Surrounded by subtropical and tropical waters, the US state of Florida is known for its warm ocean breezes and abundant sunshine. Much of the east coast is shielded from the Atlantic Ocean by narrow sandbars and barrier islands that protect shallow lagoons, rivers and bays. The world-famous Everglades are a unique wilderness region of subtropical plant growth and animal life, extending over the centre of the southern part of the peninsula. The Florida Keys extend south and west from the southern tip of the state and are linked to the mainland by a causeway.
Although Florida is nicknamed the “Sunshine State”, severe weather is common. It is the most hurricane-prone US state; and central Florida is known as the country’s lightning capital. Other environmental issues facing the country include water pollution from agricultural run-off, and saltwater has begun to seep into the layers of porous limestone that hold Florida’s reserves of fresh water.