entire southeastern United States is the Miami metropolitan area, with about 6.06 million people. The Tampa Bay Area, with more than 3.02 million, is the second largest; the Orlando metropolitan area, with more than 2.44 million, is third; and the Jacksonville metropolitan area, with more than 1.47 million, is fourth.

Florida has 22 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) defined by the United States Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Forty-three of Florida's 67 counties are in an MSA.

The legal name in Florida for a city, town or village is "municipality". In Florida there is no legal difference between towns, villages and cities.

Florida is a highly urbanized state, with 89 percent of its population living in urban areas in 2000, compared to 79 percent nationally.

In 2012, 75% of the population lived within 10 miles (16 km) of the coastline.

Largest cities or towns in Florida
Source:
Rank Name Pop.
1 Jacksonville 903,889
2 Miami 470,914
3 Tampa 392,890
4 Orlando 285,713
5 St. Petersburg 265,098
6 Hialeah 238,942
7 Port St. Lucie 195,248
8 Tallahassee 193,551
9 Cape Coral 189,343
10 Ft. Lauderdale 182,595

Ancestry

In 2010, 6.9% of the population (1,269,765) considered themselves to be of only American ancestry (regardless of race or ethnicity). Many of these were of English or Scotch-Irish descent; however, their families have lived in the state for so long they choose to identify as having "American" ancestry or do not know their ancestry. In the 1980 United States census, the largest ancestry group reported in Florida was English with 2,232,514 Floridians claiming they were of English or mostly English American ancestry. Some of their ancestry dated to the original thirteen colonies.

As of 2010, those of (non-Hispanic white) European ancestry accounted for 57.9% of Florida's population. Out of the 57.9%, the largest groups were 12.0% German (2,212,391), 10.7% Irish (1,979,058), 8.8% English (1,629,832), 6.6% Italian (1,215,242), 2.8% Polish (511,229), and 2.7% French (504,641). White Americans of all European backgrounds are present in all areas of the state. In 1970, non-Hispanic whites constituted nearly 80% of Florida's population. Those of English and Irish ancestry are present in large numbers in all the urban/suburban areas across the state. Some native white Floridians, especially those who have descended from long-time Florida families, may refer to themselves as "Florida crackers"; others see the term as a derogatory one. Like whites in most other states of the southern U.S., they descend mainly from English and Scots-Irish settlers, as well as some other British American settlers.

Cuban American men playing dominoes in Little Havana Miami, Florida
Cuban men playing dominoes in Miami's Little Havana. In 2010, Cubans made up 34.4% of Miami's population and 6.5% of Florida's.

As of 2010, those of Hispanic or Latino ancestry accounted for 22.5% (4,223,806) of Florida's population. Out of the 22.5%, the largest groups were 6.5% (1,213,438) Cuban, and 4.5% (847,550) Puerto Rican. Florida's Hispanic population includes large communities of Cuban Americans in Miami and Tampa, Puerto Ricans in Orlando and Tampa, and Mexican/Central American migrant workers. The Hispanic community continues to grow more affluent and mobile. Florida has a large and diverse Hispanic population, with Cubans and Puerto Ricans being the largest groups in the state. Nearly 80% of Cuban Americans live in Florida, especially South Florida where there is a long-standing and affluent Cuban community. Florida has the second-largest Puerto Rican population after New York, as well as the fastest-growing in the nation. Puerto Ricans are more widespread throughout the state, though the heaviest concentrations are in the Orlando area of Central Florida. Florida has one of the largest and most diverse Hispanic/Latino populations in the country, especially in South Florida around Miami, and to a lesser degree Central Florida. Aside from the dominant Cuban and Puerto Rican populations, there are also large populations of Mexicans, Colombians, and Dominicans, among numerous other groups, as most Latino groups have sizable numbers in the state.

As of 2010, those of African ancestry accounted for 16.0% of Florida's population, which includes African Americans. Out of the 16.0%, 4.0% (741,879) were West Indian or Afro-Caribbean American. During the early 1900s, black people made up nearly half of the state's population. In response to segregation, disfranchisement and agricultural depression, many African Americans migrated from Florida to northern cities in the Great Migration, in waves from 1910 to 1940, and again starting in the later 1940s. They moved for jobs, better education for their children and the chance to vote and participate in society. By 1960, the proportion of African Americans in the state had declined to 18%. Conversely, large numbers of northern whites moved to the state. Today, large concentrations of black residents can be found in northern and central Florida. Aside from blacks descended from African slaves brought to the southern U.S., there are also large numbers of blacks of West Indian, recent African, and Afro-Latino immigrant origins, especially in the Miami/South Florida area. Florida has the largest West Indian population of any state, originating from many Caribbean countries, with Haitian Americans being the most numerous.

In 2016, Florida had the highest percentage of West Indians in the United States at 4.5%, with 2.3% (483,874) from Haitian ancestry, 1.5% (303,527) Jamaican, and 0.2% (31,966) Bahamian, with the other West Indian groups making up the rest.

As of 2010, those of Asian ancestry accounted for 2.4% of Florida's population.

Languages

See also: Demographics of Florida#Languages and Miami accent

In 1988, English was affirmed as the state's official language in the Florida Constitution. Spanish is also widely spoken, especially as immigration has continued from Latin America. Twenty percent of the population speak Spanish as their first language. Twenty-seven percent of Florida's population reports speaking a mother language other than English, and more than 200 first languages other than English are spoken at home in the state.

The most common languages spoken in Florida as a first language in 2010 are:

  • 73% English
  • 20% Spanish
  • 2% Haitian Creole
  • Other languages less than 1% each

Religion

Church of the Little Flower
Church of the Little Flower in Coral Gables, Florida
Hindu Temple Tampa
Hindu Temple of Florida

Florida is mostly Christian, although there is a large irreligious and relatively significant Jewish community. Protestants account for almost half of the population, but the Catholic Church is the largest single denomination in the state mainly due to its large Hispanic population and other groups like Haitians. Protestants are very diverse, although Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals and nondenominational Protestants are the largest groups. Smaller Christian groups include The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Jehovah's Witness. There is also a sizable Jewish community in South Florida. This is the largest Jewish population in the southern U.S. and the third-largest in the U.S. behind those of New York and California.

In 2010, the three largest denominations in Florida were the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention, and the United Methodist Church.

The Pew Research Center survey in 2014 gave the following religious makeup of Florida:

Religion in Florida (2014)
Protestant
  
46%
Catholic
  
21%
Mormon
  
1%
Jehovah's Witness
  
1%
Other Christian
  
1%
Nothing in Particular
  
17%
Agnostic
  
4%
Atheist
  
3%
Jewish
  
3%
Other faiths
(e.g. Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism)
  
3%

Economy

See also: List of U.S. states by GDP

In the twentieth century, tourism, industry, construction, international banking, biomedical and life sciences, healthcare research, simulation training, aerospace and defense, and commercial space travel have contributed to the state's economic development.

Tourism

Port of Miami 20071208
The Port of Miami is the world's largest cruise ship port.
1 epcot spaceship earth 2010a
Epcot Spaceship Earth Walt Disney World Orlando

Tourism makes up one of the largest sectors of the state economy, with nearly 1.4 million people employed in the tourism industry in 2016. In 2015, Florida broke the 100-million visitor mark for the first time in state history.

Many beach towns are popular tourist destinations, particularly during winter and spring break. Twenty-three million tourists visited Florida beaches in 2000, spending $22 billion. The public has a right to beach access under the public trust doctrine, but some areas have access effectively blocked by private owners for a long distance.

Amusement parks, especially in the Greater Orlando area, make up a significant portion of tourism. The Walt Disney World Resort is the most visited vacation resort in the world with over 50 million annual visitors, consisting of four theme parks, 27 themed resort hotels, 9 non–Disney hotels, two water parks, four golf courses and other recreational venues. Other major theme parks in the area include Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa.

Agriculture and fishing

IFAS citrus02
Florida oranges

Agriculture is the second largest industry in the state. Citrus fruit, especially oranges, are a major part of the economy, and Florida produces the majority of citrus fruit grown in the United States. In 2006, 67% of all citrus, 74% of oranges, 58% of tangerines, and 54% of grapefruit were grown in Florida. About 95% of commercial orange production in the state is destined for processing (mostly as orange juice, the official state beverage).

Other products include sugarcane, strawberries, tomatoes and celery. The state is the largest producer of sweet corn and green beans for the U.S.

In 2009, fishing was a $6 billion industry, employing 60,000 jobs for sports and commercial purposes.

Industry

Miami Civic Center 20100619
The Miami Civic Center has the second-largest concentration of medical and research facilities in the United States.

Florida is the leading state for sales of powerboats. Boats sales totaled $1.96 billion in 2013.

Mining

Phosphate mining, concentrated in the Bone Valley, is the state's third-largest industry. The state produces about 75% of the phosphate required by farmers in the United States and 25% of the world supply, with about 95% used for agriculture (90% for fertilizer and 5% for livestock feed supplements) and 5% used for other products.

Government

Since the development of the federal NASA Merritt Island launch sites on Cape Canaveral (most notably Kennedy Space Center) in 1962, Florida has developed a sizable aerospace industry.

Another major economic engine in Florida is the United States military. There are 24 military bases in the state, housing three Unified Combatant Commands; United States Central Command in Tampa, United States Southern Command in Doral, and United States Special Operations Command in Tampa. Some 109,390 U.S. military personnel stationed in Florida, contributing, directly and indirectly, $52 billion a year to the state's economy.

Transportation

Highways

Florida's highway system contains 1,473 mi (2,371 km) of interstate highway.

In 2011, there were about 9,000 retail gas stations in the state. Floridians consume 21 million gallons of gasoline daily, ranking it third in national use.

Intercity rail

West Palm Beach SAL 001
Amtrak serves most major cities in Florida. This West Palm Beach Station serves Amtrak and Tri-Rail commuter rail service.

Florida is served by Amtrak, operating numerous lines throughout, connecting the state's largest cities to points north in the United States and Canada.

All Aboard Florida is a proposed higher-speed rail service that would run between Orlando and Miami at speeds up to 125 mph. Its Miami to Cocoa portion is scheduled to open in 2016, with the final segment to Orlando opening in 2017.

Sister states

Sister jurisdiction Country Year
Languedoc-Roussillon France France 1989
Taiwan Province Republic of China Taiwan, R.O.C. 1992
Wakayama Prefecture Japan Japan 1995
Western Cape South Africa South Africa 1995
Nueva Esparta Venezuela Venezuela 1999
Kyonggi South Korea South Korea 2000

Education

See also: List of colleges and universities in Florida, List of high schools in Florida, and List of school districts in Florida

nIn 2021, Florida was ranked the 3rd best state in America for Education. Florida's higher education was ranked 1st and Pre-K-12 was ranked 27th best in America by U.S. News & World Report.

Primary and secondary education

With an educational system made up of public school districts and independent private institutions, Florida had 2,833,115 students enrolled in 4,269 public primary, secondary, and vocational schools in Florida's 67 regular or seven special school districts as of 2018. Miami-Dade County is the largest of Florida's 67 regular districts with more than 350 thousand students and Jefferson County is the smallest with less than one thousand students. Florida spent $8,920 for each student in 2016, and was 43rd in the nation in expenditures per student.

Florida's primary and secondary school systems are administered by the Florida Department of Education. School districts are organized within county boundaries. Each school district has an elected Board of Education that sets policy, budget, goals, and approves expenditures. Management is the responsibility of a Superintendent of schools.

The Florida Department of Education is required by law to train educators in teaching English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).

Higher education

The State University System of Florida was founded in 1905, and is governed by the Florida Board of Governors. During the 2019 academic year, 346,604 students attended one of these twelve universities. In 2016, Florida charged the second lowest tuition in the nation for four years, $26,000 for in-state students, to $86,000 for out-of-state students. This compares with an average of $34,800 nationally for in-state students.

As of 2020, four Florida universities are among the top 10 largest universities by enrollment in the United States. The University of Central Florida is ranked 1st, Florida International University is ranked 4th, the University of Florida is ranked 5th, and the University of South Florida is ranked the 8th largest university in the USA.

The Florida College System comprises 28 public community and state colleges with 68 campuses spread out throughout the state. In 2016, enrollment consisted of more than 813,838 students.

The Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida is an association of 30 private, educational institutions in the state. This Association reported that their member institutions served more than 158,000 students in the fall of 2020.

The University of Miami, located in Miami-Dade County and Nova Southeastern University, located in Davie, are some of the top private research institutions in the United States. Florida's first private university, Stetson University, was founded in 1883.

State University System of Florida
Institution Location Established Enrollment
Florida A&M University Tallahassee 1887 10,031
Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton 1961 30,808
Florida Gulf Coast University Fort Myers 1991 15,080
Florida International University Miami 1965 58,787
Florida Polytechnic University Lakeland 2012 1,236
Florida State University Tallahassee 1851 41,551
New College of Florida Sarasota 1960 838
University of Central Florida Orlando 1963 69,525
University of Florida Gainesville 1853 56,567
University of North Florida Jacksonville 1972 17,002
University of South Florida Tampa 1956 51,646
University of West Florida Pensacola 1963 12,850

Sports

See also: Sports teams in Florida
Green flag at Daytona
Daytona International Speedway is home to various auto racing events.

Florida has three NFL teams, two MLB teams, two NBA teams, two NHL teams, and two MLS teams. Florida gained its first permanent major-league professional sports team in 1966 when the American Football League added the Miami Dolphins. Florida has given professional sports franchises some subsidies in the form of tax breaks since 1991.

About half of all Major League Baseball teams conduct spring training in the state, with teams informally organized into the "Grapefruit League". Throughout MLB history, other teams have held spring training in Florida.

NASCAR (headquartered in Daytona Beach) begins all three of its major auto racing series in Florida at Daytona International Speedway in February, featuring the Daytona 500, and ends all three Series in November at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Daytona also has the Coke Zero Sugar 400 NASCAR race weekend around Independence Day in July. The 24 Hours of Daytona is one of the world's most prestigious endurance auto races. The Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and Grand Prix of Miami have held IndyCar races as well.

Florida is a major golf hub. The PGA of America is headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, the PGA Tour is headquartered in Ponte Vedra Beach, and the LPGA is headquartered in Daytona Beach. The Players Championship, WGC-Cadillac Championship, Arnold Palmer Invitational, Honda Classic and Valspar Championship are PGA Tour rounds.

Florida has teams in all five American major league sports. Florida's most recent major-league team, Inter Miami, began play in MLS in 2020.

The Miami Masters is an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 and WTA Premier tennis event, whereas the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships is an ATP World Tour 250 event.

There are minor league baseball, football, basketball, ice hockey, soccer and indoor football teams based in Florida. Ben Hill Griffin Stadium is the largest football stadium in Florida, the 12th largest stadium in American college football, and the 18th largest stadium in the world, as measured by its official seating capacity of 88,548—though, it has often held over 90,000 for Florida's home football games.

Florida's universities have a number of collegiate sport programs. Major college football programs include the Florida State Seminoles and Miami Hurricanes of the Atlantic Coast Conference, and the Florida Gators of the Southeastern Conference. Since 1996, Florida has added four additional teams to the ranks of Division I FBS: UCF Knights, South Florida Bulls, Florida Atlantic Owls and FIU Panthers.

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