Did you know that for ever person that lives in Florida, four more people visit the state every year? Tourism makes up eighty-one percent of Florida’s gross state product. Also, “no trip is complete without tasting a fresh-picked orange or a slice of Key lime pie” (Heinrichs 11). The excellent weather and awesome beaches in Florida are irresistible to tourists. Florida’s early history, geography, climate, wildlife, and economy will be explained thoroughly in this paper.
Florida was first settled over 12,000 years ago when people from Asia migrated to the Americas over the Bering Land Bridge. The first European to set foot on the North American continent was the Spaniard Juan Ponce de León. In Spain, there were rumors of a spring bubbling with the magical waters of youth (Heinrichs 15). He set out determined to uncover many rumors about the New World. On March 27th, 1513, he went ashore near present-day St. Augustine and called the area La Florida for one of two reasons. It was either because it was Easter time (Pascua Florida in Spanish) or because of all the flowers he found there (Florida is Spanish for “flowery”). Unfortunately, León was killed by an Indian attack on his second expedition of the area in 1521. The next explorer to try his luck in Florida was Pánfilo de Narváez. Gold was the object of his voyage to Florida, but he found none when he went ashore in Tampa Bay in 1528.
The first actual settlement in Florida and North America as well was Fort Caroline. It was built by French Protestants who needed refuge from persecution. The fort was built at the mouth of the St. John’s River. When King Philip II of Spain heard about the French colony, he sent Admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés to eliminate the fort. He set up a fort where León originally landed and called it San Augustin (St. Augustine). This became the first European settlement in North America that still exists today. The Spanish colony thrived with 140 Franciscan missions and forts. However, by the 1700s, British and Indian raids burned out most of the mission forts.
Florida went under British control in 1793 when the Seven Years’ War ended. However, Spain regained Florida when the American Revolution ended in 1783. Spain finally lost Florida to the United States in 1819 when the Adams-Onís treaty was signed between the U.S. and Spain. Later, on March 3rd, 1845, Florida joined the Union (Florida Almanac).
One of the last areas of North America to emerge from underwater was Florida. It was still underwater in the dinosaur era. Florida’s thin northern section is called the Panhandle and the rest of Florida is a peninsula in the Atlantic Ocean. The highest point in Florida is only 345 feet which is an unnamed point in the Panhandle (“Florida Almanac”). Florida’s entire eastern coast is part of the Atlantic Coastal Plain which is all less than 100 feet above sea level (Blakey 248). The state’s climate is generally...