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When people think of Florida, they imagine sunshine, beaches and oranges. Every year, tourists and retirees flock to Florida for the weather, relaxing atmosphere and varied entertainment. There are plenty of lesser known fun facts about the sunshine state, however.
For many years, an ongoing dispute raged between Spain and France for control of the Florida territory. After coming under British, French and Spanish rule, Spain ceded Florida to the United States in 1821. Many felt that Florida should be two states, East Florida and West Florida. However, on March 3, 1845, Florida became one state—the 27th state in the United States.
St Augustine, Florida, is the oldest European settlement in North America. It was settled by Juan Ponce de Leon in 1565 after he destroyed France’s Fort Caroline.
On average, 1,000 people move to Florida every day. Many who relocate to the state are from New York and other northern states. The recent economic downturn hurt population growth for many years. Currently there are signs of increased population growth, a good sign for Florida’s economy.
Florida is home to over 1,250 golf courses, more than any other state. Bella Collina in Montverde is both the longest course and the highest rated of the state’s golf courses.
Orlando, Florida, attracts more tourists than any other amusement park destination in the United States, making it the top travel destination in the world. Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World and LEGOLAND Parks are merely a few of the many Florida attractions.
Florida has more than 11,000 miles of rivers, streams, and waterways and over 7,700 lakes. The state’s longest river is the St. Johns, which is 273 miles long. Florida also features over 4,500 islands ranking them second in the nation for the greatest number of islands.
Gatorade, the official thirst quencher of many of Florida’s and the nation’s finest sports teams, was developed at the University of Florida, home of the Gators. The head coach of the team wanted a solution for his players’ heat-related fatigue and dehydration. A team of University of Florida College of Medicine researchers solved his dilemma. Gatorade derived its name from the Gator’s team name. It is the official thirst quencher of the NFL, the NBA, the US Soccer Federation and many other sports franchises.
Clearwater, Florida, has the highest rate of lightning strikes per capita of anywhere in the United States. Clearwater also holds the record of most number of storms per year, an average of 100 annually. This earned Clearwater the title of lightning capital of the United States.
The highest average temperatures occur in Key West. The highest record was 100° in 1886, but a visitor can expect it to be at least 70° on any given day. Clearly, the weather attracts relocations from the northeastern United States.
With over 1,800 miles of coastline and 1,200 miles of beaches, Florida welcomes over 75 million visitors a year and offers a treasure trove of both native and human-designed attractions. We hope you visit Florida soon.