Known as the Sunshine State, Florida occupies a peninsula in the southeast corner of the United States. The Atlantic Ocean lies on the eastern shore, and the Gulf of Mexico on the west. With the flattest topography of all the states, the highest elevation is only 300 feet above sea level. Rainfall is abundant and the land is covered by forest and thick vegetation and dotted with lakes, rivers and swamps. Alligators can be found throughout the state, and crocodiles in the Everglades.
The year-round warm weather and the many miles of beaches make Florida a favorite for vacations and retirement. Three National Parks are located at the southern tip of the state: Everglades National Park, Biscayne National Park and Dry Tortugas National Park.
Florida was admitted to the union on March 3, 1845 as the 27th state. It covers 58,560 square miles. With a population of 15,982,378 people (2000), it is the fourth most populous state.