The US state of Florida is located in the southeastern United States. At 139.000 square kilometers, its area corresponds to around 40% of the area of Germany. The peninsula and the adjoining part of the mainland - the Florida Panhandle - make the state stand out from the crowd of 50 other US states. Florida is surrounded by water on three sides. Water surfaces take up a large part of the country.
Florida is particularly beautiful in the south of the peninsula. There are the Florida Keys, a chain of more than 200 islands connected by 42 bridges. At the extreme end of the islands is Key West, with the southernmost point politically in the continental United States, the Southernmost Point.
Florida Keys - Pigeon Island
Queuing for a selfie at Southernmost Point
Florida history at a glance
The area was discovered by the Spaniard Juan Ponce de León in 1513. Eight years later, the first colony of La Florida was founded. The indigenous inhabitants did not make it easy for the settlers at first. For a long time, the country went around like a traveling trophy between the European powers Spain, France and Britain, until it was finally awarded to the Spaniards in the Treaty of Paris in 1783.
More than 60 years later, Florida became a US state in March 1845. This is now politically subdivided into 67 counties. Counties are roughly comparable to German rural districts.
Marble and Glass in Miami
From 2010, the number of inhabitants has increased by 70% to currently 21,8 million (census 2020) with a further upward trend. 26 cities have 100.000 and more inhabitants. With a population of almost 950.000, Jacksonville is Florida's largest city. According to the 2020 census, Miami only had around 440.000 citizens. In addition, there are another 83.000 in Miami Beach across the street. The neighboring cities of Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood have a population of 183.000 and 153.000 respectively.
Economy and tourism
Florida ranks at the bottom of the 51 US states in terms of real gross domestic product. The ranking is a little surprising. On closer inspection, however, this becomes understandable. Significant economic activities offer only Cape Canaveral as a launch site for space missions and the ports of Miami, Cape Canaveral and Fort Lauderdale. They are among the most important ports in the USA.
Fort Lauderdale-Port Everglades
Fort Lauderdale - Pier Sixty Six Stranahan River
Above all, however, Florida is characterized by tourism, which is also expressed in the nickname "Sunshine State". Florida offers sun and warmth most of the year. Miles of fine sandy beaches on the Atlantic or on the Gulf of Mexico as well as amusement and leisure parks attract holidaymakers from all over the world. Florida also offers wealthy retirees a retreat from the workplace.
The cultivation of citrus fruits and the associated juice production provide jobs. However, all this does not ensure high added value. The banks and insurance companies in Miami alone can't save it.
Florida National Parks
Despite the 21,8 million inhabitants, Florida is sparsely populated. According to the available figures, 157 inhabitants live on one square kilometer. This makes it easier to protect the landscape. The country has three national parks.
Everglades National Park
The most famous is the Everglades National Park. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. The Everglades are tropical marshlands. Around Homestead (near Miami) they cover a good 6.100 square kilometers.
Everglades National Park
Biscayne National Park
The second most important region is Biscayne National Park. It spans Biscayne Bay south of Key Biscayne and the northern islands of the Florida Keys above Key Largo.
Dry Tortuguas National Park
The Dry Tortuguas National Park is relatively unknown and rarely visited. The Dry Tortugas Islands are located 70 miles off Key West in the Gulf of Mexico. They are accessible from Key West by ferry or seaplane. Literally outstanding is Fort Jefferson, a 19th-century fortress.
Florida for cruise passengers
Florida is a popular cruise destination. We report in detail in our article: South Florida - Sights.
Cape Canaveral, Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Tampa are the ports of call for cruises to or from the Caribbean, Panama Canal, Northern United States, South America, transatlantic passages. Key West at the southern tip of the Florida Keys is also a popular stopover destination.
Key West - destination of cruise ships
Cruise Terminal - Miami
The Port of Miami ranks as the world's largest cruise port with over 5 million passenger movements, followed by Port Everglades, the port of Fort Lauderdale, with more than 4,5 million.
Update January 2023