State in the extreme SE United States. A long, low peninsula between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Florida is bordered by Georgia and Alabama.
Area, 58,560 sq mi (151,670 sq km).
Pop. (2000) 15,982,378, a 23.5% increase since the 1990 census.
Largest city, Jacksonville.
Nickname, Sunshine State.
Motto, In God We Trust.
State bird, Mockingbird.
State flower, Orange Blossom.
State tree, Sabal Palmetto palm.
Tourism plays a primary role in the state's economy; in 1996 visitors to Florida spent over $48 billion. Walt Disney World, a massive cluster of theme parks near Orlando that is one of the world's leading tourist attractions; Universal Studios, a combination theme park and film and television production facility, also near Orlando; and other attractions draw millions yearly.
Famed beaches, such as those at Miami Beach, Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and world-famous Sanibel Island attract hordes of vacationers. With more than 4,000 sq mi (10,360 sq km) of inland water and with the sea readily accessible from almost anywhere in the state, Florida is a fishing paradise. Other attractions include Everglades National Park with its unusual plant and animal life; Palm Beach with its palatial estates; and Sanibel Island's tropical resorts.
Famous for its citrus fruits, Florida leads the nation in the production of oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, and market-ready corn and tomatoes. Other important crops include sugarcane and many varieties of winter vegetables. Cattle and dairy products are important, as is commercial fishing, with the catch including crabs, lobsters, and shrimp.
Northern Florida features rolling hills, huge oaks dripping with Spanish moss, and picturesque horse farms. Central Florida is a water sports lovers delight with numerous fresh water lakes dotting the landscape in between the many exciting family theme parks.
Southern Florida is in the sub-tropics and offers lush tropical plants, jungles, white sugar-sand beaches, and two of the most unique places on the planet: the Everlades and the Keys.
Average climate in southwest Florida (1999):
Temperature Rainfall Humidity
January 72 50 2.28" 73%
February 74 52 2.95" 71%
March 80 57 3.42" 71%
April 84 61 1.43" 69%
May 89 66 4.15" 69%
June 91 71 6.78" 74%
July 92 73 7.03" 76%
August 92 73 7.58" 76%
September 90 72 5.57" 77%
October 85 66 1.95" 74%
November 78 58 2.05" 73%
December 73 53 2.18" 74%
Average annual rainfall: 53.64"
Average water temperatures: Annual 77.5 degrees F
Spring/Summer temperature: 84.1 degrees F
Fall/Winter temperature: 70.8 degrees F