Flor'ida, called the 'Everglade State' and 'Peninsula State,' lies in the extreme SE. of the United States, between the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, and bounded N. by Georgia and Alabama. The state is nearly 400 miles long, 84 miles in mean breadth, and 58,680 sq. m. in area (about one-fifteenth water surface). Florida has nineteen navigable rivers (1000 miles in all), with many swamps, marshes, lakes, and ponds. Of the lakes the largest is Okeechobee, a shallow freshwater expanse of about 1000 sq. m.; the Everglades (q.v.) form a delta-like expansion of this lake. The long coast-line is dotted with innumerable islands and keys. In climate and products Florida is like a great tropical island. It is cooled by sea-breezes from the gulf, making the climate remarkably equable; and the state is a favourite winter-resort, both for tourists and invalids, although malarial fevers prevail in some parts, and yellow fever has occasionally, as in 1889, visited the seaports heavily. The range between the mean summer and winter temperature is only about 20°; the greatest recorded extremes are 105° and 10° F. The soil, while much of it seems a sterile sand, is helped to fertility by the moisture, the rainfall being about 54 inches annually. Large areas are devoted to orange orchards, while lemons, limes, grapes, pine-apples, bananas, pears, guavas, figs, etc. grow with equal luxuriance ; and coffee, rice, cotton, and tobacco are natural products. Cocoa-nuts also are grown in the subtropical region. Market-gardening has become important. Florida is not rich in minerals. Mineral springs are numerous. Large tracts of alluvial swamp and shallow lake-lands are being reclaimed by drainage. Next to these are the low hummocks or bottom-lands, dry enough for cultivation, and producing large crops of cotton, sugar-cane, grain, fruits, and vegetables. The high hummocks have a dark, gray soil, very rich at first, but soon running out if not kept well fertilised. Then come first-class pine, oak, and hickory lands, sandy, but containing a good deal of lime. There is a second-class pine land that is barren, but supplies a tolerably good pasturage. Indian corn is largely raised. In the central and southern parts the black bear, the cougar, the panther, wild-cats, wolves, foxes, raccoons, opossums, fish-otters, deer, and smaller game are at home; alligators, turtles, and manatees are found in the waters. The lumber trade, the preparation of naval stores, turpentine, tar, rosin, pitch, and cigar-making are amongst the industries; all along the coast there are valuable fisheries, oysters abound in many parts, and the inland waters also teem with fish ; and the evaporation of salt, the production of cottonseed oil and meal, the manufacture of fertilisers, and sponge and coral fisheries are profitable pursuits. The chief towns are Key West, Jacksonville, Pensacola, Tampa, St Augustine, and Tallahassee (the capital). The State College is at Lake City. Pop. (1870) 187,748; (18S0) 269,493; (1890)391,422; (1900) 528,542, of whom 230,730 were negroes.
Florida was discovered on Easter Day (Pascua Florida), 1512, by Juan Ponce de Leon. In 1539 it was explored by De Soto, and in 1565 a body of French Calvinists were butchered or driven out by the Spaniards. Spanish till 1763, English from 1763 till 1781, and Spanish again till 1819, it was acquired by the United States and became a territory ; it was admitted into the Union as a state in 1845. In 1835-42 it was the theatre of a desperate war with the aborigines (Seminoles). In the civil war the state took the Confederate side, and was not readmitted to the Union till 1868.
See Davidson, The Florida of To-day (1889); Whitehead, The Camp-fires of the East (1891); Powell, The American Siberia (in reference to the convict camps here, 1892).