Although it is believed that Native Americans first inhabited the land that is now Florida over 12,000 years ago, textual records regarding life in Florida did not begin until 1513 when Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon arrived on the territory. Florida was under the rule of Spain and Great Britain before becoming a territory of the United States in 1822.
On March 3, 1845, Florida was admitted to the union as the 27th state in America, and this was followed by an influx of immigrants from Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa, as well as people relocating from Virginia, Georgia and the Carolinas. Florida remained largely unharmed during the Civil War, and no deciding parts of the war were fought on Florida soil. Several coastal towns were occupied by Union forces, but the entire inland of Florida was under the Confederacy.
Florida is also home to the city of St. Augustine, the oldest city in the country, which was founded on September 8, 1565 by Spanish admiral and Florida's first governor, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés. At the end of the 19th century, cattle-raising and large-scale farming and agriculture grew in importance and abundance, beginning in St. Augustine.
The Great Depression affected Florida in 1926, halting economic development, but World War II brought economic development back to Florida, and the state became a major training center for sailors, aviators and soldiers, attracting families whose relatives still inhabit the state today.