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The geographical area of Florida diminished with the establishment of English settlements to the north and French claims to the west. Augustine, burning the city and its cathedral to the ground several times.

Spain built the Castillo de San Marcos in 1672 and Fort Matanzas in 1742 to defend Florida's capital city from attacks, and to maintain its strategic position in the defense of the Captaincy General of Cuba and the Spanish West Indies.

It is the only state that borders both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. The American alligator, American crocodile, Florida panther, and manatee can be found in Everglades National Park in the southern part of the state. Since the first European contact was made in 1513 by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León – who named it La Florida ( – Florida was a challenge for the European colonial powers before it gained statehood in the United States in 1845.

Much of the state is at or near sea level and is characterized by sedimentary soil. Along with Hawaii, Florida is one of only two states that has a tropical climate, and is the only continental U. It was a principal location of the Seminole Wars against the Native Americans, and racial segregation after the American Civil War.

Florida is also renowned for amusement parks, orange crops, winter vegetables, the Kennedy Space Center, and as a popular destination for retirees.

Florida culture is a reflection of influences and multiple inheritance; African, European, indigenous, and Latino heritages can be found in the architecture and cuisine.

In 1559, Don Tristán de Luna y Arellano established a settlement at present-day Pensacola, making it the first attempted settlement in Florida, but it was mostly abandoned by 1561. Augustine (San Agustín) was established under the leadership of admiral and governor Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, creating what would become one of the oldest, continuously-occupied European settlements in the continental U. and establishing the first generation of Floridanos and the government of Florida.