Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. Florida is the 22nd most extensive, the 4th most populous, and the 8th most densely populated of the 50 United States. The state capital is Tallahassee, its largest city is Jacksonville, and the South Florida metropolitan area is the largest metropolitan area in the southeastern U.S.
Much of Florida is situated on a peninsula between the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Straits of Florida. Its geography is marked by a coastline, by the omnipresence of water and the threat of hurricanes. Florida has the longest coastline in the contiguous United States, encompassing approximately 1,350 miles (2,170 km), and is the only state to border both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Much of the state is at or near sea level and its terrain is characterized by sedimentary soils. The climate varies from subtropical in the north to tropical in the south. Its symbolic animals like the American alligator, Florida panther and the manatee, can be found in the Everglades, one of the most famous national parks in the world.
Since the first European contact was made in 1513 by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León – who named it La Florida ("Flowery Land") upon landing there during the Easter season, Pascua Florida – Florida was a challenge for the European colonial powers before it gained statehood in the United States in 1845. It was a principal location of the Seminole Wars against the Indians, and racial segregation after the American Civil War. Today, it is distinguished by its large Hispanic community, and high population growth, as well as its rising environmental concerns. Its economy relies mainly on tourism, agriculture and transportation, which developed in the late 19th century. Florida is also known for its amusement parks, the production of oranges and the Kennedy Space Center.
Florida culture is a reflection of influences and multiple inheritance; Native American, European American, African American and Hispanic heritages can be found in the architecture and cuisine. Florida has attracted many writers such as Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams, and continues to attract celebrities and athletes. It is internationally known for tennis, golf, auto racing and water sports.
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