Florida’s geography is deceptively complex. Despite the understandable preconception that the state is little more than a flat palette of beaches, scrublands, and swamp, there is considerable variation in different regions. After all, the state covers more than 65,000 square miles. More than 20 percent of that area is water, in the form of springs, rivers, swamps, wetlands, and lakes, making Florida the third-wettest state in the country.
With the exception of some gently rolling hills in the north-central part of the state, Florida can generally be described as “flat.” Sea-level coastlines hug the outline of almost the entire state, while the swampy peninsula interior is at—and in some cases, it seems, below—sea level, and the mean elevation of the state is just 100 feet above sea level. The highest point in the entire state is Britton Hill, in the Panhandle, which juts into the sky all the way to a majestic 345 feet.
There are three formal geographical regions in the state. The Atlantic Coastal Plain extends all the way north to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and encompasses the entirety of Florida’s east coast. It’s an area defined by low flat topography and features like sandy beaches, scrub-flecked ranchlands, the swamps of the Everglades and Big Cypress, and the marshy wetlands of Central Florida. This region of the state connects seamlessly to the East Gulf Coastal Plain that runs along Florida’s west coast.
In the south-central part of the state, this region shares the swampy characteristics of the Glades and Big Cypress; the Gulf beaches see far less wave action from the gentle Gulf of Mexico, resulting in powdery white-sand beaches that are quite legendary.
The northern peninsular Gulf coast is primarily marshy deltas that lead to the white sand beaches of the Panhandle. In that part of the state is the third distinct geographic region, the Florida Uplands, which resemble the pine forest landscapes of the American South and are home to what little elevation the state has.
© Jason Ferguson from Moon Florida, 1st Edition