There are 67 counties in the U.S. state of Florida. It was a territory of the U.S. in 1821 and started with two counties: Escambia to the west and St. Johns to the east, divided by the Apalachicola River. All of the other counties were apportioned from these two original counties. Florida became the 27th U.S. state in 1845, and its last county was created in 1925 with the formation of Gilchrist County from a segment of Alachua County. Florida's counties were originally subdivisions of the state government. In 1968, counties gained the power to develop their own charters.
Most of Florida's counties are named for local or national political leaders. Some are named for Spanish explorers or conquistadors, marking the influence of 200 years of Spanish rule. Natural features of the region, including rivers, lakes, and flora, are also commonly used for county names. Florida has counties named for participants on both sides of Second Seminole War: Miami-Dade County is partially named for Francis L. Dade, a Major in the U.S. Army at the time; Osceola County is named for a Native American resistance leader during the war.
Population figures are based on the 2008 United States Census estimates. According to that estimate, the population of Florida is 18,423,878, an increase of 14.8% from 2000. The average population of Florida's counties is 274,983; Miami-Dade County is the most populous (2,398,245) and Liberty County is the least (7,957). The average land area is 805 sq mi (2,085 km2). The largest county is Palm Beach County (2,034 sq mi, 5,268 km2) and the smallest is Union County (240 sq mi, 622 km2). The total area of the state is 65,795 sq miles; of this, the land area of the state constitutes 53,927 sq miles while the water area constitutes 11,868 sq miles.
The Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) is used by the U.S. government to uniquely identify counties, and is provided for each entry. These codes link to the United States Census Bureau's "quick facts" for each county. Florida's FIPS code of 12 is used to distinguish from counties in other states. For example, Alachua County's unique nationwide identifier is 12001.
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