It is easy to turn a blind eye to what lies beyond the Florida coast, where the beaches are varied and abundant enough to satisfy every visitor – whether you want simply to relax beneath azure skies or make the most of the state’s fine sports facilities. However, great rewards await those who put aside their suntan lotion and beach towels to explore.
The lush forests, the rolling hills of the north, the colorful displays of bougainvillea and azaleas in spring shatter the myth that Florida’s landscape is totally dull and flat.
Wherever you are, it is only a short trip from civilization to wild areas, such as the Everglades, which harbor an extraordinary diversity of plant and animal life, and where alligators and snakes are living reminders of the inhospitable place that Florida was not much more than 100 years ago. By world standards the state was a late developer (most of its historic districts date only from the early 1900s), but Florida boasts the nation’s oldest town: St. Augustine, where a rare wealth of well-preserved buildings provide a glimpse of life in the 18th century.
Both climatically and culturally, Florida is a state divided – a bridge between temperate North America and tropical Latin America and the Caribbean. In the north, roads are lined with stately live oak trees and people speak with a southern drawl, while, in the south, shade from the subtropical sun is cast by palm trees, and the inhabitants of Miami are as likely to speak Spanish as English.
Economics And Tourism
Economically, Florida is not in bad shape compared with other US states. For most of its history, the state’s main source of revenue has been agriculture: citrus fruits, vegetables, sugar, and cattle. Citrus grows mainly in central Florida, where fruit trees can stretch as far as the eye can see. High tech industry is significant too, while the proximity of Miami to Latin America and the Caribbean has made it the natural route for US trade with the region. Florida’s warm climate has also generated high-profile moneyspinners: spring baseball training draws teams and lots of fans south, while the fashion trade brings models by the hundreds and plenty of glamour to Miami. It is tourism that fills the state’s coffers.
The Walt Disney World Resort may appear to dominate the tourist industry, but Florida makes the most of all its assets: its superb beaches, its location within easy striking distance of the Bahamas and the Caribbean (the state’s cruise industry is flourishing), and its natural habitats. After decades of unbridled development, Florida has finally learned the importance of safeguarding its natural heritage. Vast areas of land have already disappeared beneath factories, condos, and cabbage fields, but those involved in industry and agriculture are acting more responsibly, and water use is now being strictly monitored.