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Florida can be described as a state in the Southeastern part of the United States. To the west, Florida is bordered by the Gulf of Mexico. To the northwest, by Alabama. To the east, by Georgia. To the south, by the Straits of Florida. It is the only state that borders the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Florida is the 22nd largest state in terms of area, covering 65,758 sq. miles (170,310 km). It also has the third-most populous state, with a population exceeding 21 million. The state capital is Tallahassee and the most populous city is Jacksonville. With a population of nearly 6.2 million, Miami is the most populous metropolitan area in Florida. It is also the seventh-most populous area in the United States. Other urban conurbations that have more than one million people include Tampa Bay, Orlando and Jacksonville.
Florida has been home to several Native American tribes for over 14,000 years. Juan Ponce de Leon, a Spanish explorer, was the first European to land in Florida. He called the region La Florida (“la flo’rida”) for its lush greenery, and the Easter season ( Pascua Florida). Florida subsequently became the first area in the continental U.S. to be permanently settled by Europeans, with the Spanish colony of St. Augustine, founded in 1565, being the oldest continuously inhabited city. Florida was repeatedly contested by Spain and Great Britain, before being ceded to the U.S. in 1819; it was admitted as the 27th state on March 3, 1845. Florida was the main location of the Seminole Wars (1816-1858), which were the longest and most extensive of all the Indian Wars in American history. On January 10, 1861, Florida seceded the Union and became one of the seven original Confederate States. After the Civil War, Florida was restored to the Union on June 25, 1868.
Florida has seen rapid economic and demographic growth since the mid-20th century. Its economy, with a gross state product (GSP) of $1.0 trillion, is the fourth-largest of any U.S. state and the 16th-largest in the world; the main sectors are tourism, hospitality, agriculture, real estate, and transportation. Florida is known for its amusement parks, beach resorts, warm and sunny climate, nautical recreation, and beautiful beaches. Attractions such as Walt Disney World and the Kennedy Space Center draw millions of tourists annually. Florida is a popular destination for retirees, seasonal vacationers, and both domestic and international migrants; it hosts nine out of the ten fastest-growing communities in the U.S. The state’s close proximity to the ocean has shaped its culture, identity, and daily life; its colonial history and successive waves of migration are reflected in African, European, Indigenous, Latino, and Asian influences. Florida has attracted or inspired writers such as Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams, and continues to attract celebrities and athletes, particularly in golf, tennis, auto racing, and water sports. Florida is also well-known for being a battleground in American presidential elections, particularly those in 2000, 2016 and 2020.