Edited by Ben Derudder, Michael Hoyler, Peter J. Taylor and Frank Witlox
Robert E. Lang and Christina Nicholas Known for its beaches, tourist attractions and retirees, South Florida has grown into a multicultural community of five million people. South Florida differs substantially from the northern parts of the state in that it is culturally and demographically apart from the American South. It is what cultural geographer Wilbur Zelinsky (1973) refers to as a ‘voluntary region’ in that it was settled late by migrants seeking a specific lifestyle and climate. The region has been settled by two major outside groups. The first one consists of domestic immigrants from the North, especially the New York region. The second includes international immigrants from Latin America, predominately Cuba, and recent arrivals from Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Immigrants, many of whom are political refugees from Cuba, have positively impacted Miami’s business community. As Castro rose to power over 50 years ago many of Cuba’s middle class fled to South Florida. According to the US Census Bureau, Hispanics and foreign born residents account for over half the population in Miami-Dade County. The affluent and educated Cuban expatriate community quickly reestablished a business network to Latin America and helped South Florida become a major presence in the international economy – especially banking. Geographically, South Florida is a three-county US census-defined region that includes Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties. The western parts of all three South Florida counties developed later than the coast in part because western lands were once part of the Everglades, which until recently covered most...
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