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Florida Geography

by Vishul Malik

Geography of Florida: Florida is the 22nd largest state in the USA and spans over 53,997 square miles of land area. Over 11,761 square miles of water in the state…

Geography of Florida:

Florida is the 22nd largest state in the USA and spans over 53,997 square miles of land area. Over 11,761 square miles of water in the state make it home to a number of aquatic mammals such as alligators and mantees and also the third largest state in terms of water area. Florida’s shares its borders to the north with Georgia and Alabama. The state extends into a panhandle to its northwest and shares a short western border with Alabama. The long coastline of the Gulf of Mexico marks the rest of the state’s western fringe. To the east is the Atlantic Ocean and to the south are the Straits of Florida, making the state a beautiful peninsula.

Physical Features of Florida

The state of Florida is situated on a peninsula between the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean and the Straits of Florida. It spans two time zones and is bordered by the states of Georgia and Alabama on the north, Alabama on the west, and the Atlantic Ocean on the south and east.The Bahamas and Cuba are also near the state. The landscape of Florida comprises three geographical land areas:

The Atlantic Coastal Plain, the East Gulf Coastal Plain and the Florida Uplands.

Landforms of Florida

Most of Florida is low-lying plains. The northwestern regions are higher in elevation than the rest of the state. The eastern coasts of the state are part of the Atlantic Coastal Plains. A stretch of coral reefs and sand islands, off the coastline make the eastern extremes of Florida. Southern Florida is characterized by a large swampy region that includes the Everglades and Big Cypress Swamp. The southern end of the mainland is dotted by numerous islands, the Florida Keys, the largest among which is the Key Largo. The East Gulf Coastal Plains extend into Florida through the Florida panhandle in the northwest to cover almost all of its western coastal regions. The Florida Uplands are the hills that run east-west from the north-western end of the state and dominate most of the state’s borders with Alabama and Georgia.

The state of Florida has five geographical regions. They are PanhandleNorth Florida, Central Florida, South Florida, Keys & Other Islands. The Panhandle region is the least populated and least frequented portion of the state. The highest point in Florida is located here near the town of Lakewood which edges on the Alabama border. The western Panhandle is in the central time zone. The sparsely populated North Florida region has national Wildlife Refuges, State Parks and beautiful natural springs. The Central Florida region extends from coast to coast and divides temperate and subtropical Florida. South Florida has a flat topography and it extends from Lake Okeechobee south to the tip of the peninsula. It is where most of the population lives. The Florida Keys trail away to the southwest ending at Key West. It attracts a large number of tourists in the winter season and its parks and reefs are usually very crowded.

Florida Geographical Features

Area 65,755 square miles
Land Area 53,997 square miles
Water Area 11,761 square miles
Highest point Britton Hill (105 meters)
Lowest point Atlantic Ocean
Highest temperature 109 °F
Lowest temperature -2 °F
Geographic Center Hernando County


Climate of Florida:

Florida has a weather that spoils. Bright sun, colors, mild breeze, and the swaying palm trees. While the weather in Florida rarely reaches extremes, it is not uncommon to experience massive hurricanes and storms. Fall is the most beautiful season and North and Central Florida is bathed in flaming fall colors through October and November. November through April, Florida remains dry. Temperatures average about 70°F in South Florida and 53°F in North Florida. This is the best season for tourists interested in hiking, canoeing, and ornithology. Summers last from May through October. Temperatures average 80°F – 83°F all across the state. Precipitation is high and thunderstorms are common. The hurricane season lasts from June through November. Over the years, Florida has braved many hurricanes and has suffered severe damages as well. Not for nothing has Florida earned the reputation of being the most hurricane prone state in the USA. 37 category 3 hurricanes and 77 hurricanes of a lesser intensity have struck the state between 1851 and 2006. Hurricane Andrew struck Florida in August 1992 causing a colossal damage of over $25 billion. A series of hurricanes including Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, Jeanne, Dennis, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma struck the state in 2004 and 2005 causing massive damages to the economy.

Flora and Fauna: La Florida or ‘The Land of Flowers’ as named by Juan Ponce de Leon, is home to an amazing variety of bio-life. The state has been divided into seven floral zones each bearing beautiful and colorful flowers. While the Flatwoods are home to over sixty varieties of orchid, the swampy Savannas bear water hyacinths, and lotus. The hills of North Florida are known for oak, pine and cypress trees. The ubiquitous palm grows all across the state. Many endangered plants and trees such as the Chapman Rhododendron, and Harper’s Beauty are being preserved.

Among the eighty land mammals that have made Florida home are the raccoon, fox, rabbit, otter, mink, skunk, squirrel, deer, panther, coyote, wild boar, wild hog, bear, and armadillo. Aquatic mammals of Florida include the manatee and alligator. The coasts of peninsular Florida are home to a number of fishes, rays, shrimps, and sharks. Florida’s climatic conditions make it the perfect refuge for migratory birds. Quails, turkeys, and ducks are found on the peninsular regions while the coasts are inhabited by storks, pelicans, and gulls. Over 350 pairs of the bald eagle, many venomous snakes, and more than 300 varieties of butterflies can be found in the state.

Britton Hill, Florida

(345 ft), the highest point of Florida State, lies in this region. The Uplands then run south to form the heart of the peninsular region, also allowing for a distinction between the Atlantic Coastal Plains and the East Gulf Coastal Plains in the state. The Uplands are characterized by red, clayey soil and forested woods. A number of lakes dot the region. Sugarloaf Mountain (312 ft), near Lake Apopka, is the highest point in the peninsular region of Florida. Lake Okeechobee (the 2nd largest freshwater lake in the USA), Lake George, the Tohopekaliga Lake, and Lake Apopka are among the major lakes of central Florida. The state has over 7,700 lakes each spanning over 10 acres. The St. Johns River, the St. Marys River, the Kissimmee River, and the Suwannee River are the major rivers of the state.

Major rivers of Florida

  • St Johns River

  • St. Marys River

  • Kissimmee River

  • Withlacoochee River

  • Ochlockonee River

  • Apalachicola River

  • Caloosahatchee River

  • Chipola River

  • Escambia River

  • Peace River

  • Santa Fe River

  • Suwannee River


Lakes in Florida

The lakes in Florida play crucial roles in irrigation, flood control, drinking water supply, recreation, and navigation. There are both natural and artificial lakes. Lake Okeechobee, Lake Yale, Lake Monroe, Dune Lake are the major natural lakes formed by geological processes like erosion, fluvial development, depressions in ancient sea-bed, etc.

Some natural lakes are physically altered for irrigation, navigation, flood control and drainage facilities. These are called artificial lakes; almost all lakes in the state are artificial. Lake George, Dead Lake, Lake Apopka, Lake Harney, Lake Istokpoga, Lake Kissimmee, and Lake Seminole are the major artificial lakes found in Florida.

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