Difference between revisions of "Florida"
Revision as of 13:52, 22 July 2008
Florida is the most south-eastern state in the United States of America. Known as "The Sunshine State", it became a popular winter destination for the well-to-do from colder climates over a century ago, and has gained ever greater popularity since. Its roots in agriculture are still present, with oranges being a chief export. The capital of Florida is Tallahassee, located in the "Big Bend" area of the Florida Panhandle.
The total population of Florida as of 2003 is 17,019,068; it has the 4th largest state population in the United States. The total area of the state of Florida is 58,560 square miles (151,670 km²).
The beaches are one of the most popular attractions, along with some of the world's best known theme parks, including Disney World, Universal Studios, and SeaWorld.
Florida is the most southern of all U.S. states other than Hawaii and is a unique blend of societies. The northern part of the state is part of the cultural region of The South, where you will find traditional southern cooking, entertainment, dialect, and lifestyles, much as you would expect to find just north in Georgia and the Carolinas. Generally, the more south you go in the state, the more 'northern' it seems, and you should not expect to experience 'southern' culture everywhere. (For instance, sweet tea- a drink synomymous with "The South" is rarely offered in Florida restaurants south of Ocala. The southernmost Florida Keys offer yet another flavor, full of the slow paced and casual atmosphere of true beach life. All in all, Florida is its own region of the United States in its own right.
Florida is known around the world for its balmy weather. The state's mild winters have made it a haven for retirees. Summers can be long and hot with showers providing much appreciated relief during the rainy season. Coastal areas also experience gentle breezes during the summer.
However, being a coastal area, frequent precipitation is common. While the rains are often brief, they are common, and plan for rain at least one or two of your days in Florida. Torrential daytime rains (often accompanied by a fantastic show of lightning and thunder) are a relatively common occurrence in the summer months. Many attractions such as Disney World have multiple attractions available even during downpours.
Average Annual Temperatures:
Summer: 80.5 °F degrees (26.9 °C) (North Florida) 82.7 °F degrees (28.2 °C) (South Florida)
Winter: 53.0 °F degrees (11.7 °C) (North Florida) 68.5 °F degrees (20.3 °C) (South Florida)
The six-month hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30 and Floridians have learned to be ready when a storm threatens the area. More Information: National Hurricane Center
Native-born Floridians will usually speak in a southern accent. However, after the migration of millions of Americans from other states to Florida, the southern dialect is becoming diluted with other accents.
The larger cities in Florida are served by busy airports:
While these airports are near the major population centers, you may wish to fly to an area closer or into the Florida Panhandle. The following airports are generally smaller, but may be more convienent depending on your destination.
In Sanford, the southern Terminus of the Amtrak Auto Train carries passengers and automobiles between Sanford and Lorton, Virginia, effectively serving as a car-rail link to Florida from the Washington, D.C. Metro Area.
Amtrak also serves Florida through two regular passenger service north-south routes. These two routes are the Silver Star (Trains 91-92 and the Silver Meteor (Trains 97-98) and they both begin in New York and end in Miami. While the two routes are slightly different, within the borders of state of Florida, the routes are exactly the same and stop at the following stations: Jacksonville, Palatka, DeLand, Winter Park, Orlando, Kissimmee, Lakeland (to/from the north only), Tampa, Lakeland (to/from the south only), Winter Haven, Sebring, Okeechobee, West Palm Beach, Delray Beach, Deerfield Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, and Miami.
If you're driving in, there are three interstate highways. They are I-95 from the northeast, I-75 from the midwest, and I-10 from the west.
Car rental agencies abound in Florida and many are available at every major airport.
Florida's major interstate highways include I-95, which runs north to south along the east coast, I-10, which runs from Jacksonville in the east across the panhandle to the west, and I-75, which enters the state from Georgia and runs south through Tampa and along the Gulf coast. U.S. Highway 1 is a historic and scenic highway which originates in Key West and continues up the east coast. I-4, not a true interstate, runs from northeast to southwest, beginning at I-95 in Daytona Beach and ends in Tampa.
Bus service is provided by Greyhound and several other companies. Annett Bus Tours offers Florida bus tours.
Wild Waters and Silver Springs are in Ocala.
Florida has eleven public universities coordinated and funded on the state level by The State University System of Florida which was formed after 2000 when the governor and the state legislature abolished the Florida Board of Regents, a body which controlled each institution directly from Tallahassee. The list below includes the member institutions of the SUS as well as the cities in which they are located. It is also important to note many colleges have regional or satellite campuses in other cities within their service area.
Florida also has a large network of community colleges, totallying twenty-eight overall. Most of these institutions are located throughout the state in major and even in minor population centers with the ones with larger service areas/population bases having multiple campuses. A complete list of community colleges can be found at the | Florida Department of Education.
Florida has many private universities as well, the largest of which is the Nova Southeastern University and one of the more noted ones, The University of Miami.
ATMs can be found throughout the state. Usually larger hotels and convenience stores will have a "generic" ATM machine available; however, be forewarned about hidden service fees.
Florida cuisine has come under many influences and its styles vary across the state from north to south. Early Spanish and African and Southern cuisine has been influenced by Cuban and other Caribbean cultures, as well as "snowbirds" escaping from the Northern US winters. Northern Florida has a more Southern style; the south a more Caribbean one. Being on a peninsula, Florida's chefs have always had access to fresh seafood and the long growing season provides for fresh native vegetables.
Citrus is a main export, and the tourist is apt see many roadside stands offering free samples of orange juice and fruits to be shipped or carried home. Florida also grows grapefruit, avocado, mango, papaya, passion fruit, kumquat, coconut and other tropical fruits. These often provide the base for sauces and marinades or are used in marmalades, soups, or desserts.
One food not readily available in many other locales is alligator. Most say it tastes like chicken and it is often prepared similarly. Key lime pie, found elsewhere now, is a Florida Keys invention, made from the local key limes.
Alcoholic beverages abound throughout the state and (at least for being located in the conservative Southern U.S.) has somewhat liberal drinking laws. However, five rural counties in the northern third of the state are "dry counties", and no alcohol is sold in them. Liquor stores are often built into strip malls, supermarkets, and pharmacies, and most grocery stores, gas stations, and convenience stores sell beer and wine. Bars and clubs are popular throughout the state. Miami Beach is well known for a variety of themed and upscale bars with innovative mixed drinks.
Like every other U.S. state, the purchase and possession age for alcohol is 21 and is fairly well enforced. Underage drinking "stings" are frequent in most tourist areas.
Florida has a high occurrence of hurricanes. You might want to check the Hurricane safety page if you are visiting Florida. Beware of lightning in the north central part of the state, especially Dixie County, the state's lightning capital. Volusia County is known for a high number of shark attacks, so be careful when surfing. Also, there is a high occurrence of tornadoes in Florida, so check the Tornado safety page.
Florida has varying crime intensity from city to city. In certain parts of large cities it may not be safe to walk alone or even in small groups at night. Touristy areas rarely have violent crimes, but theft is an occasional occurrence.
Heading out of Florida to the north is Georgia. Here you will find the historic city of Savannah and the resort beach of Jekyll Island. In Alabama, Mobile is a historic port city and Gulf Shores is a popular resort. A little further out, Mississippi offers casino gaming in Biloxi and Gulfport.