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Fly Drive culture




The wide variety of national origins and the USA's relatively short history has resulted in a rich blend of cultural and traditional customs. All Americans are renowned for their openness and friendliness to visitors. As a rule, dress is casual; although smart restaurants, hotels and clubs insist on suits and ties or long dresses. Smoking is becoming increasingly unpopular and is often considered offensive; in fact, it's forbidden on city transport and often in public buildings. There will usually be a notice where no smoking is requested, and most restaurants have smoking and non-smoking sections.


Most people are Protestant with significant Roman Catholic, Jewish and ethnic minorities.


Archaeological finds suggest that Florida had been inhabited for thousands of years before any European settlements. Juan Ponce de Leon, a Spanish conquistador, named Florida in honour of his discovery of the land in 1513, during Pascua Florida - a Spanish term for the Easter season.

Over the following century, both the Spanish and French established settlements with varying degrees of success. The area of Spanish Florida diminished with the development of English colonies to the north and French to the west. Great Britain gained control of Florida diplomatically in 1763 through the Peace of Paris, but Spain regained it after Britain's defeat by the American colonies and the subsequent Treaty of Versailles (1783). Finally, in 1819, Spain ceded Florida to the United States in exchange for the American renunciation of any claims on Texas. On March 3, 1845, Florida became the 27th state of the United States of America.

Until the mid-twentieth century Florida was the least populated Southern state. However, the local climate - helped by the growing availability of air conditioning - made the state a desirable location, and migration sharply increased the population. Economic prosperity led to the Florida land boom of the 1920s, which brought a brief period of intense development before the Great Depression brought it all to an end. Florida's economy didn't fully recover until World War II. But today, it's the most populous state in the South besides Texas, and the fourth most populous in the United States.


Before the American Civil War, when slavery was legal, African Americans made up nearly half of the state's population. This proportion declined over the next century, as many moved north in the Great Migration while large numbers of northern whites moved to the state. Recently, the state's percentage of black residents has begun to grow again. Today, large concentrations of black residents can be found in northern Florida (especially in Jacksonville, Gainesville and Pensacola), the Tampa Bay area, and South Florida (where their numbers have been bolstered by significant immigration from Haiti and Jamaica).

Florida's Hispanic population includes large communities of Cuban Americans in Miami and Tampa, Puerto Ricans in Tampa and Orlando, and Central American migrant workers in inland West-Central and South Florida. The Hispanic community continues to grow more affluent and mobile.

Whites of all ethnic groups are present in all areas of the state. Those of British ancestry can be found in large numbers in the coastal cities, there's a large German population in South West Florida, a sizeable Italian community in the Miami area, and white Floridians of longer-present generations in parts of inland and northern Florida. Native white Floridians, especially those who have descended from long-time Florida families, affectionately refer to themselves as "Florida Crackers."

As far as language is concerned, around 75% of Florida residents speak only English at home, while around 15% speak Spanish. Haitian Creole is the third most spoken language at around 2%.

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