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Florida (FL): State Guide and Fun Facts


When was Florida Founded? 1845

First inhabitants of Florida: Apalachee, Creek, Seminole and Miccosukee Native Americans

Square Miles: 65,758

US Rank: 22nd

State Flower: Orange Blossom

State Bird: Mockingbird

State Motto: In God we Trust

Capital City

TallahasseeTallahassee was elected as the capital of Florida in 1824, 21 years before the area became a part of the United States. It was given a name that, in the Muskogean Indian’s language means “old fields”. The city is a hub for higher education universities such as Florida A&M University and Florida State University and high technology companies such as General Dynamics and Municipal Code Corporation.

 

What is Florida famous for?

1. Walt Disney World Resort – Florida is synonymous with Walt Disney World Resort for children from around the world. The resort, which includes two water parks, four theme parks, 24 hotels, a campground, health spas and entertainment destinations, has been growing exponentially since it was first opened almost 40 years ago on October 1, 1971. The original attraction consisted of the Magic Kingdom theme park. Later, the area added Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom to its list of parks. Walt Disney himself envisioned Disney World as being similar to the already existing Disney Land in California, however he hoped Disney World could be a destination for extended vacationers rather than day-trippers, as was the case with the California park.

2. Everglades – The Everglades, located at the southern tip of Florida, are a large expanse of subtropical wetlands that have been preserved in their natural state. They were originally inhabited by the Calusa and Tequesta tribes, both of whom slowly left the area when Spanish explorers discovered Florida in the 1500s. Visitors today are invited to explore the area’s many state parks, sanctuaries, preserves, beaches, boardwalks and trails.

3. Oranges – Some of the earliest European explorers to Florida were responsible for the area’s abundance of the fruit today. Ponce de Leon is credited with planting the first orange trees around present day St. Augustine, Florida. Because of the climate’s ideal conditions, the trees flourished and have since made Florida the second largest orange producing area in the world (second to Brazil). The most common varieties grown in the state are Navel, Hamlin, Pineapple, Ambersweet and Valencia. In addition to oranges, Florida is the world’s leading producer of grapefruit. The most common varieties of grapefruit grown in Florida are Ruby Red, Flame, Thompson, Marsh and Duncan.

What is Florida’s economy?

1. Agriculture – Florida is a leading producer of oranges, grapefruit, limes, tangerines and tangelos. In addition to citrus, Florida is also the leading producer of sugar cane and indoor plants in the United States. Other cash crops include tomatoes, bananas, papayas, strawberries, watermelons, cabbage, celery, cucumbers, green peppers, lettuce, potatoes, beans, squash and corn.

2. Manufacturing – Stemming from their leadership in certain crops, Florida is a leading manufacturer of citrus products. These include fresh juice, canned juice, canned fruit, jellies and jams and frozen vegetables. In addition to foods, Florida produces fertilizer, books, newspapers, scientific tools and electrical equipment.

3. Services – Florida’s largest service industries include small businesses, private health care, law firms, hotels and amusement parks (Disney World). Tourism is a large reason that the state has such a large revenue generating services sector. Other services include wholesale trade, retail, service stations, real estate development, insurance and finance.

 

Florida Historical Landmarks

1. Ernest Hemingway House – Located on the island of Key West, Florida, the home belonged to Ernest Hemingway in the middle of his life from 1931 to 1939. It was designed and built in 1851 by marine architect Asa Tift in the colonial southern mansion style. A private man, Hemingway built a tall brick wall that surrounds the home in 1935, aiming to keep tourists from peering into his personal life. Among the other contributions Hemingway made to the home, are a boxing ring in the yard and a used urinal that he converted into an outdoor water feature. The home is today a National Historic Landmark and is open to visitors daily.

2. Plaza Ferdinand VII – The western tip of the panhandle of Florida is the important location at which Spain handed over possession of Florida to the United States. This historical event took place on July 17, 1821 in Pensacola Florida in the presence of Andrew Jackson. The location has been memorialized with a series of monuments and plaques describing the events during that time.

3. Ybor City Historic District – Originally founded in 1885 by Cuban and Spanish cigar makers, Ybor city underwent times of great prosperity as well as times of hardship, especially during the Great Depression. In the 20th century, following the great depression in the 1930s, many of the city’s residents left the area for less impoverished locations. The city remained virtually abandoned until the 1980s, when businesses and developers began to descend on the city, rebuilding it with new residential areas, artist’s communities, entertainment districts and other businesses. Buildings that were not demolished during the abandonment days of Ybor city have been restored and reoccupied or repurposed. Today, the city is known for its bars, clubs and nightlife and attracts residents and vacationers to its historic downtown every year.

4. Henry B. Plant Museum (Tampa Bay Hotel) – Although it operates as a museum today, the Henry B. Plant Museum was formerly the Tampa Bay Hotel. Its rich history began in 1891 when Plant, a railroad millionaire, built the sprawling ¼ mile long hotel. The hotel included luxuries of the time such as electric lights, telephones, private bathrooms, a golf course, bowling alleys, a racetrack, an indoor swimming pool and a casino.