Florida - The Sunshine State
Florida is the southernmost state on the US mainland. It is a peninsula that borders on Georgia and Alabama in the north, the Atlantic Ocean in the east and the Gulf of Mexico in the west. The state has a land area of about 140,000 square kilometres and more than 10,000 square kilometres of water surface.
Florida got its name from the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon. In the 16th century he went searching for the legendary Fountain of Youth—a spring with water that would let people live forever. He travelled off course and landed in Florida. Because of the many flowers he saw there he named the place “La Florida” which means flowery land.
Florida lies in the coastal plains— a flat country that stretches along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. In the middle of Florida you can find flat plains, rolling hills and thousands of lakes.
Water is everywhere in Florida. Fresh water bubbles to the surface as springs. Florida has more freshwater springs than any other state in the USA.
The Everglades lie in the southern part of the state. The area is made up of wetlands and marshes. Thousands of exotic animal and plant species live here.
Climate of Florida
Florida has a warm, sunny climate. Summer temperatures get as high as an average 28° C. Winters are mild and the temperature hardly drops below 20°C. Rainfall occurs mostly between May and October. Florida also lies in the heart of hurricane country. Many tropical storms hit the state each year. They developover the Caribbean Sea and bring strong winds and rainfall to the American coast. Some of them, like Hurricane Andrew in 1992, hit the coast with immense power and destroy houses and bridges. They cause billions of dollars in damage and leave many people homeless.
Even though the Spanish were the first Europeans to explore the state they gave up control to the British in the 19th century.
The early colonists fought against the Seminole Indians, who also lived in Florida. After seven years of war the Indians were forced to leave the state and in 1845 Florida became the 27th state of the USA.
During the 20th century the population of Florida grew very strongly. Today, 16 million people live in the 4th most populous state. Many people buy homes and land in Florida and hundreds of thousands of retired people have gone to Florida to live there. It is also a popular tourist destination that attracts 50 million people from all over the world every year.
Many people who want to get away from political and economical problems in Cuba and Haiti have also come to Florida over the past decades.
Cities of Florida
Florida’s capital is Tallahassee, a small town of about 250,000 in the northern part of the country. Jacksonville is the largest city. It is an important seaport and the centre of economy in northern Florida. Miami is the second largest city and famous for its sandy beaches. Tourists come here the whole year round. Orlando, in the middle of Florida, offers tourists the biggest amusement centres and theme parks in the United States. Other important cities are Tampa and St. Petersburg.
Florida State Capital in Talahassee
Economy of Florida
Because of the warm climate, farmers can grow crops the whole year round. Florida is the leading citrus fruit producer in the United States. Oranges, grapefruits as well as grapes and peaches grow well in the state.
Between November and July farmers send thousands of truckloads of fresh fruit and vegetables to other parts of the US.
Florida has many businesses. Large companies manufacture computers and electronic goods. Thousands of people work at Kennedy Space Centre , the heart of America’s space industry. The biggest deposits of phosphate rock are found in Florida . It is mined to make fertilizers.
Millions of tourists bring a lot of money to the state. A large part of the population work at restaurants, hotels and at many of the state’s tourist’s attractions.
Future of the Sunshine State
The strong growth of the state has caused many problems. Three million new residents come to Florida every year, but not all of them find work. They all come with the same dream—to share the beauty and live in the Sunshine State.
Downloadable PDF Text- and Worksheets
- amusement centre = a large park with many machines that you can ride and have fun with
- attract =invite, to be a centre of attention
- attraction = places to see
- average =normal, regular
- beauty =if something is very nice and attractive to look at
- bubble =a small ball of air or gas in water or another liquid
- business = company
- capsule = part of a spaceship that carries astronauts to space and back to earth
- cause =lead to
- century = a hundred years
- citrus fruit = fruit with thick skin like an orange or a lemon
- coastal plains = flat land near the sea
- coral reef = hard rocks made by coral—you can find it in warm water
- crop = plant like wheat or rice that farmers grow. It is used as food.
- damage =if something is harmed or destroyed
- decade = ten years
- deposit =a layer of mineral or metal that is in rocks
- destination = the place that someone is going to
- destroy =damage, ruin
- develop = to grow and become bigger and bigger
- dophin =very intelligent sea animal like a fish
- drop = go down
- economical = here: financial
- economy =the system of producing goods and selling them in a country
- even though =while
- exhibit = something that is in a place where everybody can see it
- explorer = someone who travels to an unknown place and tries to find out something about it
- fertilizer = something that you put on the ground so that plants can grow better
- force =to make someone do something
- fort = a strong building used to defend important places
- freshwater = water that has no salt in it
- goods = things that are produced so that you can sell them
- grape = small green or purple fruits that are used for making wine
- growth =expansion, increase
- hardly = not very often
- immense = great
- launch = to send a rocket or spaceship into the sky
- leading = number one
- legendary = very famous
- limestone =rock that has calcium in it
- mainland = the main part of a country, not the islands
- mangrove = a tropical tree that has its roots in the water
- manned =here: with people
- manufacture = produce
- marine = everything that is about the sea
- marsh = same as “wetland”
- mine = to dig a large whole so that you can get minerals from the earth
- occur = to happen
- off course = to travel away from the planned course
- offer = give
- peach =a round fruit that has a hairy yellow or red skin and a hard seed in the centre
- peninsula = land with water on three sides
- phosphate rock =phosphorus or salt that is in rock
- pine =a tall tree with long sharp leaves that do not fall off in winter
- plains = flat land
- population = the people who live in a country
- populous =full of people
- protect =guard, defend
- range = from .. to …
- reach =extend into
- resident = someone who lives in a place
- resort = place where a lot of people go for holidays
- retired = if an old person stops working
- rocket = a machine that can take things to space
- rolling hills = hills that are not very steep
- saw grass = a long grass that has sharp leaves
- seal = a large sea animal that eats fish and lives near the coast
- seaport = a large town near the coast with a big harbour
- settlement = a new town in a place where not many people have lived before
- share = to have together with someone else
- southernmost = furthest south
- space =the area outside the Earth where the stars and the planets are
- species = a group of animals or plants that are alike
- spring = a place where water comes out of the ground
- stretch = to go from one place to another
- surface =the top layer of an object
- theme park = a fun park that is based on one subject
- truckload = it fills a whole truck
- wetland = land that is covered with water most of the time
- wilderness = a place that no one lives in or works on