Bay county International (4miles of panama city), Daytona Beach International (3 miles of Daytona beach), Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International (4 miles of Fort Lauderdale), Gainesville Regional (4 miles of Gainesville), Jacksonville International (18 miles of Jacksonville), Key West International (corner of Key West), Marathon Airport ( in Marathon), Melbourne Regional (2 miles of Melbourne), Miami International (9 miles of Miami), Orlando International (7 miles of Orlando), Orlando / Sanford International (2 miles of Stanford), Palm Beach International (3 miles of west Palm Beach), Pensacola Regional (3 miles of Pensacola), Southwest Florida International (3 miles of Fort Myers), Sarasota/ Bradenton International (3 miles of Sarasota), St Petersburg-Clearwater International (9 miles of St Petersburg), Tallahassee Regional (7 miles of Tallahassee), Tampa International (8 Miles of Tampa)
Archaeological finds indicate that Florida had been inhabited for thousands of years before any European settlements. Of the many indigenous people, the largest known were the Ais, the Apalachee, the Calusa, the Timucua and the Tocobago tribes. Juan Ponce de León, a Spanish conquistador, named Florida in honor of his "discovery" of the land on April 2, 1513, during Pascua Florida, a Spanish term for the Easter season. From that date forward, the land became known as "La Florida." (Juan Ponce de León may not have been the first European to reach Florida. At least one Indian that he encountered in Florida in 1513 could speak Spanish.. Alternatively, the Spanish-speaking Indian could have been in contact with areas where Spanish settlements already existed, and Ponce de León was indeed the discoverer).
Over the following century, both Spanish and French intruders established settlements in Florida, with varying degrees of success. In 1559, Spanish Pensacola was established by Don Tristán de Luna y Arellano as the first European settlement in the continental United States, but it had become abandoned by 1561 and would not be reinhabited until the 1690s. French Huguenots founded Fort Caroline in modern-day Jacksonville in 1564, but this fort was conquered by forces from the new Spanish colony of St. Augustine the following year. After Huguenot leader Jean Ribault had learned of the new Spanish threat, he launched an expedition to sack the Spanish settlement; en route, however, severe storms at sea waylaid the expedition, which consisted of most of the colony's men, allowing St. Augustine founder Pedro Menéndez de Avilés time to march his men over land and conquer Fort Caroline. Most of the Huguenots were slaughtered, and Menéndez de Avilés marched south and captured the survivors of the wrecked French fleet, ordering all but a few Catholics executed beside a river subsequently called Matanzas (Spanish for 'killings'). St. Augustine came to serve as the capitals of the British and Spanish colonies of East and West Florida, respectively. The Spanish never had a firm hold on Florida, and maintained tenuous control over the region by converting the local tribes, briefly with Jesuits and later with Franciscan friars. The local leaders (caciques) demonstrated their loyalty to the Spanish by converting to Roman Catholicism and welcoming the Franciscan priests into their villages.
The area of Spanish Florida diminished with the establishment of British colonies to the north and French colonies to the west. The English weakened Spanish power in the area by supplying their Creek Indian allies with firearms and urging them to raid the Timucuan and Apalachee client-tribes of the Spanish. The English attacked St. Augustine, burning the city and its cathedral to the ground several times, while the citizens hid behind the walls of the Castillo de San Marcos. The Spanish, meanwhile, encouraged slaves to flee the British-held Carolinas and come to Florida, where they were converted to Roman Catholicism and given freedom. They settled in a buffer community north of St. Augustine, called Gracie Real de Santa Teresa de Mose, the first completely black settlement in what would become the United States. Great Britain gained control of Florida diplomatically in 1763 through the Peace of Paris (the Castillo de San Marcos surrendered for the first time, having never been taken militarily). England tried to develop Florida through the importation of immigrants for labor, including some from Minorca and Greece, but this project ultimately failed. Spain regained Florida after England's defeat by the American colonies and the Treaty of Paris, in 1783. Finally, in 1819, by terms of the Adams-Onís Treaty, Spain ceded Florida to the United States in exchange for the American renounciation of any claims on Texas. On March 3, 1845, Florida became the 27th state of the United States of America. On January 10, 1861, before the formal outbreak of the Civil War, Florida seceded from the Union; ten days later, the state became a founding member of the Confederate States of America. The war ended in 1865. On June 25, 1868, Florida's congressional representation was restored.
Until the mid-twentieth century, Florida was the least populous Southern state; however, the local climate, tempered by the growing availability of air conditioning, made the state a haven, and migration from the Rust Belt and the Northeast sharply increased the population. Today, Florida is the most populous state in the South besides Texas, and the fourth most populous in the United States.