Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Florida, a peninsula and one of the United States of North America, having Alabama and Georgia on the N., the Gulf of Mexico on the W., the Atlantic on the E., and the Gulf of Florida on the S. It is 380 miles long, with an average breadth of 80 miles, and contains 59,268 square miles. The surface is for the most part level, and in the S. consists of marsh and swamp, the coast being flat and fringed with islands of sand separated from the mainland by a succession of shallow lagoons. There are many lakes, some of them very deep, the larger of which average from 8 to 15 miles long. One of them disappeared in 1892, through openings at the bottom. The most important rivers are Appalachicola and the Suwanee, flowing into the Gulf of Mexico, and the St. John's and the Ockloconee flowing into the Atlantic, but the navigation is much impeded by sand bars at the mouths. There are many islands, the most notable being the group called the Florida Keys, lying about 100 miles S.W. There are some large bays and good harbours, mostly on the E. coast, the most important of them being Chatham Bay and Charlotte Harbour. The land along the rivercourses is very fertile, and grows tropical plants and fruits in profusion. Cotton, olives, pumpkins, and melons flourish, and sugar, maize, tobacco, and potatoes are largely cultivated. One great speciality of late years is the cultivation of the orange, the groves of which have now become a great feature of the country and occupy the attention of many colonists. Cattle-rearing also is largely carried on. Coal and iron are almost the only minerals, though precious stones are said to have been sparingly found. Besides magnificent pine-forests, Florida has abundance of cedars, cypress, and live-oak, the last of which is exported in considerable quantities for the United States naval building-yards. Among the wild animals are the wolf, wild-cat, panther, raccoon, opossum, rabbit, squirrel, and, in the swamps, the brown bear. Birds of many kinds abound, as do fish and tortoises, and there are snakes and alligators. The state is now well served by railways, and sugar, cotton, and oranges are exported. Among the industries are tanning, a little ship-building, lumbering, and wood-sawing; and there are manufactures of hats, leather, bricks, and waggons. The capital is Tallahassee, and there is a naval station at Pensacola. The country was discovered by Sebastian Cabot in 1497, and was visited by both Ponce de Leon and Hernando de Soto. In the 16th century some French Huguenots founded a colony, which did not prosper. In 1763 it was ceded to England in exchange for Cuba, and in 1781 the Spaniards reconquered it. It was ceded to the United States of America in 1819, and in 1845 was constituted a State.