Some of Florida’s most important natural resources are its coastlines, seafood, minerals, citrus fruit, sugarcane, saw palmetto berries and forests. Each one plays a major role in the state’s economy.
Florida has more continuous coastline than any other state in the United States, and it contributes to the local economy in a few ways. Tourism is Florida’s number one industry and, in addition to the subtropical climate, the coastline is what attracts millions of people who spend billions of dollars here each year. The coastlines provide more than 663 miles of beaches for recreational purposes, and numerous hotels, restaurants, and other types of real estate have built up around them. Florida’s coastlines are also home to numerous ports that make it easier to import and export goods.
Just beyond Florida’s coastlines, you’ll find the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. Within the state, you’ll find more freshwater springs than any other state in the nation. In total, the state has about 6,000 square feet of coastal and inland waters, most of which are abundant with fresh fish and other types of seafood. In 2016, the state provided 4.5 percent of all seafood harvested in the U.S. that year. Shrimp, lobster, crab, grouper, mackerel, snapper, gag, mullet, oysters, tuna, and swordfish are the top economic sources.
Behind agriculture and tourism, mining is the state’s third-biggest industry. Phosphate and petroleum are the most-mined minerals. Most of the phosphate mining takes place just east of Tampa in Central Florida. Florida’s phosphate is used mostly for fertilizer and agricultural supplements, and it’s also used in some consumer goods like toothpaste, soft drinks, light bulbs, shaving cream, film, and vitamins.
Most of the citrus products, particularly oranges and orange juice available in the U.S. are grown in Florida. While citrus trees aren’t native to Florida, historians believe Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon brought seeds to the area, and they thrived in the climate. Ever since, they’ve been a part of the landscape and economy.
Sugarcane is another food source that grows naturally in any part of Florida, even though it’s not a native plant. Christopher Columbus is believed to have introduced it to the area. Today, it’s a large part of Florida’s agricultural economy.
Florida’s forests are also an important natural resource. There are about 14 million acres of commercial forests within the state, filled with both hardwood and softwood trees that are harvested to make goods. Florida’s 1,154,860 acres of protected state forests also serve as a source of recreation and education. They provide places for hiking, horseback riding, scenic drives, birding, wildlife discovery, and camping.
Saw Palmetto Berries
Berries from saw palmetto trees are often used in some medical practices and alternative medicine to treat conditions relating to the prostate, such as an enlarged prostate, complications from prostate surgery and prostate swelling. A majority of the saw palmetto berries harvested in the U.S. come from Florida’s wild saw palmetto trees. They’re one of the most common plants in the state.