Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, on the Gulf Coast. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia, and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean.
With a 2010 estimated population of 18,801,310 by the United States Census Bureau, it is the fourth most populous state in the country. With an area of 65,755 square miles (170,305 km2), Florida ranks 22nd in size among the 50 U.S. states. The state capital is Tallahassee, its largest city is Jacksonville, and the South Florida metropolitan area is the largest metropolitan area in the southeastern United States.
Much of the state of Florida is situated on a peninsula between the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Straits of Florida. Its geography is marked by a coastline, by the omnipresence of water and the threat of hurricanes. Florida has the longest coastline in the contiguous United States, encompassing approximately 1,350 miles (2,170 km). Much of the state is at or near sea level (the highest natural point 345 feet (105 m) above sea level at Britton Hill) and its terrain is characterized by sedimentary soils. The climate varies from subtropical in the north to tropical in the south. Its symbolic animals like the American alligator and the manatee, can be found in the Everglades, one of the most famous national parks in the world.
Since its discovery in 1513 by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León – who named it La Florida ("Flowery Land") upon landing there during 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 Indians, and racial segregation after the American Civil War. Today, it is distinguished by its large Hispanic community and high population growth, as well as its raising environmental concerns. Its economy relies mainly on tourism, agriculture and transport, which developed in the late 19th century. Florida is also known for its amusement parks, the production of oranges and the Kennedy Space Center.
Florida culture is a reflection of influences and multiple inheritance; Native American, African American, Anglo-American and Hispanic 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 tennis, golf, auto racing and water sports.