Florida

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This article is about the U.S. State. For other uses, see Florida (disambiguation).
State of Florida
Image:Flag of Florida.svg Image:Florida state seal.svg
Flag of Florida Seal of Florida
Nickname(s): Sunshine State
Motto(s): In God We Trust
Official language(s) English
Capital Tallahassee
Largest city Jacksonville
Area  Ranked 22nd
 - Total 65,794 sq mi
(170,451 km²)
 - Width 162 miles (260 km)
 - Length 497 miles (800 km)
 - % water 17.9
 - Latitude 24°30'N to 31°N
 - Longitude 79°48'W to 87°38'W
Population  Ranked 4th
 - Total (2000) 17,789,864
 - Density 309/sq mi 
117.3/km² (8th)
 - Median income  $41,171 (36th)
Elevation  
 - Highest point Britton Hill<ref name=usgs>Template:Cite web</ref>
345 ft  (105 m)
 - Mean 98 ft  (30 m)
 - Lowest point Atlantic Ocean<ref name=usgs/>
0 ft  (0 m)
Admission to Union  March 3, 1845 (27th)
Governor Jeb Bush (R)
U.S. Senators Bill Nelson (D)
Mel Martinez (R)
Time zones  
 - peninsula Eastern: UTC-5/DST-4
 - panhandle Central: UTC-6/DST-5
Abbreviations FL US-FL
Web site www.myflorida.com

Florida is a state located in the southeastern United States. Most of the state is a large peninsula with the Gulf of Mexico on its west and the Atlantic Ocean on its east. It has a warm and humid subtropical climate. It was named by Juan Ponce de León, who landed on the coast on April 2, 1513, during Pascua Florida (Spanish for "Flowery Easter," referring to the Easter season). Florida's economy relies heavily on tourism.

Contents

[edit] Geography

Further information: List of counties in Florida

Florida is situated mostly on a large peninsula between the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Straits of Florida. 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 near the countries of the Caribbean, particularly the Bahamas and Cuba.

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. [1] Contrary to popular belief, however, Florida is not entirely "flat." Some places, such as Clearwater, feature vistas that rise 50 to 100 feet (15–30 m) above the water. Much of the interior of Florida, typically 25 miles (40 km) or more away from the coastline, features rolling hills with elevations ranging from 100 to 250 feet (30–76 m) in many locations. Lake County holds the highest point of peninsular Florida, Sugarloaf Mountain, at 312 feet (95 m). [2]

Areas under control by the National Park Service include:

Areas under the control of the USDA United States Forest Service include:

See also List of Florida state parks

[edit] Boundaries

The state line begins in the Atlantic Ocean, traveling west, south, and north up the thalweg of the Saint Mary's River. At the origin of that river, it then follows a straight line nearly due west and slightly north, to the point where the confluence of the Flint River (from Georgia) and the Chattahoochee River (down the Alabama/Georgia line) used to form Florida's Apalachicola River. (Since Woodruff Dam was built, this point has been under Lake Seminole.) The border with Georgia continues north through the lake for a short distance up the former thalweg of the Chattahoochee, then with Alabama runs due west along latitude 31°N to the Perdido River, then south along its thalweg to the Gulf via Perdido Bay.

[edit] Climate

Image:Hurricane Frances, September 2nd.jpg
Hurricane Frances near peak strength.

The climate of Florida is tempered somewhat by its proximity to water. Most of the state has a humid subtropical climate, except for the southern tip which borders on tropical and the Florida Keys which have a true tropical climate. Cold fronts can occasionally bring high winds and cool to cold temperatures to the entire state during late fall and winter. One such front swept through the peninsula on November 25, 1996, bringing cold temperatures and winds up to 95 miles per hour (150 km/h), knocking out power to thousands and damaging mobile homes. The seasons in Florida are actually determined more by precipitation than by temperature with mild to cool, relatively dry winters and autumns (the dry season) and hot, wet springs and summers (the wet season). The Gulf Stream has a moderating effect on the climate, and although much of Florida commonly sees a high summer temperature over 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 °C), the mercury seldom exceeds 100 degrees Fahrenheit (39 °C). The hottest temperature ever recorded in the state was 109 °F (43 °C), set on June 29, 1931 in Monticello. The coldest was –2°F (−19 °C), on February 13, 1899, just 25 miles (40 km) away, in Tallahassee. Mean high temperatures for late July are primarily in the low 90s Fahrenheit (32–35 °C). Mean low temperatures for late January range from the low 40s Fahrenheit (4–7 °C) in northern Florida to the mid-50s (≈13 °C) in southern Florida.

Image:STS-95 Florida From Space.jpg
Florida taken from NASA Shuttle Mission STS-95 on October 31, 1998.

The Florida Keys, being surrounded by water, have a more tropical climate, with lesser variability in temperatures. At Key West, temperatures rarely exceed 90 °F in the summer or fall below 60 °F in the winter, and frost has never been reported in the Keys.

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 the highest average precipitation of any state, in large part because afternoon thunderstorms are common in most of the state from late spring until early autumn. A fair day may be interrupted with a storm, only to return to sunshine. These thunderstorms, caused by collisions between airflow from the Gulf of Mexico and airflow from the Atlantic Ocean, pop up in the early afternoon and can bring heavy downpours, high winds, and sometimes tornadoes. Florida leads the United States in tornadoes per square mile, but these tornadoes do not typically reach the intensity of those in the Midwest and Great Plains. Hail often accompanies the most severe thunderstorms.

Image:Coldsunday.jpg
The "Cold Sunday" of January 1982 ruined most of the orange crop in Florida.
Snow is a rare occurrence in Florida. During the Great Blizzard of 1899, Florida experienced blizzard conditions. During that time, the Tampa Bay Area had "gulf-effect" snow, similar to lake-effect snow.[citation needed] The Great Blizzard of 1899 is the only time the temperature in the state is known to have fallen below 0 degrees Fahrenheit (−18 °C). The most widespread snowfall in Florida history happened in February 1978, when snow fell over much of the state in different times of the month, as far south as Homestead. Snow flurries fell on Miami Beach for the only time in recorded history. 1982's "Cold Sunday," which saw freezing conditions throughout much of the country, ruined that year's orange crops. In 1989, a severe hard freeze created lots of ice and also caused minor flurries in sections of the state and resulted in rolling blackouts from power failures caused by massive demands on the power grid for heating. A hard freeze in 2003 brought "ocean-effect" snow flurries to the Atlantic coast as far south as Cape Canaveral. [3]

The 1993 Superstorm brought blizzard conditions to the panhandle, while heavy rain and tornadoes beset the peninsula. The storm is believed to have been similar in composition to a hurricane, and even brought storm surges of six feet or more to regions of the Gulf coast.

Although some storms have formed out of season, hurricanes pose a threat during hurricane season, which lasts from June 1 to November 30. Florida saw a slew of destruction in 2004, when it was hit by a record four hurricanes. Hurricanes Charley (August 13), Frances (September 45), Ivan (September 16), and Jeanne (September 2526) cumulatively cost the state's economy US$42 billion. In 2005, Hurricane Dennis (July 10) became the fifth storm to strike Florida within eleven months. Later, Hurricane Katrina (August 25) passed through South Florida and Hurricane Rita (September 20) swept through the Florida Keys. Hurricane Wilma made landfall in Florida in the early morning of October 24 as a Category 3 hurricane, with the storm's eye hitting near Cape Romano, just south of Marco Island, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Florida was the site of the second costliest weather disaster in U.S. history, Hurricane Andrew, which caused more than US$25 billion in damage when it struck on August 24, 1992. In a long list of other infamous hurricane strikes are the 1926 Great Miami Hurricane, the Lake Okeechobee Hurricane of 1928, the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, Hurricane Donna in 1960, and Hurricane Opal in 1995.

See also: Catastrophic Florida hurricanes: 1900-1960, Catastrophic Florida hurricanes: 1961-present, and List of all-time high and low temperatures by state

[edit] Environmental issues

Florida is the fifth-largest producer of greenhouse gases among the 50 U.S. states. This may coincide with the fact that Florida is the fourth most populous state in the United States. Climatologists and scientists debate whether global warming is to blame for an increase in the number of strong hurricanes. Others debate whether global warming actually exists. The scientists Peter Webster and Judith Curry of the Georgia Institute of Technology published research in 2005 showing an increase in global hurricane intensity, with a doubling of the number of Category 4 or 5 hurricanes since 1970. That increase coincides with a rise of nearly 1 degree Fahrenheit in ocean surface temperatures. They argue that there is a connection, while Florida's state climatologist, James O'Brien, argues the increase in stronger storms is merely part of a natural cycle. [4]

Other than fiercer hurricanes, global warming is predicted to have a number of destructive effects on Florida:

In fact, scientists have already observed changes in Florida consistent with the early effects of global warming: retreating and eroding shorelines, dying coral reefs, saltwater intrusion into inland freshwater aquifers, an upswing in forest fires, and warmer air and sea-surface temperatures.[5]

The greatest threat from global warming is a rise in sea levels. Much of Florida, being only a few feet above sea level now, would be underwater if the sea level rose dramatically due to the continued melting of glaciers, parts of the Antarctic ice shelf, or Greenland's cover of ice. Even a rise of less than a foot could mean "seawater will advance inland as much as 400 feet in low-lying areas, flooding shoreline homes and hotels, limiting future development, and eroding the state's beloved beaches."[6]

[edit] History

Image:Five flags of Florida.jpg
Five of the flags that have been flown over Florida throughout the centuries.
Main article: History of Florida

Archaeological finds indicate that Florida had been inhabited for thousands of years before any European settlements. Of the many indigenous people, the largest known were the Ais, the Apalachee, the Calusa, the Timucua and the Tocobago tribes. Juan Ponce de León, a Spanish conquistador, named Florida in honor of his discovery of the land on April 2 1513, during Pascua Florida, a Spanish term for the Easter season. From that date forward, the land became known as "La Florida." (Juan Ponce de León may not have been the first European to reach Florida. At least one Indian that he encountered in Florida in 1513 could speak Spanish.<ref>Smith, Hale G., and Marc Gottlob. 1978. "Spanish-Indian Relationships: Synoptic History and Archaeological Evidence, 1500-1763." In Tacachale: Essays on the Indians of Florida and Southeastern Georgia during the Historic Period. Edited by Jerald Milanich and Samuel Proctor. Gainesville, Florida: University Presses of Florida. ISBN 0-8130-0535-3</ref>. Alternatively, the Spanish-speaking Indian could have been in contact with areas where Spanish settlements already existed, and Ponce de León was indeed the discoverer).

Over the following century, both the Spanish and French established settlements in Florida, with varying degrees of success. In 1559, Spanish Pensacola was established by Don Tristán de Luna y Arellano as the first European settlement in the continental United States, but it had become abandoned by 1561 and would not be reinhabited until the 1690s. French Huguenots founded Fort Caroline in modern-day Jacksonville in 1564, but this fort was conquered by forces from the new Spanish colony of St. Augustine the following year. After Huguenot leader Jean Ribault had learned of the new Spanish threat, he launched an expedition to sack the Spanish settlement; en route, however, severe storms at sea waylaid the expedition, which consisted of most of the colony's men, allowing St. Augustine founder Pedro Menéndez de Avilés time to march his men over land and conquer Fort Caroline. Most of the Huguenots were slaughtered, and Menéndez de Avilés marched south and captured the survivors of the wrecked French fleet, ordering all but a few Catholics executed beside a river subsequently called Matanzas (Spanish for 'killings'). St. Augustine came to serve as the capitals of the British and Spanish colonies of East and West Florida, respectively. The Spanish never had a firm hold on Florida, and maintained tenuous control over the region by converting the local tribes, briefly with Jesuits and later with Franciscan friars. The local leaders (caciques) demonstrated their loyalty to the Spanish by converting to Roman Catholicism and welcoming the Franciscan priests into their villages.

The area of Spanish Florida diminished with the establishment of English colonies to the north and French colonies to the west. The English weakened Spanish power in the area by supplying their Creek Indian allies with firearms and urging them to raid the Timucuan and Apalachee client-tribes of the Spanish. The English attacked St. Augustine, burning the city and its cathedral to the ground several times, while the citizens hid behind the walls of the Castillo de San Marcos. The Spanish, meanwhile, encouraged slaves to flee the English-held Carolinas and come to Florida, where they were converted to Roman Catholicism and given freedom. They settled in a buffer community north of St. Augustine, called Gracie Real de Santa Teresa de Mose, the first completely black settlement in what would become the United States. Great Britain gained control of Florida diplomatically in 1763 through the Peace of Paris (the Castillo de San Marcos surrendered for the first time, having never been taken militarily). Britain tried to develop Florida through the importation of immigrants for labor, including some from Minorca and Greece, but this project ultimately failed. Spain regained Florida after Britain's defeat by the American colonies and the subsequent Treaty of Versailles (1783). Finally, in 1819, by terms of the Adams-Onís Treaty, Spain ceded Florida to the United States in exchange for the American renunciation of any claims on Texas. On March 3 1845, Florida became the 27th state of the United States of America. On January 10 1861, before the formal outbreak of the Civil War, Florida seceded from the Union; ten days later, the state became a founding member of the Confederate States of America. The war ended in 1865. On June 25, 1868, Florida's congressional representation was restored. Until the mid-twentieth century, Florida was the least populous Southern state; however, the local climate, tempered by the growing availability of air conditioning, made the state a haven, and migration from the Rust Belt and the Northeast sharply increased the population. Economic prosperity combined with Florida's sudden elevation in profile led to the Florida land boom of the 1920s, which brought a brief period of intense land development before the Great Depression brought it all to a halt. Florida's economy would not fully recover until World War II. Today, Florida is the most populous state in the South besides Texas, and the fourth most populous in the United States.

[edit] Government

Main article: Government of Florida
Image:Florida Capital.JPG
Florida Capitol buildings (Old Capitol in foreground)
Presidential elections results
Year Republican Democratic
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

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 Florida Statutes.

The Florida Legislature is comprised of the Florida Senate, which has 40 members, and the Florida House of Representatives, which has 120 members. The current Governor of Florida] is Republican Jeb Bush, brother of U.S. President George W. Bush and son of former U.S. President George H. W. Bush. The Florida Supreme Court consists of a Chief Justice and six Justices.

Image:Florida counties map.png
A map of Florida showing county names and boundaries.

Florida was traditionally a Democratic Party state; at one time, 68.5 percent of all Floridians were registered Democrats. In the last decades of the twentieth century, the realignment of the "Solid South" has led many conservative Democrats of Florida to vote with the Republican Party. This tendency, combined with explosive population growth, which has brought many Republicans into the state, has given Florida a Republican edge in practice. As a result, Republicans control the governorship and most other statewide elective offices: both houses of the state legislature, 18 of the state's 25 seats in the House of Representatives, and one of the state's two Senate seats. The disputed 2000 Presidential election in Florida was extremely close. Because of the state's population and number of electoral votes, political analysts consider it to be a key swing state in presidential elections. The Tampa area, once a major center of Democratic union support, is now almost evenly split between registered Republicans and Democrats, making it part of the important I-4 Corridor swing region.

See also: List of counties in Florida, List of cities in Florida, List of Florida Governors, U.S. presidential election, 2000, in Florida, and U.S. presidential election, 2004, in Florida

[edit] Economy

The gross state product of Florida in 2005 was $596 billion[7]. Personal income was $30,098 per capita, ranking 26th in the nation.

Florida's economy relies heavily on tourism. About 60 million visitors visit the state every year. Warm weather and hundreds of miles of beach attract vacationers from around the world. The Walt Disney World Resort, a mega-resort consisting of four theme parks, more than twenty hotels, water parks, shopping centers, and other attractions, is an important tourist attraction located in Lake Buena Vista. Together, Walt Disney World, and other theme park resorts such as Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld, are an important driver of the Central Florida economy.

Other major industries include citrus fruit and juice production, banking, and phosphate mining within the Bone Valley region. With the arrival of the space program at Kennedy Space Center in the 1960s, Florida has developed a sizeable aerospace industry. The state did not have a state minimum wage law until November 2, 2004, when voters passed a constitutional amendment establishing a state minimum wage and mandating that it be adjusted for inflation every six months.

Image:BahiaHonda.jpg
The beach at Bahia Honda in the Florida Keys

Historically, Florida's economy was based upon cattle farming and agriculture (especially sugarcane, citrus, tomatoes, and strawberries). In the early 1900, land speculators discovered Florida, and Plant and Henry Flagler developed railway systems, which led people to move in, drawn by the weather and local economies. From then on, tourism boomed, fueling a cycle of development and tourism that overwhelmed a great deal of farmland.

In 2004 and 2005, key industries along the west coast—commercial fishing and water-based tourist activities (sports fishing and diving)—were threatened by outbreaks of red tide, a discoloration of seawater caused by an efflorescence of toxin-producing dinoflagellates.

Florida is one of the nine states that do not impose a personal income tax (list of others). The state imposes a tax on "intangible personal property" (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, money market funds, etc.), but this tax will be abolished in 2007. The state sales tax rate is 6% [8]. Local governments may levy an additional local option sales tax of up to 1.5%. A locale's use-tax rate is the same as its sales-tax rate, including local options, if any. Use taxes are payable for purchases made out of state and brought into Florida within six months of the purchase date. Other taxes are mostly levied on businesses. They include the following taxes: corporate income, communication services, intangibles, unemployment, solid waste, documentary stamps, insurance premium, pollutants, and various fuel taxes. For more information, visit the Florida Department of Revenue website at [9].

[edit] Demographics

The center of population of Florida is located in Polk County, in the town of Lake Wales [10].

[edit] Race and ancestry

Image:Florida population map.png
Florida Population Density Map
Demographics of Florida (csv)
By race White Black AIAN Asian NHPI
AIAN is American Indian or Alaskan Native   -   NHPI is Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
2000 (total population) 82.45% 15.66% 0.75% 2.11% 0.16%
2000 (Hispanic only) 15.94% 0.74% 0.14% 0.09% 0.03%
2005 (total population) 81.47% 16.31% 0.84% 2.52% 0.18%
2005 (Hispanic only) 18.48% 0.87% 0.21% 0.11% 0.04%
Growth 2000-2005 (total population) 9.99% 15.93% 23.95% 33.09% 29.08%
Growth 2000-2005 (non-Hispanic only) 5.43% 15.23% 15.67% 32.55% 24.49%
Growth 2000-2005 (Hispanic only) 28.99% 29.93% 58.98% 45.89% 45.66%

The largest reported ancestries in the 2000 Census were German (11.8%), Irish (10.3%), English (9.2%), American (8%) and Italian (6.3%).[11]

Historical populations
Census Pop.

<tr><td align="center"> 1830 </td><td align="right"> 34,730 </td><td align="right"> - </td></tr><tr><td align="center"> 1840 </td><td align="right"> 54,477 </td><td align="right"> 56.9% </td></tr><tr><td align="center"> 1850 </td><td align="right"> 87,445 </td><td align="right"> 60.5% </td></tr><tr><td align="center"> 1860 </td><td align="right"> 140,424 </td><td align="right"> 60.6% </td></tr><tr><td align="center"> 1870 </td><td align="right"> 187,748 </td><td align="right"> 33.7% </td></tr><tr><td align="center"> 1880 </td><td align="right"> 269,493 </td><td align="right"> 43.5% </td></tr><tr><td align="center"> 1890 </td><td align="right"> 391,422 </td><td align="right"> 45.2% </td></tr><tr><td align="center"> 1900 </td><td align="right"> 528,542 </td><td align="right"> 35.0% </td></tr><tr><td align="center"> 1910 </td><td align="right"> 752,619 </td><td align="right"> 42.4% </td></tr><tr><td align="center"> 1920 </td><td align="right"> 968,470 </td><td align="right"> 28.7% </td></tr><tr><td align="center"> 1930 </td><td align="right"> 1,468,211 </td><td align="right"> 51.6% </td></tr><tr><td align="center"> 1940 </td><td align="right"> 1,897,414 </td><td align="right"> 29.2% </td></tr><tr><td align="center"> 1950 </td><td align="right"> 2,771,305 </td><td align="right"> 46.1% </td></tr><tr><td align="center"> 1960 </td><td align="right"> 4,951,560 </td><td align="right"> 78.7% </td></tr><tr><td align="center"> 1970 </td><td align="right"> 6,789,443 </td><td align="right"> 37.1% </td></tr><tr><td align="center"> 1980 </td><td align="right"> 9,746,324 </td><td align="right"> 43.6% </td></tr><tr><td align="center"> 1990 </td><td align="right"> 12,937,926 </td><td align="right"> 32.7% </td></tr><tr><td align="center"> 2000 </td><td align="right"> 15,982,378 </td><td align="right"> 23.5% </td></tr>

[edit] Ten largest cities in Florida

City 2000 2005
Jacksonville 735,617 782,623
Miami 362,470 386,614
Tampa 303,447 325,989
St. Petersburg 248,232 249,079
Hialeah 226,419 220,485
Orlando 185,951 213,223
Ft. Lauderdale 152,397 170,824
Tallahassee 150,624 158,500
Pembroke Pines 137,427 150,685
Hollywood 139,357 146,687

Before the American Civil War, when slavery was legal, and during the Reconstruction era that followed, African Americans made up nearly half of the state's population.<ref name=censusbrowser>[12]Historical Census Browser at the University of Virginia (URL accessed 26 August 2006).</ref> Their proportion declined over the next century, as many moved north in the Great Migration while large numbers of northern whites moved to the state. Recently, the state's proportion of black residents has begun to grow again. Today, large concentrations of black residents can be found in northern Florida (notably in Jacksonville, Gainesville and Pensacola), the Tampa Bay area, and South Florida (where their numbers have been bolstered by significant immigration from Haiti and Jamaica).

Florida's Hispanic population includes large communities of Cuban Americans in Miami and Tampa, Puerto Ricans in Tampa and Orlando, and Central American migrant workers in inland West-Central and South Florida. The Hispanic community continues to grow more affluent and mobile: between the years of 2000 and 2004, Lee County in southwest Florida, which is largely suburban in character, had the fastest Hispanic population growth rate of any county in the United States.[13]

Whites of all ethnicities are present in all areas of the state. Those of British ancestry are present in large numbers in the coastal cities. There is a large German population in Southwest Florida, a sizeable and historic Italian community in the Miami area, and white Floridians of longer-present generations in the culturally southern areas of inland and northern Florida. Native white Floridians, especially those who have descended from long-time Florida families, affectionately referred to themselves as "Florida Crackers."

Persons from Florida are known properly as "Floridians" or as "Floridans".

[edit] Languages

As of 2000, 76.9 percent of Florida residents age 5 and older speak only English at home, while 16.5 percent speak Spanish. Haitian Creole is the third most spoken language at 2.2 percent, followed by German at 0.6 percent and Italian at 0.4 percent.

Article II, Section 9, of the Florida Constitution provides that "English is the official language of the State of Florida." This provision was adopted in 1988 by a vote following an Initiative Petition.

[edit] Religion

Florida is mostly Protestant, with a Roman Catholic community that is growing because of immigration. There is also a sizable Jewish community, located mainly in South Florida; no other Southern state has such a large Jewish population. Florida's current religious affiliations are shown in the table below:

[edit] Education

Florida's public primary and secondary schools are administered by the Florida Department of Education.

Florida's public-school revenue per student and spending per $1000 of personal income usually rank in the bottom 25 percent 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 percent of many national surveys and average test-score rankings. Many education surveys are not scientific, but measure prestige. Governor Jeb Bush has been criticized by many Florida educators for a program that penalizes underperforming schools (as indicated by standardized tests, most prominently the FCAT) with fewer funding dollars. Supporters say the program's tough measures have resulted in vast improvements to the education system. Major testing organizations frequently discount the use of state's average test-score rankings, or any average of scaled scores, as a valid metric (for details on scaled test scores, see psychometrics).

In 2000, the governor and the state legislature abolished the Florida Board of Regents, which long had governed the State University System of Florida, and created boards of trustees to govern each university. As is typical of executive-appointed government boards, the appointees so far have overwhelmingly belonged to the governor's party. This effect has not been without controversy. [14] In 2002, former governor and then U.S. Senator Bob Graham (Dem.) led a constitutional-amendment ballot referendum designed to restore the board-of-regents system. Voters responded by creating the Florida Board of Governors; however, each university still maintains a Board of Trustees which work under this new, overseeing Board of Governors.

[edit] Transportation

[edit] Highways

Florida's interstates, state highways and U.S. Highways are maintained by the Florida Department of Transportation.

Florida's interstate highway system contains 1,473 miles (2,371 km) of highway, and there are 9,934 miles (15,987 km) of non-interstate highway in the state, such as Florida state highways and U.S. Highways.

Florida's primary interstate routes include:

Florida's secondary interstate routes include:

Florida has several toll roads, totaling 515 miles (830 km) of the state highway system. Major toll roads include:

  • I-75, as it passes through the Everglades between Naples and Fort Lauderdale has been grandfathered as a toll road from its original construction as S.R. 84
  • Florida's Turnpike, which begins at Interstate 75 south of Ocala and continues southeast through Orlando, Port Saint Lucie, and south through the western suburbs of Fort Lauderdale and Miami to Homestead

For more information about the myriad secondary toll expressways in Florida, see articles detailing roads maintained by the Florida Turnpike Authority, the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority, and the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority.

[edit] Intercity rail

In 2000, voters approved a constitutional amendment to construct a high-speed rail system to interconnect Florida's major cities. A committee was formed by the Florida Legislature to oversee the project; however, in 2004, Governor Jeb Bush and other lawmakers pushed for an amendment to remove the amendment, which succeeded. They stated that the cost would have been too high to construct the system, but proponents of the system said the claims regarding high cost were exaggerated and taken out of context, compared with the cost of building roads, maintaining automobiles, and so forth. The Florida High Speed Rail Authority, originally formed to implement the high-speed-rail amendment, has vowed to find a way to implement the system without the amendment.

Amtrak service exists in Florida: Sanford, in Greater Orlando, is the southern terminus of the Amtrak Auto Train, which originates at Lorton, Virginia, south of Washington, DC. Orlando is 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.

[edit] Public transportation

Public transportation systems exist in many major cities. Miami has an automated guideway people-mover system, as well as a 22-mile metro system, and most cities have bus service. In the South Florida Metropolitan area, train service is provided by Tri-Rail; this service has a southern terminus in Miami and a northern terminus in West Palm Beach. It has been proposed that the northern terminus be extended north as far as Stuart in Martin County, but no progress has been made. Tri-Rail provides local bus service from its stations.

Greyhound provides commercial bus service between different cities in Florida.

[edit] Airports

Florida's major international airports, which processed more than 15 million passengers in 2005, are Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (22,390,285), Miami International Airport (31,008,453), Orlando International Airport (34,128,048) and Tampa International Airport (19,045,390).

Secondary airports, with annual passenger traffic exceeding 5 million in 2005, include Jacksonville International Airport (5,741,652), Palm Beach International Airport (West Palm Beach) (7,014,237) and Southwest Florida International Airport (Fort Myers) (7,518,169).

Other smaller, regional airports with commercial service (with passengers served in 2005, where available) include those at Daytona Beach (615,841), Fort Walton Beach, Gainesville (345,788), Key West, Melbourne (466,367) ,Naples, Panama City (382,551), Pensacola (1,638,605), Sarasota-Bradenton (1,337,571), St. Petersburg-Clearwater (596,510) and Tallahassee (1,129,947). Sanford (1,649,237) is primarily served by international charter airlines.<ref>2005 North America Airports Traffic Statistics URL retrieved September 15, 2006</ref>

[edit] Metropolitan areas

See also: List of urbanized areas in Florida (by population)
Image:FLMap-MSA.PNG
Distribution of Metropolitan Statistical Areas in Florida

Florida has nineteen Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) defined by the United States Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Thirty-eight of Florida's sixty-seven counties are in an MSA. Reflecting the distribution of population in Florida, Metropolitan areas in the state are concentrated around the coast of the peninsula. They form a continuous band on the east coast of Florida, stretching from the Jacksonville MSA to the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach MSA, including nearly every county on the east coast, with the exceptions of Flagler County and Monroe County. There is also a continuous band of MSAs on the west coast of the peninsula from the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater MSA to the Naples-Marco Island MSA, including all of the coastal counties from Hernando County to Collier County. The interior of the northern half of the peninsula also has several MSAs, connecting the east and west coast MSAs. A few MSAs are scattered across the Florida panhandle.

Metropolitan Statistical Areas 2005 Population
Cape Coral-Fort Myers Metropolitan Statistical Area 549,442
Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach Metropolitan Statistical Area 494,649
Fort Walton Beach-Crestview-Destin Metropolitan Statistical Area 188,939
Gainesville Metropolitan Statistical Area 256,985
Jacksonville Metropolitan Statistical Area 1,277,763
Lakeland Metropolitan Statistical Area 541,840
Miami-Ft.Lauderdale-West Palm Beach Metropolitan Statistical Area 5,422,200
Naples-Marco Island Metropolitan Statistical Area 317,788
Ocala Metropolitan Statistical Area 304,926
Orlando-Kissimmee Metropolitan Statistical Area 1,861,707
Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville Metropolitan Statistical Area
531,970
Panama City-Lynn Haven Metropolitan Statistical Area 161,721
Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area 439,877
Port St. Lucie-Fort Pierce Metropolitan Statistical Area
381,033
Punta Gorda Metropolitan Statistical Area 154,030
Sarasota-Bradenton-Venice Metropolitan Statistical Area 673,035
Sebastian-Vero Beach Metropolitan Statistical Area 130,043
Tallahassee Metropolitan Statistical Area 334,886
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater Metropolitan Statistical Area 2,589,637

[edit] Important cities and towns

City Population > 700,000

City Population > 300,000

City Population > 200,000

City Population > 100,000

City Population > 75,000

City Population > 50,000

City Population > 25,000

[edit] Professional sports teams

Although Florida is the traditional home to Major League Baseball's spring training, and nearly 2/3 of all MLB teams still have a spring training presence in the state, Florida did not have a permanent major-league-level professional sports team until the American Football League added the Miami Dolphins in 1966. The state now has three NFL teams, two MLB teams, two NBA teams, and two NHL teams. With two of its most historically-important teams, Florida is one of the most important markets for the Arena Football League. Florida also hosts a variety of minor league baseball, football, basketball, ice hockey, soccer and indoor football teams.

Club Sport League
Jacksonville Jaguars Football National Football League
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Football National Football League
Miami Dolphins Football National Football League
Orlando Magic Basketball National Basketball Association
Miami Heat Basketball National Basketball Association
Tampa Bay Lightning Ice hockey National Hockey League
Florida Panthers Ice hockey National Hockey League
Tampa Bay Devil Rays Baseball Major League Baseball
Florida Marlins Baseball Major League Baseball
Orlando Predators Arena football Arena Football League
Tampa Bay Storm Arena football Arena Football League
Brevard County Manatees Baseball Minor League Baseball

Florida State League

Clearwater Threshers Baseball Minor League Baseball

Florida State League

Daytona Cubs Baseball Minor League Baseball

Florida State League

Dunedin Blue Jays Baseball Minor League Baseball

Florida State League

Fort Myers Miracle Baseball Minor League Baseball

Florida State League

Jacksonville Suns Baseball Minor League Baseball

Southern League

Jupiter Hammerheads Baseball Minor League Baseball

Florida State League

Lakeland Tigers Baseball Minor League Baseball

Florida State League

Sarasota Reds Baseball Minor League Baseball

Florida State League

St. Lucie Mets Baseball Minor League Baseball

Florida State League

Tampa Yankees Baseball Minor League Baseball

Florida State League

Palm Beach Cardinals Baseball Minor League Baseball

Florida State League

Vero Beach Dodgers Baseball Minor League Baseball

Florida State League

Miami FC Soccer USL First Division
Ajax Orlando Prospects Soccer USL Premier Development League
Bradenton Academics Soccer USL Premier Development League
Central Florida Kraze Soccer USL Premier Development League
Cocoa Expos Soccer USL Premier Development League
Palm Beach Pumas Soccer USL Premier Development League
Bradenton Athletics Soccer W-League
Central Florida Krush Soccer W-League
Cocoa Expos Soccer W-League
Central Florida Strikers Soccer Women’s Premier Soccer League
Miami Surf Soccer Women’s Premier Soccer League
Orlando Falcons Soccer Women’s Premier Soccer League
Palm Beach United Soccer Women’s Premier Soccer League
South Florida Breeze Soccer Women’s Premier Soccer League
Tampa Bay United Soccer Women’s Premier Soccer League
Florida Everblades Ice hockey East Coast Hockey League
Florida Seals Ice hockey Southern Professional Hockey League
Jacksonville Barracudas Ice hockey Southern Professional Hockey League
Pensacola Ice Pilots Ice hockey East Coast Hockey League
Orlando Aces Basketball American Basketball Association
Palm Beach Imperials Basketball American Basketball Association
Pensacola Aviators Basketball American Basketball Association
Jacksonville Jam Basketball American Basketball Association
Tampa Bay Strong Dogs Basketball American Basketball Association

[edit] Spring training

Florida is the traditional home 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:

Club Location
Atlanta Braves Walt Disney World
Baltimore Orioles Fort Lauderdale
Boston Red Sox Fort Myers
Cincinnati Reds Sarasota
Cleveland Indians Winter Haven
Detroit Tigers Lakeland
Florida Marlins Jupiter
Houston Astros Kissimmee
Los Angeles Dodgers Vero Beach
Minnesota Twins Fort Myers
New York Mets Port St. Lucie
New York Yankees Tampa
Philadelphia Phillies Clearwater
Pittsburgh Pirates Bradenton
Saint Louis Cardinals Jupiter
Tampa Bay Devil Rays St. Petersburg
Toronto Blue Jays Dunedin
Washington Nationals Viera

[edit] Auto-racing tracks

[edit] State symbols

Image:OrangeBloss wb.jpg
Orange blossoms.

[edit] Fauna

Florida is host to many types of animals.

  • Marine Animals : Bottlenose Dolphin, Pilot Whale, Northern Right Whale, Manatee
  • Reptilians : Alligator, Crocodile, Eastern Diamondback and Pygmy Rattlesnakes, Gopher Tortoise, Green & Leatherback Sea Turtles, Indigo Snake
  • Mammals : Panther, Whitetail Deer, Key Deer, Bobcats, Southern Black Bear, Armadillos
  • Birds : Bald Eagle, Caracca, Everglades Kite, Osprey, Pelicans, Sea Gulls, Whooping & Sandhill Cranes, Roseate Spoonbill, Florida Scrub Jay (State endemic), and many more. Note : Florida is a winter home for most of eastern North America's birds.

[edit] See also

State Agencies

[edit] References

<references/>

[edit] External links

Image:Flag of Florida.svg State of Florida Image:Florida state seal.png
Topics

Government | History | Floridians | Transportation | State Parks

Capital

Tallahassee

Larger
cities

Cape Coral | Clearwater | Coral Springs | Fort Lauderdale | Gainesville | Hialeah | Hollywood | Jacksonville | Lakeland | Miami | Miami Gardens | Miramar | North Miami | Orlando | Pembroke Pines | Plantation | Pompano Beach | Port St. Lucie | St. Petersburg | Sunrise | Tallahassee | Tampa | West Palm Beach </font>

Smaller
cities

Altamonte Springs | Apopka | Aventura | Bartow | Boca Raton | Bonita Springs | Boynton Beach | Bradenton | Brandon | Coconut Creek | Cooper City | Coral Gables | Davie | Daytona Beach | Deerfield Beach | Deland | Delray Beach | Deltona | Dunedin | Fort Myers | Fort Pierce | Greenacres | Hallandale Beach | Homestead | Jupiter | Kissimmee | Lake Mary | Lake Worth | Largo | Lauderdale Lakes | Lauderhill | Margate | Melbourne | Miami Beach | North Lauderdale | North Miami Beach | North Miami | Oakland Park | Ocala | Ocoee | Ormond Beach | Oviedo | Palm Bay | Palm Beach Gardens | Palm Harbor | Panama City | Pensacola | Pinellas Park | Plant City | Plantation | Port Charlotte | Port Orange | Riviera Beach | Royal Palm Beach | St. Augustine | Sanford | Sarasota | Spring Hill | Sunrise | Tamarac | Temple Terrace | Titusville | Vero Beach | Wellington | Weston | Winter Haven | Winter Park | Winter Springs </font>

Regions

Big Bend | Central Florida | Emerald Coast | First Coast | Florida Keys | Florida Panhandle | Gold Coast | Nature Coast | North Central Florida  | South Florida | Southwest Florida | Space Coast | Sun Coast | Tampa Bay Area | Treasure Coast | Walt Disney World</font>

Counties

Alachua | Baker | Bay | Bradford | Brevard | Broward | Calhoun | Charlotte | Citrus | Clay | Collier | Columbia | DeSoto | Dixie | Duval | Escambia | Flagler | Franklin | Gadsden | Gilchrist | Glades | Gulf | Hamilton | Hardee | Hendry | Hernando | Highlands | Hillsborough | Holmes | Indian River | Jackson | Jefferson | Lafayette | Lake | Lee | Leon | Levy | Liberty | Madison | Manatee | Marion | Martin | Miami-Dade | Monroe | Nassau | Okaloosa | Okeechobee | Orange | Osceola | Palm Beach | Pasco | Pinellas | Polk | Putnam | Santa Rosa | Sarasota | Seminole | St. Johns | St. Lucie | Sumter | Suwannee | Taylor | Union | Volusia | Wakulla | Walton | Washington</font>

Image:Flag of the United States.svg Political divisions of the United States
Capital District of Columbia
States Alabama | Alaska | Arizona | Arkansas | California | Colorado | Connecticut | Delaware | Florida | Georgia | Hawaii | Idaho | Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Kansas | Kentucky | Louisiana | Maine | Maryland | Massachusetts | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana | Nebraska | Nevada | New Hampshire | New Jersey | New Mexico | New York | North Carolina | North Dakota | Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon | Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | South Carolina | South Dakota | Tennessee | Texas | Utah | Vermont | Virginia | Washington | West Virginia | Wisconsin | Wyoming
Insular areas American Samoa | Guam | Northern Mariana Islands | Puerto Rico | Virgin Islands
Minor outlying islands Baker Island | Howland Island | Jarvis Island | Johnston Atoll | Kingman Reef | Midway Atoll | Navassa Island | Palmyra Atoll | Wake Island
ang:Florida

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Florida

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