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What do California and Florida have in common? Yes they both have beaches but the more common connection is it’s becoming just as difficult to find a native Floridian as it is to find a native Californian particularly along our coastlines. Many people who call Florida home came from someplace else. Unless you moved here when you were very young and took a Florida history class in grade school, there are probably a ton of things about this state that you don’t know.

 

In an effort to edify, inform and amuse we thought we’d put together a few fascination Florida facts few Floridians fathom…whew.

 

Here we go.

 

Odds and Ends

 

  • Did you know that Florida has belonged to five different countries? Spain, France, England, the Confederate States of America and of course the U.S. all claimed our state at one time or another.

 

  • With that many countries claiming property rights you’d think they would at least build a town or two. With the exception of Saint Augustine which was first settled in 1565 and Pensacola (chartered in 1822) there were no towns of any substance built until just before the Civil War. Florida was considered woo inhospitable and barren to occupy.

 

  • Did you know that at 18.8 million people Florida has the 4th largest state population in the country? No wonder the politicians are burning up their travel award points visiting our fair state.

 

  • And while they’re here they may want to play a round of golf at one of more than 1300 courses located in the state. The most courses of any state in the Union. Eat your heart out Myrtle Beach.

 

  • And you can’t talk Florida history without mentioning spring training. Many historians claim that the first version of the baseball tradition took place when the Washington Capitals for the National League pioneered the practice in 1888, holding a four-day camp in Jacksonville.

 

 

Where We Live

 

  • Did you know that Jacksonville is actually the largest city in Florida with a population of 736,000? But Jacksonville is dwarfed by the Metro Areas of Tampa/St. Petersburg/Clearwater (2,396,000), Miami (2,253,000), Orlando (1,645,000), Ft. Lauderdale (1,623,000), and West Palm Beach/Boca Raton (1,131,000).

 

  • Regardless of where you live in Florida you are no further than 50 miles from a post-secondary educational institution.

 

  • If you’d rather work on your tan than pursue a higher learning you’ll have to drive no further than 80 miles to get to either the Atlantic of the Gulf and a piece of our 1,200 miles of sand beaches. For most of us it’s a much shorter drive.

 

  • If you live near Lakewood Park in the panhandle then you live in Florida’s “high country.” The highest point in the state is Britton Hill which towers a slightly less than majestic 345 feet. But then you probably already knew Florida was flat.

 

 

Really Odd Stuff That We’re Not Sure Is Absolutely True

 

  • Scotland has Nessie, Nepal has its Yeti and the Abominable Snowman/Sasquatch/Big Foot has been sited across the country. Not to be outdone we have our own monsters that are uniquely Floridian.

 

  • In 1896 two boys were cycling on Anastasia Island off St. Augustine when they discovered a huge carcass that had been washed ashore. The boys believed the globster (yes that’s a real word meaning an unidentified organic mass that washes up on the shoreline) was the remains of a whale. They reported the sighting to Dr. DeWitt who examined the carcass and found what he believed to be 8 stumpy arms. Being the scientist that he was he located an axe and whacked off one of the arms and sent it to the Smithsonian for identification. Fifty years later University of Florida’s octopus specialist Joseph Gennard Jr. examined it and concluded it was the remains of a giant octopus having a 200-foot arm span when alive! Was it one of a kind or one of a pack that prowls the Atlantic today?

 

  • We have our own Loch Ness Monster only her name is Pinky and she resides in the St. Johns River. Skeptics think she’s a misidentified manatee but what fun is that. You can see her on YouTube.

 

  • And lastly there is the Skunk Ape. Okay that name isn’t as exotic as Yeti or Sasquatch but we call ‘em like we see ‘em and this hairy biped has been spotted all over the state most notably when it terrified the citizens of Holopaw neat Yeehaw Junction (we are not making up those names) back in the ‘60s. The Skunk Apes also have “shocking video evidence” of their existence posted on YouTube for your edification.

 

So there you have it. A nice collection of Florida facts that you can use to amaze your friends at your next get together. We suggest you start with the Skunk Ape anecdote as that almost always gets people talking…or pointing their finger at you and laughing.

 

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