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Tuesday 24th October
Florida USA Facts
It is thought that the first inhabitants of Florida migrated there about ten thousand years ago.

Florida was named after Pascua Florida (the Feast of Flowers or Easter Day), the day on which the Spaniards first discovered it.

St Augustine is the oldest European settlement in the USA. Francis Drake captured and sacked it in 1586.

Florida was owned by the British from 1763, but in 1783 they gave it back to Spain in exchange for Gibraltar and the Bahamas.

When Spain sold Florida to the USA in 1821, the price charged was five million dollars.

In Southern Florida the porous limestone rock has been eaten away in many places producing huge caves and many sinkholes (water filled craters).

Many of Florida's rivers are black (because of the humus washing into them from swamps and woods on their banks).

The famous Everglades swamp is really an enormous river, over fifty miles wide, but only a few inches deep, running from Lake Okeechobee to the sea.

The Biscayne National Park, along the South East coast of Florida, is America's largest marine nature reserve.

At one time Florida exported more sponges than anywhere else in the world.

The Florida Keys consist of thirty-two coral and limestone islands linked by forty-two bridges: one of the bridges is seven miles long.

Palm Beach is said to be named after the trees which grew when a cargo of coconuts washed ashore from a shipwreck in 1870.

Geronimo, the famous chief of the Apaches, was imprisoned in Florida after his defeat.

When Prohibition (introduced in 1919) forbade the sale of alcohol in the USA, secluded landing places in Florida were used by smugglers shipping in illegal drink.

The famous Chicago gangster, Al Capone, retired to Florida and died there.

Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls and A Farewell to Arms in Florida. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

The firm sands of Daytona Beach were used for many years for motor-racing. Sir Malcolm Campbell broke the world land speed record there in Bluebird in 1935, reaching 276.8 miles per hour.

The first US satellite (1958), the first US manned space flight (1961) and the first moon landing flight (1969) were all launched from Florida's Cape Canaveral.

The Bermuda Triangle, a triangular area in the Atlantic, is said to be responsible for mysterious shipwrecks, disappearances and air crashes (the apexes of the triangle are Bermuda, Miami, Florida and San Juan, Puerto Rico).

Hurricane Andrew, which hit Florida in 1992, was one of the fiercest hurricanes recorded on mainland America. Gusts reached 149 miles an hour and the cost of the damage was estimated at about $30 billion.

In 2004 Hurricane Charley, Hurricane Frances and Hurricane Jeanne caused widespread damage.

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