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Why Is Florida Called the Sunshine State?

By Rebecca Mecomber
Updated May 17, 2024
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The state of Florida is the southernmost state on the continental United States, boasting both peninsula and panhandle landforms. Due to its location as the closest U.S. state to the Tropic of Cancer and the Equator, Florida is renowned for its exceptionally sunny, but humid, tropical climate. Known by other state nicknames such as "Alligator State," "Orange State" and "Everglade State," the nickname "Sunshine State" was officially adopted by the Florida Legislature in 1970. The nickname appeals to "snowbird" tourists who, especially during cold winters in the northern climates, visit Florida for its spectacular weather and warm beaches. In 2011, tourism is the largest industry in the state and one of the top domestic and international destinations in the world.

Spanish explorer Ponce DeLeon was the first European to explore Florida. He named it Pascua de Florida or "Feast of Flowers" for the succulent flora and abundant flowers. Florida has a humid subtropical to full tropical climate, with abundantly sunny days and a mean daily temperature of 71°F (22°C). Despite its wide variety of temperatures of near 100°F (38°C) to sub-zero temperatures throughout the year, Florida is the warmest state in the United States, on average.

According to weather data, some areas of the "Sunshine State" receive sun for nearly three-fourths of the year. Key West, the string of tropical islands at the southernmost tip of Florida, receives an average of 76 percent partly sunny skies over the year. Southern cities also partake in sunny days, with Apalachicola, Jacksonville, Miami and West Palm Beach receiving 60 percent or more. Even so, Florida is not the sunniest state, as many states in the western U.S. produce even more sunshine. Florida also ranks as one of the wettest states in the U.S., surpassed only by Louisiana.

Summers in Florida are hot and humid and sometimes plagued with torrential rainstorms, thunderstorms and violent hurricanes from the turbulent Atlantic Ocean. Winters are milder and more seasonable, and are the preferred season for tourists and northern snowbirds. The nickname "Sunshine State" entices winter-weary visitors to Florida, more so than "Alligator State" or swampy "Everglade State" ever could. It is in Florida's best interest to be considered the "Sunshine State" since so much of its economy relies on tourists expecting fair southern weather during dreary northern winters.

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Discussion Comments

By anon998946 — On Sep 25, 2017

I lived in Fla for 37 years before relocating to TN. Florida is the sunshine state, every part of it, because I lived in all of them. The clouds come up, it pours heavily for an hour to 4, then the clouds go away. Duh, common sense, the downpours and rain level have little to do with how many hours of sunshine the state gets overall. I would think that would be obvious to anyone who's ever read a book.

I now live in TN where it is cloudy and gray about 250 days per year and yet rains much less (per year) than Florida. I probably won't move back to Florida but I am planning to spend my winters there, just to escape the relentless dull gray climate.

If you want pure sunshine 949078, move to Hawaii. But perhaps you can't afford the $8800 mortgage per month?

By anon949078 — On May 03, 2014

I have lived in Florida since '75. First and foremost, the moniker "Sunshine State" is a bald faced lie. Maybe the Peninsula State or something like that, however, when the average rainfall in Seattle is 37" and in Orlando it's 53," you know you're being lied to by the media, but they lie about everything anyway.

By Animandel — On Jan 28, 2014

There are two states in the U.S. that immediately bring to mind water and sunshine, and Florida is one of them. The other is California. I think the sunshine state nickname would fit either of them.

By Drentel — On Jan 28, 2014

Sporkasia - The amount of rain you get in Florida can vary a good deal based on which art of the state you are in. However, the sunshine is all over--just not all the time.

By Sporkasia — On Jan 27, 2014
The Sunshine State is a great name for encouraging Florida's tourist business. An alternative name would be The State of Violent Thunderstorms Every Summer Evening. I don't think that name would attract as many tourists.

Seriously though, the first summer I lived in Florida I was amazed at how often and how hard the rain fell during the summer. I was expecting endless days of nothing but bright sunshine. And did I mention the thunder and lightning? It was scary.

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