State in the extreme SE United States. A long, low peninsula between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Florida is bordered by Georgia and Alabama.
Area, 58,560 sq mi (151,670 sq km).
Pop. (2000) 15,982,378, a 23.5% increase since the 1990 census.
Largest city, Jacksonville.
Nickname, Sunshine State.
Motto, In God We Trust.
State bird, mockingbird.
State flower, orange blossom.
State tree, Sabal palmetto palm.
Tourism plays a primary role in the state's economy; in 1996 visitors to Florida spent over $48 billion. Walt Disney World, a massive cluster of theme parks near Orlando that is one of the world's leading tourist attractions; Universal Studios, a combination theme park and film and television production facility, also near Orlando; and other attractions draw millions yearly.
Famed beaches, such as those at Miami Beach, Daytona Beach and Fort Lauderdale, attract hordes of vacationers. With more than 4,000 sq mi (10,360 sq km) of inland water and with the sea readily accessible from almost anywhere in the state, Florida is a fishing paradise. Other attractions include Everglades National Park, with its unusual plant and animal life; Palm Beach, with its palatial estates; and Sanibel Island's picturesque resorts.
Famous for its citrus fruits, Florida leads the nation in the production of oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, and market-ready corn and tomatoes. Other important crops include sugarcane and many varieties of winter vegetables. Cattle and dairy products are important, as is commercial fishing, with the catch including crabs, lobsters, and shrimp.
Name Origins of Florida Places...
Florida's cities and counties are named for influential residents, Indian words used to describe the area, and former governors. Below briefly explain the meaning behind the names of some of its cities and all of its counties...plus you'll find links to community webpages with helpful information.
Altamonte Springs, Seminole County -- Altamonte is Spanish for "high hill". Right: waiting for the train at the Altomonte Springs Train Station, ca. 1882.
Anna Maria Island, Manatee County -- Ponce de Leon was said to have named the island for the queen of King Charles II, the sponsor of his expedition. Pronunciation is often disputed, most prefer Anna Mar-EE-a, but the old timers like Anna Mar-EYE-a.
Apalachicola, Franklin County -- The word probably comes from the Hitchiti Indian words "apalahchi" (on the other side) and "okli" (people). Together word may mean "those people residing on the other side or shore."
Arcadia, De Soto County -- The Rev. James Hendry named the town in honor of Arcadia Albritton, a daughter of pioneer settlers who baked him a cake for his birthday. He appreciated it so much he named the city after her.
Aripeka, Pasco County -- Named after Sam Jones, a famous Miccosukee chief, who was called Aripeka or Aripeika. The name is possible corrupted from Muskogee "abihka" (pile at the base or heap at the root), which was a contest for supremacy among warriors who piled up scalps, covering the base of the war-pole.
Belle Glade, Palm Beach County -- Belle Glade was originally known as the Hillsborough Canal Settlement. When the inhabitants requested their own post office, they were required to give the city a new name. A tourist traveling to the area said the town was the "belle of the glades." That sounded good to the locals. So with a minor change, it became the town's new name. Left: a January 1939 photo of Patrick's Cash Market in Belle Glade.
Bithlo, Orange County -- Bithlo derives from the Muskogee word "pilo" (canoe). The voiceless "l" was often written as "thl-."
Blountstown, Calhoun County -- This city was named for John Blount, the distinguished Seminole Indian chief who occupied the reservation just east of the town.
Boca Ciega, Pinellas County -- Named for Boca Ciega Bay, Boca Ciega literally means Blind Mouth in Spanish. This may have been a reference to what it looked like at the entrance of the river.
Boca Raton, Palm Beach County -- The Spanish "Boca de Ratones" means rat's mouth, a term used by seamen to describe a hidden rock which a ship's cable might rub against. Right: A city bus stops in front of the Minzer Development Corporation in downtown Boca Raton, 1925.
Bonifay, Holmes County -- Bonifay is the name of a prominent family in the area.
Brandon, Hillsborough County -- This town is named for the family of John Brandon, a man who moved his family and all their possessions to Florida.
Brooksville, Hernando County -- Brooksville comes from Preston Brooks, a former congressman of South Carolina.
Cape Canaveral, Brevard County -- Canaveral is the Spanish word for "a place of reeds or cane."
Cedar Key, Levy County -- This island once was covered by an abundant growth of cedar trees.
Chattahoochee, Gadsden County -- The name was taken from the well-known river in Georgia. The name is from Muskogee "chato" (rock) and "huchi" (marked).
Chipley, Washington County -- Chipley was named in honor of Colonel William D. Chipley, a railroad official.
Clearwater, Pinellas County -- The town was first called Clear Water Harbor, because of a spring of water that bubbles up in the Gulf of Mexico close to shore, making the water in the vicinity clear. Left: the Clearwater Fire Department at the ready, June 13, 1922.
Cross City, Dixie County -- Two public roads crossed at this point, one coming from Perry to old Archer and the other from Branford to Horseshoe. W.H. Mathis, who decided on the name, wanted the location to be thought of as more than just crossroads.
Crystal River, Citrus County -- The correct translation of the name is "weewahiiaca" which is derived from the Seminole-Creek Indians word "wiwa" (water), "haiyayaki" (clear, shining).
Dade City, Pasco County -- The city is named for Maj. Francis Langhorne Dade, a U.S. Army officer killed by Seminoles at the start of the Second Seminole War.
Daytona Beach, Volusia County -- Daytona Beach is named after its founder, Mathias Day.
DeFuniak Springs, Walton County -- Col. Fred Defuniak, an official of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, gave his name to the town.
Fenholloway and Fenholloway River, Taylor County -- The source of the word Fenholloway (finalui) is Muskogee "fina" (footlog) and "halwi" (high), making "high footlog." The river runs through the town.
Fernandina Beach, Nassau County -- Fernandina was the early name of Cuba. Fernandina claims to be the oldest city in the United States. Right: a walk on the boardwalk by the Fernandina Beach Pavilion, ca. 1900.
Flagler Beach, Flagler County -- City's name comes from Henry M. Flagler, a early Florida railroad tycoon.
Floridatown:, anta Rosa County -- With one of the oldest place names in this state, Floridatown was a trading post when controlled the state..
Fort Dade, Pasco County -- This town is also named for Maj. Francis Langhorne Dade.
Fort Lauderdale, Broward County -- This one comes from Maj. William Lauderdale.
Fort Myers, Lee County -- This city is named for Gen. Abraham Charles Myers, a distinguished officer in the U.S. Army. Left: the front entrance to the Royal Palm Hotel near the beach in Fort Myers, ca. 1912.
Fort Pierce, St. Lucie County -- Named for Lt. Col. Benjamin Kendrick Pierce, the brother of former U.S. President Franklin Pierce, the fort was headquarters of the Army of the South under General Jesup.
Fort Walton Beach, Okaloosa County -- The town is named after Camp Walton, a Confederate military site built in 1861 to guard East Pass during the Civil War..
Frostproof, Polk County -- It was named by cowboys who brought cattle to the region during the winter months to get away from frost.
Gainesville, Alachua County -- Gainesville gets its name from Gen. Edmund Pendleton Gaines, who led the capture of Aaron Burr.
Green Cove Springs, Clay County -- The St. Johns River curves here and is sheltered by evergreens.
Groveland, Lake County -- Originally called Taylorville, the town was renamed Groveland due to the large number of citrus groves in the region.
Haines City, Polk County -- First known as Clay Cut, Haines City is named in honor of railroad official Col. Henry Haines.
Hialeah, Dade County -- Of Muskogee origin "haiyakpo" (prairie) and "hili" (pretty), Hialeah means pretty prairie. Right: A promotional billboard welcomes visitors to Hialeah in 1921.
High Springs, Alachua County -- The town was named this because a spring was located atop a hill within the town. The spring no longer exists.
Hillsborough River or Locktsapopka, Hillsborough County -- The Indian name of the waterway came from the Muskogee "lokchia" (acorns) and "papka" (eating place) -- the place where the acorns are eaten.
Hollywood, Broward County -- The town was nicknamed Hollywood-by-the-Sea by its founder, Joseph W. Young of California. That began the city's official name.
Homosassa, Citrus County -- The name comes form the Muskogee "homo" (pepper) and "sasi" (is there) -- the place where the wild pepper grows.
Indian Rocks Beach, Pinellas County -- A number of large rocks along the shore gave the community its name.
Inverness, Citrus County -- The city is named by a Scotch settler for the ancient capital of the Scottish Highlands.
Islamorada, Monroe County -- It is Spanish for "purple island."
Jacksonville, Duval County -- Two of the Spanish names for the area can be translated as "pass of San Nicolas." It was also called "the place where the cows cross" by the Timucuan Indians. Left: the St. John's River and Bridge in the early 1900's.
Jasper, Hamilton County -- This name comes from Sgt. William Jasper, a Revolutionary War hero who rescued the American flag during the British assault on Ft. Sullivan, now Ft. Moultrie.
Key West, Monroe County -- It is the westernmost island extending from the Florida peninsula. Key West was originally called Bone Island by the early Spanish explorers because they found large quantities of human bones there. Right: the Estela Cigar Store in Key West, 1940.
LaBelle, Hendry County -- LaBelle was named by Capt. Francis Ausbury Hendry for his two daughters, Laura and Belle.
Lacoochee, Pasco County -- Lacoochee is a shortened form of the river's name, Withlacoochee, which runs past the town.
Lake Butler, Union County -- Colonel Robert Butler received the surrender of East Florida from the Spanish.
Lake City, Columbia County -- The town was renamed by the state Legislature from "Alligator" to Lake City because of the myriad of lakes that surround the area.
||Lakeland, Polk County -- Lakeland is named so because of the 19 lakes within city limits. Left: a Fourth of July parade at the 300 block of Main Street, ca. 1923.|
Largo, Pinellas County -- Largo is the Spanish word for "big" or "long." Lake Largo is nearby.
Longboat Key, Sarasota County -- The exact origin of this name has been lost, but a longboat is the largest boat carried by a merchant sailing vessel.
Macclenny, Baker County -- The town is named after H.C. Macclenny, who owned large tracts of land in the vicinity.
MacDill A.F.B., Hillsborough County -- The base is named in honor of Col. Leslie MacDill, who was killed in an air crash near Washington, D.C.
Maderia Beach, Pinellas County -- Maderia Beach is named for Portugal's wine producing island, Maderia, located just off the cost of Africa. The word means "wood."
|Madison, Madison County -- Madison was first called Hickstown, after Seminole Chief John Hicks. Then it became known as Newton. But the mail kept coming addressed to Madison C.H. (meaning the courthouse of Madison Co.), so the locals just dropped the C.H. and used Madison as the town's name. Right: the Madison Post Office and staff, ca. 1920.
Marianna, Jackson County -- Marianna is named for the daughters of the original owners of the site, the Beveridges.
Masaryktown, Hernando County -- Named after the first president of Czechoslovakia, Masarytown was founded by the editor of a Czech newspaper in New York.
Mayo, Lafayette County -- This town is named after James Mayo, a colonel who had been in charge of the Confederate Army. He delivered a speech in the area one Fourth of July and the settlers were so impressed by Mayo that they named their community after him.
||Miami, Dade County -- The name comes from Mayaimi (a lake - now Lake Okeechobee) which means "very large." Left: Guests of the Royal Palm Hotel in Miami go for a swim in the pool, ca. 1898.|
Micanopy, Alachua County -- Head chief of the Seminoles in the Seminole War; Micanopy means "head chief."
Miccosukee, Leon County -- From Hitchiti "miki" (chief) and "suki" (hogs), Miccosukee means "chiefs of the hog clan."
Monticello, Jefferson County -- This Jefferson County city is named for the historic Virginia home of, you guessed it, Thomas Jefferson.
Moore Haven, Glades County -- This one was named for its founder, James A. Moore.
Naples, ollier County -- The city is named after Naples, Italy.
Ocala, Marion County -- The literal meaning of this Indian word is "heavily clouded," perhaps beyond discovery.
|Opa Locka, Dade County -- The name refers to a hammock located within the present limits of the city. The source is the Muskogee words "opilwa" (swamp) and "lako" (big), though the usual combination is "opillakpo." Right: the Opa Locka Administration Building in 1930.
Orlando, Orange County -- There are several different versions to the origin of this city's name. The official story is that it is named in honor of Orlando Reeves. Reeves was on sentinel duty for a camping party. During the night, an Indian attempted to penetrate the camp, but Reeves saw him and fired on him, but not before the Indian shot an arrow killing Reeves.
Palatka, Putnam County -- Its name is derived from the Muskogee word "pilotaikita" which means "ferry," "ford" or "crossing." Palatka was a major trading post on the St. Johns River.
||Panama City, Bay County -- George West, the original developer of the town, named it Panama City because it is in a direct line between Chicago and Panama City, Panama. Left: bicyclists on Panama City Beach in the early 1900's|
Panasoffkee, Sumter County -- The word is derived from the Muskogee "pani" (valley) and "sufki" (deep), creating "deep valley."
Pass-a-Grille Beach, Pinellas County -- The name referred to the practice of fishermen, who would stop here on their way crossing over the island to cook or grill their meals.
Pensacola, Escambia County -- Most likely, the name is a derivations of Pansfalaya, an Indian tribe. The Choctaw called them the "long-haired people."
Ponte Vedra, St. Johns County -- This is named for the city in Spain.
Punta Gorda, Charlotte County -- The Spanish words for "wide point" or "fat point" refer to the arm of land jutting into Charlotte Bay near the city of Punta Gorda.
Quincy, Gadsden County -- The town is named in honor of John Quincy Adams, who was Secretary of State of the United States when the city was founded. Right: Adams Street in downtown Quincy, ca. 1900.
Sanibel, Lee County -- The name is thought to be a combination of health and beauty.
Sebring, Highlands County -- The town is named for George Sebring, a pottery manufacturer from Sebring, Ohio.
Silver Springs, Marion County -- Silver springs is named after Florida's largest spring, whose crystal-clear waters inspired the name.
Sopchoppy, Wakulla Coounty -- The name has been corrupted from "Lockchoppe," the former name of the waterway in Wakulla County. Muskogee "lokchapi," which signifies the red oak, is composed from "lokcha" (acorn) and "api" (stem).
St. Augustine, St. Johns County -- The oldest continuiously inhabited city in the United State, St. Augustine was named by its founder, Pedro Menendez de Aviles, for St. Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo.
St. Petersburg, Pinellas County -- Called the "Sunshine City," it was named after one of the coldest, great cities of the world -- Russia's St. Petersburg. Left: a December 1939 view of St.Petersburg Beach and Municipal Pier.
Starke, Bradford County -- It was named after former Florida Gov. Starke Perry or possibly for Thomas Starke, a slaveholder who once owned much land around the area.
Steinhatchee, Taylor County -- The name is derived from the Muskogee "ak" (down), "isti" (man) and "hatchee" (creek). It means "dead man's creek."
Stuart, Martin County -- This city is named for Samuel C. Stuart, the first telegraph operator and station agent in the town. Formally Potsdam, the name change came after the Florida East Coast Railroad began traveling through Stuart across the St. Lucie River.
Tallahassee, Leon County -- The name is derived from a Muskogee word meaning "old town." Right: Ca. 1892, the Wanish Cigar Factory in downtown Tallahassee. Manuel Roffe, a Cuban-born cigar maker, trained all of the workers
Tarpon Springs, Pinellas County -- The name is said to have come from a remark from Mrs. Ormond Boyer, who exclaimed "See that trapon spring" while watching fish leap out the water. Note, however, that the fish were not tarpon, but mullet.
Temple Terrace, Hillsborough County -- This town is named for the temple orange.
Titusville, Brevard County -- The town was established just after the Civil War by Col. Henry T. Titus, who had been a fierce antagonist of John Brown in the struggle over Kansas which preceded the war.
Trenton, Gilchrist County -- This town is named after Trenton, Tenn., by Ben Boyd, who served in the Confederate Army and set up a sawmill there.
Tyndall A.F.B., Bay County -- The basee was named for Lt. Frank B. Tyndall, a World War I ace killed while on duty near Mooresville, N.C.
Valparaiso, Okaloosa County -- This name was taken from the city in Indiana, which in turn was named for the famous Chilean port. The word is Spanish for "valley of paradise."
Venice, Sarasota County -- Franklin Higel, an early settler, came up with the name because he felt that the blue waters of the bays, rivers and ocean gave the place a resemblance to the famous Italian city.
Wauchula, Hardee County -- The name may be derived from the Muskogee "wakka" (cow) and "hute" (house or tank).
Weeki Wachee Springs, Hernando County -- From the Muskogee words "wekiwa" (spring) and "chee" (little), the town's name means "little spring."
Wewahitchka, Gulf County -- This complex name may have come from an unknown Indian language and probably means "water eyes." A perfect pair of eyes is formed by two oblong lakes along the edge of town; these are separated by a pronounced ridge which resembles the bridge of a human nose.
Winter Haven, Polk County -- The area was considered a haven from the severe winters of the north. Winter Haven also is nicknamed "The City of a Hundred Lakes." Left: the 1924 Orange Festival Parade in downtown Winter Haven. First held in 1923, the celebration is now known as the Florida Citrus Festival.
Winter Park, Orange County -- It was named by Loring Chase and Oliver Chapman, who were designing a town in the style of the New England town. They chose this name because the area was a "veritable park in winter."
Atlas of Florida, edited by Edward A. Fernald and Elizabeth D. Purdum, (Revised Edition), Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida, c1992.
Photos Courtesy of The Florida Photographic Collection, Florida State Archives.
Florida Place Names: Alachua to Zolfo Springs, by Allen Morris, Sarasota, Florida: Pineapple Press, c1995.
A Provisional Gazetteer of Florida Place-Names of Indian Derivation, by J. Clarence Simpson, Tallahassee, Florida: Florida Geological Survey, Special Publication No. 1, 1956.
Florida Facts and History