Viva Florida 500
Reprinted from the Florida Dept of State - About Viva Florida 500
In 2013, Florida will reach a significant milestone, the 500th anniversary of Juan Ponce de León's arrival on Florida's east coast. What makes this anniversary so unique is that Ponce de León's convoy of explorers was the first group of Europeans to document such a landing and give a name to Florida—La Florida. They were also the first recorded Europeans to explore any part of what's now the continental United States of America.
Florida's documented material history dates back more than 12,000 years to American Indians, who were the original pioneers. But Spain's claim in 1513 began a new era in human history that saw many nationalities come together as the foundation that eventually formed the United States of America. The legacy of Spanish Florida started with Ponce de León and was further established by Pedro Menéndez when he founded St. Augustine, the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in North America, in 1565.
Spanish explorers weren't alone in Florida's transformation. In addition to the American Indians who were already in Florida, Spanish settlers were preceded by the French who established the military base, Fort Caroline, in 1564. The Spanish were then temporarily displaced under English rule in the late eighteenth century. Under each flag, Florida was cultivated by settlers of multiple nationalities and new communities were built. Today, a countless number of different cultures thrive together in Florida. Viva Florida 500 is about all of them and their impact on the history of Florida.
The Florida Department of State and its many partners are planning enriching events and experiences across the state. Join us in celebrating the Florida we live in today!
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