State abbreviation/Postal code: Fla./FL
Governor: Rick Scott, R (to Jan. 2019)
Lieut. Governor: Carlos López-Cantera, R (to Jan. 2019)
Secy. of State: Ken Detzner, R (appt'd. by gov.)
Atty. General: Pam Bondi, R (to Jan. 2019)
Organized as territory: March 30, 1821
Entered Union (rank): March 3, 1845 (27)
Present constitution adopted: 1969
Motto: In God we trust (1868)
Nickname: Sunshine State (1970)
Origin of name: From the Spanish Pascua Florida, meaning “feast of flowers” (Easter)
10 largest cities (2010): Jacksonville, 836,507; Miami, 399,457; Tampa, 347,645; Orlando, 249,562; St. Petersburg, 246,541; Hialeah, 231,941; Tallahassee, 186,971; Fort Lauderdale, 170,747; Port Saint Lucie, 168,716; Cape Coral, 161,248
Land area: 53,927 sq mi. (139,671 sq km)
Geographic center: In Hernando Co., 12 mi. NNW of Brooksville
Number of counties: 67
Largest county by population and area: Miami-Dade, 2,496,435 (2010); Palm Beach, 2,034 sq mi.
State forests: 31 (more than 890,000 ac.)
State parks: 159 (over 723,000+ ac.)
Residents: Floridian, Floridan
2015 resident population: 20,271,272
2010 resident census population (rank): 18,801,310 (4). Male: 9,189,355 (48.9%); Female: 9,611,955 (51.1%). White: 14,109,162 (75.0%); Black: 2,999,862 (16.0%); American Indian: 71,458 (0.4%); Asian: 454,821 (2.4%); Other race: 681,144 (3.6%); Two or more races: 472,577 (2.5%); Hispanic/Latino: 4,223,806 (22.5%). 2010 population 18 and over: 14,799,219; 65 and over: 3,259,602; median age: 38.7 (17.3%).
In 1513, Ponce de León, seeking the mythical “Fountain of Youth,” discovered and named Florida, claiming it for Spain. Later, Florida would be held at different times by Spain and England until Spain finally sold it to the United States in 1819. (Incidentally, France established a colony named Fort Caroline in 1564 in the state that was to become Florida.)
Florida's economy rests on a solid base of tourism, manufacturing, and agriculture. Leading the manufacturing sector are electrical equipment and electronics, printing and publishing, transportation equipment, food processing, and machinery. Oranges, grapefruit, and other citrus fruits lead Florida's agricultural products list, followed by potatoes, melons, strawberries, sugar cane, peanuts, dairy products, and cattle.
Major tourist attractions are Miami Beach, Palm Beach, St. Augustine (founded in 1565, thus the oldest permanent city in the U.S.), Daytona Beach, and Fort Lauderdale on the East Coast; Sarasota, Tampa, and St. Petersburg on the West Coast; and Key West off the southern tip of Florida. The Orlando area, where Disney World is located on a 27,000-acre site, is Florida's most popular tourist destination. Also drawing many visitors are the NASA Kennedy Space Center's Spaceport USA, Everglades National Park, and the Epcot Center.
In the presidential race of 2000—an election cliffhanger—the whole country looked to Florida. With George W. Bush having won 246 electoral votes and Al Gore 255, the election hung on which of the candidates would win Florida's crucial 25 electoral votes. But on Nov. 11, after the mandatory machine recount in Florida revealed that Bush held the lead by only a few hundred votes, the election began its tortuous journey through various Florida county recounts and judicial system, ultimately ending in the U.S. Supreme Court.
On February 26, 2012, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by crime watch volunteer George Zimmerman in a gated community in Sanford, Florida. The death of an unarmed, African-American teenager and the decision by Sanford police not to charge Zimmerman sparked protests across the nation. In April, Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder.
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