Florida map.  Map: Caitlin Dempsey, Natural Earth Data.

Interesting geographic facts about Florida

Florida, known for its year-round warm and sunny climate, is a popular vacation and retirement state.

Florida is a peninsula, meaning it is surrounded by water on three sides: the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Strait of Florida.

Show off your knowledge of Florida’s geography with these fun and surprising facts.

location

Florida is the only state that borders the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.

Florida map. Map: Caitlin Dempsey, Natural Earth Data.

Land and topography

How long is Florida’s coast?

Florida has the longest coastline in the contiguous United States and the second longest coastline after Alaska.

How long is Florida’s coast? Depending on how the shoreline is measured (thanks to a phenomenon called the shoreline paradox), the exact length of the shoreline varies.

According to the Congressional Research Service, Florida’s coastline is 1,350 miles (2,170 km) from one end of the state, around the peninsula to the other. And that doesn’t include the coastline of the state’s many barrier islands.

This coastline consists of 825 miles (1,327 km) of sandy beaches. Beach access is widespread in Florida, with no part of Florida more than 60 miles (96 km) from the beach.

NOAA shoreline measurements Florida also has a contiguous state with the longest coastline of 8,436 miles.

More than two-thirds of Florida’s vast coastline is made up of sandy beaches. Florida’s beaches are important to Florida’s tourism economy and are also home to a variety of wildlife and plants found nowhere else in the United States.

Famous beaches in Florida

Florida is home to some of the most famous beaches in the United States (USA). Miami’s South Beach, nicknamed America’s Riviera, is famous for its nightlife. Panama City Beach is often referred to as the “Spring Break Capital” and is a popular beach for college students. The hard sands of Daytona Beach have made it a title for seaside motorsports racing. Before the construction of the Daytona International Speedway in 1959, Daytona Beach Road had hosted races for more than 50 years.

Landforms of Florida

Florida has the lowest average terrain of any state. Much of the state lies at or near sea level elevation.

The highest point in Florida is Bretton Hill, with an elevation of 345 feet. Bretton Hill is located in Walton County near the Alabama state border.

Sign on Bretton Hill.  Photo: StAugBeachBum, Public Domain via MediaWiki Commons.
Sign on Bretton Hill. picture: StAugBeachBum2007, public domain via MediaWiki Commons.

Climate and weather

Florida has a temperate climate, with most areas experiencing daytime temperatures averaging between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit (F) during the winter months.

It is very rare for the weather to be below freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit).

The most widely reported snow event in Florida occurred on January 19, 1977, when Miami Beach experienced snowfall for the first and only time in recorded history.

Hurricanes in Florida

According to NOAA, 40% of all hurricanes destined for the United States hit Florida. With its long coastline and proximity to warm ocean waters that fuel tropical storms, Florida is a prime target for these natural disasters.

Visualizing Hurricane Floyd, NASA, Public Domain
depicting Hurricane Floyd, NASApublic domain

Florida Islands

With 4,510 islands of 4 hectares or larger, Florida has the second largest number of islands, after Alaska.

Water and Florida

Florida is a peninsula which means it is surrounded by water on three sides.

In addition to the ocean, Florida is home to many lakes. Lake Okeechobee, also known as Lake Okeechobee Florida Inland SeaIt is the largest freshwater lake in the state.

Florida seen from the International Space Station.  NASA, public domain
Florida seen from the International Space Station. Lake Okeechobee is the large lake in the southern part of the state. NASApublic domain

Wildlife Florida

Florida’s coastal beaches and sand dunes are an important ecosystem for hundreds of flora and fauna. According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, there are more than thirty rare animals native to Florida beaches.

Five species of sea turtle nest on the beaches of Florida: the loggerhead turtle, the leatherback turtle, the Kemp’s ridley, the Hawksbill, and the green turtle.

manatee

Florida manatees are an endangered species listed under the US Endangered Species Act. the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge It is the only sanctuary created specifically to protect manatees in Florida.

Crystal River is also the only place in North America where you can swim with manatees.

Coral reefs

Florida is the only state in the United States that has extensive formations of shallow coral reefs located along its coast.

Coral, which is classified as an animal, forms a unique habitat that is home to many species such as spiny lobster. Small plants live inside the coral, forming a symbiotic relationship. These photosynthetic algae, called Zooxanthellae, are what give coral reefs their brilliant colours.

The Florida Keys are made up of exposed ancient coral reefs and a few miles out to sea from the Florida Keys are the Florida Keys, the only living coral reef barrier reef in the United States. Florida Reef is the third largest barrier reef after the great Barrier Reef and the Belize Barrier Reef.

Burmese python – an invasive species in Florida

Florida’s invasive python problem is a complex environmental problem. burmese python, Python BivitatasIt was introduced to the Florida Everglades, most likely through the exotic pet trade, and has since established a breeding population. This species has no natural predators in Florida, which leads to an uncontrolled growth in its numbers.

Burmese python slithers across grass in the Florida Everglades.  Photo: Emma Hanslow, USGS, public domain.
Burmese pythons can be difficult to spot because their pattern hides them in Florida’s ecosystems. Burmese python slithers across grass in the Florida Everglades. Photo: Emma Hanslow, USGS, public domain.

The snake preys on a wide range of native species, including mammals, birds and other reptiles, causing significant disruptions to the local food web. Environmental models revealed a decline in the numbers of native species as a result of snake predation. Managing this invasive species has proven difficult due to the challenge of spotting these well-camouflaged species in Florida ecosystems. Various methods including hunting, traps and biological control are being explored to mitigate this problem.

population

Of the 19.6 million people who live in Florida, approx 15 million of them live in the coastal areas of the state. That’s about 76.5% of the population.

Skin tanning cream

Here’s a curious fact that isn’t directly related to Florida’s geography:

With its miles and miles of beaches, it’s no surprise that the first widely used tanner was developed in Miami Beach. Florida pharmacist Benjamin Green invented the first suntan in 1944. His tan was named Red Vet Pet and the patent was later sold to the Coppertone Company.

This article was originally written on October 3, 2020 and has since been updated.

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