If someone asked what the biggest cities in Florida are, you might be inclined to say Miami, Tampa, and maybe Orlando. And you would be wrong. Florida's most populated city is Jacksonville, home to roughly 850,000 people. It's located in the northeast corner of the state, just below the border with Georgia.
When the greater metropolitan area is considered, Miami and Tampa are huge, with populations in the 4-million-to-5-million range, ranking Miami and Tampa the first and second biggest metropolitan areas in Florida. But the cities themselves are home to roughly 400,000 and 350,000 people respectively, less than half the population living in Jacksonville city.
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The reason is land area. Jacksonville city encompasses about 750 square miles. Miami and Tampa only stretch for 35 and 100 or so square miles.
Per square mile, however, Miami is the biggest in Florida by far, at more than 11,000 residents. Tampa has just more than 3,000, and Jacksonville has about 1,100 residents per square mile.
The fourth, fifth, and sixth biggest cities in Florida are Orlando, St. Petersburg, and Hialeah. All three are home to about 250,000 people.
Based on 2010 projections, however, St. Petersburg was larger than Orlando by 7,000 people in 2010. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that Orlando's population grew at a rate of 7 percent from 2010 to 2013, while St. Petersburg's population grew at only 1.8 percent, explaining how Orlando overtook St. Petersburg three years later.
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Orlando's lower population density may partly explain its higher growth rate. Even after absorbing almost 20,000 people in three years, Orlando's population density remains roughly 2,500 people per square mile. That figure is still well below St. Petersburg's density at more than 4,000.
According to Forbes magazine, Orlando's growth contradicts the mainstream media's narrative that compact, coastal cities in northern America will see the highest rates of population growth.
Hialeah, the sixth biggest city in Florida, is adjacent to the city of Miami and has a population density nearly as high as Miami. Hialeah's growth rate of roughly 4 percent is comparable to Miami and the state as a whole. So two of the biggest cities in Florida are linked both geographically and demographically.
Florida's final four biggest cities are Tallahassee (the state capital), Fort Lauderdale, Port St. Lucie, and Pembroke Pines. All four cities come in well under 200,000, but are solidly above the 150,000 mark.
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