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Tourism in Florida


Tropical parrots in Florida
Tropical parrots in Florida

Tourism is a vital component of Florida’s economy. With its warm temperatures, numerous beaches, and many attractions, the state draws millions of people each year. Money from tourism is the largest single source of income for Floridians. Tourists spent $54.5 billion when visiting Florida in 2002.

South Florida is among the most popular destinations for tourists, particularly Miami and Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and the West Palm Beach area. Other major resorts include Daytona Beach, Fort Myers, Saint Petersburg, Panama City, Pensacola, and many others. The internationally known theme parks near Orlando, clustered around Walt Disney World, annually attract more than 40 million visitors. Tourism has also indirectly spurred expansion of the state’s construction industry as hotels, motels, and restaurants are built to accommodate tourists.

Transportation


The development and expansion of transportation facilities in Florida have played a major role in the state’s economic expansion. There are 195,577 km (121,526 mi) of highways, including 2,367 km (1,471 mi) of interstate highway, in the state. Principal north-south routes are interstates 95 in the east and 75 in the west. Interstate 10 spans the panhandle region. Other major routes are Florida’s Turnpike, formerly known as the Sunshine State Parkway, which connects Interstate 75 north of Orlando with heavily populated South Florida. The southernmost leg of Interstate 75, sometimes known as “Alligator Alley,” crosses the Everglades and connects Naples with Fort Lauderdale. United States Highway 1 extends south from Jacksonville, parallels Interstate 95 all the way to Miami, and then forms the lifeline of the Florida Keys from Key Largo to Key West by connecting the dozens of islands that form the keys.

Railroads played a central role in the development of Florida beginning in the 1880s. In 2004 the state had 4,571 km (2,840 mi) of railroad track. Some 63 percent of the tonnage of goods hauled by rail and originating in the state are nonmetallic minerals. Amtrak operates three long-distance passenger routes.

Airports


In 2009 Florida had 26 airports, some of which were private airfields. The largest is Miami International, one of the busiest in the nation and a primary point of entry into the United States from the Caribbean and Central and South America. Other major airports in the state include Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International, Palm Beach International, Tampa International, and Orlando International.

Although steamboats gave way to railroads as the major form of transportation in Florida during the 1880s, the state’s canals, lakes, and rivers are still widely used for pleasure boating and shipping. More than 1,900 km (1,200 mi) of the Intracoastal Waterway, a toll-free federal waterway for coastal vessels and pleasure craft, extend around the coast of Florida except in the southwest between Fort Myers and the Florida Keys. Two unusual forms of tourist transportation are used in the Everglades. The flat-bottomed airboat, powered by an airplane engine and propeller, can skim across the shallow waters and swamp grasses. The marsh buggy, a truck with large balloon tires, can go across rough ground and the extensive swamplands of the Everglades. Encarta

Trade


Tampa, on the Gulf coast, is Florida’s chief port by tonnage due to its phosphate exports. Jacksonville is the leader in dollar value as it is a major destination for automobile imports. Miami is the nation’s leading port for cruise ships. Other major ports are Canaveral Harbor and Port Everglades, the deepwater port for Fort Lauderdale. Overseas trade is of major importance. Florida trades mainly with Latin American countries and also exports citrus fruit to Canada and Europe. Leading exports are phosphate rock, fertilizers, foodstuffs, paper products, machinery, motor vehicles, iron and steel scrap, and wood pulp. Chief imports are petroleum products, chemicals, clays, cement and other building materials, limestone, foodstuffs, motor vehicles, steel mill products, and paper products. "Florida" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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