Cities in FLORIDA


Popular destinations USA


Geography and Landscape


Florida, the 'Sunshine State' and most southern state on the mainland of the United States, is an 850 km long peninsula, has a total area of 170,304 km², making it the 22nd in size state of the United States. From Key West in the south to Pensacola in the north, Florida stretches for about 1,342 km.

Florida, Sunshine StatePhoto:odyssey Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

Florida is enclosed by the Atlantic Ocean on the east side, the Gulf of Mexico is its neighbor on the west side, the north of the state borders the states of Georgia and Alabama and finally the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico meet at the southern border from Florida. The coastline of the mainland of Florida extends over a total length of about 3000 km, making Florida the second largest coastline after Alaska. If all islands are included, Florida even has a coastline of 13,600 km.

In northwest Florida there is a narrow strip of land that is also called the Panhandle (= pan handle). Between Florida (Keys) and Cuba lies the Straits of Florida (also called Florida Straits or Florida Strait), a maximum 180 km wide and 1800 meters deep strait that connects the Gulf of Mexico with the Atlantic Ocean.

Florida Satellite photo NASA photo:Public domain


From a landscape point of view, Florida is a collection of islands, salt and freshwater swamps, an enormous artesian source area (Ocala National Forest), lagoons, wetlands and lakes. The state can be divided into four main scenic regions: the coastal areas of the Gulf Coast and of the Atlantic Ocean, the 'hilly' inland, the swampy Everglades in the far south and the Florida Keys, an archipelago of about 1,700 small islands.

The Florida landscape is generally very flat, Florida's highest hill is the 105-foot Britton Hill in Lakewood Park (Walton County) in the northwest of the state, and that hill is less than half the height of the highest building of Miami, which is 240 feet high. Florida is therefore officially the 'flattest' state in the United States.

Florida's highest point

Photo: Ebyabe, Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

Especially south of Orlando it is very flat, although in a place like Clearwater there are hills of 15-30 meters high. In Central and Northern Florida, there are many ridges with heights between 30 and 76 meters from about 40 km from the exposed coast. The highest point on the Florida peninsula is 95-foot Sugerloaf Mountain in Lake County. But most of Florida has a height of less than 3.7 meters.

Florida has 165 rivers and more than 30,000 large and small lakes. This makes Florida the state with the largest water surface after Alaska and Michigan. Major rivers include the Apalachicola River (Panhandle, 180 km), Caloosahatchee River (South Florida, 108 km), Indian River (195 km), Kissimmee River (South Central Florida, 216 km), St. Johns River (longest Florida River, 500 km), St. Marys River (border river with Georgia, 203 km) and Suwannee River (Panhandle, 396 km).

The largest freshwater lake in Florida and the seventh in the United States is Lake Okeechobee (also called The Lake, Florida's Inland Sea or The Big O) with an area of 1,900 km2, 50 km west of West Palm Beach in central Florida. Lake Okeechobee, averaging just 2.7 meters deep, is the second largest freshwater lake in any of the states of the United States after Lake Michigan. Lake Okeechobee is full of fish, especially trout bass. In the hilly area between Tallahassee and the Georgia border alone, there are thousands of large and small lakes. Countless islands lie off the extensive coast of the Panhandle.

Lake Okeechobee, FloridaPhoto:Public domain

About 1,000 miles of the entire Florida coastline is made up of beaches, including the hard Atlantic beaches of coral limestone, the somewhat muller shells and coral limestone sands on the southern Gulf Coast and on Sanibel Island, and light alabaster quartz sand beaches on Santa Rosa Island. Sanibel Island's beaches have the highest concentration of shells worldwide.

Florida's most beautiful island beaches are on Amelia Island, Anastasia Island, Bahia Honda, Caladesi Island, Lover's Key, Miracle Strip, Sanibel Island, Santa Rosa Island, South Hutchinson Island and in St. Joseph Peninsula State Park. Other beautiful beaches are Clearwater Beach, Crescent Beach, Lummus Park Beach, St. Augustine Beach, Playalinda Beach, New Smyrna Beach, Daytona Beach, Apollo Beach, Cocoa Beach, Grayton Beach and Klondike Beach. The Gulf Coast is an almost uninterrupted coastline of approximately 45 km with beautiful sandy beaches.

The only coral reef, Florida Reef, in the eastern United States stretches off the coast from Biscayne National Park south of Miami to Dry Tortugas National Park west of Key West in the Gulf of Mexico. Also known as the Great Florida Reef, Florida Reefs, Florida Reef Tract and Florida Keys Reef Tract, this only living coral reef off mainland North America is the largest after the Great Barrier Reef (Australia) and Belize Barrier Reef coral reef system in the world. The reef is 6-7 km wide, about 300 km long and lies at a depth of between 3-30 meters.

Major protected areas are Biscayne National Park, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, and Looe Key. Florida Reef has many coral species, including flower coral, elk antler coral, large flower coral, brain coral, stag horn coral, orange tube coral, oval star coral, plume coral, star coral and fan coral.

Florida has an enormous underground system of caves filled with water, the so-called aquifers. These aquifers lie under approximately two-thirds of the surface of Florida, emerge as an artesian source in 320 places and then feed many rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico. The main source areas, Juniper Springs, Salt Springs (contains salt water), Alexander Springs and Silver Springs, are in the Ocala National Forest. In the north are Fanning Springs and Wakulla Springs.

From the sources of Silver Springs, about 2 billion liters of mineral rich and approx. 21 degrees Celsius warm water has been flowing daily for over 10,000 years. The caves are often in funnels that vary in depth from a few centimeters to hundreds of meters. Only a small number of these labyrinths have been scientifically researched. The Blue Spring is located in the Blue Spring State Park, where about 450 million liters of water are borne daily at a constant temperature of 20 ° C. Florida has a total of about 700 freshwater sources, 33 of which produce more than 100 ft³ (= 2831 liters) per second.

In the Florida Caverns State Park there are limestone caves at Marianna that are above the water table and can therefore be visited. Cave tours lead past the jagged limestone formations.

Another frequent phenomenon, particularly in North and Central Florida, is the sudden emergence of so-called dolines or sinkholes. The formation of a doline is gradual, but then due to the natural erosion of the limestone soil or after a heavy rain shower, a hole suddenly falls in the soil.

Sinkhole in the Alapaha River, which runs through Hamilton County, Florida and Dooly County, GeorgiaPhoto:Stewart Tomlinson in the public domain

Just an hour's drive south of Miami, the low wetlands of the Everglades (called the 'River of Grass' by the Indians) begin. Everglades National Park, Florida's largest wetland area, has been the only subtropical National Park on American soil since 1947. The landscape is approximately 6000 km2 (about the same size as the province of Friesland and only one-fifth of the total Everglades area), 80 km wide park, which is on average 2.4 meters above sea level, very diverse with of course a lot swamps, but also with islets, reed grass wetlands, humid savannah land, 'hammocks' (tree-covered mounds), rivers, cypress and mahogany forests. The watercourse of the Everglades flows at a slow speed of only about 35 meters per hour. There is about 1500 mm of precipitation in the Everglades annually, but there are big differences. In winter, when it is warm and dry, the water flow is even partially dry; in the humid summer, which lasts from May to October, the slow flow reaches a maximum depth of 35 cm.

Another large swamp area in North Florida is the Okefenokee Swamp, which is mostly in the state of Georgia.

Florida Keys from spacePhoto:Terraprints/NASA Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic no changes made

The Florida Keys islands, the Upper Keys (main inhabited island is Key Largo) in the north are closest to mainland Florida and the Lower Keys, which are lime or coral and overgrown with mangroves, stretch for a length about 180 km from Miami in northeast Florida to the south, then the chain of islands curves west to the Dry Tortugas in the Gulf of Mexico. Key West is the last inhabited island in the archipelago, just 150 km from the Cuban coast.

Climate and Weather


Northern and Central Florida have a humid subtropical climate; southern Florida has a tropical climate. Florida's rainy season lasts from May through October, with generally short thunderstorms with heavy rainfall. In late summer and early autumn, tropical low-pressure areas cause hurricanes, which are also accompanied by abundant rainfall.

In the course of October the dry season in Florida starts, in early October in the north and at the end of the month in the deep south. The dry season generally continues until the end of April. During the winter months, it can get very dry in Florida and residents should be careful with water use. Winter precipitation in the form of snow does not actually occur; sleet may fall in northern Florida, but never more than once every ten years.

The (warm) Gulf Stream runs through the Florida Straits towards Northeast Florida, which ensures that temperatures do not rise that high. Ocean water temperatures are nowhere higher in the mainland of the United States than in Florida.

Köppen climate types in FloridaPhoto:Adam Peterson Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes made

Average day and night temperatures in various cities

JacksonvilleKey WestMiamiPensacolaTallahassee

In the winter period, the wind generally blows from the north over the panhandle to the south towards Orlando. In the rest of Florida, the wind blows from changing directions. In summer, easterly and south-easterly winds usually blow across the peninsula. The west coast of Florida, near St. Petersburg, receives the most sunshine; an average of 361 days per year. October is the driest month of the year in the Panhandle and the wettest month for the Florida Keys. In the summer months, South Florida is wetter than North Florida, in the winter it is just the other way around. Nowhere in Florida does an average of more than 180 mm fall per month; August is on average the wettest month.

Although it feels warm and tropical in the Florida Keys, the temperature never exceeds 36 ° C and on average the midsummer 'only' reaches 31.5 ° C. The temperature in the Keys is therefore lower than in the more northerly Miami, partly due to the surrounding ocean and the refreshing ocean wind. It hardly gets colder than 10-15 ° V and the water temperature is between 26.5 and 30 ° C for a large part of the year.

In the summer Florida is also sometimes covered by sand from the Sahara, carried by trade winds. Rain falls far than hardly, the sky turns white instead of blue and the number of red sunsets is increasing. Air quality is also declining in the southeast of the United States, which is normally one of the cleanest in the United States. More than 50% of Sahara sand travels across Florida, and since 1970 this has been exacerbated by increasing drought in Africa.


The Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June 1 to November 30, with the most dangerous months being August and September, and Florida is hit by an average of about seven hurricanes. That Florida is regularly hit by devastating hurricanes is a certainty, however, it is not yet possible to predict the exact force and the correct trajectory by the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

Hurricanes are created by a combination of circumstances. First of all, sun-heated water in the Eastern Atlantic Ocean evaporates and rises. This moist warm air then condenses, forming towers of clouds that are miles high. Due to the rotation of the earth, the cloud tower is whirling more and more counter-clockwise around its axis, the famous windless eye of the hurricane. At some point, the cloud tower begins to move westward with increasing force and speed, often toward the Caribbean and the southeast coast of the United States.

The heaviest hurricanes reach speeds of over 300 km per hour and the associated cloud field is sometimes 500-600 km in diameter. The Florida coast is also often hit by meter-high waves and gigantic downpours, causing devastating flooding. Hurricanes are classified into five categories on the Saffir-Simpson scale, with category five being the heaviest hurricane with winds in excess of 150 miles per hour. Hurricanes are on average 480 km wide, rise 15-18 km above the ocean surface and reach speeds between 15-70 km per hour.

The biggest documented natural disasters to hit Florida were hurricanes. In 1928, more than 2,000 Florida residents drowned in the flooding of Lake Okeechobee. On Labor Day in 1935, the Florida Keys were hit by a hurricane (Labor Day Hurricane, Category 5) that killed about 400 people and destroyed the Overseas Railroad (also known as Florida Overseas Railroad or Overseas Extension). In August 1992, Hurricane Andrew (Category 4) entered Florida just south of Miami, killing 65 and causing a total loss of more than $30 billion. In 2004 Florida was hit by no less than four hurricanes and that was not without major consequences, 20 deaths and 20 billion euros in damage.

How do hurricanes get their name

The hurricanes all have names, meteorologists soon found that giving hurricanes names improved communication about the storm and even increased safety. The Spanish began to name the impending hurricane after the saint of that day. During World War II, meteorologists gave the hurricanes their girlfriend's first name and only much later, under pressure from feminists in the United States, men's and women's names are used alternately.

Today, a list of names is established before hurricane season begins. The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami started this in 1950 and this task has been taken over by the World Meteorological Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.

In 1950 hurricanes were named according to the phonetic alphabet, so for example Able, Baker, Charlie etc. The next hurricane season started with Able and so on. In 1953, to avoid misunderstandings, the naming system was changed and hurricanes were saddled with women's names. From 1979 the current system was used with alternately female and male first names. In total there are six of the lists below, which means that these names will be next in six years' time. An exception are hurricanes with a devastating effect, such as Katrina, which hit New Orleans (2007). The name Katrina was subsequently removed from the list.

Storms do not get a name until they start to form a rotating pattern and when the wind speed is at least 39 miles per hour (62.7 km per hour). A tropical storm is called a hurricane when the wind speed is at least 74 miles per hour (119 km per hour).


Florida has more than 4000 plant species, nowhere else in the United States are there more. Below is a very small selection of more or less special types:

reindeer mossfalse jasmineAmerican trumpet flower
bougainvilleawisteriadog rose
star jasminefive-leaf vinepoison ivy
bolletjesvarenstinging nettleswamps
sour orange or bitter orangeamber treered maple
royal palmtriumphal palmmoss or Turkish oak
Cape Jasminepink pepperIndian lilac
American Yellow Lotuswater hyacinthsalty russian
coarse hornwortcardinal slobeliaspotted plant
swamp hyacinth or pikewortHarperocallis flava (photo)

Harperocallis flava, endangered species found only in Florida Photo: Alfred F. Schotz / Forest Service of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture in the public domain

Florida has three national parks, Biscayne National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park, and Everglades National Park. The 5663 km2 Everglades National Park (since 1947) is a pristine wilderness on Florida's southwestern tip. Reeds and reed grasses are found here, in addition to cypresses up to 30 meters high, evergreen oak trees, palmettos (evergreen palms), strangler figs and mahogany trees. More than 40 plant species are found in the Everglades alone.

Typical for the Everglades are the endless reed grass plains, interrupted by 'hardwood hammocks', hilly 'islands' overgrown with (hardwood) trees typical of the Everglades, but also many tropical plant species, including the poisonous poisonwood (Metopium toxiferum, also Florida poisonwood or hog gum) and pokwood trees.

Northwest of the Everglades lies the Big Cypress National Reserve, a 600 km2 nature reserve with gigantic numbers of pond cypresses and swamp cypresses up to 30 meters high. The uninhabited islands on either side of the Ocean Highway are often of great botanical importance. For example, there are 133 native tree species on the island of Lignumvitae Key alone.

Three types of mangrove are found along the west and south coasts and in the Florida Keys of Florida, which thrive in the brackish water: red, white and black mangrove. In addition to mangroves, palms, mahogany trees, gumbo-limbo trees and dogwood trees grow on the Keys, which are covered with a thin layer of solid soil. Bahia Honda State Park on Big Pine key has the largest stock of silver palm trees in the United States.

In the oak and hardwood trees of North and Central Florida, Spanish moss hangs from the branches, a rootless epiphyte of the bromeliad family that absorbs water and nutrients from the air and raindrops.

Spanish moss is found in the forests of FloridaPhoto:Howard Homer Price Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

The wetlands are home to hundreds of years old bald cypress trees, along with ferns, lilies, wild orchids, including 44 native species alone, and many varieties of bromeliads. In the middle of the Corkscrew Swamp Santuary, located in Southwest Florida, is North America's oldest bald cypress forest, with trees that are over 600 years old and about 40 meters high.

Special is the paurotis palm, a fan palm that occurs almost exclusively in the Everglades. Other special tree species are lime tree, tamarind, 'pigeon plum tree' (Coccoloba diversifolia) and gum tree or 'sapodilla'.

A special feature is the indigenous gumbo-limbo tree (Bursera simaruba, also called copperwood, chaca or turpentine tree), up to 30 meters high, a species that only occurs in South Florida in the United States, its bark is regularly renewed and all year round bears fruit, but especially in March and April. The tree is also called 'tourist tree', after its red color, which resembles the color of tourists burned in the Floridian sun. The tree is very resistant to strong winds, even hurricanes hardly affect the tree.

Bark from the gumbo limbo tree is peeling, native to South FloridaPhoto: Bob Peterson Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic no changes made

Along the coasts of Peru, Brazil, but also those of Florida, the beach grape or sea grape can be found, an evergreen plant of the knotweed family that is up to 15 meters high at normal temperatures and rainfall. The plant is resistant to wind and salt, has hard, leathery leaves, small creamy white flowers and small fruits with sweet-sour flesh.

The flower of the orange tree has been the floral symbol of Florida since 1909, the Sabal palmette, a species of palm, is the tree symbol of Florida.


Typical of Florida are more than 1 million American alligators and beaked crocodiles living in Florida wetlands and swamps. The American or Mississippi alligator lives only in the southeast of the United States, in addition to Florida also in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas. The animal grows to 3-4.5 meters long (females are considerably smaller) with outliers of more than five meters, has 74-80 teeth that have a bite force of almost 150 kg per square centimeter and weighs up to 450 kg.

"American Photo: H. Zell Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unportedno changes made

The beaked crocodile is found in the United States only in the very south of Florida and in many countries of Central America and some South American countries. This crocodile species grows to about five meters in length, possibly much longer, and here too the females remain considerably smaller. The number of teeth in the typical narrow mouth is 66-68.

Beaked Crocodile, FloridaPhoto: Tomas Castelázo, Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Genericno changes made

Some 600 species of fish live in the coastal waters and the Everglades, including about fifty shark species such as sand or sand tiger shark, blacktip shark, sandbar or great finned shark, nurse or nurse shark and Atlantic sharpnose shark.

troutfishspotted sunfishSeminole killfish
Suwannee bassrobin sun bassFlorida gar
blue-throated sun basschannel catfishcaiman or leg pike
black crappiebrown bullhead catfishgolden shiner
redear sunfishpirate perch
drumfishlane snapperGray Sea Bass or Gray Snapper
spotted omberfishYellowtailblue reef perch
silverfishneertjesheep's head bream
whitinginside pikeking-pullerfish
itajaraAtlantic garfishSpotted King Mackerel
black sea basspigfishgray triggerfish
bluefishgruntfishhorse mackerel
harderAtlantic Tarpon
large yellowtail or amber mackerelcuttlefish or common sea catfish

500 bird species can be found in Florida, some 350 in the Everglades alone, with the 'ahinga' or American snake-neck bird, waders such as blue heron, little blue heron, red flamingo, white ibis, Louisiana tricolor heron, great egret, red-headed vulture, red-bellied woodpecker and the rare hermit ibis and red spoonbill. Birds of prey include osprey, red-shouldered hawk, bald eagle or white-headed sea eagle, and the marsh or snail kite, which feeds on, among other things, the apple snail, Florida's largest freshwater snail.

Furthermore, many rare birds, including the white-hooded pigeon, scrub jay, black scissors beak and the bald-headed stork. Brown pelicans are seriously threatened by the use of insecticides. The Trumpeter Crane, the largest bird species in North America and the only crane found only in North America, is very rare and also in danger of extinction.

Other Florida Birds:

white pelicanWhite-bellied HeronBlack-bellied Whistling Duck
Eared CormorantCattle EgretRed or Yellow Whistling Duck
white ibisAmerican Little Egretmusk or barbarian duck
red spoonbillred-necked heronspotted duck
yellow-crowned night heron (photo)green heron
American or Great Blue HeronSummer duck

Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Florida water birdPhoto: Eugene F. Hester in the public domain

Swallow-tailed KiteAmerican or black scissors beakBarn Owl
northern crested caracara (photo)laughing gullEastern Screech Owl
black vultureCanadian craneCommon Sparrow
Red-headed or turkey vultureklapperralcockaded woodpecker
variegated sandpiperkoerlanRed-bellied Woodpecker
TurnstoneMoorhengolden ground woodpecker
American Pied OystercatcherAmerican cootNorth American Helmeted Woodpecker
Little TernAmerican Purple GrouseRed-headed Woodpecker
royal ternFat-billed GrebeDown Woodpecker
Ring-billed Gullstriped tawny owlbobwhite quail or bobwhite
western scrub jayburrowing owl, shoco or burrowing owlturkey
blue jayAmerican Eagle Owl

Northern crested carara, bird of prey in FloridaPhoto: Manjith Kainickara, Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic no changes made

Florida has about 184 reptiles and amphibians, nowhere in the United States are there more species. And that number is still growing, but not in the right way because more and more species are imported that do not belong in Florida or the United States, including the Burmese python or dark tiger python and the common worm snake in the Everglades, the white-black ground iguana, the green iguana and the Nile monitor. Many snake species occur in Florida, 44 in total and six of them are poisonous, the copperhead, the rattlesnake or forest rattlesnake, the pygmy rattlesnake, the diamond rattlesnake as the most aggressive and therefore dangerous, a subspecies of the water moccasin snake, and the harlequin coral snake (photo), which all occur in the Everglades.

Other Florida reptiles and amphibians:

American bull snakerunnerScarlet Snake
eastern hognose snakerough grass snakestriped crayfish snake
red rat snake or corn snakecommon garter snakeswamp snake
gray rat snakemud snakepine woods snake
black rat snakebrown water snakering neck hose
indigo snakesalt marsh snakeAmerican brown snake
milk hoseFlorida crowned snake

Harlequin coral snake, poisonous snake in FloridaPhoto: Norman Benton, Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unportedno changes made

bronze frogbarking tree froggiant path
pig froggreen tree frogsouthern path
screaming frogsquirrel tree frogeastern spadefoot toad
gopher frogCuban tree frogeikpad
American bull or bullfroglittle grass frogEastern Red-tailed Frog
leopard frogsouthern chorus frog

Little grass frog, is native to Florida and is the smallest frog and toad species in North AmericaPhoto: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Servicein the public domain

Florida worm lizardEuropean tjitjakregular ameiva
Red-throated AnoleIndo-Pacific geckobrown or striped basilisk
sagra's or brown anoleMadagascar Giant Day Geckoblack and white Argentinian teju
hedge iguanaashy geckogreen iguana
Florida scrub lizardtokehMexican spiney-tailed iguana
southeatern five-lined skinkhouse geckoNile monitor
little brown skinkbark anole
mole skinkknight or giant anole
Florida sand skinkTexas toad lizard
broadkopskinkbrow leg
six-lined racerunnernorthern curly-tailed lizard
Eastern Glass SnakeAfrican Settler Dragon

Florida scrub lizardPhoto: Bob Peterson, Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic no changes made

The east coast of Florida is the largest nesting area for sea turtles in the United States: loggerhead sea turtles, green sea turtles or green sea turtles, leatherback turtles, hawksbill or true hawksbill turtles and Kemp's sea turtle, the smallest sea turtle species in the world. Sea turtles come from South America every year to Juno Beach to lay between 80 and 120 eggs in the warm sand of the beach. Loggerhead turtles lay their eggs south of Melbourne Beach.

Located in the Panhandle, Torreya State Park is home to the remarkable Barbours Map Turtle. Other Florida land and terrapins include: Gopher Tortoise, Florida Box Turtle, Alligator Tortoise, Common Snapping Turtle or Bite Chelydra, Striped Mud Turtle, Ferocious Three Claws, Spiny Soft Turtles, Floridas Turtles, Hieroglyphens Turtles, Yellow-bellied Turtles, Red-bellied Turtles, Red-bellied Turtle turtle.

Barbours Map Turtle is found in FloridaPhoto: maimaip2000 in the public domain

Armadillo, bobcat and raccoon are found all over Florida, resident forest dwellers include coypu, mice, marsh rabbits, fishing otters and weasels. The green anole lives in the freshwater marshes.

Among other things, the Caloosahatchee River estuary is home to the manatee, a marine mammal weighing up to 4.5 meters and up to 1600 kg, which mainly feeds on seaweed. The population is only 3000-4000 copies of these endangered animals. Kings Bay, near the Crystal River on the Gulf Coast, is the top spot for manatees, with up to 500 manatees gathering here on a cold January day.

Not endangered is the Florida bear, a subspecies of the American black bear or baribal. On the contrary, at the end of 2015 it became known that black bears could be hunted for the first time in 20 years. Due to the 'overpopulation' of bears, they increasingly move to inhabited areas and cause a lot of nuisance there.

A species that absolutely does not belong in Florida is the rhesus monkey. These offspring of escaped zoo monkeys live in the forests of Silver River, part of the Ocala National Forest.

Virginian opossumCommon or North American RaccoonFlorida Bear
nine-band armadillocoyote or coyoteEastern Spotted Skunk
big brown batgray foxotter
guano batfoxstriped skunk
minkbobcatbottlenose dolphin
wild boarEast American moleCommon Dolphin
White-tailed or Virginian deerstar or star nose moleIndian pilot whale
short-eared shrewgold mousecoypu or nutria
Short-tailed shrewflorida mouseBlack or American Fox Squirrel
gray squirrelNorth American Flying Squirrelswamp rabbit

More than 400 mussel species have been counted on the beaches of Sanibel & Captica Island. The coastal waters of Florida are home to 21 dolphin and whale species, including the common bottlenose dolphin. The 300 North Atlantic population of the North Atlantic right whales, the North Atlantic right whale, calve their young off Jacksonville.

The state symbol of Florida is the endangered Florida panther, of which an estimated 150 more are found in southern Florida.

Florida pantherPhoto: US Fish & Wildlife Service in the public domain

Sixteen subspecies of the white-tailed deer are found throughout the United States. One of the most special is the Small Key deer, with a maximum height of 75 cm, the smallest deer in North America, which is only found on some islands of the Low Leys (part of the Florida Keys), especially on Big Pine Key, Torch Keys and No Name Key. The population consists of only a few hundred specimen.

Male of the Key deer, rare in FloridaPhoto: Averette, Creative Commons Attiribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

Florida has many insect and spider species. Below a very small selection of more or less special species.

monarch butterflyhissing cockroachdog tick
American Moon ButterflyHercules Beetlered fire ant
rainbow locustbumblebeewhite-footed ant
green banana cockroachpaper waspblack widow
American cockroachLong-stemmed Digger Waspbrown recluse
German cockroachlone-star tick

The mockingbird is not only the bird symbol of Florida, but also of the states of Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas.

Mockingbird, Florida symbolPhoto: Mdf, Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made


First Florida residents

The first humans reached Florida about 12,000 years ago. They were attracted by the varied landscape with many (edible) plants and animals. Most of the animals still found in Florida still existed then, supplemented by extinct animals such as saber-toothed tiger, mastodon, giant armadillo and camel. The coastline along the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico was very different from the current coastline. The sea level was much lower than now and the peninsula was therefore twice as big.

Originally residents in the Everglades, Florida Photo:Public domain

The then residents of Florida were hunters and gatherers, who mainly lived by hunting small (mammals) animals and collecting plants, nuts and crustaceans. The large mammals that were actually present were probably not hunted much. These first Floridians settled in areas where there was a constant supply of fresh water, suitable stones for making tools, and wood for making fire. Over a period of centuries, these humble indigenous people evolved into complex cultures that developed increasingly better agricultural methods, entered trade routes with the southeastern United States, and improved social organization resulted in the construction of large walled temples and village complexes.

European Explorers and Florida Colonization

Written resources on native Florida life have only been available since the discovery of Florida in 1513 by the Spanish explorer and adventurer Juan Ponce de León (ca. April 8, 1460-July 1521). Sometime between April 2 and 8, 1513, Ponce de León entered the northeast coast of Florida, possibly near present-day St. Augustine.
He named the area 'La Florida', after the Spanish Easter festival 'Pascua florida' (flower party). It is not entirely certain that Ponce de León was the first European to set foot on Floridian territory, but hard evidence to the contrary is lacking so far.
Another trip of Ponce de León, in 1521, ended on the southwestern coast of the peninsula. The ship was carrying a crew of about 200 people and fifty horses, but its colonization attempt was soon unsuccessful due to attacks from the native population. Yet Florida remained a favorite destination for explorers, missionaries and fortune seekers.

Juan Ponce de León, discoverer of Florida Photo:Unknown in the public domain

In 1539, the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto (ca. 1497-1542) started an expedition in search of gold and silver. For four years he traveled across Florida and part of the southwestern United States (Georgia, Alabama and most likely Arkansas) in search of hidden Native American treasures. De Soto and his men camped in northern Florida for about five months near the current capital of Florida, Tallahassee. De Soto died on the banks of the Mississippi in 1542; he was the first European documented to have crossed that river; survivors of his expedition eventually reached Mexico.
Many treasures were ultimately not found in Florida by the Spanish conquistadors, who were much more successful in Cuba, Mexico, Central and South America. Heavily loaded ships passed Florida on their way to Europe, but pirates and tornadoes regularly caused heavy losses.
In 1559, Tristán de Luna y Arellano (1519-1573) made another attempt to colonize Florida on behalf of Spain. He founded a settlement near Pensacola Bay, but had to abandon his effort after two years. Another Spanish explorer who explored this area was Pánfilo de Narváez (ca. 1478-1528).

St. Petersburg, Florida, this is where Pánfilo de Narváez came ashorePhoto:Ebyabe Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

Meanwhile, other European nations also became interested in Florida, particularly the French. In 1562 this was the Protestant Jean Ribault (1520-1565), two years later René Goulaine de Laudonnère (c. 1529-1574) Fort Caroline at the mouth of the St. Johns River, near present-day Jacksonville.

First Spanish period

The activities of the French adventurers and explorers accelerated the Spanish response to colonize Florida. Pedro Menéndez de Avilés (1519-1574) rushed across the Atlantic from Spain to drive out the French and in 1565 founded the first permanent European settlement in what is now the United States, San Augustín (now: St. Augustine in Northeast Florida). He did manage to expel the French, only those who did not resist and who converted to the Catholic faith were allowed to stay. Fort Caroline was captured and renamed San Mateo.
Two years later, Dominique de Gourgues (1530-1593) took San Mateo again and all the Spanish soldiers were killed. However, the Spaniards were not discouraged by this and continued to establish fortresses and Roman Catholic missions. The missions were established among the Native American population and soon reached North Florida and even northern to present-day South Carolina.
At the end of the 16th century, Spain came into increasing conflict with the English, who were of course also very interested. in the treasures of America. On July 7, 1586, the English captain Sir Francis Drake (ca.1540-1596) sacked St. Augustine and burned it to the ground.

Drake's English fleet destroyed the Spanish colony of St. Augustine, FloridaPhoto:Public domain

Even now the Spaniards did not let themselves be fooled and around 1600 they had full control over the current southeastern United States. However, it did not take long for the first English settlers to settle in America, including Jamestown (in present-day Virginia) in 1607, and Plymouth (in present-day Massachusetts) in 1620. Together with the English army, they drove the Spaniards south. to the south of Georgia. At the same time, French explorers were advancing east through the Mississippi Valley and up the Gulf of Mexico coast.
The North and South Carolina settlers, in particular, were very hostile to the Spanish. In 1702, along with the armies of Colonel James Moore (ca. 1650-1706) and the Creek Indians, they attacked Spanish Florida and destroyed the rebuilt St. Augustine. The accompanying fort, Castillo de San Marcos, was not captured at that time, but two years later all the missions between Tallahassee and St. Augustine had been destroyed and many Native Americans were killed or taken into slavery. The French continued to attack the western border of Spanish Florida and Pensacola was captured in 1719.

Castillo de San Marcos, FloridaFoto:National Park service in the public domain

Spanish Florida came under further pressure after the southernmost state of Georgia, founded by the English in 1733. The people of Georgia attacked Florida in 1740, laying siege to Castillo San Marcos for nearly a month. Although this siege was not successful either, it gradually became clear that Spanish Florida was getting weaker.

British Florida

In 1763 the British gained control of Florida in exchange for Havana in Cuba, which the British had conquered from Spain during the Seven Years' War (1756-1763). The Spaniards withdrew almost completely from an extinct Florida; St. Augustine was now only a garrison town of no more than 500 houses, and Pensacola was also a small military town.
But the British had big plans for Florida. First, Florida was divided into East Florida, with St. Augustine as the capital, and West Florida, with Pensacola as the capital. British researchers mapped the landscape and coastline and linked up with a group of Indians entering Florida from the north, the so-called Seminoles. Furthermore, the British tried to persuade settlers to move to Florida by offering their land. Had enough time had been given, Florida would likely have become a thriving colony, but British rule lasted only twenty years.
The two Floridas remained loyal to the British Empire throughout the American War of Independence (1776-1783). Spain, indirectly a vassal of the French, conquered Pensacola from the British in 1781. In 1784 the Spanish regained possession of Florida, an outgrowth of the Peace of Paris (also known as Versailles), the peace treaty that ended. the American Revolutionary War.

United States in 1803/1804Photo:Golbez Creative CommonsAttribution 2.5 no changes made

Second Spanish period

After the British cleared the field, Spanish and American colonists flocked in en masse, attracted by the attractive settlement conditions. Many slaves from the United States also fled to Florida, where their bosses could no longer reach them. This made the two Floridas not Spanish, but more American. Finally, after several US military expeditions, Spain transferred Florida to the United States in 1821 under the terms of the Adams-Onís Treaty. On one of the expeditions, in 1818, General and later President Andrew Jackson (1767-1845) invaded Florida. Jackson's battles with the Native American population, which had many problems with Florida's white population, is known as the First Seminole War (1835-1842).
As a part of the United States, Florida became attractive to people from the southern plantation states of Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia. Soon, the two Floridas were considered one entity with Tallahassee as its capital, chosen in 1824 because it was halfway between the existing administrative centers of St. Augustine and Pensacola. The continued influx of "Americans" forced the Florida administration to drive the Indians, especially of the Creek, Seminole, and Miccosukee tribes, from their lands to make way for the settlers. In addition, fled slaves from the north often had shelter among the Indians. A famous Seminole chief and war leader, Osceola, commanded a lot of respect from his opponents, but eventually also had to bow his head. Under President Andrew Jackson, the Seminole wars cost $ 20 million and the lives of many soldiers, Indians and civilians. And eventually the 'removal' of the Seminoles failed, some left 'voluntarily', some were captured and driven west under military guidance, still others fled into the Everglades and avoided all contact with the whites.

Florida at the time of the Second Seminole War Photo:Sémhur Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes made

Around 1840 the Floridians concentrated on developing the territory, the main economic activity was agriculture, and obtaining 'state' status. The population at that time numbered about 55,000 people, of which about half were black slaves. Florida at the time was unofficially divided into three areas: East Florida from the Atlantic Ocean to the Suwannee River; Central Florida between the Suwannee and Apalachicola Rivers; and West Florida from the Apalachicola to the Perdido River. South Florida, south of present-day Gainesville, was scarcely populated by whites. The acreage of plantations was concentrated in Central Florida and the owners set the political tone in Florida until after the Civil War.

Florida, the 27th state in the United States

On March 3, 1845, Florida became the 27th state in the United States and William Dunn Moseley (1795-1863) was elected as the first governor of the new state. David Levy Yulee, one of the greatest advocates for joining the United States, became a senator in the national parliament.

William Dunn Moseley, First Florida Governor

Photo: State of Florida in the public domain

By 1850, the population had grown to about 87,500 people, including about 39,000 slaves and about 1,000 free blacks.
Soon the issue of slavery began to affect (political) life in Florida. Most Florida voters, white men 21 or older, were not against slavery and so were concerned about the anti-slavery sentiment in the northern United States and about the new Republican during the 1950s. Party that joined. It was not surprising, then, that hardly anyone in Florida voted for the Republican candidate from Illinois, Abraham Lincoln, who did win.
The Floridians did not like Lincoln at all, and a special convention was called shortly after his election , which issued a decree allowing Florida to secede from the Union on January 10. Within weeks, Florida joined the Confederate States of America, known as Confederation for short, a confederation of southern states. This secession led to the American Civil War (1861-1865), which was lost by the Confederacy and after which the southern states were placed under political receivership through the Reconstruction.

American Civil War and Reconstruction

With no major battles fought in Floridian territory, Florida was not as affected by the Civil War as many other southern states. Union troops occupied many coastal towns and fortresses, the interior of Florida was in the hands of the Confederacy. Florida provided approximately 15,000 troops and much food and supplies to the Confederacy, but approximately 2,000 Floridians, both African-American and White, joined the Union military. Confederacy and foreign merchant ships slipped through the coastal blockade of the Union and managed to supply the troops. Tallahassee was the only southern capital east of the Mississippi that was not occupied, but the South was eventually conquered and federal troops occupied Tallahassee on May 10, 1865.

Battle of Olustee , Florida (864)Photo:Public domain

Before the Civil War, Florida was on its way to becoming one of the southern cotton states. After the civil war, that course changed. The ports of Jacksonville and Pensacola flourished as a result of the demand for timber and timber products to rebuild the many destroyed cities. The slaves have now been declared free and former plantation owners tried to hire their former slaves to work on the (cotton) plantations.
From 1868, a program was drawn up by the federal government for Florida and the other southern ones. states, the so-called 'Reconstruction'. The Republicans tried to bring about major changes, particularly to improve the living conditions of African Americans.
At the time of the 1876 presidential election, Florida was still occupied by federal forces. The Florida Republican Parliament and the free African-Americans helped get Rutherford B. Hayes into the White House. Still, the Democrats managed to end Republican rule in Florida, resulting in the withdrawal of federal troops. Despite some heated political battles in the state parliament, African Americans had very little to say in the administration of the state of Florida.

Florida is developing

During the last quarter of the 19th century, the commercial agricultural sector, and in particular livestock farming, became increasingly important. Industrial activities such as the cigar industry have become established in the immigrant society of Florida. Major investors were interested in companies that extracted resources from water and land, such as sponges in Tarpon Springs and phosphate mines in the southwest of the state. The citrus industry grew rapidly, despite some freezing periods and economic problems. From 1855, these industrial developments accelerated the construction of many roads and railways through the so-called 'Internal Improvement Act'. Many railways were operated by Henry M. Flagler (1830-1913) and Henry B. Plant (1819-1899), who built large hotels near the railways.

Portrait of Henry Morrisson FlaglerPhoto:JJ Cade, in the public domain

From the 1970s onwards, the tourism industry started from the northern United States, including steamboat tours over the rivers were very popular. The Internal Improvement Act also made the marshy and swampy landscape of southern Florida suitable for agricultural use by drainage. All these developments greatly affected the economy of late 19th-century Florida. The citrus industry, in particular, benefited fully from the draining of South Florida and exports to the northern United States.
In 1898, Florida was the focus of attention at the start of the Spanish-American War. The port of Tampa was used by American troops as a starting point for the battlefield in Cuba. Many Floridians supported the Cubans in their struggle for independence from Spain.

So-called Rough Riders in Florida during the Spanish-American War Photo:Public domain

At the turn of the century, the population and income of the population grew rapidly and the possibilities of the Sunshine State seemed endless. Towards the end of World War I, many land developers saw a virtual gold mine emerge in Florida, enhanced by the emergence of the automobile, allowing more people to spend their Florida vacation. Land in Florida became increasingly expensive as a result of these developments.
The economic bubble was inevitably created by Florida's rapid development burst in 1926. Bankers and investors suddenly lost faith in the 'papers' millionaires. In addition, the economy suffered from several hurricanes in 1926 and also in 1928. By the time the Great Depression hit the United States and the rest of the world badly in 1929, Florida was already somewhat accustomed to the economic downturn. In 1929 Florida was again hit by the imported Mediterranean fruit fly. Despite some protective measures by the government, citrus fruit production declined by about 60%.
In administrative and political terms, more and more groups of the population gained influence. Women were given the right to vote in 1920, in 1937 poor African Americans and white Floridians were given more chances to vote because the so-called 'tax tax' was abolished. In 1944 everyone finally got unlimited voting rights.

Florida after WWII

The Second World War brought an economic revival in Florida. Due to its mild year-round climate, the state was used as an ideal training ground for American and Allied soldiers, sailors and airmen. The construction of highways and airfields was accelerated, providing Florida with an up-to-date and modern transportation system after the war, which was used by its own citizens and industry, as well as by a rapidly increasing flow of visitors from home and abroad. The growth of the population also took spectacular forms due to both domestic immigration and migrants from Cuba and Haiti in particular. People from the diverse populations have fought to make Florida a state where all residents would have legal equal rights. Public education has undergone major changes since the 1950s. African American citizens, backed by 33rd Florida Governor LeRoy Collins (Governor from 1/4/1955 to 1/3/1961), and other whites, fought to end discrimination in education and other social institutions.

LeRoy Collins (1909- 1991), 33rd Governor of Florida Photo:Public domain

Since World War II, Florida's economy has become much more diverse. In addition to the well-known sectors such as tourism, livestock, citrus and phosphate, a series of new industries were added, including electronics, plastics, construction, housing and international banks settled in booming Florida. Many important American multinationals relocated their headquarters to Florida.
Important to this were an excellent highway system, the construction of important international airports, the establishment of many excellent universities and the establishment of high-tech industries. The best-known example of this is the space program of the United States, which was developed and implemented from Cape Canaveral. The citrus industry and tourism remain important branches of the economy. Major attractions like the theme parks near Orlando continue to attract millions of visitors from the United States and around the world year after year in the 21st century.

In August 1992, Hurricane Andrew caused 26.5 billion dollar damage. 65 people were killed and 177,000 people were left homeless.

Hurricane Andrew hits Florida in 1992Photo: US National Weather Servicein the public domain

In September 2017, Florida was hit by Hurricane Irma, a fourth-category hurricane that previously left a trail of death. and caused destruction in the Caribbean.
Before the hurricane made landfall, 6.5 million Florida residents fled north. On return, the damage was massive and 5.8 million households were without electricity.
The Florida Keys, an archipelago south of Florida, were the hardest hit; 25% of the houses were destroyed and 60% damaged. In Florida, six were killed and many injured.

Hurricane Irma makes landfall in Florida

Photo: MODIS image captured by NASA ' s Aqua satellite in the public domain



For Florida, the past seventy years have been dominated by immigration. Before World War II, Florida was the least populated state in the United States with only about two million inhabitants; Florida is currently the fourth state in terms of population. Population growth was spectacular in the 1970s with an increase of 44% and in the first decade of the 21st century it was still about 17%, a total of about 3 million people. Florida has 19.9 million inhabitants (2017) and the average population density is 140 inhabitants per km2. About 85% of the population lives in urban areas. The largest population centers are: Jacksonville (also the largest city in the United States with about 2000 km2 in size), Miami, Tampa and St. Petersburg. Five of the largest cities in Florida are in the top 20 fastest growing conurbations in the United States.

Population density overview Florida Photo JimIrwin at the English language Wikipedia, Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unportedno changes

Florida has an enormous cultural diversity, although the Indians have almost completely disappeared since the eighteenth century. Due to the influx of Cubans and other people of Caribbean descent, southern Florida, especially Miami, has a very diverse population. Statewide, some 16.6 percent of the population is black and another 23.2 percent are of Hispanic (Hispanic) background. Florida ranks fourth in the largest minority population (7.9 million) and ranks first as the state with the most foreign-born residents (3.5 million). In Miami, 60% of the population was foreign-born and approximately 700,000 people are illegal immigrants.

Only 0.5 percent of the population is of Native American descent. The Greater Miami region is home to more than six million people and Miami is the only major city in the United States where Hispanics are in the majority, with more than 900,000 expatriates from Cuba and the United States since the mid-1950s and early 1960s alone. also many emigrants from Central American, South American and Caribbean countries such as the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Colombia, El Salvador, Peru, Jamaica and Haiti. Little Haiti, in Miami, is home to about 70,000 Haitians, the entire city has about 200,000 Haitians. Over the years, small waves of Asian immigrants have also moved to Florida from China, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. Many Jews immigrated to South Florida.

Colorful street scene in Little Haïti, Miami, FloridaPhoto: Averette Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported no changes made

The many islands of the Florida Keys, most of which are uninhabited, have less than 100,000 inhabitants together. The largest island, Key Largo, is home to about 12,000 people. The most southern inhabited island, Key West, has approximately 25,000 inhabitants.

Florida has a relatively old population, more than 3 million inhabitants are over 65, and that is about 17% of the population (United States about 13%). Due to the mild climate, more and more elderly people from other American states are coming to Florida. The population of Citrus County has an average age of about 53 years, on the Gulf Coast one in three residents are retired, and in southern Florida one in two is retired.

No direct descendants survive from the original Native American tribes, the Tequesta, Calusa and Timucuan. Direct descendants of the Seminole and Miccosukee, who migrated north to Florida from Alabama and Tennessee during the Indian Wars of the 19th century, still live in several reserves.

At the time of the Spanish discovery of America, it is estimated that approximately 100,000 Indians lived in present-day Florida. Among them were the Calusa, a warlike people who built canals, built shell pyramids, and used shells to build paths and squares. The Calusa culture, hunters and gatherers, flourished between AD 500 and 1000, but they lived at least from 5000 BC. in Florida. They traded with Cuba and the Mexican Yucatan. The Calusa culture was brought to a bloody end by the attacks from the north of the Creek Indians. By the middle of the 18th century all Calusa had been wiped out.

Calusa Territory, Florida

Photo: Bryan Strome in the public domain

Against all oppression, the Seminole and Miccosukee tribes flourish in the same place as their illustrious predecessors, the swamps and grasslands of the Everglades.

Miami, 'capital of the Americas'

Although Miami is of course inseparable from the United States, this metropolis is widely regarded as the 'capital of the Americas', 'Center of the New World' or the 'Latin American capital of North America'. In a country where Latinos are the largest minority, Miami takes the cake for pan-Latin ethnic diversity. For example, around the turn of the century, the western neighborhoods of Hialeah Gardens and Hialeah were the two neighborhoods in the United States where Spanish was the first language (about 90% of the population).

Most Latinos were political refugees, including educated Cubans who fled dictator Batista in the mid-1950s and early 1960s from Fidel Castro's regime; and Venezuelans fleeing President Hugo Chávez and his predecessors. In the eighties of the last century another 125,000 Cubans fled to Florida, this time they were often poorly educated. Brazilians and Argentines fled the economic chaos in their countries, Mexicans and Gualtemecans were and are looking for work.

All of this has led to a significant growth in the number of Latin American companies in Miami, providing a boost to the local economy. In addition, Miami is home to many headquarters of major Latin companies, including Lan Chile, an airline company, Televisa, a Mexican television conglomerate, and Embraer, a Brazilian aircraft manufacturer. Telemundo, one of the largest Spanish-language broadcasters in the United States, also broadcasts from Miami and MTV Networks Latin America and the Latin arm of Universal Music Group work in the same industry. And in Miami, the Billboard Latin Music Conference & Awards are held and presented annually.

Cubans have a profound influence on local and international politics in Miami. Conservative refugee groups are often characterized as extreme, and many refuse to move to Cuba as long as the Castro family is in power. The newer generations (Young Urban Cuban Americans) have a much more nuanced view of this.

Never Forget Monument 'in Miami, Florida for victims of the Castro regime in CubaPhoto:Ivan Curra Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

Conch Republic

In 1982, a roadblock was erected on the bridge to Key West (US Highway 1 at the Last Chance Saloon) to arrest illegal immigrants and drug smugglers. The traffic jams that arose got longer and tourists pulled out en masse. The angry citizens of the Lower Keys resolved to secede from the United States and proclaimed the Conch (pronounced konk) Republic. After the peace had returned, it soon became clear that it was all not really serious. Nevertheless, Independence Day is celebrated every February.

Flag of the Conch RepublicPhoto: Jmckean, Attribution 3.0 Unported no changes made


Due to the great Caribbean and South American influences, especially in southern Florida, English is even considered a second language in large parts of Florida. This is also due to the large number of Spanish-language media. Many Florida residents speak a mixture of English and Spanish called 'Spanglish'. Spanish is particularly widely spoken in Tampa, Miami, and South Florida, where Haitian Creole is also found.

One in four Floridians, which is more than 5 million inhabitants, speaks a language other than English at home, and three quarters of them speak Spanish. About half of Spanish speakers admit to not having a good command of English ... because they simply don't need it.

Overview of languages spoken in FloridaPhoto:Datawheel, CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication

Approx. 500 Seminole and Miccosukee Indians still speak Miccosukee.

Miccosukee villagePhoto:olekinderhook Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported no changes made



Approximately 40% of the total population of Florida is Protestant, with Baptists, Methodists, and Pentecostals as the largest faith communities.

Just over a quarter of the population is Roman Catholic, 3% is Jewish, 1% is Jehovah's Witness and 14% of the population belongs to various small faith communities. Approx. 16% of the population is non-religious, including the spiritualists of the Cassadag community.

Most Catholics and Jews live in South Florida; the Jews there make up 12% of the population, after New York the highest percentage of the population. South Florida also has an increasing Muslim population and followers of Santería, a mix of West African and Catholic customs. Voodoo customs are practiced by Haitians.

Remains of a Santería-offering ritual, Miami, Florida Photo: James Emery, Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

Ecclesiastical buildings

Apalachicola - Trinity Episcopal Church: Church built in New York State that was shipped to Apalachicola in sections along the Atlantic coast and the Florida Keys and reassembled in 1836.

Key West - St. Paul's Episcopal Church: 1912 church dedicated to the patron saint of castaways. Some windows are therefore stained with nautical scenes.

Miami - Gesù Church: This Downtown-Miami church is owned by the oldest Catholic parish in Miami and dates back to 1922. The stained-glass windows were made in Munich, Germany. The church has no pillars and an impressive marble altar.

Miami - 1917 Church in the Coconut Grove area of the Plymouth Congregational Church Society, an independent part of the United Church of Christ (UCC).

Miami - Coral Gables Congregational Church: Church built in Spanish Baroque style, a replica of a church in Costa Rica. Built in 1923 by George Merrick, the architect of the church was Richard Kiehnel of the architectural firm of Kiehnel & Elliott. George Merrick was also the creator of the new town of Coral Gables, which was not completed by a hurricane in 1926 and the stock market crash of 1929.

Miami - Ermita de la Caridad del Cobre: Modernist church for Cuban refugees built in 1966, dedicated to the patron saint Our Lady of Mercy. The church has a lot of symbolism: the six pillars represent the six traditional provinces of Cuba, under the altar is Cuban soil and stone, along with water from a refugee boat.

Ermita de la Caridad del Cobre, Miami, FloridaPhoto: Ivan Curra Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

Miami Beach - Miami Beach Community Church: Miami Beach's first church, built in 1921.

Miami Beach - Temple Emanu-El: Considered one of the most beautiful synagogues in the United States, built in Byzantine-Moorish style. Founded by the Orthodox Jewish Congregation Jacob Joseph of Rabbi Joseph Rackovsky and built in 1948 with 1,400 seats. The great Abdallah Ibn Salam Synagogue of Oran, Algeria, served as an example.

Palm Beach - Bethesda-by-the-Sea Church: church built in gothic revival style.

Palm Beach - St. Edward's Church: 1927 church built in Spanish revival style.

Palm Beach - Royal Poinciana Chapel: 1898 church originally built by Henry Morrison Flagler (1830-1913). The church was later moved and reconstructed in 1973.

St. Augustine - Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine: what can be considered the first church on American soil burned down several times, in 1586, 1702 and 1887. In 1976 the church was given the status of basilica. Beautiful wall drawings by Hugo Ohlms (1905-1990) about life in St. Augustine.

Cathedral Basilica, St. Augustine, FloridaPhoto:Wikiwopbop Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic no changes made

St. Augustine - Flagler Memorial Presbyterian Church: 1890s Presbyterian Church, funded and named after American industrialist and founder of Standard Oil and the Florida East Coast Railway, Henry Morrison Flagler. Flagler, who dedicated the church to his daughter Jenny who died prematurely and they lie in the mausoleum with his daughter. Church is in the Venetian Renaissance style with a floor of Siena marble, a copper dome and a magnificent organ.

Tarpon Springs - St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral: Greek Orthodox cathedral, built by imposing some kind of tax on the capture of sponges. Construction of the church was completed in 1943.

Tarpon Springs - Unitarian-Universalist Church: Special church due to the presence of a collection of paintings by landscape painter George Innes Junior (1854-1926), who wintered in Tarpon Springs from 1902-1926.

Koreshan sect

Cyrus Reed Teed (Delaware County 1839 - New York 1908) was a physician and self-proclaimed alchemist who became a religious leader and called himself "messiah." In the fall of 1869, after an accident involving electricity, he passed out. When he regained consciousness, he believed he had been visited by a holy spirit who told him he was the Messiah. Teed's mission was to liberate mankind and so he changed his first name to Koresh, the Hebrew word for Cyrus.

Teed had some curious points of view. He believed, for example, that the earth revolved around the sun and that humanity did not live on the planet, but in the planet. The sun would be a battery-powered device and the stars merely refracted rays of light from that same sun. He also preached and was a follower of cellular cosmology, alchemy, reincarnation, immortality, celibacy and communism. All together he called Koreashianism and he started preaching his thoughts in the 1970s in New York. Here he also founded the 'Koreshan Unity, and moved to Chicago a little later.

Around 1900, members of the now defunct Koreshan sect settled just south of Fort Myers. The sect's most notable position was that they believed that humanity lived on the inside of a hollow earth.

The sect was founded by New Yorker Cyrus Reed Teed, who after a revelation bought some land in southwest Florida and built homes, workshops, and communal spaces there. Men and women were completely equal according to Teed and he abolished private property. Family ties and sex between cult members were prohibited; only through adoption and recruiting new members could the sect continue to grow. In 1961 the sect ceased to exist.

Cyrus Teed, founder of a Florida sect

Photo: public domain


State structure

Florida Supreme CourtPhoto:Bruin79 Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

Just like at the federal level and in all other American states, Florida also has legislative, executive, and judicial powers.

The Governor of Florida is elected by Florida citizens for a term of four years, with the option of rerouting for an additional four years. Like the governor, the bicameral parliament also sits in the capital Tallahassee. The House of Representatives has 140 members and the Senate has 40 members. Judges, sheriffs, electoral commissioners, and other dignitaries are also elected by the citizens of Florida through direct elections.

In the presidential elections Florida belongs to the so-called 'swing states', which are characterized by the often very small differences in the final result. For example, in 2016 Donald Trump won only with 100,000 out of Hillary Clinton's nine million votes.

Rick Scott, current Florida GovernorPhoto:State of Florida,in the public domain

Florida is divided into 67 counties. The current governor is Republican Rick (Richard) Scott, elected in 2011. Florida has exclusion from the right to vote for life in a criminal conviction. This law was enacted in 1868, shortly after the abolition of slavery, to keep as many blacks as possible out of the polling place. In practice, this law means that one third of the black population of the state has no right to vote. This rule applies in six more US states.

The Old Capitol, a building in the capital Tallahassee, now houses a museum. The 22-story New Capitol houses the office of the governor, parliament, and senate.

Florida Governors Overview

Andrew Jackson1821Democratic-Republican
William Pope Duval1822-1834Democratic-Republican
John Eaton1834-1836Democrat
Richard Call1836-1839Democrat
Robert Reid1839-1841Democrat
Richard Call1841-1844Democrat
John Branch1844-1845Democrat
William Dunn Mosely1845-1849Democrat
Thomas Brown1849-1853Whig
James Broome1853-1857Democrat
Madison Perry1857-1861Democrat
John Milton1861-1865Democrat
Abraham Allison1865Democrat
William Marvin1865Independent
David Shelby Walker1865-1868Democrat
Harrison Reed1868-1873Republican
Ossian Hart1873-1874Republican
Marcellus Stearns1874-1877Republican
George Franklin Drew1877-1881Democrat
William Bloxham1881-1885Democrat
Edward Perry1885-1889Democrat
Francis Fleming1889-1893Democrat
Henry Mitchell1893-1897Democrat
William Bloxham1897-1901Democrat
William Sherman Jennings1901-1905Democrat
Napoleon Broward1905-1909Democrat
Albert Gilchrist1909-1913Democrat
Park Trammell1913-1917Democrat
Sidney Johnston Catts1917-1921Prohibition Party
Cary Hardee1921-1925Democrat
John Wellborn Martin1925-1929Democrat
Doyle Carlton1929-1933Democrat
David Sholtz1933-1937Democrat
Fred Cone1937-1941Democrat
Spessard Holland1941-1945Democrat
Millard Caldwell1945-1949Democrat
Fuller Warren1949-1953Democrat
Daniel McCarty1953Democrat
Charley Eugene Johns1953-1955Democrat
LeRoy Collins1955-1961Democrat
Farris Bryant1961-1965Democrat
Haydon Burns1965-1971Democrat
Claude Kirk1971-1973Republican
Reubin Askew1973-1979Democrat
Bob Graham1979-1987Democrat
Wayne Mixson1987Democrat
Bob Martinez1987-1991Republican
Lawton Chiles1991-1998Democrat
Buddy MacKay1998-1999Democrat
Jeb Bush1999-2007Republican
Charlie Crist2007-2011Republican
Rick Scott2011-Republican


Economic development began in the late 1800s, when Flagler and other northern financiers built railways and hotels for the sake of tourism. When rich phosphate fields were discovered in 1888, exploitation of the poor sandy soils was possible, partly due to imported potash. The development of major cities in the North and East of the United States gave warm Florida a market for its fresh fruits and vegetables; this development was stimulated by faster transport and better conservation options. Agriculture is now the second most important pillar of Florida's economy after tourism. Nearly a third of Florida's surface is used for agriculture by tens of thousands of farms.

Florida is the most important citrus fruit producer in the United States and there is also considerable (dairy) livestock and poultry production. In addition, the tobacco, peanut and cotton plantations in the north of the state and forestry are important sources of income. South of Lake Okeechobee is the second most important fruit and vegetable growing area in the United States, with peppers, tomatoes (including around Bradenton), strawberries, guavas, mangoes, figs, bananas, star fruits and hearts of palm as important products. Sugar cane cultivation is flourishing in the south of Florida, especially west and southwest of Lake Okeechobee (around Clewiston, among others).

In Tampa, and especially in the Ybor City district, the cigar industry was once of great importance, producing more than 110 million handmade cigars by 1900. Until about 1930, Ybor City was called the cigar capital of the world, before 1886 it was Key West. Companies such as Gonzalez y Martinez Cigar Company, La Faraona Cigars, King Corona Cigars, Long Ash Cigars, Nicahabana Cigars and Ybor Cigars Plus still make cigars by hand, while other companies machine the tobacco leaves, which are often imported from Honduras. Well-known cigars are the Tampa Sweetheart and Hav-a-Tampa.

Cigar makers ca.1920 in Ybor City, FloridaPhoto: public domain

Over the years, hundreds of thoroughbred stud farms and specialized breeding centers have settled around Ocala in northeast Florida. The main ranching area is on the Kissimmee River, with the city of Kissimmee as Florida's 'cow capital'. The most important cow breed in Florida is Brahman, originally from India.

Brahman cowPhoto:Sam Berry, Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

After a period of five consecutive seasons with production decreases, the orange volume in the 2017/2018 season (75.5 million boxes) rose by 10% compared to the 2016/2017 season (68.7 million boxes). The sector's aim was to bring production back to the level of 100 million boxes. The turnover of this sector is around 7 billion euros and provides work for more than 45,000 people. Approx. A quarter of global orange production comes from Florida orange plantations, including around the city of Ocala and along the Indian River between West Palm Beach and Daytona, and more than half of all grapefruits come from Florida.

Industry is the most important means of subsistence after tourism. Air polluting industries are banned as much as possible in connection with tourism. The establishment in 1949 of the Cape Canaveral astronautics center reinforced industrialization on the Atlantic coast, including factories for electronics and aircraft equipment (West Palm Beach).

On the Gulf Coast, Tampa is one of the world's largest producers of canned tropical fruits. Pensacola has a significant synthetic fiber industry; nearby is Eglin Air Force Base, a huge air base. Fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico and forestry (paper industry) are also important. Florida also accounts for a third of the world's phosphate production and is a growing international financial center for the Caribbean.

More than 5,000 commercial fishing companies generate multi-billion dollar sales (about 5 billion a year) and one of the largest fishing fleets in the United States is located in Monroe County Harbor in the Florida Keys, with more than 300 commercial boats. Lake Okeechobee is also known for its large fish stock, catching more than 1,700 tons of fish every year, including the popular sunfish and catfish. Apalachicola Bay in the 'Panhandle' is the center of oyster farming in Florida: approx. 90% of Florida oysters are grown here and nationally approx. 10% of the total oyster production comes from this region. In the highly productive estuary, in addition to blue crabs, white, brown and pink shrimp are also caught.

About 97 million tourists visit Florida every year, of which the vast majority, about 85 million, come from the United States. All these tourists bring in about $ 70 billion annually and about 1 million jobs are directly dependent on tourism. Despite the very high temperatures, Florida no longer has a low season thanks to the invention of air conditioning. Partly due to the arrival of Walt Disney World at Orlando in 1971, the number of hotel beds in the Orlando conurbation reached the gigantic number of approximately 140,000, only Las Vegas has more hotel beds available. Florida, with cruise ports such as Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Port Canaveral and Tampa, is an important hub for cruise trips, mainly to the Bahamas and the Caribbean.

Florida does not have soil treasures on a large scale, only the production of phosphate, among other things a raw material for fertilizers, is a quarter of the world total. Of less importance are the natural gas and petroleum fields on mainland Florida, the richer fields off the coast are still being left alone for ecological reasons.

Phosphate is disposed of from Mulberry, FloridaPhoto: Florida Memory in the Public Domain

In Florida, fulgurite or 'lightning tubes' (quartz melts due to the high temperature of the lightning strike) are also found, hollow tubes of molten rock or sand that largely consist of the mineral lechatelierite. Nice to find for collectors, but of no commercial value.

Holidays and Sightseeing

Tourism is the main livelihood (more than 20 million tourists a year), especially on the East coast (Palm Beach, Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Dayton Beach). Tourist attractions include Walt Disney World Park at Orlando, Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Cypress Gardens at Winter Haven and Everglades and Biscayne National Parks to the south. Many rentiers settled in Florida, especially on the quieter west coast.

Miami north beach, FloridaPhoto: Marv Averette Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

Miami is a city in the state of Florida and was founded on July 28, 1896. Miami is the largest city in southern Florida. This beautiful and beautiful city is a popular tourist destination. The Miami Seaquarium, Parrot Jungle Island, Monkey Jungle, and Miami Beach are the favorite places in the city. The Miami Metro Zoo, the Miami Museum of Science and Planetarium, the Vizcaya Museum and an Italian Renaissance style villa are the interesting sights not to be missed. Little Havana, Miami Children's Museum, Miami Art Museum, and the Freedom Tower are the other highlights of the city. read more on the Miami page of Landenweb.

Walt Disney World entrance, Orlando FloridaPhoto: Jrobertiko, Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

Orlando is one of the most famous tourist centers in America for its multitude of attractions. Orlando is home to Walt Disney World. Orlando prides itself on offering a wonderfully thrilling mix of tropical wildlife and thrilling man-made theme park attractions that draw many tourists and visitors to Florida. Disney World Resort, the biggest attraction in the city and arguably the world, contains the Magic Kingdom, Epcot Center, Disney Studios, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach and Downtown Disney. This is a draw of the city where children and adults alike flock to enjoy this spectacular magical world. Read more on the Orlando page of Landenweb.

Click the menu button at the top left of the screen for more information


Bailey, Ruth / Florida
Van Reemst, Uitgeverij Unieboek, Het Spectrum BV

BBC - Country Profiles

CIA - World Factbook

Elmar Landeninformatie

Hull, Sarah / The rough guide to Florida
Rough Guides

Karlin, Adam / Discover Florida
Lonely Planet

Karlin, Adam / Florida
Lonely Planet

McKechnie, Gary / Florida : de reisgids voor een actieve & culturele vakantie
Kosmos Uitgevers

Pinck, Axel / Florida

Sanders, Bert / Florida : reizen met insider tips
Van Reemst

Skolnick, Adam / Florida & the South's best trips : 28 amazing road trips
Lonely Planet


Last updated October 2021
Copyright: Team Landenweb