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FLORIDA

Florida, constituent state of


the United States of America. It was
admitted as the 27th state in 1845.
Florida is the most populous of the
southeastern states and the second
most populous Southern state after
Texas. The capital is Tallahassee,
located in the northwestern panhandle.

HISTORY

Ancient Native American peoples entered Florida from the north as early
as 12,000 years ago. Although the first evidence of farming dates from about
500 BCE, some southern groups remained hunters, fishers, and gatherers until
their extinction. Indigenous peoples continued to arrive from the north in small
numbers after 500 BCE, establishing contacts with Cuba, the Bahamas, and,
possibly, the Yucatán region of Mexico. At the time of European contact in the
16th century, a population of several hundred thousand Native Americans lived
in Florida.

The early history of Europeans in Florida reflects the conflicts of the


Spanish, French, and English crowns for empire and wealth. Juan Ponce de
León ventured to the peninsula in 1513 and 1521. Because he landed on the
peninsula during the Easter season (Spanish: Pascua Florida [“Season of
Flowers”]) and because of the vegetation he found there, Ponce de León named
the area Florida. Under the impression that Florida was one of the islands in the
Bahamas archipelago, he initially made no attempt to found a settlement and
did not appear to have ventured much north of present-day West Palm Beach.
After an intermission of eight years, Ponce de León returned to establish a colony
in the vicinity of what is now Fort Myers. He was mortally wounded near there
in 1521 by the indigenous Calusa and died later the same year in Havana, Cuba.
In 1528 Pánfilo de Narváez landed on the shores of Tampa Bay with more
than 400 men, intent on learning how this land was connected to Mexico. Within
a year, and while still no closer to Mexico than northern Florida, the force was
reduced to 15 survivors. Of this group, four Spaniards—including Álvar Núñez
Cabeza de Vaca and Estebán, a Moorish slave who was the first black man
known to have entered Florida—reached Culiacán, Mexico, in 1536. Hernando
de Soto came in 1539, landing somewhere between Fort Myers and Tampa, and
led another disastrous expedition, this time through western Florida. Nearly 20
years elapsed before Tristán de Luna y Arellano attempted to set up a Spanish
colony at Pensacola Bay.

The settlement was abandoned in 1561, following its destruction by a


hurricane. In 1564 a group of French Protestants (Huguenots) who originally had
been led by Jean Ribault established Fort Caroline on the banks of the River of
May (St. Johns River), near modern Jacksonville. The Spaniards saw this group
as a threat to their sea-lane from Havana to Spain. An expedition commanded
by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés massacred most of the French colonists in 1565
after founding St. Augustine (San Augustín) nearby.

WEATHER AND CLIMATE

Summers throughout the state are long, warm and fairly humid. Winters
are mild with periodic invasions of cool to occasionally cold air. Coastal areas in
all sections of Florida average slightly warmer temperatures in winter and cooler
ones in summer. However, tropical storms in Florida are frequent throughout
the summer months – the state is said to be as the thunderstorm capital of the
US. However, tornadoes are rather rarer. Northwestern coastal areas are more
prone to high rainfall and those looking for drier parts of the stay should try
southwestern coastal areas of the state or keep to the interior.
STATE SYMBOLS

FLAG AND SEAL OF FLORIDA

The first flag of Florida was hoisted on June 25, 1845, at the inauguration
of its first governor, William D. Moseley. It had five horizontal stripes (blue,
orange, red, white, and green) and a ribbon with the inscription “Let us alone.”
The U.S. flag served as a canton. The states’ rights and antifederalist symbolism
in the design is clear, but the associations of the colours are unknown; in any
event the flag seems not to have been extensively used. The next state flag was
established on January 13, 1861, following the secession of Florida from the
Union. The design, prescribed by the commander of the state’s armed forces, was
similar in many respects to the Stars and Stripes; it consisted of 13 red and
white horizontal stripes and a white star on a blue canton. The next flag, dating
to September 13, 1861, was based on the Stars and Bars of the Confederacy; it
had red-white-red horizontal stripes and a vertical blue stripe bearing an
elaborate seal.

After the Civil War, Florida was the first Southern state to adopt a flag of
its own. On August 6, 1868, the state seal was designated to appear in the centre
of a white flag; the design showed an American Indian woman on a promontory
extending into water where a steamboat was sailing. A band with the state name
and the motto “In God we trust” completed the design. On November 6, 1900,
a red saltire was added to the background of the flag so it would not resemble a
symbol of surrender. That design may also have been based on the saltire in the
Confederate Battle Flag. On May 21, 1985, an artistic revision of the seal was
made, resulting in the present design of the flag.
STATE ANIMAL

PANTHER

The most endangered of all Florida's symbols is


its state animal, the panther (Felis concolor coryi)
which was chosen in 1982 by a vote of students
throughout the state.

The Florida Panther is a large, long-tailed, pale


brown cat that grows to six feet or longer. Its habitat
is usually the same as that of the white-tailed deer,
which is the mainstay of its diet.

Much folklore surrounds these seldom-seen


cats, sometimes called "catamounts" or "painters," and they have been
persecuted out of fear and misunderstanding of the role these large predators
play in the natural ecosystem. Human population growth has been the primary
threat to the panther's range and continues to diminish the quality of existing
habitats.

The Panther has been protected from legal hunting in Florida since 1958.
It has been on the federal endangered species list since 1967 and on the state's
endangered list since 1973.

STATE FLOWER

ORANGE BLOSSOM

The blossom of the orange tree (Citrus


sinensis) is one of the most fragrant flowers
in Florida. Millions of these white flowers
perfume the atmosphere throughout central
and south Florida during orange blossom
time. The orange blossom was selected as
the state flower by the 1909 legislature.
STATE WILDFLOWER

COREOPSIS

In 1991 the flower of the


genus Coreopsis was designated as Florida's
official wildflower. The state legislature made
this designation after the colorful flowers were
used extensively in Florida's roadside
plantings and highway beautification
programs. The coreopsis is found in a variety
of colors, ranging from golden to pink.

STATE TREE

SABAL PALM

The sabal palm (Sabal palmetto) is the most


widely distributed palm in Florida. It grows in
almost any soil and has many uses, including
food, medicine, and landscaping. The 1953
Florida legislature designated the sabal palm as
the state tree, and the 1970 legislature mandated

that the sabal palm should replace the cocoa


palm on the state seal.

STATE BEVERAGE

ORANGE JUICE

Whenever the words "orange juice" are


read, written, or spoken, many people
automatically think of Florida.

During the Second World War, scientists


invented a process for making concentrated
orange juice. Soon, a frozen concentrate was
developed that transformed orange juice
production into a multi-billion-dollar industry. In 1967 the Florida legislature
designated orange juice as the official state beverage.

STATE MOTTO

"In God We Trust" was adopted by the Florida legislature as part of the
state seal in 1868. This is also the motto of the United States and is a slight
variation on Florida's first state motto, "In God is our Trust." In 2006, "In God
We Trust" was officially designated in state statute as Florida's motto.

CULTURE
FACTS ABOUT FLORIDA
1. Florida is the only state that has 2 rivers both with the same name. There is a Withlacoochee in north central Florida
(Madison County) and a Withlacoochee in central Florida. They have nothing in common except the name.

2. Florida has the most golf courses of any state in America