Facts on Florida
Location and Interesting Facts:
Florida is located in the southeastern corner of the United States, bordered by the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean, Alabama
and Georgia. Most of Florida is on a peninsula, meaning that it is bordered by water on three sides but connected to the mainland. Florida has the second longest coastline of any state in the United States, led only by Alaska.
Climate and Geography:
There are 67 counties in Florida. The capital of the state is Tallahassee, and the largest city is Jacksonville. Most of Florida is very flat with elevations close to sea level. The highest point in the state is Britton Hill, which is only 345 feet high. Florida is famous for the Everglades, a National Park that is home to alligators, manatees and a wide variety of birdlife. The Florida Keys
extend off the southern coast of the state.
The Florida Keys:
The Keys are an archipelago, or a chain of islands, off the southern tip of Florida. The geology of the Florida Keys is very interesting: a very long time ago, the Keys were submerged coral reefs. The Keys became exposed during a recent ice age, during which sea level dropped dramatically. The corals died off with the decreased sea levels, leaving behind limestone rock. Erosion of the limestone combined with deposition of sand and other materials created the Keys as we know them today. Many of the Keys are large enough to support plant and human life. Key West is the most famous city and island in the Florida Keys; it is a popular vacation spot and home to more than 25,000 people.
Central and North Florida have a humid subtropical climate with hot and humid summers and cooler winters where snowfall is rare. Southern Florida has a tropical climate with a rainy season from June to September. The state’s average daily temperature is 70.7 degrees Fahrenheit, making it the warmest state in the US.
Florida was first home to many Native American tribes. The first Europeans to arrive in Florida were Spanish explorers known as conquistadors, and they arrived in Florida in 1513. They named the area La Florida
, which means "flowery land." Over the next few decades, parts of Florida were controlled by Spanish, French, and English settlers or by Native American tribes. Florida became a state in March of 1845.
Historically, agriculture has been very important for the Florida economy. Oranges, sugar cane, and other crops are still harvested today. Fishing and mining are also important. More recently, tourism has become the most important part of the economy. Warm weather, miles of beaches, and plenty of amusement parks all attract visitors to the state.
Florida is highly prone to tornadoes, although they are usually not as strong as those that form in the Midwestern United States. Water spouts are also common; these are occurrences like tornadoes, although they are generally weaker than tornadoes. Hurricanes pose a great threat to Florida, and Florida is the most hurricane-prone state in the country. Hurricanes and tropical storms frequently make landfall in the state, or pass close enough to cause damaging winds or dangerous ocean currents.
Recent Major Hurricanes to make Landfall in Florida (1990-Present):
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- Hurricane Wilma (October 2005, Category 3)
- Hurricane Katrina (August 2005, Category 1 at the time, eventually strengthens in the Gulf and hits Mississippi)
- Hurricane Dennis (July 2005, Category 3)
- Hurricane Charley (August 2004, Category 4)
- Hurricane Frances (September 2004, Category 2)
- Hurricane Ivan (September 2004, Category 3)
- Hurricane Jeanne (September 2004, Category 3)
- Hurricane Georges (September 1998, Category 2)
- Hurricane Erin (August 1995, Category 2)
- Hurricane Opal (October 1995, Category 3)
- Hurricane Andrew (August 1992, Category 5)