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Florida can be described as a state in the Southeastern part of the United States. Florida is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the northwest by Alabama, to the north by Georgia, to the east by the Bahamas and Atlantic Ocean, and to the south by the Straits of Florida and Cuba; it is the only state that borders both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Florida is the 22nd largest state in terms of area, covering 65,758 sq. miles (170,310 km). It also has the third-most populous state, with a population exceeding 21 million. The state capital is Tallahassee and the most populous city is Jacksonville. With a population of nearly 6.2 million, Miami is the most populous metropolitan area in Florida. It is also the ninth-most populous area in the United States. Other urban conurbations that have more than one million people include Tampa Bay, Orlando and Jacksonville.
Various Native American groups have inhabited Florida for at least 14,000 years. Juan Ponce de Leon, a Spanish explorer, was the first European to land in Florida. He called the region La Florida (“la flo’rida”) for its lush greenery, and the Easter season ( Pascua Florida). Florida subsequently became the first area in the continental U.S. to be permanently settled by Europeans, with the Spanish colony of St. Augustine, founded in 1565, being the oldest continuously inhabited city. Florida was repeatedly contested by Spain and Great Britain, before being ceded to the U.S. in 1819; it was admitted as the 27th state on March 3, 1845. Florida was the main location of the Seminole Wars (1816-1858), which were the longest and longest of all the Indian Wars in American history. On January 10, 1861, Florida seceded the Union and became one of the seven original Confederate States. After the Civil War, Florida was restored to the Union on June 25, 1868.