100 Fascinating Facts About Florida

Interesting facts about Florida state, USA

In this article, let’s explore what makes the “Sunshine State” stand out with these fascinating and fun facts about Florida.

From its iconic oranges to the vast, sandy beaches, and the globally celebrated Disney World, the US state of Florida boasts a rich array of attractions and natural beauty, making it a beloved destination for millions.

Florida At-a-Glance

Location: Southeastern U.S., Gulf of Mexico & Atlantic coast.
Population: ~22.6 million (2023).
Capital: Tallahassee.
Area: 65,758 sq mi.
Language: English, significant Spanish speaking.
Climate: Tropical, hot summers, mild winters.
(Sources: Encyclopedia Britannica, Wikipedia)

General Florida Facts

1. Florida is located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is also considered part of the Deep South, especially the part of Florida north of Ocala.

2. The state is bordered by the Gulf of Mexico to the west, Alabama to the northwest, Georgia to the north, the Bahamas and Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Straits of Florida and Cuba to the south.

3. Florida is the only state that borders both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.

4. Florida has the longest coastline in the contiguous United States (the lower 48 states), at approximately 1350 mi (2170 km), and that’s not counting the state’s islands.

5. In fact, the state has 4510 islands with an area of 10 acres or larger. Only Alaska has more islands than Florida.

6. The Florida Keys are a coral cay archipelago that form the southernmost part of the continental United States. They extend in an arc to the southwest, terminating at Key West.

7. Key West is the southernmost terminal of US Highway 1, the longest north-to-south highway in the country. It lies less than 100 miles north of Cuba.

An aerial view of the coastline in Key West with lots of boats in the ocean around it
Key West is the southernmost point in the continental US.

8. The state spans 65,758 mi² (170,310 km²), ranking 22nd in area among the 50 states. It sits between Missouri and Wisconsin in terms of size.

9. Florida is more than twice as large as the European nation Austria.

10. With a population of over 21 million, Florida is the 3rd most populous state in the nation, after California and Texas, but with more people than New York state.

11. Florida has two federally recognized Native American tribes: the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

12. One in five people in Florida speak Spanish as their mother tongue.

Aerial view of the Florida state capitol building in Tallahassee
The Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee

13. Florida’s capital is Tallahassee, located in the Florida Panhandle, the thin strip of land in the state’s northwest.

14. The state’s most populous city is Jacksonville, 12th largest in the US (between Austin and Fort Worth, both in Texas). It has just 950,000 people (metropolitan area 1.7 million).

15. Miami city proper is in 2nd place, with 460,00 people. However, the Miami metropolitan area, which includes Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach, is the largest metropolitan area in Florida and 9th largest in the country, between Atlanta, Georgia and Phoenix, Arizona.

16. Tampa, Orlando, and St. Petersburg are other major cities in Florida.

17. The official abbreviation for Florida is FL.

18. People from Florida are called Floridians or Floridans.

Skyscrapers along the coast of Miami, Florida
Miami is the largest metropolis is Florida

19. “In God We Trust” is the official state motto.

20. Florida is known as “The Sunshine State”, although it ranks #10 in the US when it comes to annual sunshine.

21. Other nicknames for Florida are “The Peninsula State” and “The Alligator State”. The alligator is the official state animal, and only Louisiana has slightly more of them.

22. The Florida Panther is the official state animal, but it is the state’s most endangered animal.

23. The Mockingbird is the official state bird of Florida, which the state marine mammal is the Manatee, also known as a Sea Cow, and the Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops Truncatus) is the official state saltwater mammal.

24. Orange Juice is the official state beverage of Florida, and the state is known nationally (and even in neighboring countries) for its oranges and orange juice.

The Florida state flag
The state flag of Florida

25. The Florida state flag features a white field background with a red saltire that represents the cross on which St. Andrew was crucified. Florida’s state seal is superimposed in the center.

26. The Florida state seal has a Seminole Indian woman scattering flowers by a shore. In the middle distance, a sabal palm tree is featured with a steamboat on the water. The sun is setting on the horizon.

Interesting Facts About Florida

27. Florida has long been a magnet for retirees. In fact, just over 21.3% of the state’s population is over 65, compared to 15% nationally. Only Maine has more.

28. Florida has more golf courses than any other state, at around 1250.

A palm tree in the foreground and white lighthouse in the background in Biscayne National Park
Biscayne National Park

29. Florida has three national parks: Biscayne National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park, and Everglades National Park.

30. Biscayne National Park is a mostly (95%) underwater park at the northern end of the Florida Keys and just south of Miami. It provides shelter for 16 endangered species. It was nearly included in Everglades National Park.

31. Dry Tortugas National Park lies at the westernmost point of the Florida Keys. It is home to Fort Jefferson, the largest masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere.

The walls of Fort Jefferson, with water beside them
Fort Jefferson

32. Everglades National Park is the state’s southwest is the largest tropical wilderness in the United States. At 2358 mi2 (6,107 km2), it is larger than Palestine. It is both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

33. There are two National Monuments in Florida: Castillo de San Marcos and Fort Matanzas, two Spanish-built forts near St. Augustine.

34. There are 175 state parks in Florida, with the most visited being Honeymoon Island State Park, followed by Sebastian Inlet State Park.

35. Florida’s state park system has been awarded best in the country 4 years, more than any other state.

36. Nearly 7% of Florida is protected in state and national parks, surpassed only by 5 other states (Hawaii, Alaska, California, Connecticut, and New Jersey).

A yellow tower called Freedom Tower with other skyscrapers behind it
Freedom Tower in Miami

37. There are a total of 47 National Historic Landmarks in Florida, a list that includes several forts, cathedrals, the first free Black settlement, a shipwreck, a canal, and historic hotels, and monuments to the space age.

38. St. Augustine, Florida, founded in 1565, is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the United States.

39. Freedom Tower in Miami, built in 1925, played an important role in hosting Cuban refugees after the 1959 Cuban Revolt. Today it serves as an art museum and part of Miami Dade College.

Looking up at the castle at Disney World
Disney World

40. Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando is the most visited entertainment resort complex in the world, with an average 58 million annual visitors.

41. The resort was the dream of Walt Disney, but he died while it was still in the planning phase.

42. The resort consists of 4 theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom), two water parks (Disney’s Blizzard Beach and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon), and 31 themed hotels.

43. Magic Kingdom is the single most visited amusement park in the world, bringing in around 20 million visitors per year.

A globe shaped building called Epcot Center lit up with red lights and a walkway past gardens leading to it
Epcot Center in Disney World

44. Universal Studios Orlando, which also operates Universal Studios near Los Angeles, is the second largest entertainment resort in Orlando, after Disney World.

45. Orlando is also home to SeaWorld, which operates 11 theme parks across the US.

46. Miami Beach, the state’s most popular beach resort, which sees over 3 million annual visitors, was once found to be the most expensive destination in the world on New Year’s Eve.

47. Siesta Key in Florida has been voted the #1 beach in the US several times.

48. PortMiami is the busiest cruise port in the world, serving around 5.5 million cruise passengers annually.

49. The John. F. Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Florida is where most human spaceflights have been launched, including the Apollo (which got humans to the moon), Skylab, and Space Shuttle programs.

A rocket being launched with lots of exhaust in the air
A shuttle taking off from the Kennedy Space Center

50. Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida, is home to the Daytona 500, the most prestigious race in NASCAR.

51. The state’s highest natural point is Britton Hill, which is only 345 ft (105 m) above sea level (the lowest of any state high point in the US). In fact, Florida is the flattest state in the country.

52. Florida is the only state to have a tropical climate besides Hawaii. It is one of the country’s most ecologically diverse states.

53. More than 26,000 mi² (67,000 km²), or almost half of the state is covered in forests.

54. The only living coral barrier reef in the continental US is the Florida Reef. In fact, it’s the world’s third largest coral barrier reef system.

Small islands surrounded by coral and viewed from above
Coral islands in the Florida Reef

55. Due to Florida’s climate, the state is an ideal breeding ground for extreme weather conditions like lightning strikes, heavy rain showers, hurricanes and tornadoes.

56. The state’s high temperature ever was 109°F (42.8°C), recorded in Monticello in 1931, while the lowest was -2°F (-18,89°C), recorded in Tallahassee in 1899.

57. With a $1 trillion economy, Florida’s economy is the 4th largest in the country and 16th largest in the world.

58. In fact, if Florida were an independent nation, its GDP would rank 17th in the world.

59. Florida’s number one international agricultural export is meat. In fact, the state is home to 9 of the nation’s top beef producers (which are 25 in total).

Oranges growing on a tree in Florida
Florida oranges

60. The state’s biggest agricultural output is the orange. Florida produces more than 70% of the nation’s oranges.

61. Some famous companies that started or are based in Florida include Gatorade, Tupperware, Perry Ellis, NASCAR, Planet Hollywood International, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Hertz, Spirit Airlines, and Burger King.

62. Things invented in Florida include sunscreen, key lime pie, air conditioning, incandescent light bulbs, Famous Amos cookies, and concentrated orange juice.

63. The concept of spring break began in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 1938 when a school took a break for a swim meet.

64. Famous Floridians include actor Wesley Snipes, actresses Eva Mendes and Victoria Justice, singer Ariana Grande, blogger Perez Hilton, and comedian Carrot Top.

A mosaic of famous people from Florida
Famous Florida figures Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, Wesley Snipes, Marilyn Manson, Eva Mendes, and Ariana Grande (clockwise from top-left)

65. The bands Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, Lynyrd Skynrd, Marilyn Manson, Limp Bizkit, Creed, Matchbox 20, The Allman Brothers, Less Than Jake, and Death all started performing in Florida.

66. The writer Ernest Hemingway used to spend his winters in Key West, Florida, and summers in Wyoming.

67. Some of Florida’s athletes include Deion Sanders, Cris Collinsworth, Dwayne Wade, Doris Hart, Bob Hayes, Steve Carlton, Chris Evert, Emmitt Smith, Deacon Jones, and Rowdy Gaines.

68. In the past, horse theft was punishable with death by hanging in Florida. It’s since changed to a five-year prison sentence and fine of up to $5000.

69. Singing in a swimsuit is technically illegal in Florida. So, if you’re planning on doing some karaoke at a pool party or on the beach, you may want to cover up first.

70. If you’re considering starting an orange-selling business, avoid selling oranges on Miami Beach’s sidewalk. If you do so, you could risk facing a 30-day jail sentence.

Historical Facts About Florida

71. At the time of the dinosaurs, Florida was entirely underwater. Thus there are no dinosaur fossils in Florida.

72. Florida has been inhabited by various Native American tribes for at least 14,000 years.

A white beach on the coast of Florida
The Florida coast as early explorers would have found it

73. Portuguese explorers spotted Florida and mapped the region on the Portuguese Cantino map in 1502.

74. In 1513, Florida was explored by Ponce de Leon, the first European to step foot in the area. Florida was become the first area in the US with permanent European settlers.

75. In 1538, the first horse was brought to Florida by the Spanish. The horse would go on to dominate the entire country.

76. Fort Caroline of Jacksonville was established by the French in 1564.

77. In 1565, Fort Caroline was attacked by the Spanish, who defeated the French.

Outer wall of Castillo de San Marcos
Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine

78. In 1601, a map of Florida was drawn as per the orders of King Philip III of Spain. A fort was included that he wanted built in the area presently known as Miami.

79. In 1605, a “Period of Friendship” began between the Spanish and the Native American tribes of Florida as a result of the diplomatic trip by Alvora Mexia.

80. In 1672, the Spanish built the Castillo de San Marcos at St. Augustine.

81. The US and Spain recognized the 31st parallel as the northern boundary of Florida in 1795.

82. In 1803, West Florida and Pensacola, its capital, was claimed by the US as part of the Louisiana Purchase.

83. In 1819, all of Florida was ceded to the United States.

Exterior of Florida State University
Florida State University in Tallahassee

84. In 1824, Tallahassee was chosen as the capital of the American part of Florida because it was halfway between the two main cities at the time, St. Augustine and Pensacola.

85. In 1845, Florida became the 27th US state admitted to the Union.

86. Most of the Florida Native Americans were removed from the Atlantic seaboard during the western migration in 1850.

87. Florida joined the Confederacy after seceding from the Union in 1861.

88. In 1864, the Battle of Olustee, the largest civil war battle that took place in Florida went down, with the Confederates winning.

89. Florida was readmitted into the Union in 1868.

A bridge across the river and skyscrapers in Jacksonville Florida
Jacksonville, Florida

90. In 1908, Jacksonville became the state’s “Hollywood”, with many early movies being produced there.

91. Gambling was legalized in Florida in 1931. Today, it is illegal, with some exceptions.

92. In 1954, segregation of public schools was ruled unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court.

93. In 1961, the first American manned space trip was made from Cape Canaveral, near the Kennedy Space Center, where dozens of rocket launch pads are located.

94. On October 1, 1971, Walt Disney World opened, which changed the landscape of Florida tourism.

95. It was followed by SeaWorld in 1973 and Universal Studios Florida in 1990.

View from a bridge over water and some attractions at Universal Studios Orlando
Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida

96. Three professional sports teams were introduced to the state in 1993: the Florida Panthers hockey team, Miami Marlins baseball team, and Jacksonville Jaguars football team.

97. Space Shuttle Columbia was destroyed upon reentry in 2003, resulting in the deaths of all 7 crew members.

98. On April 2, 2013, the state celebrated 500 years of European discovery by Ponce de Leon. The celebration was called “Viva Florida 500”.

99. Florida became the nation’s 3rd most populous state in 2014, surpassing New York State.

100. In 2021, the Superbowl LV was hosted by Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Because of COVID restrictions, it was the least attended Superbowl in history.

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