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Florida's geology and climate has more in common with its Caribbean Basin neighbors and the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico than with North America. In geologic terms, the Florida Peninsula is young, rising from the sea a mere million years ago. The state is comprised of aquifers. Most commonly born of the springs that once lured Spanish explorers in search of the famed "Fountain of Youth" to Florida, these aquifers gave birth to the Florida Everglades, have fed Florida's agricultural industries and, today, quench the thirst of tremendous population growth and economic development.

A key feature of Florida's geology is the Hawthorne Formation; this karst limestone ridge, better seen from the air than from the ground, forms the backbone of Florida. The Formation stretches southward from the limestone beds of the Suwannee River to the soft, silted underbelly of Lake Okeechobee, one of the largest lakes entirely within the United States. The sinks that dot its spine have spawned the lore andliterature of Florida, from Native American legend through popular culture icons: the mermaids of Weeki Wachi, and the backdrop for more distant or fantastic venues: the Tarzan movies of the 1940sand 1950s and Voyage to the Bottom of Sea of 1970s TV fame.

Other impressive features of Florida's geology are the St. Johns River and the Apalachicola and Tampa Bays. The only major river in the United States to flow North, the St. Johns River was subject to a Confederate plan during the Civil War that would have dammed it, forcing its waters to flow south. The Apalachicola Bay has been called "nature's cradle" and has been the source of most of the oysters served in restaurant across the country. The Tampa Bay formed a natural harbor, exploited by the Spanish, British and Americans, alike, as their foothold in Florida grew.

Florida's climate is unique within the United States. More than that of any other state, Florida's climate supports a rich and diverse natural heritage. At the cross currents of temperate and tropic zones, it has either spawned or attracted numerous and infamous storms including disastrous hurricanes. Every year, Florida records more and more intense lightning strikes than anywhere else in the world.


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