This is the state that Mo and Finchy have been searching for throughout The Adventures of Mo eBook. Do they ever find Florida? Do they ever find the owner of the lost key? What does the key unlock? You’ll have to read our story to find out!
Now, back to the great state of Florida. Perhaps the first thing you need to know is that it’s a peninsula. That means the entire state is almost surrounded by water, except on the north side. It borders Alabama to the northwest, and Georgia to the north and northeast. Likewise, off the southernmost tip of Florida, there are small coral and limestone islands called the Florida Keys.
So, where would you like to go swimming? Or how about surfing? You have three choices: the Gulf of Mexico off its west coast; the Atlantic Ocean off its east coast; or the Straits of Florida off its southern coast.
Besides its warm and humid climate, the state is unique for seven other reasons:
- It’s the flattest state in this country.
- No matter where you are in the state, you are never more than an hour or so drive from the beach!
- The southern part of the state is the only place you can find both crocodiles and alligators in the wild. What’s the difference between the two? Click here to find out!
- Florida competes with another state for producing the most oranges. Do you know the name of this other state? The answer is at the bottom of this blog.
- The state has 825 miles of sandy beaches.
- The southern tip of Florida is roughly 90 miles away from another country called Cuba.
- Cape Canaveral is the home of the Kennedy Space Center, the hub of the nation’s human space program. The first US space satellite and manned spacecraft, including the space shuttle, were launched from pads here.
Can you find Florida on a US map? Here’s another hint: it’s in the southeast region of the United States.
What really happened
- People lived in the state more than 12,000 years ago. Over the centuries, Native American tribes including the Timucua, Apalachee, Calusa and Creek lived here.
- In 1513, a Spanish conquistador named Juan Ponce de Leon sailed to the state searching for gold and silver. Instead, he found fertile farmland and lots of coastline that would enable Spain and other European countries to ship goods to and from this New World.
- The state was known as a safe haven for enslaved people in the 16th and 17th centuries. King Charles II of Spain promised freedom for any enslaved people who came to Florida, if they converted to Catholicism.
- Besides Spain, Great Britain and France also tried to create settlements here. But in 1763, Britain and Spain made a land swap. Britain gave Havana, Cuba to Spain in exchange for this state. However, 20 years later, as part of the peace treaty that ended the Revolutionary War, Spain took control of Florida again.
- From the mid-1700s to the mid-1800s. The Seminole Nation, which was made up of different Native American groups, moved south into the Florida area from what is now Georgia and Alabama. They traded with the British and the Spanish.
- In 1818, 1835 and 1855, there were three Seminole Wars against the invasion of the state by British troops. The Seminoles refused to give up their land and move to a reservation west of the Mississippi River. They were first confined to a large reservation in the central part of the state and later evicted and moved to the north.
- In 1821, Spain and the US made a land deal. Spain gave Florida to the US. In exchange, Spain would rule over Texas.
- It was admitted to the Union as the 27th state in 1845.
- The US merged eastern and western parts of the state into one territory. Native Americans were immediately pushed out of the region and slavery became legal in the state in 1845.
- At the start of the Civil War in 1861, Florida withdrew from the US and became one of the founding members of the Confederacy. Many Civil War battles took place here, including the Battle of Natural Bridge, which was described as the last Confederate victory.
- After the Civil War ended in 1865, slavery was outlawed. Black Americans, called Freedmen, were granted equal civil rights to white people.
- In 1868, it was readmitted to the Union along with six other states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
- In 1885, Florida created a new constitution that prevented poor people—white and black–from voting. Other laws, called Jim Crow laws, segregated people according to their race. Millions of Black Americans left Florida and other southern states, searching for a better life.
- When air conditioning became available for homes in the 1930s, more people moved to the Sunshine State. At the time, the state’s economy was growing. The state offered plenty of jobs and a low cost of living, which tempted young workers to Florida.
Stuff you should know
- When the state was a US territory in 1822, it had two capitals, St. Augustine and Pensacola. But in 1824, Tallahassee was chosen as the territorial capital, perhaps because it is situated between the two cities. Then in 1845, it was chosen as the state capital when Florida joined the Union.
- Florida lies in the Coastal Plain province of the Atlantic Plain. It has three main regions:
- East Gulf Coastal Plain: The panhandle, the strip of land that borders Alabama to the west and Georgia to the north, is in this area. The central and eastern parts are farming regions; peanuts and soybeans are grown here.
- Sea Island Section: This area lies in the northeastern corner of the state. It also extends into Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, covering 300 miles of the Atlantic Coast of the southeastern US. In the north, you can also find the Okefenokee Swamp.
- Floridian Section: This occupies the greater part of the state. Most of the state’s coastal lowlands lie in this region, which are often less than 25 feet above sea level. Citrus groves dominate the highland area in the central part of the state along with many lakes and rivers.
- The southern part of the state features the Everglades National Park, which covers 1.5 million acres of swamp marshland filled with wildlife.
- A group or chain of about 1700 tiny islands (called an archipelago) off the state’s southern tip make up the Florida Keys.
- Florida was under the Atlantic Ocean until 23 million years ago. It became flooded when the glaciers melted and raised the sea level. When the glaciers formed again, parts of the state emerged.
Funny, crazy, or just plain weird
- Although Florida has a sunny and warm climate, the temperature in its capital city, Tallahassee, dropped to -2 degrees Fahrenheit back in 1899. Brrr!
- Watch this gigantic alligator walk across a golf course in Naples. It looks like a dinosaur!
Tell me more
- Florida is nicknamed the Sunshine State. It gets at least 230 days of sunshine every year.
- The state houses three of the most-visited theme parks in the country. Maybe you have visited one of them: Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando.
- In 1968, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center opened in Florida. You can watch the Space Shuttles launch from here!
Did you figure out which state sometimes produces more oranges than Florida? It’s California! Here’s why: Florida hurricanes sometimes destroy orange groves or crops.
Do you live in Florida? Have you visited the state? If you’d like to share something you’ve learned about the land or people of Florida, email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll post your comment along with your first name, age, and state you live in on Mo’s social media pages!