This article refers to Miami, FL. See Miami (disambiguation) for other places and meanings.

Miami is a city located in southeast Florida in Miami-Dade County on the Miami River, between the Florida Everglades and the Atlantic Ocean.

An aerial view of Miami, Florida

It is the county seat and largest city in Miami-Dade County (est. 2000 population: 2,253,362). As of the 2000 census, the city proper had a total population of 362,470.

Although the city itself is not large, the metropolis of Miami comprises many small surrounding towns and cities, which effectively form one giant urban mass. Such cities include Miami Beach, Bal Harbour, North Bay Village, Sunny Isles, North Miami Beach, Aventura, North Miami, Opa-Locka, Carol City, Miami Lakes, Hialeah, Medley, Miami Springs, Westchester, West Miami, Kendall, Pinecrest, Key Biscayne, Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, Sweetwater, and Homestead.

Greater Miami is a vibrant area established during the 1890s. Today Miami-Dade County has over 2.2 million inhabitants, and neighboring Broward and Palm Beach Counties to the north have 1.6 and 1.1 million respectively. Miami is considered a cultural melting pot due to the large Latin American population. Among Miamians are Cubans, Nicaraguans, Colombians, Venezuelans, Puerto Ricans, Argentinians, Ecuadorian, Brazilians, Dominicans, Haitians and Mexicans.

Table of contents
1 Geography
2 History
3 Economy
4 Transportation
5 Demographics
6 Colleges and universities
7 Sports teams
8 Miami in television and film
9 External links


Miami is located at 25°47'16" North, 80°13'27" West (25.787676, -80.224145)1.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 143.1 km² (55.3 mi²). 92.4 km² (35.7 mi²) of it is land and 50.7 km² (19.6 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 35.44% water.


Early history

The name "Miami" 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.

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 1500's, 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, Miami was only briefly visited by traveling Europeans when it was visited at all.

American settlement

Miami was still largely uninhabited in the late 1800's, even following the final defeat of the natives in 1857. Then, in 1891, a woman named Julia Tuttle purchased an enormous citrus plantation in the area. She initially pressured railroad magnate Henry Flagler to build a line to the settlement.

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. Miami, however, 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.

On July 28, 1896, the City of Miami was incorporated with 344 citizens.

Early growth

Miami's growth up to World War II was astronomical:

1900: 4,955
1910: 11,933
1920: 42,753
1930: 142,955
1940: 267,739

During the early 1920's, 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 had to be razed ten years after their initial construction to make way for even larger buildings. A catastrophic hurricane in 1927, followed by the Great Depression, ended this boom.

In the mid-1930's, 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.


The 1950's saw Miami transformed by its neighbor to the south, Cuba. Mobsters were drawn to the city because of its proximity to the organized crime paradise of Batista-era Havana.

Following the 1959 coup that unseated Batista and brought Fidel Castro to power, Cuban refugees began travelling to Florida en masse. In 1965 alone, 100,000 Cubans packed into the twice-daily "freedom flights" between Havana and Miami. Later, the Mariel Boatlift brought 150,000 Cubans to Miami in a single flotilla, the largest in civilian history.

The city, for the most part, welcomed the Cuban refugees. Little Havana 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.

The Cuban inflow slowed down in the 1980's, and was largely replaced by refugees from Haiti. However, because Haiti was not under communist leadership, the U.S. government was not as willing to grant residency or citizenship to the Haitian newcomers, and so the Cuban community has remained predominant over the Haitian community.

Since then, the Hispanic-friendly atmosphere in Miami has made it a popular destination for tourists and immigrants from all over Latin America, and the third-biggest immigration port in the country after New York City and Los Angeles.

Miami Vice

Also in the 1980's, 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 1990's and that has only begun to die down in the 21st century.

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 1990's, various crises struck South Florida: tourist shootings, Hurricane Andrew, the Elian Gonzalez uproar, and, most recently, the controversial FTAA negotiations.


Because of its proximity to Latin America, Miami serves as the headquarters of Latin American operations for many multinational corporations, including American Airlines, Cisco, Disney, Exxon, FedEx, Microsoft, and Sony. Miami International Airport and the Port of Miami are among the nation's busiest ports of entry, especially for cargo from South America and the Caribbean. Miami was also the host city of the 2003 Free Trade Area of the Americas negotiations, and is one of the leading candidates to become the trading bloc's headquarters.

Tourism is also an important industry: the beaches of Miami draw visitors from across the country, and the nightclub district in South Beach is widely regarded as one of the best in the world.

In addition to these roles, Miami is also an industrial center, especially for stone quarrying and warehousing.

Several large companies are headquartered in or around Miami, including Burger King, CHS Electronics, Knight-Ridder, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Ryder.


Miami's airport is Miami International Airport, which is a hub for American Airlines and is served by many international carriers. Most low-fare airlines, such as JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines, fly into Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Miami is connected to Amtrak's Atlantic Coast services, and also has several commuter railway systems: the Metrorail, Tri-Rail, and Metromover.


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). 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 Hispanic or Latino of any race.

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 householder 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 people living in poverty, 38.2% are under the age of 18 and 29.3% are 65 or older.

Colleges and universities

Sports teams


Defunct: The Florida Panthers NHL team plays in neighboring Broward County.

Miami is also the site of the Orange Bowl, an annual collegiate football championship.

Miami in television and film

External links