|State nickname: Sunshine State|
- % water
|Ranked 22nd |
- Total (2000)
|Admittance into Union
March 3, 1845
|Time zone||Eastern: UTC-5/-4|
| 24°30'N to 31°N
79°48'W to 87°38'W
Florida is a southern state in the United States. It is known as the Sunshine State. "Florida" is a Spanish adjective which means "flowery". It was discovered by Spanish explorers during the Easter season, which is called Pascua Florida in Spanish. The U.S. Postal abbreviation is FL.
USS Florida was named in honor of this state.
Archaelogical finds indicate that Florida had been inhabited for many thousands of years prior to any European settlements. Spaniards first arrived in 1513 and lay claim to the land. Control of parts of Florida passed among Spanish, British, and American control. On March 3, 1845, Florida became the 27th state of the United States of America. Today, Florida is one of the most populous states in the Union.
Though Florida has traditionally been a Democratic state, in recent years explosive population growth has brought with it many Republicans, leaving the state approximately evenly split between the two parties. As such, and because of its high population and large number of electoral votes, Florida is considered by political analysts to be a key swing state in elections for President of the United States.
In Miami, the liberal Democrats vie for control with wealthy Cuban right wing Republicans and their business allies. Tampa was once a hotbed of Democratic union/Mafia support, but has reversed polarity completely in recent years, and is now governed by heavily pro-business Republicans. Outside of liberal Miami-Dade County, the Florida Democratic Party tends to be socially conservative and heavily associated with the good ol' boy network. See: List of Florida Governors
Florida is a peninsula, with the Atlantic Ocean as its eastern border and the Gulf of Mexico as its western border. It is bordered on the north by the states of Georgia and Alabama. It is near Cuba, Haiti, and other countries in the Caribbean.
Florida's economy is heavily based on tourism. Warm weather most of the year and many miles of pristine beaches provide a thriving vacation spot for travelers from around the world. The large Walt Disney World theme park and resort complex, located near Orlando, drives the economy of that area, along with more recent entries into the theme park arena such as the Universal Orlando Resort[?]. Unlike most other US states, Florida does not levy a state personal income tax due to the great amout of sales tax revenue. Other major industries include citrus fruit and juice production, banking, and phosphate mining.
As of the 2000 census, the state had a population of 15,982,378.
Despite the tremendous amount of tax revenue generated by tourism, Florida's public education system is abysmal, with state public schools consistently ranking last or near last in national surveys. With teacher's salaries among the lowest in the country, many competent educators choose to go elsewhere or work in private industry rather than teach. Governor Jeb Bush has been criticized by Florida educators for a program that penalizes underperforming schools (as indicated by standardized tests) with fewer funding dollars, widely regarded as counterproductive.
In 2000, Bush and the state legislature acted to abolish the Board of Regents that governed the state university system. Instead, each public university is now controlled by its own Board of Trustees who are directly appointed by the governor. The appointees so far have been overwhelmingly Republican political allies.  (http://www.sptimes.com/News/050801/State/Bush_s_trustees_mostl.shtml) In 2002, Democratic Senator Bob Graham started a ballot referendum designed to revert to the Board of Regents system.
Florida is an extremely popular location for Major League Baseball spring training. Florida hosts the following major league teams for spring training:
It also hosts the following minor league baseball teams: