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Welcome to Florida

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Florida State Flag
Florida State Flag
Florida State Seal
Florida State Seal
Florida Location
Florida Location


Florida is a southern state in the United States. It is known as the Sunshine State. "Florida" is a Spanish adjective which means "flowery". It was discovered by Spanish explorers during the Easter season, which is called Pascua Florida in Spanish. The U.S. Postal abbreviation is FL.

USS Florida was named in honor of this state.

State nicknames Sunshine State
Capital Tallahassee
Largest City Jacksonville
Governor (2004) Jeb Bush
- Total
- Land
- Water
- % water
Ranked 22nd
170,451 km˛
137,374 km˛
30,486 km˛
17.9 %
- Total (2000)
- Density
Ranked 4th
Ranked 8th 114.43 /km˛
Admittance into Union
- Order
- Date

March 3, 1845
Time zone All but western panhandle is EasternUTC-5/-4
Central: UTC-6/-5
79°48'W to 87°38'W
24°30'N to 31°N
- Highest
- Mean
- Lowest
260 km
800 km

105 meters
30 meters
0 meters
ISO 3166-2 US-FL


Archaelogical finds indicate that Florida had been inhabited for many thousands of years prior to any European settlements. Spaniards first arrived in 1513 and lay claim to a large, imprecisely defined area extending from about modern day Gainesville northward to the Carolinas, which they called La terra florida, "The flowery land". Over the following century, the Spanish and French both established settlements in Florida, with varying degrees of success. The area of Florida diminished with the establishment of British colonies to the north and French colonies to the west. Control of parts of Florida passed among Spanish, British, and American control. Spain finally ceded Florida to the United States with the Adams-Onís Treaty in 1819, in exchange for the US renouncing any claims on Texas. On March 3, 1845, Florida became the 27th state of the United States of America. Today, Florida is the fourth most populous state in the Union.

Law and Government

The Florida Legislature has a Senate of 40 members and a House of 120 members. The current governor is Republican Jeb Bush, brother of President George W. Bush.

Though Florida has traditionally been a Democratic state, in recent years explosive population growth has brought with it many Republicans, leaving the state approximately evenly split between the two parties. Although the Republicans control the governorship and most other statewide elected offices, both houses of the state legislature, and 18 of the state's 25 seats in the US House, Democrats control the state's two Senate seats, and the presidential contest in Florida in 2000 was extremely close. As such, and because of its high population and large number of electoral votes, Florida is considered by political analysts to be a key swing state in Presidential elections.

In Miami, the liberal Democrats vie for control with wealthy Cuban right wing Republicans and their business allies. Tampa was once a hotbed of Democratic union support, but has reversed polarity completely in recent years, and is now governed by heavily pro-business Republicans. Outside of liberal Miami-Dade County, the Florida Democratic Party tends to be socially conservative and heavily associated with the good ol' boy network.


Florida is one of the nine states which does not impose personal income tax (list of others). The state sales tax rate is 6 percent, and use tax of 6 percent is due on purchases made out of state and brought into Florida within 6 months of the purchase date. Additionally, some counties are authorized to levy a discretionary sales surtax on most transactions that are subject to sales and use tax.


Florida consists of a panhandle extending along the northern Gulf of Mexico and a large peninsula with the Atlantic Ocean as its eastern border and the Gulf of Mexico as its western border. It is bordered on the north by the states of Georgia and Alabama. It is near the countries of the Caribbean, particularly the Bahamas, Cuba, and Haiti.

At 345 feet (105 metres) above sea level, Britton Hill is the highest point in Florida (it's also the lowest state highpoint.)


Florida's economy is heavily based on tourism. Warm weather most of the year and many miles of pristine beaches provide a thriving vacation spot for travelers from around the world. The large Walt Disney World theme park and resort complex, located near Orlando, drives the economy of that area, along with more recent entries into the theme park arena such as the Universal Orlando Resort. The great amount of sales tax revenue is what allows the state to be one of the few to not levy a personal income tax. Other major industries include citrus fruit and juice production, banking, and phosphate mining. With the arrival of the space program at Kennedy Space Center in the 1960s, Florida has attracted a large number of aerospace and military industries to the state. Florida does not have any state minimum wage laws.

Important cities and towns

Population > 1,000,000 (urbanized area)
Population > 100,000 (urbanized area)
Population > 10,000 (urbanized area)


Florida's public school revenue per student and spending per $1000 of personal income usually ranks in the bottom 25% of U.S. states. Average teacher salaries rank near the middle of U.S. states.

Florida public schools have consistently ranked in the bottom 25% of many national surveys and average test score rankings. It should be noted that many education surveys are not scientific, but do measure prestige. Governor Jeb Bush has been criticized by many Florida educators for a program that penalizes underperforming schools (as indicated by standardized tests, such as the FCAT) with fewer funding dollars. Major testing organizations frequently discount the use of state average test score rankings, or any average of scaled scores, as a valid metric.

In 2000, Governor Bush and the state legislature acted to abolish the Board of Regents that governed the State University System of Florida. Instead, each public university is now controlled by its own Board of Trustees who are directly appointed by the governor. As is typical of executive-appointed government boards, the appointees so far have been overwhelmingly Republican. This has not been without controversy. In 2002, Democratic Senator Bob Graham started a ballot referendum designed to revert to the Board of Regents system.

Colleges and Universities

  • Barry University
  • Bethune-Cookman College
  • Carlos Albizu University Miami campus
  • Clearwater Christian College
  • Eckerd College
  • Edward Waters College
  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
  • Flagler College
  • Florida A&M University
  • Florida Atlantic University
  • Florida Christian College
  • Florida College
  • Florida Gulf Coast University
  • Florida Hospital College of Health Sciences
  • Florida Institute of Technology
  • Florida International University
  • Florida Memorial College
  • Florida Metropolitan University
  • Florida Southern College
  • Florida State University
    • Florida State University Panama City campus
  • Hobe Sound Bible College
  • International College
  • International Fine Arts College
  • Jacksonville University
  • Jones College
  • Lynn University
  • New College of Florida
  • Northwood University
  • Nova Southeastern University
  • Palm Beach Atlantic College
  • Ringling School of Art and Design
  • Rollins College
  • Saint John Vianney College Seminary
  • Saint Leo University
  • St. Thomas University
  • South Florida Bible College and Theological Seminary
  • Southeastern College of the Assemblies of God
  • Stetson University
  • Trinity College of Florida
  • Troy State University
  • Florida Region University of Central Florida
  • University of Florida
  • University of Miami
  • University of North Florida
  • University of Sarasota
  • University of South Florida
  • University of Tampa
  • University of West Florida
  • Warner Southern College
  • Webber College

Sports teams

National Football League National Basketball Association National Hockey League
Jacksonville Jaguars Orlando Magic Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Miami Heat Florida Panthers
Miami Dolphins    
Major League Baseball Arena Football League  
Tampa Bay Devil Rays Orlando Predators  
Florida Marlins Tampa Bay Storm  

Spring Training

Florida is an extremely popular location for Major League Baseball spring training, with teams informally organized into the "Grapefruit League". As of 2004, Florida hosts the following major league teams for spring training:

Minor League teams

Florida also hosts the following minor league baseball teams:

  • Jacksonville Suns
  • Daytona Cubs
  • Dunedin Blue Jays
  • Clearwater Threshers
  • Brevard County Manatees
  • Vero Beach Dodgers
  • Lakeland Tigers
  • St. Lucie Mets
  • Sarasota Red Sox
  • Fort Myers Miracle
  • Charlotte Rangers
  • Jupiter Hammerheads

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