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There is no doubt that Florida is one of the most popular holiday destinations for people all around the world, but it is also one of the top states in the US for people to move to for retirement. Every month, over 845 people pack up their belongings and move to our Southeastern state for a new beginning. Some might say that the most common element that draws people to Florida is the warm and sunny climate practically all year round (not to boast), as well as the luscious Emerald Coast and white, sandy beaches. However, there is so much more to our Sunshine State. For this two-part segment, we’ve compiled a list of interesting and fun facts about Florida that you may or may not have known before.

Our Sunshine State

…has the most Golf Courses

Florida ranks #1 as the state with the most golf courses in America. It is truly a golfer’s dream, offering nearly 1,250 courses that are scattered across the state. Some of the best courses can even be found right here in Destin and Fort Walton. You might be asking yourself why exactly Florida has so many golf courses; well, it’s quite straightforward. The favorable weather conditions, long hours of sunshine (pretty much all year round) and ideal landscapes allow for quality fairways throughout the state. It’s no surprise that avid golfers come in from all over the world to visit this fantastic golfing destination, with many courses offering top practice facilities for novice and advanced golfers alike.

…supplies most of the oranges in the US

You may already know that Florida’s national flower is the orange blossom, which is no coincidence, considering the extensive orange tree growth and production of oranges in the state. Florida supplies a whooping 70% of oranges in the United States, and in most seasons, 90% of America’s orange juice. Spanish explorers first introduced orange trees in Florida in the 1500s. Yet again, the Sunshine State’s climate plays an important role in the production of this citrus fruit. The subtropical and abundant sunshines, teamed with sandy soils and sufficient rainfall allow for cultivation of some of the juiciest oranges in the world.

…has the alligator as our official reptile

In 1987, the Florida legislature designated the American alligator as the official state reptile. For a long time they have unofficially symbolized the extensive untamed wilderness and swamps that can be found throughout the Sunshine State. Alligators inhabit swamps, marshes, freshwater rivers and lakes and can be found in all 67 counties in Florida. Though humans are not regarded as their natural prey (unlike crocodiles), certain disregard for their habitat and irresponsible human behavior have contributed to alligators becoming less afraid of humans. In order to help protect the species and yourself, you should always aim to stay at least 50 feet away from an alligator. When jumping into freshwater rivers, always be on the lookout as alligators may not be noticeable. They usually stay underwater only surfacing their heads slightly, in order to observe their surroundings, making it difficult to spot them.

…has no dinosaur fossils

Florida has a very rich fossil record spanning from the Eocene Epoch (an era which lasted from around 56 – 33.9 million years ago). At that moment in its geological history, Florida was a sea and home to marine invertebrates and the primitive whales, such as Basilosaurus. Science tells us that by the time dinosaurs reached North America, Florida was completely underwater, which is why the state is only one of a few where no dinosaur fossils have been discovered. During the many different eras of prehistory, due to continental drift, Florida has submerged and emerged out of the water, so even though there are no dino fossils, the peninsula was roamed by megafauna in prehistoric times. The Pleistocene Epoch (also known as the Ice Age, which lasted from around 2,580,000 to 11,700 years ago), is the best documented era of fossil records in Florida.

…is the epicenter of Theme Parks

If for no other reason, people visit Florida from all over the world with only one goal in mind: to visit one of the many fantastic theme parks the state has to offer. Disney World, Universal Studios, Busch Gardens, Legoland, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and so on. Florida’s unrivaled collection of famous theme parks has over 60 million people worldwide flocking to Orlando each year, which is where most of these titan amusement parks are to be found. The trailblazer for these entertainment attractions was none other than Walt Disney, when in 1971, he first opened the doors to Magic Kingdom in Lake Buena Vista , Florida. Subsequent theme parks such as Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom and Epcot collectively form part of Walt Disney World. Why was Ornaldo, FL the chosen city for these amusement parks? A few aspects sum this up quite simply: the location was scouted because of the overall ideal geographical location, almost perfect weather all year round and its vast and cheap swamplands. Furthermore, Orlando was in the middle of two major highways and an international airport, guaranteeing very good access to the parks for people coming in from out of town and even from overseas.

Look out for our Interesting and Fun Facts about Florida: Part 2, in which we will tell you about Florida culture, fauna, climate and the water (small clue, it’s the Atlantic Ocean) that surrounds our wonderful peninsula, allowing us to offer these fun and exciting Pontoon Boat and Jet Ski rentals, here on Okaloosa Island in Fort Walton, Florida.

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