How Florida Got its Name
Juan Ponce de León, on arriving in Florida thought it to be Spain. He gave it the name La Florida as it was the season of Pascua Florida, the Spanish term meaning 'festival or feast of flowers' that generally refers to the Easter season.
Florida is a state in the southeastern region of the United States. A major portion of its landmass is a peninsula. It is flanked by the Gulf of Mexico to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. What is so interesting about Florida? Let's find out.
- State: Florida
- Capital: Tallahassee
- Largest city: Jacksonville
- Area: 65,755 sq miles
- Population (approx.): 20,984,400
- Official Language: English
- Nickname: Sunshine State
- People inhabited Florida long before the Europeans settled in the state. For thousands of years before the Europeans came to Florida, the Ais, the Apalachee, and the Tocobago were some of the tribes indigenous to this state.
- St. Augustine established in 1565, is the oldest European settlement.
- From 1513 to around 1630, Florida was known by the name La Florida. The Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León gave it this name. The first European expedition to Florida was led by him.
- Dutch cartographer Hessel Gerritsz, in a map he published in 1630, in Joannes de Laet's History of the New World, referred to the Florida peninsula as Tegesta. The name was derived from Tequesta, also called Tegesta, a tribe in the southeastern Atlantic coastal regions of the state.
- The Spanish and the French were among the earliest to inhabit Florida. The Spanish did not have an influential hold over Florida. When the English and French colonies were established, the Spanish influence further decreased.
- One of the first settlements of the Europeans in the United States was in this region. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Florida was colonized by people from Great Britain and Spain.
- In the early 18th century, wars were fought between the United States Army and the Seminole (native American and African-American settlers). They are known as Seminole Wars or Florida Wars. The first Seminole War was fought between 1816 and 1819. The second war was fought from 1835 to 1842, and the third one was fought between 1855 and 1858. If taken together, they were the longest and the most expensive wars in the United States history.
- In 1822, Florida became a territory of the United States. It became the 27th US state in 1845.
- In the mid-twentieth century, Florida was the least populated Southern state. Around 44% of its population was African-American.
- Georgia and Alabama are to the north of Florida. To its west is the Gulf of Mexico. And to its south and east is the Atlantic Ocean.
- Area-wise, it is the 22nd largest state in the country. A region of over 50,000 square miles is land mass and an area of a little over 11,000 square miles is covered by water.
- In terms of coastline length of the US states, Florida ranks second. Alaska ranks first.
- Interestingly, a major part of Florida is a peninsula that is composed of karst limestone bedrock. The geological feature that forms the peninsula is known as the Florida Platform.
- Florida has underwater caves, sinkholes, and springs.
- Florida has the largest deposits of rock phosphate in the United States. They are mostly found in the Bone Valley, a region in central Florida where phosphate is mined.
- As there are no tectonic plate boundaries in the vicinity of Florida, the number of earthquakes experienced by this state is less than those in any other. The occurrence of earthquakes is very rare.
- Britton Hill, is the highest point in Florida at 105 meters above the average sea level. Atlantic Ocean is the lowest point. Among all the US states, the difference between the highest and the lowest points of Florida is the least. Also, the highest point is at the least height when compared to other states. This is why Florida can be regarded as the flattest state in the US.
- Reportedly, Florida is the only state, which has two rivers with the same name. One is in the north central region of Florida, while the other is located in central Florida. Both are named Withlacoochee.
- Most parts of Florida experience a humid or tropical climate. Snowfall is rare. Afternoon thunderstorms are frequent. Central Florida experiences the maximum lightning strikes, which is why it is called the lightning capital of the United States.
- On a hot day in June 1931, a temperature of 109 degrees Fahrenheit was recorded, making it the highest temperature ever recorded in Florida. Minus 2 degrees Fahrenheit is the lowest temperature recorded in Florida.
- Panther is the state animal and the Northern mockingbird is the state bird. In 1987, the State legislature made the American alligator as the state reptile. The only calving areas for the North Atlantic right whale are on the coasts of Florida and Georgia.
- Orange blossom is Florida's state flower. Orange is its official state fruit. Sabal Palm is the state tree.
- Around 3,000 different wildflower species are found in Florida, making it the third most diverse state in the country. Mangroves are found in the coastal regions. Oranges and grapefruits, and tropical fruits like bananas and pineapples are grown in Florida.
- There are 67 counties in Florida. They have been named after political figures, explorers, and saints. Palm Beach county is the largest and Union County is the smallest.
- Florida ranks forty-fifth in the total energy consumption per capita.
- It ranks third in the list of the most populated states in the United States. 39 of the counties in Florida are in Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs).
- Florida's economy is the fourth largest in the United States. The tourism industry of Florida provides a major boost to the economy. Agriculture and especially the cultivation of oranges forms an important part of the state's economy.
- Florida House on Capitol Hill was the first and is the only State Embassy in Washington D.C.
- Surprisingly, Florida did not have a minimum wage law till 2004. Moreover, Florida is one of the few states that do not impose a personal income tax.
People, Places, and Culture
- Roman Catholicism is predominant in Florida. Certain regions in South Florida house large Jewish populations. Around 40% of Florida's population consists of Protestants.
- In Florida, there are 19.9% people above 65 years of age, which is the highest in comparison to other US states. And only 20.1% of its population is aged below 18.
- Florida is home to a variety of ethnic groups. More than 200 first languages other than English have been identified by the state's public education system.
- The people of Florida follow an interesting tradition. Once in a year, thousands of Floridians come together and toss dead fish into Alabama. This custom is known as the annual Mullet toss and is hosted by the Flora-Bama Beach Bar in Pensacola.
- Though largely similar to the United States culture, immigrants from Latin America and Europe have influenced the state's culture, and so has the Southern culture.
- Florida is famous for the Floribbean cuisine which is found in many restaurants as well as households across the state. The specialty of this cuisine is that it is influenced by immigrants the world over, but specially the Caribbeans. Key lime pie is the state pie and grits are the state prepared food.
- Many music genres are popular in Florida. Florida breaks, a genre of breakbeat music is one of the most popular genres.
- The Florida State Fair is held every year in Tampa. It is an eleven-day long event organized in February that includes shows, exhibits, competitions, etc.
- Pascua Florida Day is celebrated every year, generally on April 2. If it's a Saturday or Sunday on this date, the preceding Friday or the succeeding Monday is declared as the state day.
- Florida has over 1000 golf courses, which is more than any other state in the USA. The state is also famous for water sports, auto racing, and tennis.
- Some of the best places to visit in Florida include the Walt Disney World, Magic Kingdom, Everglades, and Florida Keys among others.
- There is a Public school in Gulfport which is called Boca Ciega. The words mean, 'blind mouth' in Spanish.
- Boca Raton, a city in Palm Beach County translates to 'mouth of a rat'.
- Loxahatchee is an unincorporated community in the Palm Beach County in Florida. Interestingly, the word, 'Loxahatchee' means 'a river of turtles'.
- Being a peninsula, Florida has many bridges. The Seven Mile Bridge of the Florida Keys is among the longest bridges in the state.
- Florida is also known for its theme parks. Orlando, a city in Central Florida is known as "The Theme Park Capital of the World".
- The World Golf Hall of Fame is located near St. Augustine, Florida. It is the only sports hall of fame to honor both men and women.
Did You Know?
Out of the 10 NASA centres in United States, one of the most important NASA centre, the Kennedy Space Centre, is situated in Florida
These were some interesting facts and trivia about Florida. The geographical features of this state have led to a diversity in its flora and fauna. The British and Spanish influences as also immigrants from different parts of the world, have led to a diversity in the state's culture and traditions. To catch a glimpse of this diverseness, you must plan a visit to the Sunshine state, Florida.