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What's important: you can compare and book not only Florida hotels and resorts, but also villas and holiday cottages, inns and B&Bs (bed and breakfast), condo hotels and apartments, timeshare properties, guest houses and pensions, campsites (campgrounds), motels and hostels in Florida. If you're going to Florida save your money and time, don't pay for the services of the greedy travel agencies. Instead, book the best hotel in Florida online, buy the cheapest airline tickets to Florida, and rent a car in Florida right now, paying the lowest price! Besides, here you can buy the Florida related books, guidebooks, souvenirs and other goods.

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How to Book a Hotel in Florida

In order to book an accommodation in Florida enter the proper dates and do the hotel search. If needed, sort the found Florida hotels by price, star rating, property type, guest rating, hotel features, hotel theme or hotel chain. Then take a look at the found hotels on Florida map to estimate the distance from the main Florida attractions and sights. You can also read the guest reviews of Florida hotels and see their ratings.

When a hotel search in Florida is done, please select the room type, the included meals and the suitable booking conditions (for example, "Deluxe double room, Breakfast included, Non-Refundable"). Press the "View Deal" ("Book Now") button. Make your booking on a hotel booking website and get the hotel reservation voucher by email. That's it, a perfect hotel in Florida is waiting for you!

Hotels of Florida

A hotel in Florida is an establishment that provides lodging paid on a short-term basis. Facilities provided may range from a basic bed and storage for clothing, to luxury features like en-suite bathrooms. Larger in Florida hotels may provide additional guest facilities such as a swimming pool, business centre, childcare, conference facilities and social function services. Hotel rooms in Florida are usually numbered (or named in some smaller hotels and B&Bs) to allow guests to identify their room. Some Florida hotels offer meals as part of a room and board arrangement. Hotel operations vary in size, function, and cost. Most Florida hotels and major hospitality companies that operate hotels in Florida have set widely accepted industry standards to classify hotel types. General categories include the following:

Upscale luxury hotels in Florida
An upscale full service hotel facility in Florida that offers luxury amenities, full service accommodations, on-site full service restaurant(s), and the highest level of personalized and professional service. Luxury Florida hotels are normally classified with at least a Four Diamond or Five Diamond status or a Four or Five Star rating depending on classification standards.

Full service hotels in Florida
Full service Florida hotels often contain upscale full-service facilities with a large volume of full service accommodations, on-site full service restaurant(s), and a variety of on-site amenities such as swimming pools, a health club, children's activities, ballrooms, on-site conference facilities, etc.

Historic inns and boutique hotels in Florida
Boutique hotels of Florida are smaller independent non-branded hotels that often contain upscale facilities of varying size in unique or intimate settings with full service accommodations. Florida boutique hotels are generally 100 rooms or less. Some historic inns and boutique hotels in Florida may be classified as luxury hotels.

Focused or select service hotels in Florida
Small to medium-sized hotel establishments that offer a limited amount of on-site amenities that only cater and market to a specific demographic of Florida travelers, such as the single business traveler. Most Florida focused or select service hotels may still offer full service accommodations but may lack leisure amenities such as an on-site restaurant or a swimming pool.

Economy and limited service hotels in Florida
Small to medium-sized Florida hotel establishments that offer a very limited amount of on-site amenities and often only offer basic accommodations with little to no services, these facilities normally only cater and market to a specific demographic of travelers, such as the budget-minded Florida traveler seeking a "no frills" accommodation. Limited service Florida hotels often lack an on-site restaurant but in return may offer a limited complimentary food and beverage amenity such as on-site continental breakfast service.

Guest houses and B&Bs in Florida
A bed and breakfast in Florida is a small lodging establishment that offers overnight accommodation and inclusive breakfast. Usually, Florida bed and breakfasts are private homes or family homes offering accommodations. The typical Florida B&B has between 4 and 11 rooms, with 6 being the average. Generally, guests are accommodated in private bedrooms with private bathrooms, or in a suite of rooms including an en suite bathroom. Some homes have private bedrooms with a bathroom which is shared with other guests. Breakfast is served in the bedroom, a dining room, or the host's kitchen. Often the owners of guest house themselves prepare the breakfast and clean the rooms.

Hostels in Florida
Florida hostels provide budget-oriented, sociable accommodation where guests can rent a bed, usually a bunk bed, in a dormitory and share a bathroom, lounge, and sometimes a kitchen. Rooms can be mixed or single-sex, although private rooms may also be available. Hostels are often cheaper for both the operator and occupants; many Florida hostels have long-term residents whom they employ as desk agents or housekeeping staff in exchange for experience or discounted accommodation.

Apartment hotels, extended stay hotels in Florida
Extended stay hotels are small to medium-sized Florida hotels that offer longer term full service accommodations compared to a traditional hotel. Extended stay hotels may offer non-traditional pricing methods such as a weekly rate that cater towards travelers in need of short-term accommodations for an extended period of time. Similar to limited and select service hotels, on-site amenities are normally limited and most extended stay hotels in Florida lack an on-site restaurant.

Timeshare and destination clubs in Florida
Florida timeshare and destination clubs are a form of property ownership also referred to as a vacation ownership involving the purchase and ownership of an individual unit of accommodation for seasonal usage during a specified period of time. Timeshare resorts in Florida often offer amenities similar that of a Full service hotel with on-site restaurant(s), swimming pools, recreation grounds, and other leisure-oriented amenities. Destination clubs of Florida on the other hand may offer more exclusive private accommodations such as private houses in a neighborhood-style setting.

Motels in Florida
A Florida motel is a small-sized low-rise lodging establishment similar to that of a limited service hotel, but with direct access to individual rooms from the car park. Common during the 1950s and 1960s, motels were often located adjacent to a major road, where they were built on inexpensive land at the edge of towns or along stretches of highways. They are still useful in less populated areas of Florida for driving travelers, but the more populated an area becomes the more hotels fill the need. Many of Florida motels which remain in operation have joined national franchise chains, rebranding themselves as hotels, inns or lodges.

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Travelling and vacation in Florida

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This article is about the U.S. state of Florida. For other uses, see Florida (disambiguation).
State of Florida
Flag of Florida State seal of Florida
Flag Seal
Nickname(s): The Sunshine State
Motto(s): In God We Trust
State song(s): "Old Folks at Home (State Song), Florida (Where the Sawgrass Meets the Sky) (State Anthem)"
Map of the United States with Florida highlighted
Official language English
Spoken languages Predominantly English and Spanish
Demonym Floridian, Floridan
Capital Tallahassee
Largest city Jacksonville
Largest metro Miami metro area
Area Ranked 22nd
• Total 65,755 sq mi
(170,304 km)
• Width 361 miles (582 km)
• Length 447 miles (721 km)
• % water 17.9
• Latitude 24° 27' N to 31° 00' N
• Longitude 80° 02' W to 87° 38' W
Population Ranked 3rd
• Total 20,612,439
(2016 est)
• Density 384.3/sq mi (121.0/km)
Ranked 8th
• Median household income $48,825 (41st)
Elevation
• Highest point Britton Hill
345 ft (105 m)
• Mean 100 ft (30 m)
• Lowest point Atlantic Ocean
sea level
Before statehood Florida Territory
Admission to Union March 3, 1845 (27th)
Governor Rick Scott (R)
Lieutenant Governor Carlos López-Cantera (R)
Legislature Florida Legislature
• Upper house Senate
• Lower house House of Representatives
U.S. Senators Bill Nelson (D)
Marco Rubio (R)
U.S. House delegation 16 Republicans, 11 Democrats (list)
Time zones
• Peninsula and "Big Bend" region EST: UTC −5/−4
• Panhandle west of the Apalachicola River CST: UTC −6/−5
ISO 3166 US-FL
Abbreviations FL, Fla.
Website myflorida.com
Florida state symbols
Flag of Florida.svg
The Flag of Florida
Living insignia
Amphibian Barking tree frog
Bird Northern mockingbird
Butterfly Zebra longwing
Fish Florida largemouth bass, Atlantic sailfish
Flower Orange blossom
Mammal Florida panther, Manatee, Bottlenose dolphin, Florida Cracker Horse
Reptile American alligator, Loggerhead turtle
Tree Sabal palmetto
Inanimate insignia
Beverage Orange juice
Food Key lime pie, orange
Gemstone Moonstone
Rock Agatized coral
Shell Horse conch
Soil Myakka
Song "Old Folks at Home"
State route marker
Florida state route marker
State quarter
Florida quarter dollar coin
Released in 2004
Lists of United States state symbols

Florida Listen/ˈflɒrdə/ (Spanish for "land of flowers") is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the south by the Straits of Florida and Cuba. Florida is the 22nd most extensive, the 3rd most populous, and the 8th most densely populated of the U.S. states. Jacksonville is the most populous municipality in the state and is the largest city by area in the contiguous United States. The Miami metropolitan area is Florida's most populous urban area. The city of Tallahassee is the state capital.

A peninsula between the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Straits of Florida, it has the longest coastline in the contiguous United States, approximately 1,350 miles (2,170 km), and is the only state that borders both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Much of the state is at or near sea level and is characterized by sedimentary soil. The climate varies from subtropical in the north to tropical in the south. The American alligator, American crocodile, Florida panther, and manatee can be found in the Everglades National Park.

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

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

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

Florida: History

Main article: History of Florida

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: European arrival

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

Florida was the first 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.

"In May 1539, Conquistador Hernando de Soto skirted the coast of Florida, searching for a deep harbor to land. He described seeing a thick wall of red mangroves spread mile after mile, some reaching as high as 70 feet (21 m), with intertwined and elevated roots making landing difficult. Very soon, 'many smokes' appeared 'along the whole coast', billowing against the sky, when the Native ancestors of the Seminole spotted the newcomers and spread the alarm by signal fires". The Spanish introduced Christianity, cattle, horses, sheep, the Spanish language, and more to Florida. Both the Spanish and French established settlements in Florida, with varying degrees of success. In 1559, Don Tristán de Luna y Arellano established a settlement at present-day Pensacola, making it the first attempted settlement in Florida, but it was abandoned by 1561.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Florida: Joining the United States; Indian removal

See also: Florida Territory and Seminole Wars

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

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

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

In 1810, parts of West Florida were annexed by proclamation of President James Madison, who claimed the region as part of the Louisiana Purchase. These parts were incorporated into the newly formed Territory of Orleans. The U.S. annexed the Mobile District of West Florida to the Mississippi Territory in 1812. Spain continued to dispute the area, though the United States gradually increased the area it occupied.

Seminole Indians based in East Florida began raiding Georgia settlements, and offering havens for runaway slaves. The United States Army led increasingly frequent incursions into Spanish territory, including the 1817–1818 campaign against the Seminole Indians by Andrew Jackson that became known as the First Seminole War. The United States now effectively controlled East Florida. Control was necessary according to Secretary of State John Quincy Adams because Florida had become "a derelict open to the occupancy of every enemy, civilized or savage, of the United States, and serving no other earthly purpose than as a post of annoyance to them.".

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

A contemporaneous depiction of the New River Massacre in 1836.

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

Some Seminoles remained, and the U.S. Army arrived in Florida, leading to the Second Seminole War (1835–42). Following the war, approximately 3,000 Seminole and 800 Black Seminole were removed to Indian Territory. A few hundred Seminole remained in Florida in the Everglades.

A Cracker cowboy, 19th century.

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

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

Florida: Slavery, war, and disenfranchisement

Further information: Florida in the American Civil War
The Battle of Olustee during the American Civil War, 1864.

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

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

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

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

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. They left due to lynchings and racial violence, and for better opportunities. Disfranchisement for most African Americans in the state persisted until the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s gained federal legislation in 1965 to enforce protection of their constitutional suffrage.

Florida: 20th-century growth

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. Combined with its sudden elevation in profile was the Florida land boom of the 1920s, which brought a brief period of intense land development. Devastating hurricanes in 1926 and 1928, followed by the Great Depression, brought that period to a halt. Florida's economy did not fully recover until the military buildup for World War II.

The climate, tempered by the growing availability of air conditioning, and low cost of living made the state a haven. Migration from the Rust Belt and the Northeast sharply increased Florida's population after the war. In recent decades, more migrants have come for the jobs in a developing economy.

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

Florida: Geography

A topographic map of Florida.
Köppen climate types of Florida
Main article: Geography 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.

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.

However, some places such as Clearwater have promontories that rise 50 to 100 ft (15 to 30 m) above the water. Much of Central and North Florida, typically 25 mi (40 km) or more away from the coastline, have rolling hills with elevations ranging from 100 to 250 ft (30 to 76 m). The highest point in peninsular Florida (east and south of the Suwannee River), Sugarloaf Mountain, is a 312-foot (95 m) peak in Lake County. On average, Florida is the flattest state in the United States.

Florida: Climate

Main articles: Climate of Florida and Geography of Florida § Climate
See also: List of Florida hurricanes and U.S. state temperature extremes

The climate of Florida is tempered somewhat by the fact that no part of the state is distant from the ocean. North of Lake Okeechobee, the prevalent climate is humid subtropical (Köppen: Cfa), while areas south of the lake (including the Florida Keys) have a true tropical climate (Köppen: Aw). Mean high temperatures for late July are primarily in the low 90s Fahrenheit (32–34 °C). Mean low temperatures for early to mid January range from the low 40s Fahrenheit (4–7 °C) in northern Florida to above 60 °F (16 °C) from Miami on southward. With an average daily temperature of 70.7 °F (21.5 °C), it is the warmest state in the U.S.

In the summer, high temperatures in the state seldom exceed 100 °F (38 °C). Several record cold maxima have been in the 30s °F (−1 to 4 °C) and record lows have been in the 10s (−12 to −7 °C). These temperatures normally extend at most a few days at a time in the northern and central parts of Florida. Southern Florida, however, rarely encounters freezing temperatures.

The hottest temperature ever recorded in Florida was 109 °F (43 °C), which was set on June 29, 1931 in Monticello. The coldest temperature was −2 °F (−19 °C), on February 13, 1899, just 25 miles (40 km) away, in Tallahassee.

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.

The USDA Plant hardiness zones for the state range from zone 8a (no colder than 10 °F or −12 °C) in the inland western panhandle to zone 11b (no colder than 45 °F or 7 °C) in the lower Florida Keys.

Average high and low temperatures for various Florida cities
°F Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Jacksonville 65/42 68/45 74/50 79/55 86/63 90/70 92/73 91/73 87/69 80/61 74/51 67/44
Miami 76/60 78/62 80/65 83/68 87/73 89/76 91/77 91/77 89/76 86/73 82/68 78/63
Orlando 71/49 74/52 78/56 83/60 88/66 91/72 92/74 92/74 90/73 85/66 78/59 73/52
Pensacola 61/43 64/46 70/51 76/58 84/66 89/72 90/74 90/74 87/70 80/60 70/50 63/45
Tallahassee 64/39 68/42 74/47 80/52 87/62 91/70 92/72 92/72 89/68 82/57 73/48 66/41
Tampa 70/51 73/54 77/58 81/62 88/69 90/74 90/75 91/76 89/74 85/67 78/60 72/54
°C Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Jacksonville 18/6 20/7 23/10 26/13 30/17 32/21 33/23 33/23 31/21 27/16 23/11 19/7
Miami 24/16 26/17 27/18 28/20 31/23 32/24 33/25 33/25 32/24 30/23 28/20 26/17
Orlando 22/9 23/11 26/13 28/16 31/19 33/22 33/23 33/23 32/23 29/19 26/15 23/11
Pensacola 16/6 18/8 21/11 24/14 29/19 32/22 32/23 32/23 31/21 27/16 21/10 17/7
Tallahassee 18/4 20/6 23/8 27/11 31/17 33/21 33/22 33/22 32/20 28/14 23/9 19/5
Tampa 21/11 23/12 25/14 27/17 31/21 32/23 32/24 33/24 32/23 29/19 26/16 22/12

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. A narrow eastern part of the state including Orlando and Jacksonville receives between 2,400 and 2,800 hours of sunshine annually. The rest of the state, including Miami, receives between 2,800 and 3,200 hours annually.

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. Of the category 4 or higher storms that have struck the United States, 83% have either hit Florida or Texas. From 1851 to 2006, Florida was struck by 114 hurricanes, 37 of them major-category 3 and above. It is rare for a hurricane season to pass without any impact in the state by at least a tropical storm.

Florida was the site of what was then the costliest weather disaster in U.S. history, Hurricane Andrew, which caused more than $25 billion in damage when it struck in August 1992; it held that distinction until 2005, when Hurricane Katrina surpassed it. Hurricane Wilma - the second most expensive hurricane in Florida history - landed just south of Marco Island in October 2005.

Florida: Fauna

Further information: List of mammals of Florida and Snakes of Florida
An alligator in the Florida Everglades.

Florida is host to many types of wildlife including:

  • Marine mammals: bottlenose dolphin, short-finned pilot whale, North Atlantic right whale, West Indian manatee
  • Mammals: Florida panther, northern river otter, mink, eastern cottontail rabbit, marsh rabbit, raccoon, striped skunk, squirrel, white-tailed deer, Key deer, bobcats, gray fox, coyote, wild boar, Florida black bear, nine-banded armadillos, Virginia opossum
  • Reptiles: eastern diamondback and pygmy rattlesnakes, gopher tortoise, green and leatherback sea turtles, and eastern indigo snake. In 2012, there were about one million American alligators and 1,500 crocodiles.
  • Birds: peregrine falcon, bald eagle, northern caracara, snail kite, osprey, white and brown pelicans, sea gulls, whooping and sandhill cranes, roseate spoonbill, Florida scrub jay (state endemic), and others. One subspecies of wild turkey, Meleagris gallopavo, namely subspecies osceola, is found only in Florida. The state is a wintering location for many species of eastern North American birds.
    • As a result of climate change, there have been small numbers of several new species normally native to cooler areas to the north: snowy owls, snow buntings, harlequin ducks, and razorbills. These have been seen in the northern part of the state.
  • Invertebrates: carpenter ants, termites, American cockroach, Africanized bees, the Miami blue butterfly, and the grizzled mantis.

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.

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.

Florida: Environmental issues

The beaches of Key Biscayne in Miami.
Main article: Environment of Florida

Florida is a low per capita energy user. It is estimated that approximately 4% of energy in the state is generated through renewable resources. Florida's energy production is 6% of the nation's total energy output, while total production of pollutants is lower, with figures of 5.6% for nitrogen oxide, 5.1% for carbon dioxide, and 3.5% for sulfur dioxide.

All potable water resources have been controlled by the state government through five regional water authorities since 1972.

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. A record 23 were killed in 2009 predominately by automobile collisions, leaving about 100 individuals in the wild. The Center for Biological Diversity and others have therefore called for a special protected area for the panther to be established. Manatees are also dying at a rate higher than their reproduction.

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. The Atlantic beaches that are vital to the state's economy are being washed out to sea due to rising sea levels caused by climate change. The Miami beach area, close to the continental shelf, is running out of accessible offshore sand reserves.

Florida: Geology

Main article: Geology of Florida

The Florida peninsula is a porous plateau of karst limestone sitting atop bedrock known as the Florida Platform. The largest deposits of potash in the United States are found in Florida.

Extended systems of underwater caves, sinkholes and springs are found throughout the state and supply most of the water used by residents. The limestone is topped with sandy soils deposited as ancient beaches over millions of years as global sea levels rose and fell. During the last glacial period, lower sea levels and a drier climate revealed a much wider peninsula, largely savanna. The Everglades, an enormously wide, slow-flowing river encompasses the southern tip of the peninsula. Sinkhole damage claims on property in the state exceeded a total of $2 billion from 2006 through 2010.

Florida is tied for last place as having the fewest earthquakes of any U.S. state. Earthquakes are rare because Florida is not located near any tectonic plate boundaries.

Florida: Demographics

Main article: Demographics of Florida
See also: Culture of Florida
Florida's population density

Florida: Population

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%
Est. 2016 20,612,439 9.6%
Sources: 1910–2010
2016 Estimate

The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Florida was 20,271,272 on July 1, 2015, a 7.82% 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.

Florida contains the highest percentage of people over 65 (17%). 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, illegal immigrants constituted an estimated 5.7% of the population. This was the sixth highest percentage of any state in the U.S. There were an estimated 675,000 illegal immigrants in the state in 2010.

A 2013 Gallup poll indicated that 47% of the residents agreed that Florida was the best state to live in. Results in other states ranged from a low of 18% to a high of 77%.

Florida: Municipalities and metropolitan areas

See also: List of urbanized areas in Florida (by population), Florida statistical areas, List of municipalities in Florida, and Florida locations by per capita income

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.

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

A map of Florida showing county names and boundaries.

The largest metropolitan area in the state as well as the entire southeastern United States is the Miami metropolitan area, with about 5.8 million people. The Tampa Bay Area, with over 2.8 million people, is the second largest; the Orlando metropolitan area, with over 2.2 million people, is the third; and the Jacksonville metropolitan area, with over 1.3 million people, is fourth.

Florida has 22 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) defined by the United States Office of Management and Budget (OMB). 43 of Florida's 67 counties are in a MSA.

Florida: Racial and ethnic makeup

Predominant ancestry in Florida in 2010
Florida racial breakdown
Racial composition 1970 1990 2000 2010 2013
White (includes White Hispanics) 84.2% 83.1% 78.0% 75.0% 78.1%
Black 15.3% 13.6% 14.6% 16.0% 16.7%
Asian 0.2% 1.2% 1.7% 2.4% 2.7%
Native 0.1% 0.3% 0.3% 0.4% 0.5%
Other race 0.1% 1.8% 3.0% 3.6%
Two or more races 2.3% 2.5% 1.9%
Non-Hispanic whites 77.9% 73.2% 65.4% 57.9% 56.4%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 6.6% 12.2% 16.8% 22.5% 23.6%

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 were minorities (meaning that they had at least one parent who was not non-Hispanic white).

Florida is among the three states with the most severe felony disenfranchisement laws. Florida requires felons to have completed sentencing, parole and/or probation, and then seven years later, to apply individually for restoration of voting privileges. As in other aspects of the criminal justice system, this law has disproportionate effects for minorities. As a result, according to Brent Staples, based on data from The Sentencing Project, the effect of Florida's law is such that in 2014 "[m]ore than one in ten Floridians – and nearly one in four African-American Floridians – are shut out of the polls because of felony convictions."

Florida: Ancestry groups

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, that 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 that they were of English or mostly English American ancestry. Some of their ancestry went back 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 were 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 of the other Southern states, they descend mainly from English and Scots-Irish settlers, as well as some other British American settlers.

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, 4.5% (847,550) Puerto Rican, 3.3% (629,718) Mexican, and 1.6% (300,414) Colombian. 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. As of 2011, 57.0% of Florida's children under the age of 1 belonged to minority groups. 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.

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 US south, there are also large numbers of blacks of West Indian, recent African, and Afro-Latino immigrant origins, especially in the Miami/South Florida area. In 2010, Florida had the highest percentage of West Indians in the United States, with 2.0% (378,926) from Haitian ancestry, and 1.3% (236,950) Jamaican. All other (non-Hispanic) Caribbean nations were well below 0.1% of Florida residents.

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

Florida: Languages

20% of Floridians speak Spanish, the second most widely-spoken language.
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 comprise less than 1% spoken by the state's population

Florida: Religion

Miami Cathedral of Saint Mary. Roman Catholicism is the largest single religious denomination in the state.

The 2014 Pew Religious Landscape Survey showed the religious makeup of the state was as follows:

  • Christian 70%
    • 24% Evangelical Protestant
    • 21% Catholic
    • 14% Mainline Protestant
    • 8% Black Protestant
    • 3% Other Christian
  • 3% Jewish
  • 3% Other non-Christian faiths
  • 24% Unaffiliated

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

Florida is mostly Protestant, but Roman Catholicism is the single largest denomination in the state, due in significant part to the state's large Hispanic population. There is also a sizable Jewish community, located mainly in South Florida; this is the largest Jewish population in the South and the third-largest in the U.S. behind those of New York and California.

Florida: Governance

Main article: Government of Florida
See also: List of Florida Governors, United States Congressional Delegations from Florida, and Florida Cabinet
Florida Capitol buildings

The basic structure, duties, function, and operations of the government of the state of Florida are defined and established by the Florida Constitution, which establishes the basic law of the state and guarantees various rights and freedoms of the people. The state government consists of three separate branches: judicial, executive, and legislative. The legislature enacts bills, which, if signed by the governor, become law.

The Florida Legislature comprises the Florida Senate, which has 40 members, and the Florida House of Representatives, which has 120 members. The current Governor of Florida is Rick Scott. The Florida Supreme Court consists of a Chief Justice and six Justices.

Florida has 67 counties. Some reference materials may show only 66 because Duval County is consolidated with the City of Jacksonville. There are 379 cities in Florida (out of 411) that report regularly to the Florida Department of Revenue, but there are other incorporated municipalities that do not. The state government's primary source of revenue is sales tax. Florida does not impose a personal income tax. The primary revenue source for cities and counties is property tax; unpaid taxes are subject to tax sales which are held (at the county level) in May and (due to the extensive use of online bidding sites) are highly popular.

There were 800 federal corruption convictions from 1988 to 2007, more than any other state.

Florida: Elections history

Further information: Politics of Florida, Elections in Florida, and Political party strength in Florida
Florida registered voters as of August 31, 2016
Party Number of Voters Percentage
Democratic 4,733,359 37.93%
Republican 4,459,087 35.73%
No Party Affiliation 2,949,668 23.63%
Minor Parties 337,170 2.70%
Total 12,479,284 100%

From 1952 to 1964, most voters were registered Democrats, but the state voted for the Republican presidential candidate in every election except for 1964. The following year, Congress passed and President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, providing for oversight of state practices and enforcement of constitutional voting rights for African Americans and other minorities in order to prevent the discrimination and disenfranchisement that had excluded most of them for decades from the political process.

From the 1930s through much of the 1960s, Florida was essentially a one-party state dominated by white conservative Democrats, who together with other Democrats of the Solid South, exercised considerable control in Congress. They gained federal money from national programs; like other southern states, Florida residents have received more federal monies than they pay in taxes: the state is a net beneficiary. Since the 1970s, the conservative white majority of voters in the state has largely shifted from the Democratic to the Republican Party. It has continued to support Republican presidential candidates through the 20th century, except in 1976 and 1996, when the Democratic nominee was from the South. They have had "the luxury of voting for presidential candidates who pledge to cut taxes and halt the expansion of government while knowing that their congressional delegations will continue to protect federal spending."

In the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, Barack Obama carried the state as a northern Democrat, attracting high voter turnout especially among the young, Independents, and minority voters, of whom Hispanics comprise an increasingly large proportion. 2008 marked the first time since 1932, when Franklin D. Roosevelt carried the state, that Florida was carried by a Northern Democrat for president.

The first post-Reconstruction era Republican elected to Congress from Florida was William C. Cramer in 1954 from Pinellas County on the Gulf Coast, where demographic changes were underway. In this period, African Americans were still disenfranchised by the state's constitution and discriminatory practices; in the 19th century they had made up most of the Republican Party. Cramer built a different Republican Party in Florida, attracting local white conservatives and transplants from northern and midwestern states. In 1966 Claude R. Kirk, Jr. was elected as the first post-Reconstruction Republican governor, in an upset election. In 1968 Edward J. Gurney, also a white conservative, was elected as the state's first post-reconstruction Republican US Senator. In 1970 Democrats took the governorship and the open US Senate seat, and maintained dominance for years.

Since the mid-20th century, Florida has been considered a bellwether, voting for 13 successful presidential candidates since 1952. It voted for the loser only three times.

Presidential elections results
Year Republican Democratic
2016 49.02% 4,615,910 47.81% 4,501,455
2012 49.13% 4,163,447 50.01% 4,237,756
2008 48.22% 4,045,624 51.03% 4,282,074
2004 52.10% 3,964,522 47.09% 3,583,544
2000 48.85% 2,912,790 48.84% 2,912,253
1996 42.32% 2,244,536 48.02% 2,546,870
1992 40.89% 2,173,310 39.00% 2,072,698
1988 60.87% 2,618,885 38.51% 1,656,701
1984 65.32% 2,730,350 34.66% 1,448,816
1980 55.52% 2,046,951 38.50% 1,419,475
1976 46.64% 1,469,531 51.93% 1,636,000
1972 71.91% 1,857,759 27.80% 718,117
1968 40.53% 886,804 30.93% 676,794
1964 48.85% 905,941 51.15% 948,540
1960 51.51% 795,476 48.49% 748,700

In 1998, Democratic voters dominated areas of the state with a high percentage of racial minorities and transplanted white liberals from the northeastern United States, known colloquially as "snowbirds". South Florida and the Miami metropolitan area are dominated by both racial minorities and white liberals. Because of this, the area has consistently voted as one of the most Democratic areas of the state. The Daytona Beach area is similar demographically and the city of Orlando has a large Hispanic population, which has often favored Democrats. Republicans, made up mostly of white conservatives, have dominated throughout much of the rest of Florida, particularly in the more rural and suburban areas. This is characteristic of its voter base throughout the Deep South.

The fast-growing I-4 corridor area, which runs through Central Florida and connects the cities of Daytona Beach, Orlando, and Tampa/St. Petersburg, has had a fairly even breakdown of Republican and Democratic voters. The area is often seen as a merging point of the conservative northern portion of the state and the liberal southern portion, making it the biggest swing area in the state. Since the late 20th century, the voting results in this area, containing 40% of Florida voters, has often determined who will win the state of Florida in presidential elections.

The Democratic Party has maintained an edge in voter registration, both statewide and in 40 of the 67 counties, including Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties, the state's three most populous.

Florida: Elections of 2000 to present

Main article: United States presidential election in Florida, 2000
Treemap of the popular vote by county, 2016 presidential election.

In 2000, George W. Bush won the U.S. Presidential election by a margin of 271–266 in the Electoral College. Of the 271 electoral votes for Bush, 25 were cast by electors from Florida. The Florida results were contested and a recount was ordered by the court, with the results settled in a court decision.

Reapportionment following the 2010 United States Census gave the state two more seats in the House of Representatives. The legislature's redistricting, announced in 2012, was quickly challenged in court, on the grounds that it had unfairly benefited Republican interests. In 2015, the Florida Supreme Court ruled on appeal that the congressional districts had to be redrawn because of the legislature's violation of the Fair District Amendments to the state constitution passed in 2010; it accepted a new map in early December 2015.

The political make-up of congressional and legislative districts has enabled Republicans to control the governorship and most statewide elective offices, and 17 of the state's 27 seats in the 2012 House of Representatives. Florida has been listed as a swing state in Presidential elections since 1950, voting for the losing candidate once in that period of time.

In the closely contested 2000 election, the state played a pivotal role. Out of more than 5.8 million votes for the two main contenders Bush and Al Gore, around 500 votes separated the two candidates for the all-decisive Florida electoral votes that landed Bush the election win. Florida's felony disenfranchisement law is more severe than most European nations or other American states. A 2002 study in the American Sociological Review concluded that "if the state's 827,000 disenfranchised felons had voted at the same rate as other Floridians, Democratic candidate Al Gore would have won Florida-and the presidency-by more than 80,000 votes."

In 2008, delegates of both the Republican Florida primary election and Democratic Florida primary election were stripped of half of their votes when the conventions met in August due to violation of both parties' national rules.

In the 2010 elections, Republicans solidified their dominance statewide, by winning the governor's mansion, and maintaining firm majorities in both houses of the state legislature. They won four previously Democratic-held seats to create a 19–6 Republican-majority delegation representing Florida in the federal House of Representatives.

In 2010, more than 63% of state voters approved the initiated Amendments 5 and 6 to the state constitution, to ensure more fairness in districting. These have become known as the Fair District Amendments. As a result of the 2010 United States Census, Florida gained two House of Representative seats in 2012. The legislature issued revised congressional districts in 2012, which were immediately challenged in court by supporters of the above amendments.

The court ruled in 2014, after lengthy testimony, that at least two districts had to be redrawn because of gerrymandering. After this was appealed, in July 2015 the Florida Supreme Court ruled that lawmakers had followed an illegal and unconstitutional process overly influenced by party operatives, and ruled that at least eight districts had to be redrawn. On December 2, 2015, a 5-2 majority of the Court accepted a new map of congressional districts, some of which was drawn by challengers. Their ruling affirmed the map previously approved by Leon County Judge Terry Lewis, who had overseen the original trial. It particularly makes changes in South Florida. There are likely to be additional challenges to the map and districts.

According to The Sentencing Project, the effect of Florida's felony disenfranchisement law is such that in 2014, "[m]ore than one in ten Floridians – and nearly one in four African-American Floridians – are [were] shut out of the polls because of felony convictions," although they had completed sentences and parole/probation requirements.

Florida: Statutes

See also: Law of Florida
The Florida Supreme Court

The state repealed mandatory auto inspection in 1981.

In 1972, the state made personal injury protection auto insurance mandatory for drivers, becoming the second in the nation to enact a no-fault insurance law. The ease of receiving payments under this law is seen as precipitating a major increase in insurance fraud. Auto insurance fraud was the highest in the nation in 2011, estimated at close to $1 billion. Fraud is particularly centered in the Miami-Dade metropolitan and Tampa areas.

Florida: Law enforcement

Further information: List of law enforcement agencies in Florida and Crime in Florida

Florida was ranked the fifth most dangerous state in 2009. Ranking was based on the record of serious felonies committed in 2008. The state was the sixth highest scammed state in 2010. It ranked first in mortgage fraud in 2009.

In 2009, 44% of highway fatalities involved alcohol. Florida is one of seven states that prohibit the open carry of handguns. This law was passed in 1987.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, Florida has the highest per capita rate of both reported fraud and other types of complaints and reported including identity theft complaints.

Florida: Economy

Launch of Space Shuttle Columbia from the Kennedy Space Center
Map of Florida showing average income by county.
The Brickell Financial District in Miami contains the largest concentration of international banks in the United States.

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.

The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Florida in 2010 was $748 billion. Its GDP is the fourth largest economy in the United States. In 2010, it became the fourth largest exporter of trade goods. The major contributors to the state's gross output in 2007 were general services, financial services, trade, transportation and public utilities, manufacturing and construction respectively. In 2010–11, the state budget was $70.5 billion, having reached a high of $73.8 billion in 2006–07. Chief Executive Magazine name Florida the third "Best State for Business" in 2011.

The economy is driven almost entirely by its nineteen metropolitan areas. In 2004, they had a combined total of 95.7% of the state's domestic product.

Florida: Personal income

See also: Florida locations by per capita income

In 2011, Florida's per capita personal income was $39,563, ranking 27th in the nation. In February 2011, the state's unemployment rate was 11.5%. Florida is one of seven states that do not impose a personal income tax.

Florida's constitution establishes a state minimum wage that (unique among minimum wage laws) is adjusted for inflation annually. As of January 1, 2015, Florida's minimum wage was $5.03 for tipped positions, and $8.05 for non-tipped positions, which was higher than the federal rate of $7.25.

Florida has 4 cities in the top 25 cities in the U.S. with the most credit card debt. The state also had the second-highest credit card delinquency rate, with 1.45% of cardholders in the state more than 90 days delinquent on one or more credit cards.

There were 2.4 million Floridians living in poverty in 2008. 18.4% of children 18 and younger were living in poverty. Miami is the sixth poorest big city in the United States. In 2010, over 2.5 million Floridians were on food stamps, up from 1.2 million in 2007. To qualify, Floridians must make less than 133% of the federal poverty level, which would be under $29,000 for a family of four.

Florida: Real estate

In the early 20th century, land speculators discovered Florida, and businessmen such as Henry Plant and Henry Flagler developed railroad systems, which led people to move in, drawn by the weather and local economies. From then on, tourism boomed, fueling a cycle of development that overwhelmed a great deal of farmland.

Because of the collective effect on the insurance industry of the hurricane claims of 2004, homeowners insurance has risen 40% to 60% and deductibles have risen.

At the end of the third quarter in 2008, Florida had the highest mortgage delinquency rate in the U.S., with 7.8% of mortgages delinquent at least 60 days. A 2009 list of national housing markets that were hard hit in the real estate crash included a disproportionate number in Florida. The early 21st-century building boom left Florida with 300,000 vacant homes in 2009, according to state figures. In 2009, the US Census Bureau estimated that Floridians spent an average 49.1% of personal income on housing-related costs, the third highest percentage in the U.S.

In the third quarter of 2009, there were 278,189 delinquent loans, 80,327 foreclosures. Sales of existing homes for February 2010 was 11,890, up 21% from the same month in 2009. Only two metropolitan areas showed a decrease in homes sold: Panama City and Brevard County. The average sales price for an existing house was $131,000, 7% decrease from the prior year.

Florida: Tourism

The Port of Miami is the world's largest cruise ship port.
Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando.

If you can't find something to do in Florida, you're just boring...

- Guy Fieri, celebrity chef, 2017

Tourism makes up one of the largest sectors of the state economy, with nearly 1.4 million persons employed in the tourism industry in 2016 (a record for the state, surpassing the 1.2 million employment from 2015). In 2015, Florida broke the 100-million visitor mark for the first time in state history by hosting a record 105 million visitors and broke that record in 2016 with 112.8 million tourists; Florida has set tourism records for six consecutive years.

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.

Florida: Agriculture and fishing

Oranges in Florida.

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).

Citrus canker continues to be an issue of concern. From 1997 to 2013, the growing of citrus trees has declined 25%, from 600,000 acres (240,000 ha) to 450,000 acres (180,000 ha). Citrus greening disease is incurable. A study states that it has caused the loss of $4.5 billion between 2006 and 2012. As of 2014, it was the major agricultural concern.

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

The Everglades Agricultural Area is a major center for agriculture. The environmental impact of agriculture, especially water pollution, is a major issue in Florida today.

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

Florida: Industry

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 power boats. There were $1.96 billion worth of boats sold in 2013.

Florida: 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.

After the watershed events of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, the state of Florida began investing in economic development through the Office of Trade, Tourism, and Economic Development. Governor Jeb Bush realized that watershed events such as Andrew negatively impacted Florida's backbone industry of tourism severely. The office was directed to target Medical/Bio-Sciences among others. Three years later, The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) announced it had chosen Florida for its newest expansion. In 2003, TSRI announced plans to establish a major science center in Palm Beach, a 364,000 square feet (33,800 m) facility on 100 acres (40 ha), which TSRI planned to occupy in 2006.

Florida: 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.

In 2009, there were 89,706 federal workers employed within the state. Tens of thousands more employees work for contractors who have federal contracts, including those with the military.

In 2012, government of all levels was a top employer in all counties in the state, because this classification includes public school teachers and other school staff. School boards employ nearly 1 of every 30 workers in the state. The federal military was the top employer in three counties.

Florida: Health

There were 2.7 million Medicaid patients in Florida in 2009. The governor has proposed adding $2.6 billion to care for the expected 300,000 additional patients in 2011. The cost of caring for 2.3 million clients in 2010 was $18.8 billion. This is nearly 30% of Florida's budget. Medicaid paid for 60% of all births in Florida in 2009. The state has a program for those not covered by Medicaid.

In 2013, Florida refused to participate in providing coverage for the uninsured under the Affordable Care Act, popularly called Obamacare. The Florida legislature also refused to accept additional Federal funding for Medicaid, although this would have helped its constituents at no cost to the state. As a result, Florida is second only to Texas in the percentage of its citizens without health insurance.

Florida: Architecture

Miami Art Deco District, built during the 1920s-1930s.

Florida has the largest collection of Art Deco and Streamline Moderne buildings in both the United States and the entire world, most of which are located in the Miami metropolitan area, especially Miami Beach's Art Deco District, constructed as the city was becoming a resort destination. A unique architectural design found only in Florida is the post-World War II Miami Modern, which can be seen in areas such as Miami's MiMo Historic District.

Being of early importance as a regional center of banking and finance, the architecture of Jacksonville displays a wide variety of styles and design principles. Many of state's earliest skyscrapers were constructed in Jacksonville, dating as far back as 1902., and last holding a state height record from 1974 to 1981. The city is endowed with one of the largest collections of Prairie School buildings outside of the Midwest. Jacksonville is also noteworthy for its collection of Mid-Century modern architecture.

Some sections of the state feature architectural styles including Spanish revival, Florida vernacular, and Mediterranean Revival. A notable collection of these styles can be found in St. Augustine, the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement within the borders of the United States.

Florida: Media

Florida: Education

Main article: Education in Florida

Florida: Primary and secondary education

Florida's public primary and secondary schools are administered by the Florida Department of Education. School districts are organized within county boundaries. Each school district has an elected Board of Education which 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).

Florida: Universities

The State University System of Florida was founded in 1905, and is governed by the Florida Board of Governors. During the 2010 academic year, 312,216 students attended one of these twelve universities. The Florida College System comprises 28 public community and state colleges. In 2011–12, enrollment consisted of more than 875,000 students.

Florida's first private university, Stetson University, was founded in 1883. The Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida is an association of 28 private, educational institutions in the state. This Association reported that their member institutions served over 121,000 students in the fall of 2006.

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.

Florida: Transportation

Main article: Transportation in Florida
Florida's Turnpike

Florida: Highways

Further information: State Roads in Florida

Florida's highway system contains 1,473 mi (2,371 km) of interstate highway, and 9,934 mi (15,987 km) of non-interstate highway, such as state highways and U.S. Highways. Florida's interstates, state highways, and U.S. Highways are maintained by the Florida Department of Transportation.

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. Motorists have the 45th lowest rate of car insurance in the U.S. 24% are uninsured.

Drivers between 15 and 19 years of age averaged 364 car crashes a year per ten thousand licensed Florida drivers in 2010. Drivers 70 and older averaged 95 per 10,000 during the same time frame. A spokesperson for the non-profit Insurance Institute said that "Older drivers are more of a threat to themselves."

Before the construction of routes under the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, Florida began construction of a long cross-state toll road, Florida's Turnpike. The first section, from Fort Pierce south to the Golden Glades Interchange was completed in 1957. After a second section north through Orlando to Wildwood (near present-day The Villages), and a southward extension around Miami to Homestead, it was finished in 1974.

Florida's primary interstate routes include:

  • I‑4, which bisects the state, connecting Tampa, Lakeland, Orlando, and Daytona Beach, connecting with I-75 in Tampa and I-95 in Daytona Beach.
  • I-10, which traverses the panhandle, connecting Pensacola, Tallahassee, Lake City, and Jacksonville, with interchanges with I-75 in Lake City and I-95 in Jacksonville.
  • I-75, which enters the state near Lake City (45 miles (72 km) west of Jacksonville) and continues southward through Gainesville, Ocala, Tampa's eastern suburbs, Bradenton, Sarasota, Fort Myers and Naples, where it crosses the "Alligator Alley" as a toll road to Fort Lauderdale before turning southward and terminating in Hialeah/Miami Lakes having interchanges with I-10 in Lake City and I-4 in Tampa.
  • I-95, which enters the state near Jacksonville and continues along the Atlantic Coast through Daytona Beach, the Melbourne/Titusville, Palm Bay, Vero Beach, Fort Pierce, Port Saint Lucie, Stuart, West Palm Beach, and Fort Lauderdale, before terminating in Downtown Miami, with interchanges with I-10 in Jacksonville and I-4 in Daytona Beach.

Florida: Airports

See also: List of airports in Florida and Aviation in Florida
Miami International Airport is the world's 10th-busiest cargo airport, and second busiest airport for international passengers in the U.S.

Florida has 131 public airports. Florida's seven large hub and medium hub airports, as classified by the FAA, are the following:

City served Code Airport name FAA
Category
Enplanements
Miami MIA Miami International Airport Large Hub 17,017,654
Orlando MCO Orlando International Airport Large Hub 17,017,491
Fort Lauderdale FLL Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood Int'l Airport Large Hub 10,829,810
Tampa TPA Tampa International Airport Large Hub 8,137,222
Fort Myers RSW Southwest Florida International Airport Medium Hub 3,714,157
West Palm Beach PBI Palm Beach International Airport Medium Hub 2,958,416
Jacksonville JAX Jacksonville International Airport Medium Hub 2,755,719

Florida: Intercity rail

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. The busiest Amtrak train stations in Florida in 2011 were: Sanford (259,944), Orlando (179,142), Tampa Union Station (140,785), Miami (94,556), and Jacksonville (74,733). Sanford, in Greater Orlando, is the southern terminus of the Auto Train, which originates at Lorton, Virginia, south of Washington, D.C.. Until 2005, Orlando was also the eastern terminus of the Sunset Limited, which travels across the southern United States via New Orleans, Houston, and San Antonio to its western terminus of Los Angeles. Florida is served by two additional Amtrak trains (the Silver Star and the Silver Meteor), which operate between New York City and Miami. Miami Central Station, the city's rapid transit, commuter rail, intercity rail, and bus hub, is under construction.

The Florida Department of Transportation was preparing to build a high-speed rail between Tampa, Lakeland and Orlando. This was to be the first phase of the Florida High Speed Rail system. Soil work began in July 2010 and construction of the line was slated to begin in 2011, with the initial Tampa-Orlando phase completed by 2014. The second phase, would have extended the line to Miami. Governor Scott, however, refused federal funds and the project has been canceled.

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.

Florida: Public transit

The Miami Metrorail is the state's only rapid transit system. About 15% of Miamians use public transit daily.
Further information: Transportation in South Florida
  • Miami: Miami's public transportation is served by Miami-Dade Transit that runs Metrorail, a heavy rail rapid transit system, Metromover, a people mover train system in Downtown Miami, and Metrobus, Miami's bus system. Metrorail runs throughout Miami-Dade County and has two lines and 23 stations connecting to Downtown Miami's Metromover and Tri-Rail. Metromover has three lines and 21 stations throughout Downtown Miami. Outside of Miami-Dade County, public transit in the Miami metropolitan area is served by Broward County Transit and Palm Tran; intercounty commuter rail service is provided by Tri-Rail, with 18 stations including the region's three international airports.
  • Orlando: Orlando is served by the SunRail commuter train, which runs on a 32 miles (51 km) (61 miles (98 km) when complete) line including four stops in downtown. Lynx bus serves the greater Orlando area in Orange, Seminole, and Osceola counties.
  • Tampa: Tampa and its surrounding area use the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority system ("HART"). In addition, downtown Tampa has continuous trolley services in the form of a heritage trolley powered by Tampa Electric Company. Pinellas County and St. Petersburg provide similar services through the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority or "PSTA". The beaches of Pinellas County also have a continuous trolley bus. Downtown St. Petersburg has a trolley system.
  • Jacksonville: Jacksonville is served by the Jacksonville Skyway, an automated people mover monorail connecting the Florida State College downtown campus, the Northbank central business district, Convention Center, and Southbank locations. The system includes 8 stops connected by two lines. JTA bus has 180 vehicles with 56 lines.
Largest public transit systems in Florida (2012)
Rank City Weekday
passenger
ridership
Population
served
% of
population
on transit
Modes of transit
1 Miami 367,000 2,554,776 14.4% Tri-Rail, Metrorail, Metromover & Metrobus
2 Fort Lauderdale 147,718 1,748,066 8.5% Tri-Rail (commuter rail) & BCT bus
3 Orlando 97,000 2,134,411 4.4% Lynx bus & Sunrail
4 Gainesville 50,500 125,326 40.3% RTS bus
5 Tampa 50,400 1,229,226 4.1% HART bus & TECO Line Streetcar
6 West Palm Beach 45,100 1,320,134 3.4% Tri-Rail (commuter rail) & Palm Tran (bus)
7 St. Petersburg 42,500 916,542 4.6% PSTA bus
8 Jacksonville 41,500 821,784 5.0% JTA bus & Skyway (people mover)
9 Tallahassee 22,400 181,376 12.4% StarMetro bus

Florida: Sports

Main article: Sports in Florida
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 one MLS team. Florida gained its first permanent major-league professional sports team in 1966 when the American Football League added the Miami Dolphins. The state of 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 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.

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.

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

Minor league baseball, football, basketball, ice hockey, soccer and indoor football teams are based in Florida. Three of the Arena Football League's teams are in Florida.

Florida's universities have a number of collegiate sport programs, especially the Florida State Seminoles and Miami Hurricanes of the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Florida Gators of the Southeastern Conference.

Florida major league professional sports teams
Team League Venue Location Championships
Miami Dolphins National Football League Sun Life Stadium Miami Gardens 2 (1972, 1973)
Miami Heat National Basketball Association American Airlines Arena Miami 3 (2006, 2012, 2013)
Miami Marlins Major League Baseball Marlins Park Miami 2 (1997, 2003)
Florida Panthers National Hockey League BB&T Center Sunrise 0
Tampa Bay Buccaneers National Football League Raymond James Stadium Tampa 1 (2003)
Tampa Bay Rays Major League Baseball Tropicana Field St. Petersburg 0
Tampa Bay Lightning National Hockey League Amalie Arena Tampa 1 (2004)
Orlando Magic National Basketball Association Amway Center Orlando 0
Orlando City SC Major League Soccer Orlando City Stadium Orlando 0
Jacksonville Jaguars National Football League EverBank Field Jacksonville 0

Florida: Sister states

Sister jurisdiction Country Year
Languedoc-Roussillon France France 1989
Taiwan Province Taiwan 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

Florida: See also

  • Outline of Florida – organized list of topics about Florida
  • Index of Florida-related articles
  • Ecology of Florida
  • List of counties in Florida
  • List of people from Florida
  • List of places in Florida
  • List of sister cities in Florida
  • Music of Florida
  • List of National Register of Historic Places in Florida
  • Timeline of Florida History

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Florida: Bibliography

  • Viviana Díaz Balsera and Rachel A. May (eds.), La Florida: Five Hundred Years of Hispanic Presence. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2014.
  • Michael Gannon (ed.), The History of Florida. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2013.
  • State website
  • Florida at DMOZ
  • Florida State Guide, from the Library of Congress
  • Geographic data related to Florida at OpenStreetMap
  • Florida Memory Project Over 300,000 photographs and documents from the State Library & Archives of Florida
  • Online collection of the Spanish Land Grants.
  • USGS real-time, geographic, and other scientific resources of Florida
  • Florida Rivers and Watersheds – Florida DEP
  • U.S. Census Bureau
  • Economic and farm demographics fact sheet from the USDA
  • Energy & Environmental Data For Florida
  • Heliconius charitonia, zebra longwing Florida state butterfly, on the UF / IFAS Featured Creatures Web site
  • TerraFly Property Value and Aerial Imagery Spatio-temporal animation Real Estate Trends in Florida
  • List of searchable databases produced by Florida state agencies hosted by the American Library Association Government Documents Roundtable

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