Polk County, Florida

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Polk County is a county located in the U.S. in Florida. As of 2000, the population was 483,924. The U.S. Census Bureau 2006 estimates the county population to be 561,606.[1] The county seat is Bartow.[2] Its largest city is Lakeland. The center of population of Florida is located in the city of Lake Wales.[3]



The first people to call Polk County home arrived close to 12,000 years ago during the last ice age as the first paleo-indians arrived on the peninsula of Florida as they followed big game southward.[4][5] By this time, the peninsula had gone through several expansions and contractions; at times the peninsula was much wider than it is today, while at other times it was almost entirely submerged with only a few small islands above sea level. These first paleo-indians were nomadic hunter/gatherers who did not establish any permanent settlers and they eventually gave way to the "archaic people" who were the ancestors of the Indians who came in contact with the Spaniards when they arrived on the peninsula. These Indians thrived on the peninsula and it is estimated that there were over 250,000 in 1492 when Columbus set sail for the New World. As was common elsewhere, the Indians' contact with Europeans had a devastating effect on the Indians. Small Pox, Measles and other diseases the Indians had no immunity for caused widespread epidemic and death.[5][6] Those who had not succumbed to diseases such as Small Pox or Yellow Fever were either killed or enslaved. Eventually the remnants of these tribes would merge together with Creek Indians who arrived from the north and become the Seminole Indian tribe.[5] Within a few hundred years, nearly the entire pre-columbian population of Polk County had been wiped out. The remnants of these Indians joined with renegade Creek Indians from Georgia and The Carolinas to form the Seminole Indian Tribe.

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