(Spanish for "land of flowers") is the southernmost
. The state is bordered to the west by the
Gulf of Mexico
, to the north by Alabama and
, to the east by the
, and to the south by the
Straits of Florida
. Florida is the
8th-most densely populated
of the U.S. states.
most populous municipality
in the state and the largest city by area in the
contiguous United States
(due to the consolidation of Jacksonville with
Miami metropolitan area
most populous urban area
is the state's capital.
About two-thirds of Florida occupies a peninsula between the
Gulf of Mexico
. Florida has the
contiguous United States
, approximately 1,350 miles (2,170 km), not including the contribution of the many
. It is the only state that borders both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Much of the state is at or near sea level and is characterized by
soil. Florida has the
lowest high point
of any U.S. state. The climate varies from
in the north to
in the south.
can be found in
Everglades National Park
in the southern part of the state. Along with
, Florida is one of only two states that has a tropical climate, and is the only continental U.S. State with a tropical climate.
Since the first European contact was made in 1513 by Spanish explorer
Juan Ponce de León
– who named it
"land of flowers") upon landing there in the
– Florida was a challenge for the European
before it gained statehood in the United States in 1845. It was a principal location of the
, and racial segregation after the
American Civil War
Today, Florida is distinctive for its large
expatriate community and high population growth, as well as for its increasing environmental issues. The state's economy relies mainly on tourism, agriculture, and
, which developed in the late 19th century. Florida is also renowned for
, orange crops, the
Kennedy Space Center
, and as a popular destination for retirees.
is a reflection of influences and multiple inheritance;
heritages can be found in the architecture and cuisine. Florida has attracted many writers such as
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
, and continues to attract celebrities and athletes. It is internationally known for golf, tennis, auto racing and
By the 16th century (the earliest time for which there is a historical record), major
groups included the
(of northern and central Florida), the
(of the central Atlantic coast), the
(of southwest Florida) and the
(of the southeastern coast).
Florida was the first region of the
continental United States
to be visited and settled by Europeans. The earliest known European explorers came with the Spanish
Juan Ponce de León
. Ponce de León spotted and landed on the peninsula on April 2, 1513. He named the region
("land of flowers"). The story that he was searching for the
Fountain of Youth
is mythical and only appeared long after his death.
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. The Spanish introduced Christianity, cattle, horses, sheep, the Castilian language, and more to Florida. Spain established several settlements in Florida, with varying degrees of success. In 1559, Don
Tristán de Luna y Arellano
established a settlement at present-day
, making it the first attempted settlement in Florida, but it was mostly abandoned by 1561.
In 1565, the settlement of
(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
The geographical area of
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
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
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
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.
, Spain traded Florida to the
Kingdom of Great Britain
for control of
, Cuba, which
had been captured
by the British during the
Seven Years' War
. It was part of a large expansion of British territory following
their victory in the Seven Years' War
. A large portion of the Floridano population left, taking along most of the remaining indigenous population to Cuba.
The British soon constructed the King's Road connecting St. Augustine to
. The road crossed the
St. Johns River
at a narrow point, which the
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 (
, 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 described as being "energetic and of good character" moved to Florida, mostly coming from
and England. There was also a group of settlers who came from the colony of
. This would be the first permanent English-speaking population in what is now
St. Johns 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 administration. Furthermore, the British governors were directed to call general assemblies as soon as possible in order to make laws for the Floridas and in the meantime they were, with the advice of councils, to establish courts. This would be the first introduction of much of the English-derived legal system which Florida still has today including
trial by jury
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.
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.
and Americans of
began moving into northern Florida from the backwoods of
. Though technically not allowed by the Spanish authorities and the Floridan government, they were never able to effectively police the border region and the backwoods settlers from the United States would continue to immigrate into Florida unchecked. These migrants, mixing with the already present British settlers who had remained in Florida since the British period, would be the progenitors of the population known as
These American settlers established a permanent foothold in the area and ignored Spanish authorities. The British settlers who had remained also resented Spanish rule, leading to a rebellion in 1810 and the establishment for ninety days of the so-called Free and Independent Republic of
on September 23. After meetings beginning in June, rebels overcame the garrison at
), 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
, who claimed the region as part of the
. These parts were incorporated into the newly formed
Territory of Orleans
. The U.S. annexed the Mobile District of West Florida to the
in 1812. Spain continued to dispute the area, though the United States gradually increased the area it occupied. In 1812, a group of settlers from Georgia, with de facto support from the U.S. federal government, attempted to overthrow the Floridan government in the province of East Florida. The settlers hoped to convince Floridans to join their cause and proclaim independence from Spain, but the settlers lost their tenuous support from the federal government and abandoned their cause by 1813.
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
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
, which took effect in 1821. President
was authorized on March 3, 1821 to take possession of
for the United States and provide for initial governance.
, 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
and part of
By the early 1800s,
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
, and clashes between whites and Indians grew with the influx of new settlers. In 1832, the
Treaty of Payne's Landing
promised to the Seminoles lands west of the Mississippi River if they agreed to leave Florida. Many Seminole left at this time.
Some Seminoles remained, and the U.S. Army arrived in Florida, leading to the
Second Seminole War
(1835–1842). Following the war, approximately 3,000 Seminole and 800 Black Seminole were removed to
. A few hundred Seminole remained in Florida in the
On March 3, 1845, Florida became the 27th state to join the United States of America.
The state was admitted as a
and ceased to be a sanctuary for runaway slaves. Initially its population grew slowly.
As European settlers continued to encroach on Seminole lands, and the United States intervened to move the remaining Seminoles to the West. The
Third Seminole War
(1855–58) resulted in the
of most of the remaining Seminoles, although hundreds of Seminole Indians remained in the Everglades.
American settlers began to establish cotton
in north Florida, which required numerous laborers, which they supplied by buying slaves in the domestic market. By 1860, Florida had only 140,424 people, of whom 44% were enslaved. There were fewer than 1,000 free
before the American Civil War.
In January 10, 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
, allowing it to become one of the founding members of the
, 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
representation was restored on June 25, 1868, albeit forcefully after
and the installation of unelected government officials under the final authority of federal military commanders. After the
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
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.
devastated cotton crops.
Forty thousand blacks, roughly one-fifth of their 1900 population, left the state in the
. 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.
Historically, Florida's economy has been based primarily upon agricultural products such as cattle, sugar cane, citrus fruits, tomatoes, and strawberries.
Economic prosperity in the 1920s stimulated tourism to Florida and related development of hotels and resort communities. Combined with its sudden elevation in profile was the
Florida land boom of the 1920s
, which brought a brief period of intense land development. Devastating hurricanes in
, followed by the
, brought that period to a halt. Florida's economy did not fully recover until the military buildup for
World War II
In 1939, Florida was described as “still very largely an empty State. Subsequently, the growing availability of
, the climate, and a low cost of living made the state a haven. Migration from the
and the Northeast sharply increased Florida's population after 1945. In recent decades, more migrants have come for the jobs in a developing economy.
With a population of more than 18 million according to the 2010 census, Florida is the most populous state in the southeastern United States and the fourth-most populous in the United States.
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
, it extends to the northwest into a
, extending along the northern Gulf of Mexico. It is bordered on the north by the states of
, and on the west, at the end of the panhandle, by Alabama. It is the only state that borders both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.
Florida is west of
and 90 miles (140 km) north of
. Florida is one of the largest states east of the
, and only
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.
At 345 feet (105 m)
above mean sea level
is the highest point in Florida and the lowest highpoint of any U.S. state.
Much of the state south of
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
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
, is a 312-foot (95 m) peak in
On average, Florida is the flattest state in the United States.
The climate of Florida is tempered somewhat by the fact that no part of the state is distant from the ocean. North of
, the prevalent climate is
), while areas south of the lake (including the
) have a true
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 north 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
. 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 measurable
. However, on rare occasions, a combination of cold moisture and freezing temperatures can result in snowfall in the farthest northern regions. Frost, which is more common than snow, sometimes occurs in the panhandle.
for the state range from zone 8a (no colder than 10 °F or −12 °C) in the inland western
to zone 11b (no colder than 45 °F or 7 °C) in the lower
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 country.
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
but they do not typically reach the intensity of those in the
. Hail often accompanies the most severe thunderstorms.
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
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—
and above. It is rare for a hurricane season to pass without any impact in the state by at least a tropical storm.
In 1992, Florida was the site of what was then the costliest weather disaster in U.S. history,
, which caused more than $25 billion in damage when it struck during August; it held that distinction until 2005, when Hurricane Katrina surpassed it.
—the second-most expensive hurricane in Florida history—landed just south of
in October 2005. Although tropical storms would affect the state, it would be eleven years until the next hurricane (
) struck the state, and twelve years until the next major hurricane.
struck the state where Wilma did in 2017.
Florida is host to many types of wildlife including:
The only known calving area for the
northern right whale
is off the coasts of Florida and Georgia.
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
African rock pythons
Nile monitor lizards
have also established a firm population in the southern part of the state.
There are about 500,000
There are about 3,000 different types of
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,
have normally dominated the coast from
northward. From St. Augustine south to Cocoa Beach, the coast fluctuates between the two, depending on the annual weather conditions.
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 6% for
, 5% for
, and 4% for
All potable water resources have been controlled by the state government through five regional water authorities since 1972.
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.
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
for the panther to be established.
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
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.
The Florida peninsula is a porous
known as the
. The largest deposits of
in the United States are found in Florida.
Extended systems of underwater caves,
are found throughout the state and supply most of the water used by residents. The limestone is topped with
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
, 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
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
. 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
The population exceeded 19.7 million by December 2014, surpassing the population of the state of
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.
constituted an estimated 5.7% of the population. This was the sixth highest percentage of any U.S. state.
There were an estimated 675,000 illegal immigrants in the state in 2010.
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%.
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.
in the state as well as the entire southeastern United States is the
Miami metropolitan area
, with about 6.06 million people. The
Tampa Bay Area
, with over 3.02 million people, is the second largest; the
Orlando metropolitan area
, with over 2.44 million people, is the third; and the
Jacksonville metropolitan area
, with over 1.47 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.
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).
In 2010, 6.9% of the population (1,269,765) considered themselves to be of only
ancestry (regardless of race or ethnicity).
Many of these were of English or
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
Some of their ancestry went back to the original
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%
(511,229), and 2.7%
of all European backgrounds are present in all areas of the state. In 1970, non-Hispanic whites were nearly 80% of Florida's population.
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 "
"; others see the term as a derogatory one. Like whites in most of the other Southern states, they descend mainly from English and
settlers, as well as some other
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)
, 4.5% (847,550)
, 3.3% (629,718)
, and 1.6% (300,414)
population includes large communities of
in Miami and Tampa,
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
. Out of the 16.0%, 4.0% (741,879) were
During the early 1900s,
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
, 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
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
immigrant origins, especially in the Miami/South Florida area.
In 2016, Florida had the highest percentage of West Indians in the United States at 4.5%, with 2.3% (483,874) from
ancestry, 1.5% (303,527)
, and 0.2% (31,966)
, with the other West Indian groups making up the rest.
As of 2010, those of Asian ancestry accounted for 2.4% of Florida's population.
In 1988 English was affirmed as the state's
. 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
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:
2014 Pew Religious Landscape Survey
showed the religious makeup of the state was as follows:
In 2010, the three largest denominational groups in Florida were the
Roman Catholic Church
Southern Baptist Convention
, and the
United Methodist Church
Florida is mostly
is the single largest denomination in the state, due in significant part to the state's large Hispanic population. There is also a sizable
community, located mainly in
; this is the largest Jewish population in the
and the third-largest in the U.S. behind those of New York and California.
The basic structure, duties, function, and operations of the government of the state of Florida are defined and established by the
, 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
, which has 40 members, and the
Florida House of Representatives
, which has 120 members. The current Governor of Florida is
Florida Supreme Court
consists of a Chief Justice and six Justices.
Florida has 67
. Some reference materials may show only 66 because
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
. The primary revenue source for cities and counties is property tax; unpaid taxes are subject to
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
convictions from 1988 to 2007, more than any other state.
From 1952 to 1964, most voters were registered Democrats, but the state voted for the Republican presidential candidate in every election except for
. The following year, Congress passed and President
Lyndon B. Johnson
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 have gained slightly less federal money from national programs than they have paid in taxes
. Since the 1970s, conservative white voters in the state have largely shifted from the Democratic to the Republican Party. Though the majority of registered voters in Florida are Democrats
. It has continued to support Republican presidential candidates through the 20th century, except in
, when the Democratic nominee was from the
carried the state as a northern Democrat, attracting high voter turnout especially among the young, Independents, and minority voters, of whom
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-
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
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.
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
, voting for 13 successful presidential candidates since 1952. It voted for the loser only three times.
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".
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
area, which runs through
and connects the cities of
, 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
counties, the state's three most populous.
George W. Bush
U.S. Presidential election
by a margin of 271–266 in the
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
in Presidential elections since 1950, voting for the losing candidate once in that period of time.
In the closely contested
, the state played a pivotal role.
Out of more than 5.8 million votes for the two main contenders Bush and
, around 500 votes separated the two candidates for the all-decisive Florida electoral votes that landed Bush the election win. Florida's
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
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
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.
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.
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
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 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
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 including identity theft complaints.
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 2016 was $926 billion.
Its GDP is the
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.
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
Florida's constitution establishes a state
that is adjusted for inflation annually. As of January 1, 2017, Florida's minimum wage was $5.08 for
, and $8.10 for
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.
In the early 20th century, land speculators discovered Florida, and businessmen such as
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.
Due to the huge payouts by the insurance industry as a result 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:
. The average sales price for an existing house was $131,000, 7% decrease from the prior year.
If you can't find something to do in Florida, you're just boring...
If you can't find something to do in Florida, you're just boring...
Tourism makes up one of the largest sectors of the state economy, with nearly 1.4 million people employed in the tourism industry in 2016 (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
. 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.
, especially in the
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
, 27 themed
, 9 non–Disney hotels, two
and other recreational venues.
Other major theme parks in the area include
Universal Orlando Resort
Busch Gardens Tampa
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
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).
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,
The state is the largest producer of
for the U.S.
The Everglades Agricultural Area is a major center for agriculture. The environmental impact of agriculture, especially
, 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 is the leading state for sales of
. Boats sales totaled $1.96 billion in 2013.
, concentrated in the
, 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
in 1992, the state of Florida began investing in economic development through the Office of Trade, Tourism, and Economic Development. Governor
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.
Since the development of the federal
Merritt Island launch sites
on Cape Canaveral (most notably Kennedy Space Center) in 1962, Florida has developed a sizable
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
United States Southern Command
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.
There were 2.7 million
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
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 has the largest collection of
buildings in both the United States and the entire world, most of which are located in the
Miami metropolitan area
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
, which can be seen in areas such as
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
buildings outside of the Midwest.
Jacksonville is also noteworthy for its collection of
Some sections of the state feature architectural styles including
A notable collection of these styles can be found in
, the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement within the borders of the United States.
Florida's primary and secondary school systems are administered by the
Florida Department of Education
. School districts are organized within county boundaries. Each school district has an elected
Board of Education
that sets policy, budget, goals, and approves expenditures. Management is the responsibility of a
Superintendent of schools
Florida Department of Education
is required by law to train educators in teaching
English for Speakers of Other Languages
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.
As of 2017 the
University of Central Florida
, with over 64,000 students, is the
largest university by enrollment
in the United States.
Florida's first private 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'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
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
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
. The first section, from
south to the
Golden Glades Interchange
was completed in 1957. After a second section north through Orlando to
), and a
around Miami to
, it was finished in 1974.
Florida's primary interstate routes include:
Florida has 131 public airports.
Florida's seven large hub and medium hub airports, as classified by the FAA, are the following:
Florida is served by
, 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:
Tampa Union Station
, is the southern terminus of the
, which originates at
, south of Washington, D.C. Until 2005, Orlando was also the eastern terminus of the
, which travels across the southern United States via
to its western terminus of Los Angeles. Florida is served by two additional Amtrak trains (the
), which operate between New York City and Miami.
Miami Central Station
, the city's
hub, is under construction.
Florida Department of Transportation
was preparing to build a
This was to be the first phase of the
Florida High Speed Rail
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
at speeds up to 125 mph. Its Miami to
portion is scheduled to open in 2016, with the final segment to Orlando opening in 2017.
Florida has three
teams, and one
team. Florida gained its first permanent major-league professional sports team in 1966 when the
American Football League
. 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
in the state, with teams informally organized into the "
". Throughout MLB history, other teams have held spring training in Florida.
) begins all three of its major auto racing series in Florida at
Daytona International Speedway
in February, featuring the
, and ends all three Series in November at
. Daytona also has the
Coke Zero 400
NASCAR race weekend around
in July. The
24 Hours of Daytona
is one of the world's most prestigious endurance auto races. The
Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
Grand Prix of Miami
races as well.
Florida is a major golf hub. The
PGA of America
is headquartered in
Palm Beach Gardens
is headquartered in
Ponte Vedra Beach
, and the
is headquartered in Daytona Beach.
The Players Championship
Arnold Palmer Invitational
ATP World Tour Masters 1000
tennis event, whereas the
Delray Beach International Tennis Championships
ATP World Tour 250
Minor league baseball,
, soccer and
teams are based in Florida. Three of the
Arena Football League
's teams are in Florida.
Florida's universities have a number of
programs, especially the
Florida State Seminoles
Atlantic Coast Conference
, and the