The first settlers came to the area after Congress passed the Armed Occupation Act of 1842 at the end of the Seminole Wars during the Administration of President John Tyler. The M.B. Lyman family is credited with founding the Town. Lyman arrived with his family in 1888 and within a year started several enterprises including a general store, Indian Trading Post and a post office. As postmaster, Lyman named the post office – Lantana Point – for the wild Lantana plant that grew in abundance in the area. The word Point was later dropped.
One of the other Lyman businesses was the Lantana Fish Company. In the early 1900s the gathering and marketing of oysters became the Town's leading industry. The Town of Lantana was incorporated in 1921 with 22 residents voting in the first election. At the time of incorporation, the area of Lantana was one square mile with a population of 100 residents.
After World War II, Lantana, like the rest of South Florida experienced a tremendous building boom which continues to this day. Interstate Highway 95, which was completed through Lantana in the mid-1970s, brought a surge of commercial development to the Town.
For most of the 1970s and 1980s, Lantana was home to the tradition of hosting the largest Christmas Tree in the World. Every year, a huge tree would be shipped from the Pacific Northwest to Lantana by rail to the property of the National Enquirer, adjacent to the Florida East Coast Railway tracks. The event would attract thousands of visitors every night, and grew to be one of Palm Beach Counties most spectacular and celebrated events. The torch went out for this annual festivity with the death, at the age of 61, of National Enquirer founder Generoso Pope Jr. in the late 1980s.
Today, the Town of Lantana covers 2.25 square miles and boasts a year round population of about 10,000 residents. During the winter, the population swells to around 14,000 residents.
There were 3,850 households out of which 28.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.4% were married couples living together, 10.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.4% were non-families. 31.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 3.06.
In the town the population was spread out with 23.7% under the age of 18, 7.2% from 18 to 24, 33.5% from 25 to 44, 21.8% from 45 to 64, and 13.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 104.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 102.4 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $35,645, and the median income for a family was $40,089. Males had a median income of $29,443 versus $25,050 for females. The per capita income for the town was $21,204. About 5.9% of families and 8.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.8% of those under age 18 and 12.6% of those age 65 or over.
As of 2000, English as a first language accounted for 73.24% of all residents, while Spanish comprised of 13.95, French Creole made up 6.82%, and Finnish was the mother tongue of 5.01% of the population (the highest percentage in Florida.) Also, French was spoken by 0.62% of residents and German was spoken by 0.34% of the populace.
As of 2000, Lantana had the 111th highest percentage of Finns in the US, which accounted for 5.4% of all residents (tied with two US areas in Michigan,) while Haitians had the thirty-fifth highest percentage, with 5.20% of the population.