Florida

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Posted by pompos 02/27/2009 @ 19:02

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News headlines
Should Florida politicians be promoted? - Tampa Bay's 10
St. Petersburg, Florida - Another name has been thrown into the hat for governor, as Florida's elected officials play a game of musical chairs and the economy worsens. The game began when long-time Senator Mel Martinez announced he would retire in 2010...
Report: Leyritz hospitalized after suicide threat - FOXSports.com
by Julie Kay and Dan Mangan, New York Post Leyritz, who is awaiting trial for a fatal drunk-driving crash, was hospitalized Wednesday night after threatening suicide when he failed a Breathalyzer test required to start his car, Florida cops said...
Coast Guard suspends search for migrants at sea - The Associated Press
The young Haitian man's relatives waited to see if he survived the sinking of a boat laden with migrants off Florida's coast, but the chances for his rescue faded Friday after the Coast Guard suspended its search. At least nine people died,...
Crist And Rubio Both Sign Anti-Tax Pledge In Florida GOP Senate Race - TPMDC
By Eric Kleefeld - May 15, 2009, 11:50AM In the latest development in the 2010 Florida Senate race, where moderate Republican Gov. Charlie Crist is facing a more conservative opponent in the GOP primary, former state House Speaker Marco Rubio,...
Source: Manny Ramirez apologizes to teammates - The Associated Press
His meeting with teammates Friday took place in South Florida before the Dodgers arrived at the Florida Marlins' stadium to start a three-game weekend series, a person familiar with the meeting said. The person did not want to be identified until...
Florida's Urban Meyer is one Gator that needs thicker skin - USA Today
But somehow it fits the SEC perfectly — and Florida best of all. Heard about the supposed Urban Meyer-Shane Matthews tiff? Gators never die nor fade away. They end up on blogs. Start with Matthews, former Florida quarterback, who threw 74 touchdown...
Florida bank says it missed regulatory deadline for raising up to ... - MarketWatch
By Alistair Barr, MarketWatch SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) - BankUnited Financial lost more than half its market value Wednesday after the Florida bank warned that it could be forced into receivership by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation because...
Amid Real-Estate Crisis, Florida Banks Face Possible Seizure - Wall Street Journal
By Alistair Barr BankUnited Financial, the largest lender based in Florida, warned earlier this week that it could be seized by regulators. Many smaller banks might face a similar gloomy fate as the real-estate crisis lingers in the Sunshine State...
No insanity defense for ex-astronaut Nowak - United Press International
At left, Mission Specialist Lisa Nowak of the STS-121 pictured in a June 13, 2006 file photo at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida to take part in a Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test, or TCDT. At right, Nowak is pictured in her police mug shot...
Fielder, Brewers belt faltering Fish - Philadelphia Inquirer
AP MILWAUKEE - Dave Bush turned in his third straight seven-inning outing, and Prince Fielder hit the go-ahead home run as the Milwaukee Brewers completed a three-game sweep of the Florida Marlins with a 5-3 win yesterday. "He just goes out there,...

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Map of Florida highlighting Fort Lauderdale.svg

Fort Lauderdale, known as the "Venice of America" due to its expansive and intricate canal system, is a city in Broward County, Florida, United States. According to 2007 U.S. Census Bureau estimates, the city had a population of 183,606. It is the county seat of Broward County, and a principal city of the South Florida metropolitan area, which is home to over 5,413,212 people.

The city is a popular tourist destination, with 10.35 million visitors in 2006. The city is a major yachting center, with 42,000 resident yachts and 100 marinas and boatyards. Fort Lauderdale and its suburbs host over 4100 restaurants and 120 nightclubs.

Fort Lauderdale is named after a series of forts built by the United States during the Second Seminole War. However, development of the city did not begin until 50 years after the forts were abandoned at the end of the conflict. Three forts named "Fort Lauderdale" were constructed; the first was at the fork of the New River, the second at Tarpon Bend, in what is now known as the Sailboat Bend neighborhood, and the third near the site of the Bahia Mar Marina. The forts took their name from Major William Lauderdale, who was the commander of the detachment of soldiers who built the first fort.

The area in which the city of Fort Lauderdale would later be founded was inhabited for more than a thousand years by the Tequesta Indians. Contact with Spanish explorers in the 16th century proved disastrous for the Tequesta, as the Europeans unwittingly brought with them diseases to which the native populations possessed no resistance, such as smallpox. For the Tequesta, disease, coupled with continuing conflict with their Calusa neighbors, contributed greatly to their decline over the next two centuries. By 1763, there were only a few Tequesta left in Florida, and most of them were evacuated to Cuba when the Spanish ceded Florida to the British in 1763, under the terms of the Treaty of Paris (1763), which ended the Seven Years' War. Although control of the area changed between Spain, United Kingdom, the United States, and the Confederate States of America, it remained largely undeveloped until the 20th century.

The Fort Lauderdale area was known as the "New River Settlement" before the 20th century. In the 1830s there were approximately 70 settlers living along the New River. William Cooley, the local Justice of the Peace, was a farmer and wrecker, who traded with the Seminole Indians. On January 6, 1836, while Cooley was leading an attempt to salvage a wrecked ship, a band of Seminoles attacked his farm, killing his wife and children, and the children's tutor. The other farms in the settlement were not attacked, but all the white residents in the area abandoned the settlement, fleeing first to the Cape Florida Lighthouse on Key Biscayne, and then to Key West. The first United States stockade named Fort Lauderdale was built in 1838, and subsequently was a site of fighting during the Second Seminole War. The fort was abandoned in 1842, after the end of the war, and the area remained virtually unpopulated until the 1890s. It was not until Frank Stranahan arrived in the area in 1893 to operate a ferry across the New River, and the Florida East Coast Railroad's completion of a route through the area in 1896, that any organized development began. The city was incorporated in 1911, and in 1915 was designated the county seat of newly formed Broward County.

Fort Lauderdale's first major development began in the 1920s, during the Florida land boom of the 1920s. The 1926 Miami Hurricane and the Great Depression of the 1930s caused a great deal of economic dislocation. When World War II began, Fort Lauderdale became a major US base, with a Naval Air Station to train pilots, radar operators, and fire control operators, and a Coast Guard base at Port Everglades was also established.

After the war ended, service members returned to the area, spurring an enormous population explosion which dwarfed the 1920s boom. The 1960 Census counted 83,648 people in the city, about 230% of the 1950 figure. A 1967 report estimated that the city was approximately 85% developed, and the 1970 population figure was 139,590. After 1970, as Fort Lauderdale became essentially built out, growth in the area shifted to suburbs to the west. As cities such as Coral Springs, Miramar, and Pembroke Pines experienced explosive growth, Fort Lauderdale's population stagnated, and the city actually shrank by almost 4,000 people between 1980, when the city had 153,279 people, and 1990, when the population was 149,377. A slight rebound brought the population back up to 152,397 at the 2000 census. Since 2000, Fort Lauderdale has gained slightly over 18,000 residents through annexation of seven neighborhoods in unincorporated Broward County. Today, Fort Lauderdale is a major yachting center, one of the nation's largest tourist destinations, and the center of a metropolitan division with 1.8 million people.

Fort Lauderdale is located at 26°08′09″N 80°08′31″W / 26.13583°N 80.14194°W / 26.13583; -80.14194 (26.135763, -80.141810).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 36.0 square miles (93.2 km2), 31.7 square miles (82.1 km2) of which is land and 4.3 square miles (11.1 km2) of which is water (11.91%). Fort Lauderdale is known for its extensive network of canals; there are 165 miles (266 km) of waterways within the city limits.

The northwestern section of Fort Lauderdale is separate from the remainder of the city, connected only by the Cypress Creek Canal as it flows under I-95. This section of Fort Lauderdale borders the cities of Tamarac and Oakland Park on its south side. Oakland Park also borders Fort Lauderdale on the west side of its northeastern portion. The greater portion of Fort Lauderdale in the south is bordered, along its north side by Wilton Manors.

Off the coast of Fort Lauderdale is the Osborne Reef, an artificial reef made of discarded tires that has proven to be an ecological disaster. The dumping began in the 1960s, with the intent to provide habitat for fish while disposing of trash from the land. However, in the rugged and corrosive environment of the ocean, nylon straps used to secure the tires wore out, cables rusted, and tires broke free. The tires posed a particular threat after breaking free from their restraints. The tires then migrated shoreward and ran into a living reef tract, climbed up its slope and killed everything in their path. In recent years, thousands of tires have also washed up on nearby beaches, especially during hurricanes. Local authorities are now working to remove the 700,000 tires, in cooperation with the U.S. Army, Navy and Coast Guard.

Fort Lauderdale, unlike many cities, has an official program for designating and recognizing neighborhoods. Under the Neighborhood Organization Recognition Program, more than 60 distinct neighborhoods have received official recognition from the city. An additional 25–30 neighborhoods exist without official recognition, although the city's neighborhood map displays them as well.

Fort Lauderdale, as the rest of southern Florida has true tropical climate, and with mean temperatures any month never below 64.4°F (18°C) .

Summer or wet season of May through October are hot, humid and wet with average high temperatures of 86 - 90°F (30 - 32°C) and lows of 71 - 76°F (22 - 24°C). During this period, more than half of the summer days brings occasionally afternoon thunderstorms and seabreezes that somewhat cools down for the rest of the day.

Winter or dry season of November through April are comfortably warm and mostly dry with average high temperatures of 75 - 82°F (24 - 28°C) and lows of 59 - 66°F (15 - 19°C). However, the city experience occasionally cold fronts during this period, bringing high temperatures of 50s and 60s (10 - 16°C) and lows of 40s and 50s (4 - 10°C) lasting only for few days.

Annual average precipitation is 64.2 in (1630 mm), which most of it occur during the summer and wet period of May through October. However, rainfall occurs in all months, mainly as short-lived heavy afternoon thunderstorms. Fort Lauderdale has an average of 94 wet days and 250 sunshine days annually. The hurricane season is between June 1 and November 30, with major hurricanes most likely to affect Florida in September and October. The most recent storms to directly affect the city were Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Wilma, both of which struck the city in 2005; other direct hits were Hurricane Cleo in 1964, Hurricane King in 1950 and the 1947 Fort Lauderdale Hurricane.

As of the census of 2000, there were 152,397 people, 68,468 households, and 33,001 families residing in the city. There were 68,468 households out of which 19.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.2% were married couples living together, 11.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 51.8% were non-families. 40.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older.

The median income for a household in the city was $37,887, and the median income for a family was $46,175. Males had a median income of $34,478 versus $27,230 for females. The per capita income for the city was $27,798. About 13.8% of families and 17.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 29.0% of those under age 18 and 11.1% of those aged 65 or over.

Fort Lauderdale has a significantly higher percentage of foreign-born residents than the United States as a whole; the 2000 census data indicated that 21.7% of the city's population was foreign-born. Of foreign-born residents, 69.2% were born in Latin America and 17.3% were born in Europe, with smaller percentages from North America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania. In 2000, Fort Lauderdale had the twenty-sixth highest percentage of Haitian residents in the US, at 6.9% of the city's population, and the 127th highest percentage of Cuban residents, at 1.69% of the city's residents.

Like many cities in South Florida, Fort Lauderdale has a large population of people who do not speak English as their first language at home, although not as high as the county average. As of 2000, 75.63% of the population spoke English as their first language, followed by Spanish at 9.42%, French Creole 7.52%, French 2.04%, and Portuguese at 1.02%.

As of 2007, the Fort Lauderdale metropolitan area has the second highest HIV rate in the nation at 45.8 (per 100,000 population), just ahead of the New York City metropolitan area at 45.4 (per 100,000 population). Of the reported Fort Lauderdale HIV cases among men, 74% are cases due to men having unprotected sex with other men.

Fort Lauderdale's economy is heavily reliant on tourism. From the 1940s through the 1980s, the city was known as a spring break destination for college students. Cruise ships and nautical recreation provide the basis for much of the revenue raised by tourism. Fort Lauderdale now attracts a more sophisticated and affluent tourist, while largely ignoring the dwindling college crowd. There is a convention center located west of the beach and southeast of downtown, with 600,000 square feet (55,742 m2) of space, including a 200,000-square-foot (18,581 m2) main exhibit hall. Approximately 30% of the city's 10 million annual visitors attend conventions at the center.

The downtown area, especially around Las Olas Boulevard, has seen dramatic growth in the past decade, and now hosts many new hotels and high-rise condominium developments. The downtown area is the largest in Broward County, although there are other smaller cities in the county with commercial centers. Other improvements include a wide array of new boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants.

The Fort Lauderdale metropolitan area foreclosures increased 127.4% from 2006 to 2007, or one filing per 48 households in the quarter. Fort Lauderdale ranks fourth in the list of top 10 metropolitan areas ranked by foreclosure filings per household for the third quarter of 2007.

Fort Lauderdale is a major manufacturing and maintenance center for yachts. The boating industry is responsible for over 109,000 jobs in the county. With its many canals, and proximity to the Bahamas and Caribbean, it is also a popular yachting vacation stop, and home port for 42,000 boats, and approximately 100 marinas and boatyards. Additionally, the annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, the world's largest boat show, brings over 125,000 people to the city each year.

Companies based in the Fort Lauderdale area include AutoNation, Citrix Systems, DHL Express, Spirit Airlines, and National Beverage Corporation. The largest employers in the county are Tenet Healthcare, which employs 5,000 people; American Express, which employs 4,200; The Continental Group, which employs 3,900; Motorola, which employs 3,000, and Maxim Integrated Products, which employs 2,000.

Fort Lauderdale has a Commission-Manager form of government. City policy is set by a city commission of five elected members: the mayor and four district commission members. The mayor of Fort Lauderdale serves a three-year term and cannot serve more than three consecutive terms. The current and longest serving mayor, Jim Naugle, was first elected in 1991 and is now serving his sixth consecutive term. Naugle's first three terms were not affected by the municipal code, which was amended in 1998; the limitation went into effect in March 2000. Administrative functions are performed by a city manager, who is appointed by the city commission. Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue Department provides Fire and Emergency Medical Services.

According to 2000 census data, 79.0% of the city's population aged 25 or older were high school graduates, slightly below the national figure of 80.4%. 27.9% held at least a baccalaureate, slightly higher than the national figure of 24.4%. Broward County Public Schools operates 23 public schools in Fort Lauderdale. 2007 Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) results for Fort Lauderdale's public schools were mixed; while ten (of sixteen) elementary schools and one (of four) middle schools received "A" or "B" grades, Sunland Park Elementary School and Arthur Ashe Middle School received failing grades. Boyd Anderson High School, which is located in Lauderdale Lakes but whose attendance zone includes part of Fort Lauderdale, also received a failing grade. None of the three failing schools have failed twice in a four-year period, thus triggering the "Opportunity Scholarship Program" school choice provisions of the Florida's education plan.

Local bus transportation is provided by Broward County Transit (BCT), the county bus system. BCT provides for connections with the bus systems in other parts of the metropolitan area: Metrobus in Miami-Dade County and Palm Tran in Palm Beach County. Tri-Rail, a commuter rail system, connects the major cities and airports of South Florida. In November 2006, Broward County voters rejected a one-cent-per-hundred sales tax increase intended to fund transportation projects such as light rail and expansion of the bus system.

Four railroads serve Fort Lauderdale. Florida East Coast Railroad (FEC) and CSX Transportation are freight lines, Amtrak provides passenger service to other cities on the Atlantic coast, and Tri-Rail provides commuter service between Palm Beach County, Broward County (including two stations in Fort Lauderdale), and Miami-Dade County.

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, in neighboring Dania Beach, Florida, is the city's main airport and is the fastest-growing major airport in the country. This is, in part, attributable to service by low-cost carriers such as Spirit Airlines, JetBlue and Southwest Airlines, resulting in lower airfares than nearby Miami International Airport. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood is an emerging international gateway for the Caribbean and Latin America. Miami International Airport and Palm Beach International Airport also serve the city.

Fort Lauderdale is home to Port Everglades, the nation's third busiest cruise port. It is Florida's deepest port, and is an integral petroleum receiving point. Broward County is served by three major Interstate Highways (I-75, I-95, I-595) and U.S. Highways such as U.S. 1, US 27 and US 441. It is also served by Florida's Turnpike and State Highway 869, also known as the Sawgrass Expressway.

Fort Lauderdale is served by Broward General Medical Center and Imperial Point Medical Center, which are operated by the North Broward Hospital District, the third largest hospital consortium in the United States. Broward General is a 716-bed acute care facility which is designated as a Level I trauma center. It is also home to Chris Evert Children's Hospital and a Heart Center of Excellence. The hospital serves as a major training site for medical students from Nova Southeastern University's College of Osteopathic Medicine, as well as nursing and paramedic programs from throughout the area. Imperial Point Medical Center is a 204-bed facility with a hyperbaric medicine program. Holy Cross Hospital, a 571-bed hospital operated by the Sisters of Mercy, was named by HealthGrades, Inc. as one of the 50 best hospitals in the country for 2007.

According to the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, Fort Lauderdale is "America's top gay resort area." In 2006, members of gay-interest site, PlanetOut, named the city as the "best gay resort town"; the city actively pursues gay and lesbian tourists. The city is also home to a large year-round population of gay residents. The city's Stonewall Library & Archives is the largest-circulation LGBT library in the southeastern United States. Neighboring Wilton Manors was the second city in the country (after West Hollywood, California) to elect a gay-majority city council.

As is true of many parts of Florida, the city's population has a strong seasonal variation, as snowbirds from the north spend the winter and early spring in Florida. The city is also sometimes referred to as "Fort Liquordale" because of its beaches, bars, nightclubs, and history as a spring break mecca for hundreds of thousands of college students. However, the city has actively discouraged college students from visiting the area since the mid-1980s, passing strict laws aimed at preventing the mayhem that regularly occurred each year. The city had an estimated 350,000 college visitors for spring break 1985; by 2006, that number had declined to about 10,000.

Fort Lauderdale is served by English-language newspapers South Florida-Sun Sentinel and The Miami Herald, as well as Spanish-language newspapers El Sentinel and El Nuevo Herald. The city is also home to alternative newspapers City Link and New Times Broward-Palm Beach, monthly magazine HOME Fort Lauderdale and gay-interest publications Express Gay News, The 411 Magazine, and HOTspots! magazine.

Fort Lauderdale's arts and entertainment district runs east-west along Las Olas Boulevard, from the beach to the heart of downtown. The district is anchored in the West by the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, and runs through the city to the intersection of Las Olas and A1A. This intersection is the "ground zero" of Fort Lauderdale Beach, and is the site of the "Elbo Room" bar featured in the 1960 film Where the Boys Are, which led in large measure to the city's former reputation as a spring break mecca. The city and its suburbs host over 4,100 restaurants and over 120 nightclubs, many of them in the arts and entertainment district. The city is also the setting for the 1986 movie Flight of the Navigator, and host of Langerado, an annual music festival.

Fort Lauderdale does not host any professional sports teams, but the Florida Panthers of the National Hockey League play at BankAtlantic Center in suburban Sunrise. Major League Baseball's Florida Marlins, the National Football League's Miami Dolphins and the Miami Heat of the National Basketball Association all play in neighboring Miami-Dade County.

Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale was the home of the defunct Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the North American Soccer League from 1977 to 1983, and the Miami Fusion of Major League Soccer from 1998 to 2001. Lockhart Stadium is the current home of the Florida Atlantic University Owls football team.

The Baltimore Orioles conduct spring training in the city at Fort Lauderdale Stadium, and NCAA Division I college sports teams of Florida International University and University of Miami play in Miami-Dade County. Florida Atlantic University's athletic programs (other than football) are played in neighboring Palm Beach County.

Fort Lauderdale is also home to the Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Complex, which is located at the International Swimming Hall of Fame. It contains two 25-yard (23 m) by 50-meter competition pools, as well as one 20 by 25-yard (23 m) diving well. The complex is open to Fort Lauderdale residents, and has also been used in many different national and international competitions since its opening in 1965. 10 world records have been set there, from Catie Ball's 100 m breaststroke in 1966 to Michael Phelps' 400 m individual medley in 2002.

In addition to its museums, beaches, and nightlife, Fort Lauderdale is home to the Fort Lauderdale Swap Shop, a large indoor/outdoor flea market and the site of the world's largest drive-in movie theater, with 13 screens. The International Swimming Hall of Fame is located on Fort Lauderdale beach, and houses a large aquatic complex as well as a museum, theater, and research library. Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is a 180-acre (0.73 km2) park along the beach, with nature trails, camping and picnicking areas, canoeing, and features the Terramar Visitor Center, with exhibits about the ecosystem of the park. The Henry E. Kinney Tunnel on US Route 1 is the only tunnel on public land in the state of Florida. It was constructed in 1960, and its 864-foot (263 m) length travels underneath the New River and Las Olas Boulevard.

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Florida

Flag of Florida

Florida ( /ˈflɒrɪdə/ (help·info)) is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States, bordering Alabama to the northwest and Georgia to the northeast. Much of the land mass of the state is a large peninsula with the Gulf of Mexico to the west and south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Most of Florida has a humid subtropical climate; southern Florida has a tropical climate. Florida was named by Juan Ponce de León, who landed on the peninsula on April 2, 1513. Florida is the fourth most populous state in the U.S.

Archaeological research indicates that Florida had been inhabited for thousands of years before any European settlements. Of the many indigenous peoples, the largest known were the Ais, the Apalachee, the Calusa, the Timucua and the Tocobago tribes.

Over the following century, both the Spanish and French established settlements in Florida, with varying degrees of success. In 1559, Spanish Pensacola was established by Don Tristán de Luna y Arellano as the first European settlement in the continental United States, but it had become abandoned by 1561 and would not be reinhabited until the 1690s. French Huguenots founded Fort Caroline in modern-day Jacksonville in 1564, but the fort was conquered by forces from the new Spanish colony of St. Augustine the following year. After Huguenot leader Jean Ribault had learned of the new Spanish threat, he launched an expedition to sack the Spanish settlement; en route, however, severe storms at sea waylaid the expedition, which consisted of most of the colony's men, allowing St. Augustine founder Pedro Menéndez de Avilés time to march his men over land and conquer Fort Caroline. Most of the Huguenots were slaughtered, and Menéndez de Avilés marched south and captured the survivors of the wrecked French fleet, ordering all but a few Catholics executed beside a river subsequently called Matanzas (Spanish for 'killings'). The Spanish never had a firm hold on Florida, and maintained tenuous control over the region by converting the local tribes, briefly with Jesuits and later with Franciscan friars. The local leaders (caciques) demonstrated their loyalty to the Spanish by converting to Roman Catholicism and welcoming the Franciscan priests into their villages.

The area of Spanish Florida diminished with the establishment of English colonies to the north and French colonies to the west. The English weakened Spanish power in the area by supplying their Creek Indian allies with firearms and urging them to raid the Timucuan and Apalachee client-tribes of the Spanish. The English attacked St. Augustine, burning the city and its cathedral to the ground several times, while the citizens hid behind the walls of the Castillo de San Marcos.

The Spanish, meanwhile, encouraged slaves to flee the English-held Carolinas and come to Florida, where they were converted to Roman Catholicism and given freedom. They settled in a buffer community north of St. Augustine, called Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose, the first completely black settlement in what would become the United States.

Great Britain gained control of Florida diplomatically in 1763 through the Peace of Paris. The British divided the colony into East Florida, with its capital at St. Augustine, and West Florida, with its capital at Pensacola. Britain tried to develop the Floridas through the importation of immigrants for labor, including some from Minorca and Greece, but this project ultimately failed. Spain regained the Floridas after Britain's defeat by the American colonies and the subsequent Treaty of Versailles in 1783, continuing the division into East and West Florida. They offered land grants to anyone who settled in the colonies, and many Americans moved to them.

After settler attacks on Indian towns, Seminole Indians based in East Florida began raiding Georgia settlements, purportedly at the behest of the Spanish. The United States Army led increasingly frequent incursions into Spanish territory, including the 1817–1818 campaign against the Seminole Indians by Andrew Jackson that became known as the First Seminole War. Following the war, the United States effectively controlled East Florida. In 1819, by terms of the Adams-Onís Treaty, Spain ceded Florida to the United States in exchange for the American renunciation of any claims on Texas and $5 million.

As settlement increased, pressure grew on the United States government to remove the Indians from their lands in Florida. To the chagrin of Georgia landowners, the Seminoles harbored and integrated runaway blacks, and clashes between whites and Indians grew with the influx of new settlers. In 1832, the United States government signed the Treaty of Payne's Landing with some of the Seminole chiefs, promising them lands west of the Mississippi River if they agreed to leave Florida voluntarily. Many of the Seminoles left at this time, while those who remained prepared to defend their claims to the land. White settlers pressured the government to remove all of the Indians, by force if necessary, and in 1835, the U.S. Army arrived to enforce the treaty.

The Second Seminole War began at the end of 1835 with the Dade Massacre, when Seminoles ambushed Army troops marching from Fort Brooke (Tampa) to reinforce Fort King (Ocala), killing or mortally wounding all but one of the 108 troops. Between 900 and 1,500 Seminole Indian warriors effectively employed hit and run guerrilla tactics against United States Army troops for seven years. Osceola, a charismatic young war leader, came to symbolize the war and the Seminoles after he was arrested at truce negotiations in 1837 and died in prison less than a year later. The war dragged on until 1842. The U.S. government is estimated to have spent between US$20 million and US$40 million on the war, at the time an astronomical sum. Even after three bloody wars, the U.S. failed to force all of the Seminole Indians in Florida to the West. Though most of the Seminoles were forcibly exiled to Creek lands west of the Mississippi, hundreds, including Seminole leader Aripeka (Sam Jones), remained in the Everglades and refused to leave the native homeland of their ancestors. Their descendants remain there to this day.

On March 3, 1845, Florida became the 27th state of the United States of America. Its population grew slowly. White settlers continued to encroach on lands used by the Seminoles, and the United States government resolved to make another effort to move the remaining Seminoles to the West. The Third Seminole War lasted from 1855 to 1858, and resulted in the removal of most of the remaining Seminoles. White settlers began to establish cotton plantations in Florida, which required numerous laborers. By 1860 Florida had only 140,424 people, of whom 44% were enslaved. There were fewer than 1000 free people of color before the Civil War.

On January 10, 1861, before the formal declaration of war, Florida seceded from the Union; ten days later, the state became a founding member of the Confederate States of America. The war ended in 1865. On June 25, 1868, Florida's congressional representation was restored. After Reconstruction, white Democrats succeeded in regaining power in the state legislature. In 1885 they created a new constitution, followed by statutes through 1889 that effectively disfranchised most blacks and many poor whites over the next several years. Provisions included poll taxes, literacy tests, and residency requirements. Disfranchisement for most African Americans in the state persisted until the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s gained federal legislation to protect their suffrage.

Until the mid-twentieth century, Florida was the least populous Southern state. In 1900 its population was only 528,542, of whom nearly 44 percent were African American. The boll weevil devastated cotton crops, and early 20th century lynchings and racial violence caused a record number of African Americans to leave the state in the Great Migration to northern and midwestern industrial cities. Forty thousand blacks, roughly one-fifth of their 1900 population, left for better opportunities. National economic prosperity in the 1920s stimulated tourism to Florida. Combined with its sudden elevation in profile was the Florida land boom of the 1920s, which brought a brief period of intense land development. Devastating hurricanes in 1926 and 1928, followed by the stock market crash and Great Depression, brought that period to a halt.

Florida's economy did not fully recover until the buildup for World War II. The climate, tempered by the growing availability of air conditioning, and low cost of living made the state a haven. Migration from the Rust Belt and the Northeast sharply increased the population after the war. In recent decades, more migrants have come for the jobs in a developing economy. Today, with an estimated population of more than 18 million, Florida is the most populous state in the Southeastern United States, the second most populous state in the South behind Texas, and the fourth most populous in the United States. The Census Bureau estimates that "Florida, now the fourth most populous state, would edge past New York into third place in total population by 2011".

Much of the state of Florida is situated on a peninsula between the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Straits of Florida. It extends to the northwest into a panhandle, extending along the northern Gulf of Mexico. It is bordered on the north by the states of Georgia and Alabama, and on the west, at the end of the panhandle, by Alabama. It is near several Caribbean countries, particularly The Bahamas and Cuba. Florida's extensive coastline made it a perceived target during World War II, so the government built airstrips throughout the state; today, approximately 400 airports are still in service. According to the National Drug Intelligence Center, Florida has 131 public airports, and more than 700 private airports, airstrips, heliports, and seaplane bases. Florida is one of the largest states east of the Mississippi River, and only Alaska and Michigan are larger in water area.

The Florida peninsula is a porous plateau of karst limestone sitting atop bedrock. Extended systems of underwater caves, sinkholes and springs are found throughout the state and supply most of the water used by residents. The limestone is topped with sandy soils deposited as ancient beaches over millions of years as global sea levels rose and fell. During the last glacial period, lower sea levels and a drier climate revealed a much wider peninsula, largely savanna. The Everglades, an enormously wide, very slow-flowing river encompasses the southern tip of the peninsula.

Because Florida is not located near any tectonic plate boundaries, earthquakes are very rare, but not totally unknown. In January, 1879, a shock occurred near St. Augustine. There were reports of heavy shaking that knocked plaster from walls and articles from shelves. Similar effects were noted at Daytona Beach 50 miles (80 km) south. The tremor was felt as far south as Tampa and as far north as Savannah, Georgia. In January 1880, Cuba was the center of two strong earthquakes that sent severe shock waves through the city of Key West, Florida. Another earthquake centered outside Florida was the 1886 Charleston earthquake. The shock was felt throughout northern Florida, ringing church bells at St. Augustine and severely jolting other towns along that section of Florida's east coast. Jacksonville residents felt many of the strong aftershocks that occurred in September, October, and November 1886. As recently as 2006, a magnitude 6.0 earthquake centered about 260 miles (420 km) southwest of Tampa in the Gulf of Mexico sent shock waves through southwest and central Florida. The earthquake was too small to trigger a tsunami and no damage was reported.

At 345 feet (105 m) above mean sea level, Britton Hill is the highest point in Florida and the lowest highpoint of any U.S. state. Much of the state south of Orlando is low-lying and fairly level; however, some places, such as Clearwater, feature vistas that rise 50 to 100 feet (15 – 30 m) above the water. Much of Central and North Florida, typically 25 miles (40 km) or more away from the coastline, features rolling hills with elevations ranging from 100 to 250 feet (30 – 76 m). The highest point in peninsular Florida, Sugarloaf Mountain, is a 312-foot (95 m) peak in Lake County.

The state line begins in the Atlantic Ocean, traveling west, south, and north up the thalweg of the Saint Mary's River. At the origin of that river, it then follows a straight line nearly due west and slightly north, to the point where the confluence of the Flint River (from Georgia) and the Chattahoochee River (down the Alabama/Georgia line) used to form Florida's Apalachicola River. (Since Woodruff Dam was built, this point has been under Lake Seminole.) The border with Georgia continues north through the lake for a short distance up the former thalweg of the Chattahoochee, then with Alabama runs due west along latitude 31°N to the Perdido River, then south along its thalweg to the Gulf via Perdido Bay. Much of the state is at or near sea level.

The climate of Florida is tempered somewhat by the fact that no part of the state is very distant from the ocean. North of lake Okeechobee, the prevalent climate is humid subtropical climate, while south of the lake has a true tropical climate. High temperatures in the state seldom exceed 100 °F (38 °C), with much of Florida commonly seeing a high summer temperature of 90s °F (32+ °C).

During late autumn and winter months, Florida could experience cccasionally cold fronts that can bring high winds and relatively cooler temperatures for the entire state, with high temperatures that could remain into the 40s and 50s (4 - 15 °C) and lows of 30s and 40s (0 - 10°C) for few days.

The hottest temperature ever recorded in the Florida was 109 °F (43 °C), set on June 29, 1931 in Monticello. The coldest was–2 °F (−19 °C), on February 13, 1899, just 25 miles (40 km) away, in Tallahassee. Mean high temperatures for late July are primarily in the low 90s Fahrenheit (32–35 °C). Mean low temperatures for late January range from the low 40s Fahrenheit (4–7 °C) in northern Florida to the mid-50s (≈13 °C) in southern Florida.

The seasons in Florida are determined more by precipitation than by temperature, with the hot, wet springs and summers making up the wet season, and mild to cool, and the relatively dry winters and autumns, making the dry season.

The Florida Keys, being completely surrounded by water, have a tropical climate with lesser variability in temperatures. At Key West, temperatures rarely exceed 90 °F (32 °C) in the summer or fall below 60 °F (16 °C) in the winter, and frost has never been reported in the Keys.

Florida's nickname is the "Sunshine State", but severe weather is a common occurrence in the state. Central Florida is known as the lightning capital of the United States, as it experiences more lightning strikes than anywhere else in the country. Florida has the highest average precipitation of any state, in large part because afternoon thunderstorms are common in most of the state from late spring until early autumn. A fair day may be interrupted with a storm, only to return to sunshine an hour or so later. These thunderstorms, caused by overland collisions of moist masses of air from the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean, pop up in the early afternoon and can bring heavy downpours, high winds, and sometimes tornadoes. Florida leads the United States in tornadoes per square mile (when including waterspouts) but they do not typically reach the intensity of those in the Midwest and Great Plains. Hail often accompanies the most severe thunderstorms.

Snow in Florida is a rare occurrence. During the Great Blizzard of 1899, Florida experienced blizzard conditions; the Tampa Bay area had "gulf-effect" snow, similar to lake-effect snow in the Great Lakes region. During the 1899 blizzard was the only time the temperature in Florida is known to have fallen below 0 degrees Fahrenheit (−18 °C). The most widespread snowfall in Florida history occurred on January 19, 1977, when snow fell over much of the state, as far south as Homestead. Snow flurries fell on Miami Beach for the only time in recorded history. A hard freeze in 2003 brought "ocean-effect" snow flurries to the Atlantic coast as far south as Cape Canaveral.

The 1993 Superstorm brought blizzard conditions to the panhandle, while heavy rain and tornadoes beset the peninsula. The storm is believed to have been similar in composition to a hurricane, some Gulf coast regions even seeing storm surges of six feet or more.

Hurricanes pose a severe threat during hurricane season, which lasts from June 1 to November 30, although some storms have been known to form out of season. Florida is the most hurricane-prone US state, with subtropical or tropical water on a lengthy coastline. It is rare for a hurricane season to pass without any impact in the state by at least a tropical storm. August to October is the most likely period for a hurricane in Florida.

In 2004, Florida was hit by a record four hurricanes. Hurricanes Charley (August 13), Frances (September 4–5), Ivan (September 16), and Jeanne (September 25–26) cumulatively cost the state's economy US$42 billion. In 2005, Hurricane Dennis (July 10) became the fifth storm to strike Florida within eleven months. Later, Hurricane Katrina (August 25) passed through South Florida and Hurricane Rita (September 20) swept through the Florida Keys. Hurricane Wilma (October 24) made landfall near Cape Romano, just south of Marco Island, finishing another very active hurricane season.

Florida was the site of the second costliest weather disaster in U.S. history, Hurricane Andrew, which caused more than US$25 billion in damage when it struck on August 24, 1992. In a long list of other infamous hurricane strikes are the 1926 Miami hurricane, the 1928 Okeechobee hurricane, the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, Hurricane Donna in 1960, and Hurricane Opal in 1995. Recent research suggests the storms are part of a natural cycle and not a result of global warming.

Since their accidental importation from South America into North America in the 1930s, the Red imported fire ant population has increased its territorial range to include most of the Southern United States, including Florida. They are more aggressive than most native ant species and have a painful sting.

Florida ranks forty-fifth in total energy consumption per capita, despite the heavy reliance on air conditioners and pool pumps. This includes coal, natural gas, petroleum, and retail electricity sales. It is estimated that approximately 4% of energy in the state is generated through renewable resources. Florida's energy production is 6 percent of the nation's total energy output, while total production of pollutants is lower, with figures of 5.6 percent for nitrogen oxide, 5.1 percent for carbon dioxide, and 3.5 percent for sulfur dioxide.

It is believed that significant energy resources are located off of Florida's western coast in the Gulf of Mexico, but that region has been closed to exploration since 1981. Governor Charlie Crist and both of Florida's U.S. Senators, Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez, oppose offshore drilling and exploration. Former Governor Jeb Bush, who was originally opposed to all drilling, changed his position in 2005 when he supported a bill introduced into the House of Representatives which allowed unrestricted drilling 125 miles (201 km) or more from the coast. Crist, Martinez and Nelson opposed that bill, but Martinez and Nelson voted for a Senate alternative which prohibited drilling within 125 miles (201 km) of the Panhandle coast, and 235 miles (378 km) of the peninsular coast.

In July 2007, Florida Governor Charlie Crist announced plans to sign executive orders that would impose strict new air-pollution standards in the state, with aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent of 1990 levels by 2050. Crist's orders would set new emissions targets for power companies, automobiles and trucks, and toughen conservation goals for state agencies and require state-owned vehicles to use alternative fuels.

Red tide has also been an issue on the Southwest coast of Florida. While there has been a great deal of conjecture over the cause of the toxic algae bloom, there is no evidence that it is being caused by pollution or that there has been an increase in the duration or frequency of red tides.

Florida has the 4th highest state population in the United States. The center of population of Florida is located in Polk County, in the town of Lake Wales. As of 2008, Florida's population was estimated to be 18,328,340. The state grew 128,814, or 0.7% from 2007. Using the latest population estimates, Florida is the nation's thirtieth-fastest-growing state. During Florida's peak growth year of 2005, it was the nation's fifth fastest growing state and grew at an annual rate of 2.2%.

The largest reported ancestries in the 2000 Census were German (11.8%), Irish (10.3%), English (9.2%), American (8%), Italian (6.3%), French (2.8%), Polish (2.7%) and Scottish (1.8%).

Before the American Civil War, when slavery was legal, and during the Reconstruction era that followed, African Americans made up nearly half of the state's population. Their proportion declined over the next century, as many moved north in the Great Migration while large numbers of northern whites moved to the state. Recently, the state's proportion of black residents has begun to grow again. Today, large concentrations of black residents can be found in northern Florida (notably in Jacksonville, Gainesville, and Pensacola), the Tampa Bay area, the Orlando area, especially in Orlando and Sanford. Also, there has been a large increase of Black Americans of Hispanic decent in South Florida; where their numbers have been bolstered by significant immigration from Cuba, Haiti, and Jamaica.

Florida's Hispanic population includes large communities of Cuban Americans in Miami and Tampa, Puerto Ricans in Tampa and Orlando, and Central American migrant workers in inland West-Central and South Florida. The Hispanic community continues to grow more affluent and mobile: between the years of 2000 and 2004, Lee County in Southwest Florida, which is largely suburban in character, had the fastest Hispanic population growth rate of any county in the United States.

Whites of all ethnicities are present in all areas of the state. Those of British and Irish ancestry are present in large numbers in all the urban/suburban areas across the state. There is a large German population in Southwest Florida, a large Greek population in the Tarpon Springs area, a sizable and historic Italian community in the Miami area, and white Floridians of longer-present generations in the culturally southern areas of inland and northern Florida. Native white Floridians, especially those who have descended from long-time Florida families, affectionately refer to themselves as "Florida crackers." Like all the other southern states, they descend mainly from Scots-Irish as well as some other British settlers.

Florida has twenty Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) defined by the United States Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Thirty-nine of Florida's sixty-seven counties are in an MSA. Reflecting the distribution of population in Florida, Metropolitan areas in the state are concentrated around the coast of the peninsula. They form a continuous band on the east coast of Florida, stretching from the Jacksonville MSA to the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach MSA, including every county on the east coast, with the exceptions of Monroe County. There is also a continuous band of MSAs on the west coast of the peninsula from the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater MSA to the Naples-Marco Island MSA, including all of the coastal counties from Hernando County to Collier County. The interior of the northern half of the peninsula also has several MSAs, connecting the east and west coast MSAs. A few MSAs are scattered across the Florida panhandle. The largest metropolitan area in the state as well as the entire southeastern United States is the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach Metropolitan Statistical Area, with over five million people.

As of 2000, 76.91 percent of Florida residents age 5 and older spoke English at home as a first language, while 16.46 percent spoke Spanish, and French Creole (predominantely Haitian Creole) was spoken by 1.38 percent of the population. French was spoken by 0.83 percent, followed by German at 0.59 percent, and Italian at 0.44 percent of all residents. Also, Portuguese comprised 0.36 percent, while Tagalog made up 0.25 percent of speakers, Arabic was at 0.21 percent and Vietnamese at 0.20 percent. In all, 23.80 percent of Florida's population age 5 and older spoke a language other than English at home.

As of 2005, 74.54 percent of Florida residents age 5 and older spoke English at home as a first language, while 18.65 percent spoke Spanish, and French Creole (predominantely Haitian Creole) was spoken by 1.73 percent of the population. French was spoken by 0.63 percent, followed by German at 0.45 percent, and Portuguese at 0.44 percent of all residents. Also, Italian comprised 0.32 percent, while Tagalog made up 0.30 percent of speakers, Vietnamese was at 0.25 percent and Arabic at 0.23 percent. In all, 25.45 percent of Florida's population age 5 and older spoke a language other than English.

This means English decreased by -2.37%, Spanish increased +2.21%, French Creole (including Haitian Creole) increased by +0.35%, French decreased by -0.20%, German decreased by -0.14%, Italian decreased by -0.12%, Portuguese increased by +0.08%, Tagalog increased by +0.05%, Arabic increased by +0.02%, and Vietnamese increased by +0.05% of languages spoken.

Florida's climate makes it a popular state for immigrants. Florida's public education system identifies over 200 first languages other than English spoken in the homes of students. In 1990, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) won a class action lawsuit against the state Florida Department of Education that required educators to be trained in teaching English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).

Article II, Section 9, of the Florida Constitution provides that "English is the official language of the State of Florida." This provision was adopted in 1988 by a vote following an Initiative Petition.

The basic structure, duties, function, and operations of the government of the State of Florida are defined and established by the Florida Constitution, which establishes the basic law of the state and guarantees various rights and freedoms of the people. The state government consists of three separate branches: judicial, executive, and legislative. The legislature enacts bills, which, if signed by the governor, become Florida Statutes.

The Florida Legislature comprises the Florida Senate, which has 40 members, and the Florida House of Representatives, which has 120 members. The current Governor of Florida is Republican Charlie Crist. The Florida Supreme Court consists of a Chief Justice and six Justices.

There are 67 Counties in Florida, but some reports show only 66 because of Duval County, which is consolidated with the City of Jacksonville. There are 379 cities in Florida (out of 411) that report regularly to the Florida Department of Revenue, but there are other incorporated municipalities that do not. The primary source of revenue for the State government is sales tax, but the primary revenue source for cities and counties is property tax.

After Reconstruction, white-elite Democrats wrestled for power until they regained it in 1877, partly through violent paramilitary tactics targeting freedmen and allies to reduce their voting. From 1885 to 1889, the state legislature passed statutes with provisions to reduce voting by blacks and poor whites, which had threatened white Democratic power with a populist coalition. As these groups were stripped from voter rolls, white Democrats established power in a one-party state, as happened across the South. In 1900 African Americans comprised 44% of the state's population, the same proportion as before the Civil War, but they were effectively disfranchised. From 1877 to 1948, Florida voted for the Democratic candidate for president in every election except for the 1928 election.

In response to segregation, disfranchisement and agricultural depression, many African Americans migrated from Florida to northern cities in the Great Migration, in waves from 1910–1940, and again starting in the later 1940s. They moved for jobs, better education for their children and the chance to vote and participate in society. Given migration of other groups into Florida (as noted in other sections of this article), by 1960 the proportion of African Americans in the state had declined to 18%.

From 1952 through 2008, despite having a majority of registered Democrats, the state voted for the Republican presidential candidate in every election except for the 1964, 1976, 1996, and 2008 elections. The first post-reconstruction Republican congressional representative was elected in 1954. The state's first post-reconstruction Republican senator was elected in 1968, two years after the first post-reconstruction Republican governor.

In 1998, Democrats were described as most dominant in areas of the state with high percentages of racial minorities, as well as transplanted white liberals coming primarily from the Northeastern United States. The South Florida metropolitan area was a good example of this as it had a particularly high level of both racial minorities and white liberals. Because of this, the area has been one of the most Democratic areas of the state. The Daytona metropolitan area has been, to a lesser extent, somewhat similar to South Florida demographically and the city of Orlando had a large Hispanic population, which often favored Democrats. Republicans remain dominant through out much of the rest of Florida particularly in the more rural and suburban areas.

The fast growing I-4 corridor area, which runs through Central Florida and connects the cities of Daytona Beach, Orlando, and Tampa/St. Petersburg, had a fairly similar number of both Republican and Democratic voters. The area is often seen as a merging point of the conservative northern portion of the state and the liberal southern portion making it the biggest swing area in the state. In recent times, whichever way the I-4 corridor area, containing 40% of Florida voters, votes has often determined who will win the state of Florida in presidential elections.

The Democratic Party has maintained an edge in voter registration, both statewide and in 40 of the 67 counties, including Miami-Dade County, Broward County, and Palm Beach County, the state's three most populous counties. Despite the Democratic advantage in registration, as of 2008, Republicans controlled the governorship and most other statewide elective offices; both houses of the state legislature; and 15 of the state's 25 seats in the House of Representatives. Florida is consistently listed as a swing state in Presidential elections. In the closely contested 2000 election the state played a pivotal role.

In 2008, delegates of both the Republican Florida primary election and Democratic Florida primary election were stripped of half of their votes when the conventions meet in August due to violation of both parties' national rules.

The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Florida in 2007 was $734.5 billion. Its GDP is the fourth largest economy in the United States. Personal income was $36,665 per capita, ranking 20th in the nation.

Tourism makes up the largest sector of the state economy. Warm weather and hundreds of miles of beaches attract about 60 million visitors to the state every year. Amusement parks, especially in the Orlando area, make up a significant portion of tourism. The Walt Disney World Resort is the largest vacation resort in the world, consisting of four theme parks and more than 20 hotels in Lake Buena Vista, Florida; it, and Universal Orlando Resort, Busch Gardens, SeaWorld, and other major parks drive state tourism. Many beach towns are also popular tourist destinations, particularly in the winter months.

The second largest industry is agriculture. Citrus fruit, especially oranges, are a major part of the economy, and Florida produces the majority of citrus fruit grown in the U.S. – in 2006 67 percent of all citrus, 74 percent of oranges, 58 percent of tangerines, and 54 percent of grapefruit. About 95 percent of commercial orange production in the state is destined for processing (mostly as orange juice, the official state beverage). Citrus canker continues to be an issue of concern. Other products include sugarcane, strawberries, tomatoes and celery. The Everglades Agricultural Area is a major center for agriculture. The environmental impact of agriculture—especially water pollution— is a major issue in Florida today.

Phosphate mining, concentrated in the Bone Valley, is the state's third-largest industry. The state produces about 75 percent of the phosphate required by farmers in the United States and 25 percent of the world supply, with about 95 percent used for agriculture (90 percent for fertilizer and 5 percent for livestock feed supplements) and 5 percent used for other products.

Since the arrival of the NASA Merritt Island launch sites on Cape Canaveral (most notably Kennedy Space Center) in 1962, Florida has developed a sizable aerospace industry.

In addition, the state has seen a recent boom in medical and bio-tech industries throughout its major metropolitan areas. Orlando was recently chosen as the official site for the new headquarters of the Burnham Institute, a major bio-tech and medical research company.

The state was one of the few states to not have a state minimum wage law until 2004, when voters passed a constitutional amendment establishing a state minimum wage and (unique among minimum wage laws) mandating that it be adjusted for inflation every six months. Currently, the minimum wage in the state of Florida is $7.21 as of January 1, 2009.

Historically, Florida's economy was based upon cattle farming and agriculture (especially sugarcane, citrus, tomatoes, and strawberries). In the early 1900, land speculators discovered Florida, and businessmen such as Henry Plant and Henry Flagler developed railroad systems, which led people to move in, drawn by the weather and local economies. From then on, tourism boomed, fueling a cycle of development that overwhelmed a great deal of farmland.

Florida is one of the nine states that do not impose a personal income tax (list of others). The state had imposed a tax on "intangible personal property" (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, money market funds, etc.), but this tax was abolished after 2006. The state sales tax rate is 6%. Local governments may levy an additional local option sales tax of up to 1.5%. A locale's use tax rate is the same as its sales tax rate, including local options, if any. Use taxes are payable for purchases made out of state and brought into Florida within six months of the purchase date. Documentary stamps are required on deed transfers and mortgages. Other taxes include corporate income, communication services, unemployment, solid waste, insurance premium, pollutants, and various fuel taxes.

At the end of the third quarter in 2008, Florida had the highest for mortgage payment delinquency rate in the country, with 7.8% of mortgages delinquent at least 60 days. The state also had the second-highest credit card delinquency rate, with 1.45% of cardholders in the state more than 90 days delinquent on one or more credit cards. A 2009 list of national housing markets that were hard hit in the real estate crash included a disproportionate number in Florida.

Florida's public primary and secondary schools are administered by the Florida Department of Education.

The Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida is an association of 28 private, educational institutions in the state of Florida.

Florida has many large and small private institutions. The "Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida", serves the interests of the private universities in Florida. This Association reported that their member institutions served over 121,000 students in the fall of 2006.

Additionally, there are 20 colleges and universities that are not affiliated with the ICUF, but are fully-accredited universities in the state of Florida.

The Florida Community Colleges System manages and funds Florida's 28 community colleges.

Florida's interstates, state highways and U.S. Highways are maintained by the Florida Department of Transportation. Florida's interstate highway system contains 1,473 miles (2,371 km) of highway, and there are 9,934 miles (15,987 km) of non-interstate highway in the state, such as Florida state highways and U.S. Highways.

Prior to the construction of routes under the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, Florida began construction of a long cross-state toll road, Florida's Turnpike. The first section, from Fort Pierce south to the Golden Glades Interchange was completed in 1957. After a second section north through Orlando to Wildwood (near present-day The Villages), and a southward extension around Miami to Homestead, it was finished in 1974.

North-south state highways are all odd numbered, two-digit, with low numbers on the east coast and higher numbers on its west coast and in the panhandle. East-west state highways have three digits. They are low numbered in the north, high numbered in the south. County roads often follow this same system.

Florida is served by Amtrak: Sanford, in Greater Orlando, is the southern terminus of the Amtrak Auto Train, which originates at Lorton, Virginia, south of Washington, DC. Orlando is also the eastern terminus of the Sunset Limited, which travels across the southern United States via New Orleans, Houston, and San Antonio to its western terminus of Los Angeles. Florida is served by two additional Amtrak trains (the Silver Star and the Silver Meteor), which operate between New York City and Miami.

Major international airports in Florida which processed more than 15 million passengers each in 2006 are Orlando International Airport (34,128,048), Miami International Airport (32,533,974), Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport(21,369,577) and Tampa International Airport (18,867,541).

Secondary airports, with annual passenger traffic exceeding 5 million each in 2006, include Southwest Florida International Airport (Fort Myers) (7,643,217), Palm Beach International Airport (West Palm Beach) (7,014,237), and Jacksonville International Airport (5,946,188).

Regional Airports which processed over one million passengers each in 2006 are Pensacola (1,620,198) and Sarasota-Bradenton (1,423,113). Sanford, which is primarily served by international charter airlines processed 1,649,565 passengers in 2006.

Most Major League Baseball's spring training, and nearly 2/3 of all MLB teams have a spring training presence in the state. Yet Florida did not have a permanent major-league-level professional sports team until the American Football League added the Miami Dolphins in 1966. The state now has three NFL teams, two MLB teams, two NBA teams, and two NHL teams.

Two of the Arena Football League's teams are in Florida.

Golf, tennis, and auto racing are popular.

Minor league baseball, football, basketball, ice hockey, soccer and indoor football teams are based in Florida. Florida's universities have a number of collegiate sport teams.

Note: The Cincinnati Reds will be moving to Goodyear, Arizona for 2010.

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Key West, Florida

Location in Monroe County and the state of Florida

Key West is a city in Monroe County, Florida, United States.

The city encompasses Key West, the namesake island, the part of Stock Island north of U.S. 1 (the Overseas Highway) (east), Sigsbee Park (north, originally known as Dredgers Key), Fleming Key (north), and Sunset Key (west, originally known as Tank Island). Nearby Key Haven (northeast), the part of Stock Island south of U.S. 1 (east), and Wisteria Island, better known as Christmas Tree Island (northwest), are in unincorporated Monroe County. Both Fleming Key and Sigsbee Park are part of the NAS Key West and are inaccessible by civilians.

Key West is the county seat of Monroe County.

Key West is known as the Southernmost City in the Continental United States. It is also the southern terminus of U.S. 1, State Road A1A, and the East Coast Greenway.

Key West is 129 miles (207 km) southwest (229.9 degrees) of Miami, Florida, (about 160 driving miles) and 106 miles (170 km) north-northeast (21.2 degrees) of Havana, Cuba. Cuba, at its closest point, is 94 statute (81 nautical) miles south.

Key West is a seaport destination for many passenger cruise ships. The Key West International Airport provides airline service. Hotels and guest houses are available for lodging.

Naval Air Station Key West is an important year round training site for naval aviation due to the superb weather conditions. It is also a reason the city was chosen as the Winter White House of President Harry S. Truman.

The central business district primarily comprises Duval Street, and includes much of the northwest corner of the island along Whitehead, Simonton, Front, Greene, Caroline, and Eaton Streets and Truman Avenue.

In Pre-Columbian times Key West was inhabited by the Calusa people. The first European to visit was Juan Ponce de León in 1521. As Florida became a Spanish colony, a fishing and salvage village with a small garrison was established here.

Cayo Hueso (pronounced ) is the original Spanish name for the island of Key West. Spanish-speaking people today also use the term Cayo Hueso when referring to Key West. It literally means "bone key". It is said that the island was littered with the remains (bones) from an Indian battlefield or burial ground. The most widely accepted theory of how the name changed to Key West is that it is a false-friend anglicization of the word, on the ground that the word "hueso" (pronounced ) sounds as if it could mean "west" in English. Other theories of how the island was named are that the name indicated that it was the westernmost Key, or that the island was the westernmost Key with a reliable supply of water.

Many businesses on the island use the name, such as Casa Cayo Hueso, Cayo Hueso Resorts, Cayo Hueso Consultants, Cayo Hueso y Habana Historeum, etc.

In 1763, when Great Britain took control of Florida, the community of Spaniards and Native Americans were moved to Havana. Florida returned to Spanish control 20 years later, but there was no official resettlement of the island. Informally the island was used by fishermen from Cuba and from the British Bahamas, who were later joined by others from the United States after the latter nation's independence. While claimed by Spain, no nation exercised de facto control over the community there for some time.

In 1815 the Spanish governor in Havana, Cuba, deeded the island of Key West to Juan Pablo Salas, an officer of the Royal Spanish Navy Artillery posted in Saint Augustine, Florida. After Florida was transferred to the United States, Salas was so eager to sell the island that he sold it twice - first for a sloop valued at $575, and then to a U.S. businessman John W. Simonton, during a meeting in a Havana café, for the equivalent of $2,000 in pesos in 1821. The sloop trader quickly sold the island to a General John Geddes, a former governor of South Carolina, who tried in vain to secure his rights to the property before Simonton, with the aid of some influential friends in Washington, was able to gain clear title to the island. Simonton had wide-ranging business interests in Mobile, Alabama. He bought the island because a friend, John Whitehead, had drawn his attention to the opportunities presented by the island's strategic location. John Whitehead had been stranded in Key West after a shipwreck in 1819 and he had been impressed by the potential offered by the deep harbor of the island. The island was indeed considered the "Gibraltar of the West" because of its strategic location on the 90-mile (140 km)–wide deep shipping lane, the Straits of Florida, between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. On March 25, 1822, Matthew C. Perry sailed the schooner Shark to Key West and planted the U.S. flag, physically claiming the Keys as United States property. Perry reported on piracy problems in the Caribbean. Perry renamed Cayo Hueso (Key West) to "Thompson's Island" for the Secretary of the Navy, Smith Thompson, and the harbor "Port Rodgers" for War of 1812 hero John Rodgers. Neither name was to stick. In 1823 Commodore David Porter of the United States Navy West Indies Anti-Pirate Squadron took charge of Key West, which he ruled (but, according to some, exceeding his authority) as military dictator under martial law.

John Simonton spent the winter in Key West and the summer in Washington, where he lobbied hard for the development of the island and to establish a naval base on the island, both to take advantage of the island's strategic location and to bring law and order to the town. He died in 1854.

Pardon C. Greene is the only one of the four "founding fathers" to establish himself permanently on the island, where he became quite prominent as head of P.C. Greene and Company. He also served briefly as mayor. He died in 1838 at the age of 57.

John Whitehead lived in Key West for only eight years. He became a partner in the firm of P.C. Greene and Company from 1824 to 1827. A lifelong bachelor, he left the island for good in 1832. He came back only once, during the Civil War in 1861, and died the next year.

John W.C. Fleeming was English-born and was active in mercantile business in Mobile, Alabama, where he befriended John Simonton. Fleeming spent only a few months in Key West in 1822 and left for Massachusetts, where he married. He returned to Key West in 1832 with the intention of developing salt manufacturing on the island but died the same year at the young age of 51.

The names of the four "founding fathers" of modern Key West were given to main arteries of the island when it was first platted in 1829 by William Adee Whitehead, John Whitehead's younger brother. That first plat and the names used remained mostly intact and are still in use today. Duval Street, the island's main street, is named after Florida's first territorial governor, who served between 1822 and 1834 as the longest serving governor in Florida's U.S. history.

William Whitehead became chief editorial writer for the "Enquirer", a local newspaper, in 1834. He had the genius of preserving copies of his newspaper as well as copies from the "Key West Gazette", its predecessor. He later sent those copies to the Monroe County clerk for preservation, which gives us a precious view of life in Key West in the early days (1820-1840).

Mayors of Key West have reflected the city's cultural and ethnic heritage. Among its mayors are the first Cuban mayor and one of the first openly gay mayors.

Many of the residents of Key West were immigrants from the Bahamas, known as Conchs (pronounced 'conks'), who arrived in increasing numbers after 1830. Many were sons and daughters of Loyalists who fled to the nearest Crown soil during the American Revolution. In the 20th century many residents of Key West started referring to themselves as "Conchs", and the term is now generally applied to all residents of Key West. Some residents use the term "Conch" to refer to a person born in Key West, while the term "Freshwater Conch" refers to a resident not born in Key West but who has lived in Key West for seven years or more. However, the true original meaning of Conch applies only to someone with European ancestry who immigrated from the Bahamas. It is said that when a baby was born, the family would put a conch shell on a pole in front of their home.

Major industries in Key West in the early 19th century included fishing, salt production, and salvage. In 1860 wrecking made Key West the largest and richest city in Florida and the wealthiest town per capita in the U.S. A number of the inhabitants worked salvaging shipwrecks from nearby Florida reefs, and the town was noted for the unusually high concentration of fine furniture and chandeliers that the locals used in their own homes after salvaging them from wrecks.

During the American Civil War, while Florida seceded and joined the Confederate States of America, Key West remained in U.S. Union hands because of the naval base. However, most locals were sympathetic to the South, and many flew Confederate flags over their homes. Fort Zachary Taylor, constructed from 1845 to 1866, was an important Key West outpost during the Civil War. Construction began in 1861 on two other forts, East and West Martello Towers, which served as side armories and batteries for the larger fort. When completed, they were connected to Fort Taylor by railroad tracks for movement of munitions. Fort Jefferson, located about 68 miles (109 km) from Key West on Garden Key in the Dry Tortugas, served after the Civil War as the prison for Dr. Samuel A. Mudd, convicted of conspiracy for setting the broken leg of John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln.

In the late 19th century, salt and salvage declined as industries, but Key West gained a thriving cigar-making industry.

By 1889 Key West was the largest and wealthiest city in Florida.

Many Cubans moved to Key West during Cuba's unsuccessful war for independence in the 1860s and 1870s.

Key West was relatively isolated until 1912, when it was connected to the Florida mainland via the Overseas Railway extension of Henry M. Flagler's Florida East Coast Railway (FEC). Flagler created a landfill at Trumbo Point for his railyards. The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 destroyed much of the railroad and killed hundreds of residents, including around 400 World War I veterans who were living in camps and working on federal road and mosquito-control projects in the Middle Keys. The FEC could not afford to restore the railroad.

The U.S. government then rebuilt the rail route as an automobile highway, completed in 1938, which became an extension of United States Highway 1. The portion of U.S. 1 through the Keys is called the Overseas Highway. Franklin Roosevelt toured the road in 1939.

Key West was in a down cycle when Franklin D. Roosevelt visited in 1939. The buildup of military bases on the island occurred shortly thereafter.

In addition to Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower stayed in Key West following a heart attack. In November 1962, John F. Kennedy visited Key West a month after the resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Jimmy Carter held a family reunion in Key West after leaving office.

Numerous artists and writers have passed through Key West, but the two most associated with the island are Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams.

Legend has it that Ernest Hemingway wrote A Farewell to Arms while living above the showroom of a Key West Ford dealership at 314 Simonton Street while awaiting delivery of a Ford roadster purchased by the uncle of his wife Pauline in 1928.

Hardware store owner Charles Thompson introduced him to deep-sea fishing. Among the group who went fishing was Joe Russell (also known as Sloppy Joe). Russell was reportedly the model for Freddy in To Have and Have Not. Portions of the original manuscript were found at Sloppy Joe's Bar after his death. The group had nicknames for each other, and Hemingway wound up with "Papa".

Pauline's rich uncle Gus Pfeiffer bought the 907 Whitehead Street house in 1931 as a wedding present. Legend says the Hemingways installed a swimming pool for $20,000 in the late 1930s (equivalent in 2006 to $250,000). It was such a high price that Hemingway is said to have put a penny in the concrete, saying, "Here, take the last penny I've got!" The penny is still there.

During his stay he wrote or worked on Death in the Afternoon, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, and The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber. He used Depression-era Key West as the locale for To Have and Have Not — his only novel set in the United States.

Pauline and Hemingway divorced in 1939, and Hemingway only occasionally visited while returning from Havana until his suicide in 1961.

The six- or seven-toed polydactyl cats descended from Hemingway's original pet 'Snowball' still live on the grounds and are cared for at the Hemingway House, despite complaints by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that they are not kept free from visitor contact, and the Key West City Commission exempted the house from a law prohibiting more than four domestic animals per household.

Tennessee Williams first became a regular visitor to Key West in 1941 and is said to have written the first draft of A Streetcar Named Desire while staying in 1947 at the La Concha Hotel. He bought a permanent house in 1949 and listed Key West as his primary residence until his death in 1983. In contrast to Hemingway's grand house in Old Town, the Williams home at 1431 Duncan Street in the "unfashionable" New Town neighborhood is a very modest bungalow. The house is privately owned and not open to the public. The Academy Award–winning film version of his play The Rose Tattoo was shot on the island in 1956. The Tennessee Williams Theatre is located on the campus of Florida Keys Community College on Stock Island.

Williams had a series of rented homes all over the U.S., but the only home he owned was in Key West.

Even though Hemingway and Williams were in Key West at the same time, they reportedly met only once -- at Hemingway's Cuba home Finca Vigía.

Key West is much closer to Havana than it is to Miami.

In 1890 Key West had a population of nearly 18,800 and was the biggest and richest city in Florida. Half the residents were said to be of Cuban origin, and Key West regularly had Cuban mayors, including Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, father of the Cuban Republic, who was elected mayor in 1876. Cubans were actively involved in reportedly 200 factories in town, producing 100 million cigars annually. José Martí made several visits to seek recruits for Cuban independence starting in 1891 and founded the Cuban Revolutionary Party during his visits to Key West.

The Battleship USS Maine sailed from Key West on its fateful visit to Havana, where it blew up, igniting the Spanish-American War. Crewmen from the ship are buried in Key West, and the Navy investigation into the blast occurred at the Key West Customs House.

Pan American Airlines was founded in Key West, originally to fly visitors to Havana, in 1926.

John F. Kennedy was to use "90 miles from Cuba" extensively in his speeches against Fidel Castro. Kennedy himself visited Key West a month after the resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Prior to the Cuban revolution of 1959, there were regular ferry and airplane services between Key West and Havana.

Key West was flooded with refugees during the Mariel Boatlift. Refugees continue to come ashore and, on at least one occasion, most notably in April 2003, flew hijacked Cuban Airlines planes into the city's airport..

In 1982 the city of Key West briefly declared its "independence" as the Conch Republic in a protest over a United States Border Patrol blockade. This blockade was set up on U.S. 1, where the northern end of the Overseas Highway meets the mainland at Florida City. The blockade was in response to the Mariel Boatlift. A 17-mile (27 km) traffic jam ensued while the Border Patrol stopped every car leaving the Keys, supposedly searching for illegal aliens attempting to enter the mainland United States. This paralyzed the Florida Keys, which rely heavily on the tourism industry. Flags, T-shirts and other merchandise representing the Conch Republic are still popular souvenirs for visitors to Key West, and the Conch Republic Independence Celebration--including parades and parties--is celebrated every April 23.

Key West was always an important military post, since it sits at the northern edge of the deepwater channel connecting the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico (the southern edge 90 miles (140 km) away is Cuba) via the Florida Straits. Because of this, Key West since the 1820s had been dubbed the "Gibraltar of the West." Fort Taylor was initially built on the island. The Navy added a small base from which the USS Maine sailed to its demise in Havana at the beginning of the Spanish-American War.

The first cruise ship was the Sunward in 1969, which docked at the Navy's pier in the Truman Annex or the privately owned Pier B. The Navy's pier is called the Navy Mole.

In 1984 the city opened a pier right on Mallory Square. The decision was met with considerable opposition from people who felt it would disrupt the tradition of watching the sunset at Mallory Square.

Cruise ships now dock at all three piers.

Key West is located at 24°33′33″N 81°47′03″W / 24.55917°N 81.78417°W / 24.55917; -81.78417 (24.559166, -81.784031). The maximum elevation above sea level is about 18 feet (6 m), a 1-acre (4,000 m2) area known as Solares Hill.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 19.2 km² (7.4 mi²), of which 15.4 km² (5.9 mi²) is land and 3.8 km² (1.5 mi²) (19.73%) is water.

The original Key West neighborhood in the west (although perceived as south) is called "Old Town" and comprises the Key West Historic District. It includes the major tourist destinations of the island, including Mallory Square, Duval Street, the Truman Annex and Fort Zachary Taylor. It is where are found the classic bungalows and guest mansions.

Generally, the structures date from 1886 to 1912. The basic features that distinguish the local architecture include wood-frame construction of one- to two-and-a-half-story structures set on foundation piers about three feet above the ground. Exterior characteristics of the buildings are peaked "metal" roofs, horizontal wood siding, gingerbread trim, pastel shades of paint, side-hinged louvered shutters, covered porches (or balconies, galleries, or verandas) along the fronts of the structures, and wood lattice screens covering the area elevated by the piers.

The island has more than doubled in size via landfill. The new section on the east (perceived as north) is called "New Town." It contains shopping centers, retail malls, residential areas, schools, ball parks, and Key West International Airport.

According to the Key West Association of Realtors (KWAR), Key West can be divided into four distinct areas: Old Town, Casa Marina, Mid-Town and New Town, with various neighborhoods in each area.

Key West and most of the rest of the Keys are on the dividing line between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. The two bodies have different currents, with the calmer and warmer Gulf of Mexico being characterized by great clumps of seagrass. The area where the two bodies merge between Key West and Cuba is called the Straits of Florida.

One of the biggest attractions on the island is a concrete replica of a buoy at the corner of South and Whitehead Streets that claims to be the southernmost point in the contiguous 48 states (see Extreme Points for more information.) The point was originally just marked with a sign, which was often stolen. In response to this, the city of Key West erected the now famous monument in 1983. Brightly painted and labeled "SOUTHERNMOST POINT CONTINENTAL U.S.A.", it is one of the most visited and photographed attractions in Key West. Land on the Truman Annex property just west of the buoy is the true southernmost point, but it has no marker since it is U.S. Navy land and cannot be entered by civilian tourists. The private yards directly to the east of the buoy and the beach areas of Truman Annex and Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park also lie farther south than the buoy. The farthest-south location that the public can visit is the beach at the state park for a small entrance fee. Florida's southernmost point is Ballast Key, a privately owned island just south and west of Key West. Signs on the island strictly prohibit unauthorized visitors. The claim "90 Miles to Cuba" on the monument isn't entirely accurate either, since Cuba at its closest point is 94 statute miles from Key West.

Key West claims to be the only city in the lower 48 states never to have had a frost. Because of the proximity of the Gulf Stream in the Straits of Florida, about 12 miles (19 km) south and southeast, and the tempering effects of the Gulf of Mexico to the west and north, Key West has a notably mild, tropical climate, (Koppen climate classification Aw, similar to the Caribbean islands), in which the average temperatures during winter are about 14 degrees lower than in summer. Cold fronts are strongly modified by the warm water as they move in from northerly quadrants in winter. The average low and high temperatures in January are 67 °F (19 °C) and 75 °F (24 °C). There is no known record of frost, ice, sleet, or snow in Key West. The coldest temperature ever recorded in Key West was 41 °F (5 °C) on January 12, 1886, and on January 13, 1981. Prevailing easterly tradewinds and sea breezes suppress the usual summertime heating. The average low and high temperatures in July are 81 °F (27 °C) and 90 °F (32 °C). The hottest temperature ever recorded in Key West was 97 °F (36.1 °C) on July 19, 1880, and on August 26, 1956.

Precipitation is characterized by dry and wet seasons. The period of November through April receives abundant sunshine and slightly less than 25 percent of the annual rainfall. This rainfall usually occurs in advance of cold fronts in a few heavy or light showers. May through October is normally the wet season, receiving approximately 53 percent of the yearly total in numerous showers and thunderstorms. Rain falls on most days of the wet season. Early morning is the favored time for these showers, which is different from mainland Florida, where showers and thunderstorms usually occur in the afternoon. Easterly (tropical) waves during this season occasionally bring excessive rainfall, while infrequent hurricanes may be accompanied by unusually heavy amounts. At any rate, Key West is the driest city in Florida.

Hurricanes rarely hit Key West, and the island has been relatively lucky. Locals say that Hurricane Wilma on October 24, 2005, was the worst storm in memory. The entire island was told to evacuate. Business owners were forced to close their businesses. After the hurricane had passed, a storm surge sent eight feet of water inland, completely inundating a large portion of the lower Keys. Low-lying areas of Key West and the lower Keys, including major tourist destinations, were under as much as three feet of water. Sixty percent of the homes in Key West were flooded. The higher parts of Old Town, such as the Solares Hill and cemetery areas, did not flood, because of their higher elevations of 12 to 18 feet (5.5 m). The surge destroyed tens of thousands of cars throughout the lower Keys, and many houses were flooded with one to two feet of sea water. A local newspaper referred to Key West and the lower Keys as a "car graveyard." The peak of the storm surge occurred when the eye of Wilma had already passed over the Naples area, and the sustained winds during the surge were less than 40 mph (64 km/h). The storm destroyed the piers at the clothing-optional Atlantic Shores Motel and breached the shark tank at the Key West Aquarium, freeing its sharks. Damage postponed the island's famous Halloween Fantasy Fest until the following December. MTV's The Real World: Key West was filming during the hurricane and deals with the storm.

In March 2006, the NOAA opened its National Weather Forecasting building on White Street. The building is designed to withstand a Category 5 hurricane and its storm surge.

The most intense previous hurricane was Hurricane Georges, a Category 2, in September 1998. The storm damaged many of the houseboats along Houseboat Row on South Roosevelt Boulevard near Cow Key channel on the east side of the island.

Many visitors rent a bicycle and explore the history and architecture of Old Town Key West. Walking tours, including a tour of the unusual Key West Cemetery, are available. The Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square is a daily spectacle for visitors and residents. Boat excursions and tours provide a great way to view Key West from the water.

The Duval Street bar and restaurant district includes many different entertainment options, all within walking distance of each other.

Mary O'Shea's Glass Garden, features fresh caught Key West Art, everything from dishes to fishes in her fused glass studio/gallery. Located in the famous Donkey Milk House in Old Town Key West.

The Studios of Key West, founded in 2006 and based at the island's historic Armory building, was established as a new model for an artist community. It comprises a dozen working studio spaces, a main exhibition hall, a sculpture garden, and several adjoining residences and cottages. Its programming continues to grow and includes an extensive series of creative workshops, free humanities lectures, cultural partnerships, and innovative ideas for artists and audiences.

The Florida Keys Council of the Arts serves as the primary cultural umbrella for Monroe County, from Key Largo to Key West. A non-profit local arts agency, it makes grants, operates the Monroe County Art in Public Places program, sponsors seminars, and manages the on-line cultural calendar for the region. It also manages the County's Tourism Development Council arts marketing grants and serves as a leading advocate for cultural tourism in lower Florida.

The Tennessee Williams Theatre is a performing arts center, a civic center, and a community center. It is based at the Florida Keys Community College.

The Key West Literary Seminar, a celebration of writers and writing held each January, attracts an international audience to hear such writers as Ian McEwan, Margaret Atwood, Billy Collins, and Joyce Carol Oates.

The Key West Botanical Forest and Garden is an excellent, frost-free arboretum and botanical garden containing a number of "champion tree" specimens.

Nancy Forrester's Secret Garden is a one-acre (4,000 m²) garden resembling a lush, predominantly green rainforest. It is an exhibit of nature's artistry in a woodland garden.

The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory features a 5,000-square-foot (460 m²) glass-domed tropical butterfly habitat.

A permanent AIDS Memorial is at the White Street Pier.

The Mel Fisher Maritime Museum showcases gold, silver, and treasure recovered from shipwrecks around the world.

Some tourists mingle with the locals, shop, and dine at the Key West Historic Seaport at the Key West Bight.

The Key West Lighthouse and Keeper's Quarters Museum preserves the history of the Key West Lighthouse, built in 1847.

Nobel Prize–winning author Ernest Hemingway's former home is now open to the public as a museum, populated by as many as 60 descendants of his famous polydactyl cats.

PrideFest is seven days of events, presented by the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Key West during the first week in June. The schedule includes the Pride Follies talent extravaganza; contests to select a Mr., Ms. and Miss PrideFest; parties; a tea dance; and the PrideFest Parade down Duval Street.

In 1979 the Key West Tourist Development Association, Inc., started Fantasy Fest to attract tourists at the traditionally slow time of Halloween, which is at the end of the hurricane season. Fantasy Fest regularly attracts approximately 80,000 people to the island and has become a huge success.

In June 2006 the Key West Gay & Lesbian Museum & Archive opened at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center at 513 Truman Avenue. Featured exhibits include a Tennessee Williams typewriter as well as an extensive collection of memorabilia and papers of Richard A. Heyman, who was one of the nation's first openly gay mayors before dying in 1994 of AIDS.

The television stations received in Key West are the stations in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale Designated Market Area (DMA) (defined by Nielsen Media Research) with rebroadcast transmitters in Key West and Marathon, Florida. Comcast provides cable television service. DirecTV and Dish Network provide Miami-Fort Lauderdale local stations and national channels.

The Key West area has 11 FM radio stations, 4 FM translators, and 2 AM stations.

The Florida Keys Keynoter and the Key West Citizen are published locally and serve Key West and Monroe County. The Southernmost Flyer, a weekly publication printed in conjunction with the Citizen, is produced by the Public Affairs Department of Naval Air Station Key West and serves the local military community.

As of the census of 2000, there were 25,478 people, 11,016 households, and 5,463 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,653.3/km² (4,285.0/mi²). There were 13,306 housing units at an average density of 863.4/km² (2,237.9/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 84.94% white, 9.28% African American, 0.39% Native American, 1.29% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 1.86% from other races, and 2.18% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino persons of any race were 16.54% of the population.

There were 11,016 households, out of which 19.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.7% were married couples living together, 8.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 50.4% were classified as non-families. Of all households, 31.4% were made up of individuals, and 8.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.23 and the average family size was 2.84.

In the city the population was spread out, with 16.0% under the age of 18, 8.4% from 18 to 24, 37.1% from 25 to 44, 26.7% from 45 to 64, and 11.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 122.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 126.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $43,021, and the median income for those classified as families was $50,895. Males had a median income of $30,967 versus $25,407 for females. The per capita income for the city was $26,316. About 5.8% of families and 10.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.5% of those under age 18 and 11.3% of those age 65 or over.

The ancestries most reported in 2000 were English (12.4%), German (12.2%), Irish (11.3%), Italian (6.8%), United States (6.0%) and French (3.6%).

The number of families (as defined by the Census Bureau) declined dramatically in the last four decades of the 20th century. In 1960 there were 13,340 families in Key West, with 42.1% of households having children living in them. By 2000 the population had dwindled to 5,463 families, with only 19.9% of households having children living in them.

As of 2000, 76.66% spoke English as a first language, while Spanish was spoken by 17.32%, 1.06% spoke Italian, 1.02% spoke French, and German spoken as a mother tongue was at 0.94% of the population. In total, other languages spoken besides English made up 25.33% of residents.

Monroe County School District operates public schools in Key West.

District-operated primary schools serving Key West Island include Glynn R. Archer Elementary School and Poinciana Elementary School. Gerald Adams Elementary School in the City of Key West serves Stock Island and Sigsbee Elementary School serves Sigsbee Park. Key West Montessori Charter School is a district-sanctioned charter school on Key West Island.

All of Key West is zoned to Horace O'Bryant Middle School and Key West High School , located on Key West Island.

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Source : Wikipedia