Miami, Florida, incorporated in 1896 by its tiny population of 444 voters, is now the second largest city in Florida and the largest city in Miami-Dade County. Miami is the county seat for Miami-Dade County.
With an elevation that never rises more than 15 feet above sea level and averages about 3 feet in the cities, Miami sits on a mostly level plain of marshland bordered by the Florida Everglades on the west and Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean to the East. The bulk of the residential area is built around the shore of Biscayne Bay. The barrier islands further west make up the cities of Miami Beach, Key Biscayne and Virginia Key.
Greater Miami, FL is regarded as a cultural melting pot, due to equal parts immigration from foreign countries and internal migration from other states in the US. Foreign immigration is heavily influenced by large numbers of ethnic Latin Americans and Caribbean islanders, many of whom are Spanish or Haitian Creole speaking. Because of its proximity to Latin America, Miami serves as the headquarters of Latin American operations for many multinational corporations, including Sony, SBC Communications, Oracle, Microsoft, FedEx, Exxon, Disney, Cisco and American Airlines.
The region’s importance as an international financial and cultural center has elevated Miami, Florida to the status of World City. Because of its cultural and linguistic ties to North, South, and Central America and the Caribbean, it is sometimes called “The Gateway of the Americas.” Florida’s large Spanish-speaking population and strong economic ties to Latin America also make Miami and the surrounding region an important center of the Hispanic world.
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. Additionally, downtown Miami, FL has the largest concentration of international banks in the country. Miami, Florida is also an industrial center, especially for stone quarrying and warehousing.
Miami, Florida (population 362,470 per Census 2000) has a major representation of the clothing, fashion and entertainment industries. Miami’s clubs and hot spots are as busy as Hollywood when it comes to showcasing what’s hot in the fast paced world of celebrity personalities. Miami is well read about in the print tabloids and entertainment magazines as the east coast version of tinsel town. Miami, FL is right next to New York City, its only east coast rival, as the “IN” place to be spotted.