Tarpon Springs sponge diver.
Photo courtesy of VISIT FLORIDA.
Floridians have always enjoyed the advantages of coastal living.
Along the transition zone between land and sea there are abundant
natural resources for food, shelter, and transportation; strategic
locations for settlement; and many opportunities for trade, communication,
and recreation. The peninsula’s geographic location as a maritime crossroads
between North and South America, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea,
made it attractive to a succession of immigrant groups both in the past and
in the present. Despite occasional warfare and disastrous storms, Florida’s
coastal communities have thrived. Typical coastal economic activities began
with simple harvesting of seafood. Soon, cooperative processing and
transportation provided opportunities for commerce, which led to new
industries and new jobs. Over time, a complex cultural and economic web
of human coastal activities developed with various customs, traditions,
and rituals. Today, Florida’s coastal communities are at the crossroads
of the global marketplace.