Florida /ˈflɒrᵻdə/ is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, Florida is the 22nd-most extensive, the 3rd-most populous, and the 8th-most densely populated of the U. S. states. Jacksonville is the most populous municipality in the state and is the largest city by area in the contiguous United States, the Miami metropolitan area is Floridas most populous urban area. The city of Tallahassee is the state capital, much of the state is at or near sea level and is characterized by sedimentary soil. The climate varies from subtropical in the north to tropical in the south, the American alligator, American crocodile, Florida panther, and manatee can be found in the Everglades National Park. It was a location of the Seminole Wars against the Native Americans. Today, Florida is distinctive for its large Cuban expatriate community and high population growth, the states economy relies mainly on tourism, agriculture, and transportation, which developed in the late 19th century. Florida is also renowned for amusement parks, orange crops, the Kennedy Space Center, 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 golf, tennis, auto racing, by the 16th century, the earliest time for which there is a historical record, major Native American groups included the Apalachee, the Timucua, the Ais, the Tocobaga, the Calusa and the Tequesta. Florida was the first part of the continental United States to be visited and settled by Europeans, the earliest known European explorers came with the Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León. Ponce de León spotted and landed on the peninsula on April 2,1513 and he named the region La Florida. The story that he was searching for the Fountain of Youth is a myth, in May 1539, Conquistador Hernando de Soto skirted the coast of Florida, searching for a deep harbor to land. He described seeing a wall of red mangroves spread mile after mile, some reaching as high as 70 feet. Very soon, many smokes appeared along the whole coast, billowing against the sky, the Spanish introduced Christianity, cattle, horses, sheep, the Spanish language, and more to Florida. Both the Spanish and French established settlements in Florida, with varying degrees of success, in 1559, Don Tristán de Luna y Arellano established a settlement at present-day Pensacola, making it the first attempted settlement in Florida, but it was abandoned by 1561. Spain maintained tenuous control over the region by converting the tribes to Christianity. The area of Spanish Florida diminished with the establishment of English settlements to the north, the English attacked St. Augustine, burning the city and its cathedral to the ground several times. Florida attracted numerous Africans and African-Americans from adjacent British colonies who sought freedom from slavery, in 1738, Governor Manuel de Montiano established Fort Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose near St
Map of Florida, likely based on the expeditions of Hernando de Soto (1539–1543).
St. Augustine is one of oldest cities in Florida, established in 1565. The Spanish-Floridan color scheme of red and white is repeated throughout downtown.