Florida joined the Union as the 27th state in 1845 and is nicknamed the Sunshine State for its balmy climate and natural beauty. Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon, who led the first European expedition to Florida in 1513, named the state in honor of Spain’s Easter celebration known as “Pascua Florida,” or Feast of Flowers. European settlers, mainly from Spain, arrived in the 17th and 18th centuries. The Spanish, French and English battled over Florida until it became a U.S. territory in 1819. 

Florida has long been a state of migrants. While European colonists quickly decimated the Indigenous population, Florida became home to a Seminole community of Indigenous and enslaved people who migrated from nearby states in the 18th century. Beginning in the late 19th century, residents of Northern states flocked to Florida to escape harsh winters. Many Cubans also immigrated to Miami throughout the late 19th and 20th centuries, establishing a vibrant Latin American culture.

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