When you think of Florida, you probably think of Disney World, but there are lots more to the “sunshine state.” St. Augustine, which was settled by the Spanish in 1565, is the nation’s oldest city established by Europeans. Tarpon Springs, which lies on the gulf coast, was founded by Greek sponge fishermen. Greek culture lives on in this colorful town.
- Florida became a U.S. territory in 1821 and a U.S. state in 1845. Native American tribes were forced from their lands here; many of them were killed or died as they walked west.
- Many Hispanics have immigrated to South Florida from Central America and Cuba.
- Tourists and retirees flock to Florida for its warm winter climate. Florida has some of the most beautiful beaches in the country.
- Everglades National Park is the largest subtropical area in the U.S. Crocodiles, manatees, and panthers live here.
- Pilot Amelia Earhart flew out of Miami in 1937, bound for a trip around the world. Her plane went down over the Pacific Ocean.
- Florida is the largest producer of oranges and grapefruit in the country, followed by California and Texas.
Native Americans called Seminoles still live in Florida.
Florida Quick Stats
State Capital: Tallahassee (population, 181,376)
Largest City: Jacksonville (population, 821,784)
Largest Metro: Greater Miami
State Bird: mockingbird
State Flower: orange blossom
Admission to Union: March 3, 1845
Questions and Answers
Question: How did Florida get its name?
Answer: Spanish explorer Ponce De Leon named it La Florida, which means “place of flowers.”
Watch a video about Florida.