Portal:Florida

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Introduction

Skyline of Jacksonville, Florida from Acosta Bridge

Florida (/ˈflɒrɪdə/ (About this soundlisten); Spanish for "land of flowers") is the southernmost contiguous state in the United States. The state is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the northwest by Alabama, to the north by Georgia, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the south by the Straits of Florida. Florida is the 22nd-most extensive (65,755 sq mi or 170,300 km2), the 3rd-most populous (21,312,211 inhabitants), and the 8th-most densely populated (384.3/sq mi or 148.4/km2) of the U.S. states. Jacksonville is the most populous municipality in the state and the largest city by area in the contiguous United States. The Miami metropolitan area is Florida's most populous urban area. Tallahassee is the state's capital.

Florida's $1.0 trillion economy is the fourth largest in the United States. If it were a country, Florida would be the 16th largest economy in the world, and the 58th most populous . In 2017, Florida's per capita personal income was $47,684, ranking 26th in the nation. The unemployment rate in September 2018 was 3.5% and ranked as the 18th in the United States. Florida exports nearly $55 billion in goods made in the state, the 8th highest among all states. The Miami Metropolitan Area is by far the largest urban economy in Florida and the 12th largest in the United States with a GDP of $344.9 billion . This is more than twice the number of the next metro area, the Tampa Bay Area, which has a GDP of $145.3 billion. Florida is home to 51 of the world's billionaires with most of them residing in South Florida.

The first European contact was made in 1513 by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León, who called it la Florida ([la floˈɾiða] "the land of flowers") upon landing there in the Easter season, known in Spanish as 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 Native Americans, and racial segregation after the American Civil War.

Today, Florida is distinctive for its large Cuban expatriate community and high population growth, as well as for its increasing environmental issues. The state's economy relies mainly on tourism, agriculture, and transportation, which developed in the late 19th century. Florida is also renowned for amusement parks, orange crops, winter vegetables, the Kennedy Space Center, and as a popular destination for retirees. Florida is the flattest state in the United States. Lake Okeechobee is the largest freshwater lake in the U.S. state of Florida.

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Elena 1985-09-01 1601Z.png

Hurricane Elena was an unpredictable and damaging tropical cyclone that affected eastern and central portions of the United States Gulf Coast in late August and early September 1985. Threatening popular tourist destinations during Labor Day weekend, Elena repeatedly deviated from its forecast path, triggering evacuations of unprecedented extent. The hurricane wrought havoc to property and the environment between southwestern Florida and eastern Louisiana, though lesser effects were felt well beyond those areas. Elena developed on August 28 near Cuba, and after traveling lengthwise across the island with little impact, it entered the Gulf of Mexico and continued to strengthen. Initially projected to strike the central Gulf Coast, the hurricane unexpectedly veered toward the east on August 30, then stalled just 50 mi (80 km) west of Cedar Key, Florida. Despite predictions that Elena would continue eastward across Florida, the cyclone remained nearly stationary for about 48 hours, causing damage all along the eastern gulf with high winds and waves, before slowly moving northwest and ultimately making landfall near Biloxi, Mississippi, on September 2 as a Category 3 major hurricane. The storm quickly weakened upon moving ashore and dissipated on September 4.

The hurricane's unpredictable shifts in direction created what was considered the largest peacetime evacuation in the nation's history. Evacuations occurred in sequence to follow the storm's forecast positions, and many residents and tourists along portions of the Gulf Coast were forced to leave twice in a matter of days. Preparations were generally timely and efficient, though accommodations and resources at storm shelters were stretched thin, and many refugees tried to return home against officials' orders. About 1.25 million people fled the storm in Florida alone, contributing to a region-wide total of nearly 2 million evacuees. Tropical cyclone warnings and watches were continuously issued and adjusted, and forecasters stressed the storm's destructive potential for days.

Elena's slow movement off western Florida resulted in severe beach erosion and damage to coastal buildings, roads, and seawalls, especially to those of old or inadequate construction. Destruction was greatest near the shore and on islands such as Cedar Key and Dog Island, though tornadoes spawned by the hurricane swept through communities and mobile home parks well inland. The hurricane devastated the Apalachicola Bay shellfish industry, killing large quantities of oysters, destroying their reefs, and leaving thousands of workers unemployed. Farther west, Dauphin Island in Alabama endured wind gusts as high as 130 mph (210 km/h) and a significant storm surge. The island sustained some of the most significant damage inflicted by Elena, including several hundred damaged or demolished homes. The rest of the state's coast also sustained considerable damage, and the inland pecan and soybean crops were severely diminished in Alabama and Mississippi.

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In the news

3 January 2019 –
Seven people are killed after a crash and diesel fuel spill sparked a massive fire on Interstate 75 in Gainesville, Florida, United States. (AOL News)

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