Tourism plays a primary role in the state's economy; in 1996 visitors to Florida spent over $48 billion. Walt Disney World, a massive cluster of theme parks near Orlando that is one of the world's leading tourist attractions; Universal Studios, a combination theme park and film and television production facility, also near Orlando; and other attractions draw millions yearly. Famed beaches, such as those at Miami Beach, Daytona Beach, and Fort Lauderdale, attract hordes of vacationers. With more than 4,000 sq mi (10,360 sq km) of inland water and with the sea readily accessible from almost anywhere in the state, Florida is a fishing paradise. Other attractions include Everglades National Park, with its unusual plant and animal life; Palm Beach, with its palatial estates; and Sanibel Island's picturesque resorts.
Famous for its citrus fruits, Florida leads the nation in the production of oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, and market-ready corn and tomatoes. Other important crops include sugarcane and many varieties of winter vegetables. Cattle and dairy products are important, as is commercial fishing, with the catch including crabs, lobsters, and shrimp.
Cape Canaveral is the site of the John F. Kennedy Space Center, and many defense and scientific-research companies are in the area. Space flights, including those to the moon and the space shuttle missions, have been launched from Cape Canaveral. There are also major air and naval facilities, especially near Tampa and Pensacola. Construction is a major industry in fast-growing Florida, and Miami is a center of international (especially Latin American) trade.
Florida's leading manufactured items are food products, printed and published materials, electrical and electronic equipment, and transportation equipment. Lumber and wood products are also important. Most of the state's timber is yellow pine. Florida's mineral resources include phosphate rock, sand, and gravel.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.