Florida (Spanish for "land of flowers") is a state in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico and Alabama, to the north by Alabama and Georgia, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the south by the Straits of Florida. Florida is the 22nd-most extensive, the 3rd-most populous, and the 8th-most densely populated of the U.S. states. Jacksonville is the most populous municipality in the state, and is legally the largest city by area in the contiguous United States (due to the consolidation of Jacksonville with Duval County). The Miami metropolitan area is Florida's most populous urban area. The city of Tallahassee is the state capital. About two-thirds of Florida occupies a peninsula between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Florida has the longest coastline in the contiguous United States, approximately 1,350 miles (2,170 km), not including the contribution of the many barrier islands. It is the only state that borders both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Much of the state is at or near sea level and is characterized by sedimentary soil. Florida has the lowest high point of any U.S. State. The climate varies from subtropical in the north to tropical in the south. The American alligator, American crocodile, Florida panther, and manatee can be found in Everglades National Park in the southern part of the state. Since the first European contact was made in 1513 by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León – who named it La Florida ([la floˈɾiða] "land of flowers") upon landing there in the Easter season, 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, the Kennedy Space Center, and as a popular destination for retirees. Florida culture is a reflection of influences and multiple inheritance; Native American, European American, Hispanic and Latino, and African American heritages can be found in the architecture and cuisine. Florida has attracted many writers such as Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams, and continues to attract celebrities and athletes. It is internationally known for golf, tennis, auto racing and water sports.
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