Florida, United States

About Florida

The state of Florida is located in the southeastern region of the United States, bordering Alabama to the northwest and Georgia to the north. It was the 27th state admitted to the United States. Much of the land mass of the state is a large peninsula with the Gulf of Mexico to the west, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. It is nicknamed the Sunshine State because of its generally warm climate—subtropical in the northern and central regions of the state, with a true tropical climate in the southern portion. The state has four large urban areas, a number of smaller industrial cities, and many small towns. The United States Census Bureau estimates that the state population was 18,328,340 in 2008, ranking Florida as the fourth most populous state in the U.S. Tallahassee is the state capital, Jacksonville is the largest city, and the Miami metropolitan area is the largest metropolitan area.

Florida Tourism and Recreation

Tourism is a mainstay of the state's economy. Most of Florida's tourists are from elsewhere in the US although Miami attracts large numbers of affluent Latin American travelers, lured at least in part by the Latin flavor the large Cuban community has given the city. Over 839,000 Floridians work directly in tourist- and recreation-related businesses, and the state ranks 2nd in the nation in the number of travel and tourism employees.

Florida's biggest tourist attractions are its sun, sand, and surf. According to the state's Department of Commerce, leisure-time activity is the principal reason why more than four-fifths of auto travelers enter the state. Major tourist attractions include Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and Sea World Orlando. Other major attractions are the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral and the St. Augustine historic district.

Nine parks and other facilities in Florida operated by the National Park Service draw millions of visitors annually, inducing Biscayne National Park and Everglades National Park. The most popular destination is the Gulf Islands National Seashore, located near Pensacola, followed by the Canaveral National Seashore. Approximately 110 facilities are operated by the Division of Recreation and Parks of the state's Department of Natural Resources. These facilities include 28 state parks, 28 state recreation areas, and 18 state historical sites. Fishing and boating are major recreational activities at these sites.

Florida Climate

Florida enjoys a sub-tropical climate that promises long summers and short, mild winters perfect for year-round vacations to beaches, theme parks, cities and sites. Although southern Florida is 400 miles closer to the tropics than northern Florida, it doesn't feel like it because of the prevailing sea breeze. Southern Florida is one of the warmest places on the United States mainland in winter.

Summers are often hot, but the high temperatures are tempered by frequent afternoon or early evening thunderstorms. Thunderstorms occur, on the average, about half of the summer days. Often these thunderstorms trigger a rapid drop of 10- to 20-degrees in temperature, resulting in comfortable weather for the remainder of the day.

Florida Transportaion

Florida's interstates, state highways and U.S. Highways are maintained by the Florida Department of Transportation. Florida's interstate highway system contains 1,473 miles (2,371 km) of highway, and there are 9,934 miles (15,987 km) of non-interstate highway in the state, such as Florida state highways and U.S. Highways.

Florida is served by Amtrak: Sanford, in Greater Orlando, is the southern terminus of the Amtrak Auto Train, which originates at Lorton, Virginia, south of Washington, DC. Orlando is also the eastern terminus of the Sunset Limited, which travels across the southern United States via New Orleans, Houston, and San Antonio to its western terminus of Los Angeles. Florida is served by two additional Amtrak trains (the Silver Star and the Silver Meteor), which operate between New York City and Miami.

Major international airports in Florida which processed more than 15 million passengers each in 2006 are Orlando International Airport, Miami International Airport, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Tampa International Airport.