Happy 172nd birthday, Florida! Nation's 27th state is more than just Mickey Mouse

Posted at 11:04 AM, Mar 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-03 11:48:25-05

On this day in 1845, the Florida Territory became the nation's 27th state.

With a population of about 60,000 people, Florida was granted statehood on March 3, 1845, though it wouldn't become a state for more than a year due to the politics of slavery.

The name Florida, which was "discovered" by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513, means "land of flowers" in Spanish.

Today, the Sunshine State ranks 3rd in population, with 20,612,439 residents as of July 1, 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Fun facts:

Florida's highest point is Britton Hill in Walton County, which towers a full 345 feet above sea level.

Florida straddles two time zones. Most of the state is in the Eastern Standard Time zone, but the panhandle west of the Apalachicola River goes by Central Standard Time.

Florida is the lightning capital of the U.S., as the state, and Central Florida in particular, experiences more lightning strikes than anywhere else in the country.

Florida's largest city is Jacksonville, with 853,382 people, followed by Miami (430,332), Tampa (358,699), Orlando (262,372) and St. Petersburg (253,693).

Tourism makes up one of the largest sectors of Florida's economy with nearly 1.4 million people working in the tourism industry in 2016. Florida has set tourism records for six consecutive years, with 112.8 million tourists in 2016.

Florida's state univeristy system is among the most affordable in the nation. In 2016, Florida charged the second lowest tuition in the nation for four years, $26,000 for in-state students, to $86,000 for out-of-state students. This compares with an average of 34,800 nationally for in-state students.

Related: U.S. News and World Report says Florida is No. 1 state for higher education.

Florida has more than it's fair share of odd news. So much so that Reddit has a forum dedicated to Florida Man stories and the aggregation site honors the state with its very own category, the only one of its kind.

(Sources: Wikipedia, Washington Post).