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Florida was colonized by the Spanish, French, and British until the Revolutionary War. Spain ceded Florida to the U.S. and the Florida Territory was established in 1824, with its capital at Tallahassee. In 1845 Florida was admitted as the 27th state of the Union. With 58,560 square miles, it ranks 22nd in size.

As Florida's population increased, so did pressure on the federal government to remove the Indian people from their lands. Racial divisions exacerbated the growing tensions. Many runaway slaves from states to the north sought refuge in the Indian communities. The Indians, under Osceola, chief of the Seminoles, resisted the government's effort to move them to Oklahoma. Osceola proved to be a formidable enemy. The Second Seminole War (1835-42) resulted in a Pyrrhic victory for the government, in lives, money, suffering and embittered feelings. Today, the Indian people occupy several reservations in Florida.

By the end of World War I, land developers had discovered Florida real estate. Land in Florida was sold and resold, over and over.

In 1926, Florida entered a pre-Depression depression. When the Great Depression hit the rest of the country in 1929, Floridians were already inured to economic hardship.

World War II spurred economic development. Florida became a major training center for the United States and its allies. Highway and airport construction accelerated and, by war's end, Florida had an up-to-date transportation network ready for residents and visitors who seemed to arrive in an endless stream.

Florida is now the fourth most populous state in the nation. The Miami-Fort Lauderdale megaplex is a major population center. A strong infrastructure attracts major U.S. corporations. Historic space launches from the Kennedy Space Center have brought Florida much media attention. Florida attractions, such as the large theme parks in the Orlando area, bring millions of visitors to the state from across the U.S. and around the world.