Almost A Quarter Of The Florida State Parks Are Located On Islands
There are 134 State Parks in Florida and twenty six other areas such as historic sites, nature reserves and recreation areas.
All these public lands come under the control of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
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Almost a quarter of all the Florida State Parks are located on islands.
These islands are sometimes called "keys" or "cays" which is a word that comes from the Spanish, cayo meaning a low offshore island.
The Old Railroad Bridge At Bahia Honda State Park
Notable Florida State Parks located on islands include Bahia Honda State Park, where the famous old Rail Bridge still stands, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park on Key Biscayne, Caladesi Island State Park and Little Talbot Island State Park.
Most of Florida is a peninsula which juts out from the south eastern corner of the United States. It has the Atlantic Ocean on its eastern shore and the Gulf of Mexico to its south and west.
Its coastline stretches for 1,350 miles and is the longest of any state apart from Alaska.
Man has lived in Florida for over 14,000 years, with the Paleo-Indians being the first inhabitants. Native American tribes such as the Apalachee, Ais, Calusa, Tequesta, Timucua and Tocobaga were living there when the first European explorers arrived early in the 16th century.
Florida was the first part of America to be seen by Europeans and it was the famous Spaniard, Juan Ponce de Leon who gave the land its name in 1513.
He saw the land around Easter of that year and all the plants and trees were in bloom, so he named it "La Florida" - the flowery land.
The importance of this Spanish explorer is remembered in two of the Florida State Parks, they are De Leon Springs State Park in Volusia County and Ponce de Leon Springs State Park in Holmes County.
Florida, A Place To Relax And Enjoy Your Surroundings
The next hundred years after the arrival of Ponce de Leon saw both the Spanish and the French creating settlements.
However, the influence of Spain weakened as British colonies to the north gained more power. Eventually in 1763 Britain gained control over Florida by diplomatic means but their control was to last only twenty years.
American victory in the Revolutionary War meant that Florida was handed back to Spain following the Treaty of Versailles in 1783.
Some of the Florida State Parks still have Spanish or French influences in their names, for example, Cayo Costa State Park, Don Pedro Island State Park, San Pedro Underwater Archaeological Preserve State Park and Lafayette Blue Spring State Park.
Spain ceded Florida to the United States in 1819.
On the 3rd of March 1845 it became the 27th state to join the Union. However, a large part of the 19th century saw a series of struggles within Florida as the authorities sought to defeat the Seminole Native Americans and settle their lands.
The Florida Everglades, The Final Home Of The Seminole Indians
The First Seminole War of 1817 to 1818 saw a campaign in which American troops were led by General Andrew Jackson who was later to become the 7th President of the United States.
The Second Seminole War turned into a series of seperate fights lasting from 1835 to 1842 as the Indians successfully used guerilla tactics to prevent the forced removal from their land.
The Third War took place between 1855 and 1858 and although many Native Americans were removed from Florida to land west of the Mississippi River some remained in the Everglades where their descendants still live to this day.
Florida State Parks which preserve battlefields as memorials to these wars are Dade Battlefield Historic State Park and Paynes Creek Historic State Park.
Civil War Re-Enactors At Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park
The Civil War period saw Florida become one of the founding members of the Confederate States.
Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park is on the site of the largest Civil War battle to have taken place in the state.
At the beginning of the 20th century the population of Florida stood at just over 500,000 people. Since then a thriving economy and an attractive climate - despite the threat of hurricanes - has seen Florida become the 4th most heavily populated state in America with over 19 million people living within its borders.
The Statue Of "Christ Of The Abyss" Which Was Placed Underwater Off Key Largo At The John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
The Florida State Parks provide important recreational areas for this large population to enjoy.
Indeed some of the Florida State Parks in are National Gold Medal Winners while others are totally unique.
For example the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park was the first underwater park in the United States. A popular destination for snorkelers and scuba divers, it receives over a million visitors a year.
Jojhn Pennekamp State Park is located on Key Largo, one of the most famous of the Florida Keys. Here is a wonderful site where you can find out more about the experience of visiting the Florida Keys and its beautiful parks and beaches.Here is the list of Florida State Parks