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October 2005



A long, low peninsula, with an equally long North panhandle, the state of Florida is bounded on the East by the Atlantic Ocean, on the West by the Gulf of Mexico and Alabama, and on the North by Georgia and Alabama (where the Saint Marys River in the Northeast and the Perdido River in the Northwest form part of the boundary). Florida is separated from Cuba to the South by the Straits of Florida.

Much of the East coast is shielded from the Atlantic by narrow barrier islands that protect shallow lagoons, rivers, and bays. Immediately inland, pine and palmetto flatlands stretch from the Georgia border almost to the South tip of the state, but rapid coastal urbanization has pushed all vegetation inland. The North tier of Florida is a gently rolling area known as the Panhandle, cut into by deep swamps along the coast. Central Florida abounds in lakes, with Lake Okeechobee being the largest. The Everglades, which includes Big Cypress Swamp, is a unique wilderness region of subtropical plant growth and animal life and extends over the center of the South part of the peninsula South and Southwest of Lake Okeechobee.

Florida's lower Gulf coast is dotted with tiny islands, and the Florida Keys, arching Southwest from the Southeast tip of the Florida peninsula, are linked to each other and the mainland by a series of bridges. Warmed by the surrounding subtropical and tropical waters and cooled by the trade winds, Florida is famous for its hot climate, abundant sunshine, and scenery.

Columbia Gazetteer, 2005