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Since the first European contact was made in 1513 by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León – who named it La Florida ( [la floˈɾiða] "land of flowers") upon landing there in the Easter season , Pascua Florida  – Florida was a challenge for the European colonial powers before it gained statehood in the United States in 1845. It was a principal location of the Seminole Wars against the Native Americans , and racial segregation after the American Civil War.
Today, Florida is distinctive for its large Cuban expatriate community and high population growth, as well as for its increasing environmental issues. The state's economy relies mainly on tourism, agriculture, and transportation , which developed in the late 19th century. Florida is also renowned for amusement parks , orange crops, the Kennedy Space Center , and as a popular destination for retirees.
Florida culture is a reflection of influences and multiple inheritance; Native American, European American, Hispanic and Latino, and African American heritages can be found in the architecture and cuisine. Florida has attracted many writers such as Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings , Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams , and continues to attract celebrities and athletes. It is internationally known for golf, tennis, auto racing and water sports.