Miami is a major city located in the southeast corner of the U.S. state of Florida. Miami and the surrounding metropolitan area sits between the Miami River, Biscayne Bay, the Everglades and the Atlantic Ocean. It is the second largest city in Florida and the county seat (and largest city) of Miami-Dade County. It is also the largest city in the South Florida metropolitan area, which is comprised of Miami-Dade County, Broward County, and Palm Beach County making up the largest metropolitan area in the Southeastern United States.
Miami was officially incorporated as a city on July 28, 1896 with a population of just over 300. Today, the city of Miami has a population of 362,470 according to the 2000 census, while the larger metropolitan area has a population over 5 million. As of 2004, the population recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau is 379,724 1.
Miami-Dade County is comprised of thirty-four other incorporated municipalities, including Miami Beach, Aventura, Bal Harbour, Bay Harbor Island, Biscayne Park, Coral Gables, Cutler Ridge, Doral, El Portal,Florida City, Golden Beach, Hialeah, Hialeah Gardens, Homestead, Indian Creek, Islandia, Key Biscayne, Medley, Miami Gardens, Miami Lakes, Miami Shores, Miami Springs, North Bay Village, North Miami, North Miami Beach, Opa-Locka, Palmetto Bay, Pinecrest, South Miami, Sunny Isles, Surfside, Sweetwater, Virginia Gardens, and West Miami.
Some of the larger unincorporated areas include Fairlawn, Flagami, Kendall, and Westchester; the largest of which is Kendall.
Miami's explosive population growth in recent years been driven by internal migration from other parts of the country as well as by immigration. Greater Miami is regarded as a cultural melting pot, heavily influenced both by its very large population of ethnic Latin Americans and Caribbean islanders (many of them Spanish- or Haitian Creole-speaking).
The region's importance as an international financial and cultural center has elevated Miami to the status of world city; because of its cultural and linguistic ties to North, South, Central America, and the Caribbean it is sometimes called "the capital of the Americas."
Two vessels of the U.S. Navy have been named USS Miami in honor of the city.
No one really knows the origin of the name "Miami". One possibility is that it comes from a Native American word for "sweet water". The area was a concentration of water because the Miami River is essentially a funnel for water from the Everglades to the Atlantic Ocean. Another theory is that the name comes from Lake Mayaimi (now called Lake Okeechobee) which means "big water." There is no evidence that there was any connection between the Miami indian tribes and the southeastern United States, let alone in south Florida.
Native Americans are known to have settled in the Miami region for about 10,000 years. Its most noteworthy early inhabitants were the Tequesta people, who controlled an empire covering most of South Florida.
Although Ponce de Leon attempted to settle the area in the early 1500s, his men could not defend the territory against the natives, so they kept to the more sparsely populated north. For most of the colonial period, the Miami area was only briefly visited by traveling Europeans when it was visited at all.
Although often incorrectly taught in textbooks that Florida was named after its abundance of flowers, the name actually came from the holiday near the date of its discovery. Ponce de Leon discovered Florida on Easter Sunday, March 27, 1513, which is called by Spaniards Pascua Florida, "Holy Day of Flowers."
Pedro Menendez de Aviles and his men visited the Tequesta settlement in 1566. Spanish settlers built a mission at the mouth of the Miami River by 1567. They built a fort in 1743. Many Spanish colonists, along with residents of other lands, established homes and farms along the Miami River and Biscayne Bay.
People came from the Bahamas to South Florida and the Keys to hunt for treasure from the ships that crashed onto the treacherous Great Florida reef. Some accepted Spanish land offers along the Miami River. At about the same time, the Seminole Indians arrived, along with a group of runaway slaves.
In the 1830s, Richard Fitzpatrick bought land on the Miami River from the Bahamians. He operated a successful plantation where he cultivated sugar cane, bananas, corn, and tropical fruit. Fort Dallas was located on Fitzpatrick’s Plantation on the north bank of the river.
The area became a war zone during the Second Seminole War. Most non-Indian residents were soldiers stationed at Fort Dallas. It was the most devastating Indian war in American history. It caused almost a total loss of population in the Miami area.
After the Second Seminole War ended in 1842, Fitzpatrick’s nephew, William English, reestablished the plantation in Miami. He charted the “Village of Miami” on the south bank of the Miami River and sold several plots of land.
The Third Seminole War (1855-1858) was not as destructive as the second one. Even so, it slowed down the settlement of southeast Florida. At the end of the war, a few of the soldiers stayed. Some of the Seminole remained in the Everglades. However as late as the 1890s, only a handful of families made their homes in Miami.
In 1891, a wealthy Cleveland woman named Julia Tuttle purchased an enormous citrus plantation in the area. She initially pressured railroad magnate Henry Flagler to expand his rail line, the Florida East Coast Railroad southward to the area, but he initially declined the offer.
In 1894, however, Florida was struck by a terrible winter that destroyed virtually all of the citrus crop in the northern half of the state. Fortunately, unlike the rest of the state, Miami was unaffected, and Tuttle's citrus became the only citrus on the market that year. She wrote to Flagler again, persuading him to visit the area and see it for himself: he did so, and concluded at the end of his first day that the area was ripe for expansion.
Initially, most residents wanted to name the city "Flagler". Henry Flagler was adamant that new city would not be named after himself. So on July 28, 1896, the City of Miami was incorporated with 344 citizens (243 of which were identified as white and 181 as black).
Miami's growth up to World War II was astronomical:
During the early 1920s, the authorities in Miami allowed gambling and were very lax in regulating Prohibition, and so thousands of people migrated from the northern United States to the Miami region, creating a construction boom and building a skyline of high-rise buildings where none had existed before. Some early developments were razed ten years after their initial construction to make way for even larger buildings.
This speculation boom started to waver because of building construction delays caused by bulk of building materials overloading the transport system into the area. Sometimes a ship bringing these supplies in ran aground, blocking the port. These delays gave investors a chance to think again. Finally this transport choke-up got so bad that Miami's mayor declared an embargo on all incoming goods except food. This economic bubble was already collapsing when the catastrophic Great Miami Hurricane in 1926 ended this what was left of this boom. The Great Depression followed.
In the mid-1930s, the Art Deco district of Miami Beach was developed.
During World War II, the U.S. government constructed many training, supply, and communications facilities around Miami, taking advantage of its strategic location at the southeastern corner of the country. Many servicemen and women returned to Miami after the war, pushing the population up to half a million by 1950.
Following the 1959 revolution that unseated Fulgencio Batista and brought Fidel Castro to power, Cuban exiles began traveling to Florida en masse. In 1965 alone, 100,000 Cubans packed into the twice-daily "freedom flights" between Havana and Miami. Many of the exiles who escaped were middle class to upper class people who had all of their possessions taken from them, and they arrived in the U.S. with very little. The city, for the most part, welcomed the Cuban exiles. Most of the exiles settled into the Riverside neighborhood, which began to take on the new name of "Little Havana." This area emerged as a predominantly Spanish-speaking community, and Spanish speakers elsewhere in the city could conduct most of their daily business in their native tongue.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the Attorney General’s authority was used to grant special permission (called “parole”) to allow Cubans to enter the country. However, parole only allows an individual permission to enter the country, not to stay permanently. In the case of Cubans, this dilemma was resolved by the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966. The Act provides that the immigration status of any Cuban who arrived since 1959 and has been physically present in the United States for at least a year “may be adjusted by the Attorney General…to that of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence” (green card holder). The individual must be admissible to the United States (i.e., not disqualified on criminal or other grounds).
Later, the Mariel Boatlift of 1980 brought 150,000 Cubans to Miami in a single flotilla, the largest in civilian history. Unlike the previous exodus of the 1960's, most of the Cuban refugees arriving were poor. Castro used the boatlift as a way of purging his country of many criminals and the mentally ill. During this time, many of the middle class non-Hispanic whites in the community emmigrated out of the city, often referred to as "white flight." In 1960, Miami was 90% white; by 1990 it was only about 10% white.
In the 1980s, Miami started to see an increase in immigrants from other nations such as Haiti. As the Haitian population grew, the area known today as Little Haiti emerged, centered around Northeast Second Avenue and 54th Street. In the 1990s, the presence of Haitians was acknowledged with Haitian Creole language signs in public places and ballots during voting.
Another major Cuban exodus occurred in 1994. To prevent it from becoming another Mariel Boatlift, the Clinton Administration announced a significant change in U.S. policy. In a controversial action, the administration announced that Cubans interdicted at sea would not be brought to the United States but instead would be taken by the Coast Guard to U.S. military installations at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (or to Panama). During an eight-month period beginning in the summer of 1994, over 30,000 Cubans and more than 20,000 Haitians were interdicted and sent to live in camps outside the United States.
On September 9, 1994, the United States and Cuba agreed to “normalize” migration between the two countries. The agreement codified the new U.S. policy of placing Cuban refugees in safe havens outside the United States, while obtaining a commitment from Cuba to discourage Cubans from sailing to America. In addition, the United States committed to admitting a minimum of 20,000 Cuban immigrants per year. That number is in addition to the admission of immediate relatives of U.S. citizens.
On May 2, 1995, a second agreement with the Castro government paved the way for the admission to the United States of the Cubans housed at Guantanamo, who were counted primarily against the first year of the 20,000 annual admissions committed to by the Clinton Administration. It also established a new policy of directly repatriating Cubans interdicted at sea to Cuba. In the agreement, the Cuban government pledged not to retaliate against those who are repatriated.
These agreements with the Cuban government led to what has been called the Wet Foot-Dry Foot Policy, whereby Cubans who make it to shore can stay in the United States – likely becoming eligible to adjust to permanent residence under the Cuban Adjustment Act. However, those who do not make it to dry land ultimately are repatriated unless they can demonstrate a well-founded fear of persecution if returned to Cuba. However, because it was stated that Cubans were escaping for political reasons, this policy did not apply to Haitians, who the government claimed were seeking asylum for economic reasons.
Since then, the Latin and Caribbean-friendly atmosphere in Miami has made it a popular destination for tourists and immigrants from all over the world, and the third-biggest immigration port in the country after New York City and Los Angeles. In addition, large immigrant communities have settled in Miami from around the globe, including Europe, Africa, and Asia. The majority of Miami's European immigrant communities are recent immigrants, many living in the city seasonally, with a high disposable income. For example, Miami's Italian-born community numbers only around 45,000, but it is the wealthiest Italian American community in the United States.
Today there are sizable legal and illegal populations of Argentinians, Bahamians, Barbadians, Brazilians, Colombians, Cubans, Dominicans, Dutch, Ecuadorians, French, Haitians, Jamaicans, Israelis, Italians, Mexicans, Nicaraguans, Peruvians, , Russians, Salvadorians, South Africans, Turks, and Venezuelans throughout the metropolitan area. While commonly thought of as mainly a city of Hispanic and Caribbean immigrants, the Miami area is home to the largest Finnish, French, and South African immigrant communities in the United States; as well as one of the largest Israeli, Russian, and Turkish communities.
In the 1980s, Miami became the United States' largest transshipment point for cocaine from Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru. Again, geography played a major role: Miami was the closest U.S. port to the point of origin, so it was the most logical destination for smugglers.
The drug industry brought billions of dollars into Miami, which were quickly funneled through dummy businesses and into the local economy. Luxury car dealerships, five-star hotels, condominium developments, swanky nightclubs, and other signs of prosperity began rising all over the city. As the money arrived, so did a violent crime wave that lasted through the early 1990s and that has only begun to die down in the 21st century. A classic fictional example of this is the 1983 gangster film, Scarface.
The popular television program Miami Vice, which dealt with counter-narcotics agents in an idyllic upper-class rendition of Miami, spread the city's image as America's most glamorous tropical paradise. This image began to draw the entertainment industry to Miami, and the city remains a hub of fashion, filmmaking, and music.
In the 1990s, various crises struck South Florida: drug wars, tourist shootings, Hurricane Andrew, the Elián González uproar, and, most recently, the controversial 2003 FTAA negotiations
Miami is the 46th most populous city in the U.S., just behind Minneapolis and Omaha. As of the census of 2000, there are 362,470 people, 134,198 households, and 83,336 families residing in the city. The population density is 3,923.5/km² (10,160.9/mi²), making Miami one of the most densely populated cities in the country. There are 148,388 housing units at an average density of 1,606.2/km² (4,159.7/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 66.62% White, 22.31% African American, 0.22% Native American, 0.66% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 5.42% from other races, and 4.74% from two or more races. 65.76% of the population are Latino of any race. The ethnic makeup of the city is 34.1% Cuban, 22.3% African American, 5.6% Nicaraguan, 5.0% Haitian, and 3.3% Honduran. The majority of Miami residents were born outside the United States (59%).
There are 134,198 households out of which 26.3% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.6% are married couples living together, 18.7% have a female head of household with no husband present, and 37.9% are non-families. 30.4% of all households are made up of individuals and 12.5% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.61 and the average family size is 3.25.
In the city the population is spread out with 21.7% under the age of 18, 8.8% from 18 to 24, 30.3% from 25 to 44, 22.1% from 45 to 64, and 17.0% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 38 years. For every 100 females there are 98.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 97.3 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $23,483, and the median income for a family is $27,225. Males have a median income of $24,090 versus $20,115 for females. The per capita income for the city is $15,128. 28.5% of the population and 23.5% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 38.2% of those under the age of 18 and 29.3% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
The city ranks second-to-last in people over 18 with a high school diploma, with 23% of the population not having that degree.
A wide variety of languages are commonly spoken throughout the city. The City of Miami has three official languages - English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole. Other languages that are spoken throughout the city include Afrikaans, Brazilian Portuguese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, and Russian. Miami has one of the largest populations in the U.S. (74%) of people who speak another language other than English at home.
Everglades National Park 
Fairchild Tropical Gardens
Fairchild Tropical Garden
Hibiscus Island, Palm Island and others
Historical Museum of South Florida
Lowe Art Museum 
Miami Metro Zoo 
Miami Art Museum 
Miami Seaquarium 
Monkey Jungle 
Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCa) 
Parrot Jungle Island 
University of Miami 
Vizcaya-Miami Art Museum
Vizcaya Museum & Gardens 
The Miami Heat is the only major league team that plays its games in Miami. The Miami Dolphins and the Florida Marlins both play their games in the suburb of Miami Gardens. The Orange Bowl, a member of the Bowl Championship Series, hosts their college football championship games at Dolphins Stadium. The stadium has also hosted the Super Bowl.
The Florida Panthers NHL team plays in neighboring Broward County, Florida at the Office Depot Center in the city of Sunrise.
Miami is also the home of the Orange Bowl Stadium, the home site for all University of Miami Hurricane football games.
A number of defunct teams were located in Miami, including the Miami Federals (USFL), Miami Floridians (ABA), Miami Gatos (NASL), Miami Screaming Eagles (WHL), Miami Seahawks (AAFC), Miami Sol (WNBA), Miami Toros (NASL), Miami Tribe (PSFL), and the Miami Tropics (SFL). The Miami Fusion, a defunct Major League Soccer team played at Lockhart Stadium in Broward County.
Movies and TV
The Miami International Film Festival is a week-long event held each February.
The video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City takes place in a fictional city inspired by Miami, including some of the same architecture and geography. There were also people and gangsters in the game who speak Haitian Creole and Spanish.
Miami is a center for Latin television and film production. As a result, many Spanish-language programs are filmed in the many television production studios, predominantly in Hialeah and South Miami. This includes gameshows, variety shows, news programs, and telenovelas. The most famous are the Saturday night variety show Sábado Gigante and the daytime talk show Christina.
Various movies have been filmed or take place in Miami. They include:
2 Fast 2 Furious
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
All About the Benjamins
Any Given Sunday
The Golden Girls
Good Morning, Miami
The Jackie Gleason Show (1960s incarnation)
Making Mr. Right
Out Of Time
Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise
There's Something About Mary