During World War II (1939-1945), more than 2 million servicemen and women trained in Florida military bases, while German submarines sank 24 merchant ships in the state’s coastal waters. During and after the war, manufacturing expanded rapidly in Florida, providing more economic diversity and comparative stability. In 1949 the U.S. Air Force Missile Test Center was established at Cape Canaveral and soon became a center for space exploration. The first U.S. earth satellite, Explorer I, was launched from the base in 1958, and the first manned U.S. space capsule, Freedom 7, was launched there in 1961. In 1969 the John F. Kennedy Space Center, also at Cape Canaveral, was the launch site for Apollo 11, the first spaceflight to land humans on the moon.
After World War II, another boom developed in the real estate and construction industries. Spurring the growth were new developments in air conditioning and mosquito control. Beaches, tourist attractions, hotels, motels, restaurants, and improved roads brought in millions of visitors, and many settled permanently in Florida. Between 1930 and 1980 no other state matched Florida’s 564 percent rate of growth. The eighth most populous state in the nation in 1980, Florida rose to fourth largest in the next decade, when 900 new residents moved into the state each day. The spiraling population increase, particularly in the southern counties, placed great strain on urban infrastructures such as power, water, and sewer lines. By 1988 Florida required each day 1.6 km (1 mi) of new highway, two new K-12 classrooms and teachers, two more police officers, three more state prison beds, and 47 gallons (178 liters) more water.
Immigration to Florida continues to be strong, although not at the same high levels experienced in the 1980s. Much of the immigration has given the state a Latin cast, especially in Miami and Miami-Dade County. Since Fidel Castro’s seizure of Cuba in 1959, more than 800,000 Cubans have come to Florida. In recent years they have been joined by immigrants from El Salvador, Colombia, Venezuela, and other Latin American countries. One striking result is that Miami has become a major center for Latin American banking, trade, and culture. In Miami-Dade County, 53.3 percent of the residents speak a language other than English at home. "Florida" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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