Miami is a major city located in the southeast corner of the U.S. state of Florida. Miami and the surrounding metropolitan area sits between the Miami River, Biscayne Bay, the Everglades and the Atlantic Ocean. It is the second largest city in Florida and the county seat (and largest city) of Miami-Dade County. It is also the largest city in the South Florida metropolitan area, which is comprised of Miami-Dade County, Broward County, and Palm Beach County making up the largest metropolitan area in the Southeastern United States.
Miami was officially incorporated as a city on July 28, 1896 with a population of just over 300. In 1940, 172,172 people lived in Miami, Florida. According to the 2000 census the city of Miami had a population of 362,470 while the larger metropolitan area had a population over 5 million. The U.S. Census Bureau estimate of the population of Miami in 2004 was 379,724.
Miami's explosive population growth in recent years has been driven by internal migration from other parts of the country as well as by immigration. Greater Miami is regarded as a cultural melting pot, heavily influenced both by its very large population of ethnic Latin Americans and Caribbean islanders (many of them Spanish- or Haitian Creole-speaking).
The region's importance as an international financial and cultural center has elevated Miami to the status of world city; because of its cultural and linguistic ties to North, South, Central America, and the Caribbean it is sometimes called "The Gateway of the Americas." Miami, along with Atlanta, ranks as one of the most important business centers in the Southeastern United States.
Two vessels of the U.S. Navy have been named USS Miami in honor of the city.
The City of Miami and its suburbs are located on a broad plain between the Florida Everglades and Biscayne Bay that also extends from Florida Bay north to Lake Okeechobee. The elevation of the area never rises above 15ft (4.5m) and averages at around 3ft (0.91m) above sea level in most neighborhoods especially near the coast. The main portion of the city lies on the shores of Biscayne Bay which contains several hundred natural and artificially created barrier islands, the largest of which contains the city of Miami Beach and its famous South Beach district. The Gulf Stream, a warm ocean current, runs northward just 15 miles (24.1km) off the coast, allowing the city's climate to stay warm and mild all year.
The surface bedrock under the Miami area is called Miami oolite or Miami limestone. This bedrock is covered by a thin layer of soil, and is no more than 15 m (50 feet) thick. Miami limestone formed as the result of the drastic changes in sea level associated with recent glaciations or ice ages. Beginning some 130,000 years ago the Sangamon interglacial raised sea levels to approximately 25 feet (7.5 m.) above the current level. All of southern Florida was covered by a shallow sea. Several parallel lines of reef formed along the edge of the submerged Florida plateau, stretching from the present Miami area to what is now the Dry Tortugas. The area behind this reef line was in effect a large lagoon, and the Miami limestone formed throughout the area from the deposition of oolites and the shells of bryozoans. Starting about 100,000 years ago the Wisconsin glaciation began lowering sea levels, exposing the floor of the lagoon. By 15,000 years ago the sea level had dropped to 300 to 350 feet below the contemporary level. The sea level rose quickly after that, stabilizing at the current level about 4000 years ago, leaving the mainland of South Florida just above sea level.
Beneath the plain lies the Biscayne Aquifer, a natural underground river that extends from southern Palm Beach County to Florida Bay, with its highest point peaking around the cities of Miami Springs and Hialeah. Most of the South Florida metropolitan area obtains its drinking water from this aquifer. As a result of the aquifer, it is not possible to dig more than 15 to 20ft (4.57 to 6.1m) beneath the city without hitting water, impeding underground construction.
Most of the western fringes of the city extend into the Everglades, a subtropical marshland located in the southern portion of the U.S. state of Florida. This causes occasional problems with local wildlife such as Alligators and Crocodiles venturing onto suburban communities and major highways.
In terms of land area, the city of Miami is one of the smallest major cities in the United States. According to the US Census Bureau, the city encompasses a total area of 55.27 mi2 (143.15 sq. km). Of that area, 35.67 sq. miles (92.68 sq. km) are land and 19.59 sq. miles (50.73 sq. km) are water. Miami is slightly smaller in land area than San Francisco and Boston.
The city is located at 25°47'16"N, 80°13'27"W.
Miami is the 46th most populous city in the U.S., just behind Minneapolis and Omaha. As of the census of 2000, there are 362,470 people, 134,198 households, and 83,336 families residing in the city. The population density is 3,923.5/km2 (10,160.9/mi2), making Miami one of the most densely populated cities in the country. There are 148,388 housing units at an average density of 1,606.2/km2 (4,159.7/mi2). The racial makeup of the city is 66.62% White, 22.31% African American, 0.22% Native American, 0.66% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 5.42% from other races, and 4.74% from two or more races. 65.76% of the population are Latino of any race. 11.83% of the population are non-Hispanic whites. The ethnic makeup of the city is 34.1% Cuban, 22.3% African American, 5.6% Nicaraguan, 5.0% Haitian, and 3.3% Honduran. In 2004, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) ranked Miami first in terms of percentage of residents born outside of the country it is located in (59%), followed by Toronto (43%).
There are 134,198 households out of which 26.3% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.6% are married couples living together, 18.7% have a female head of household with no husband present, and 37.9% are non-families. 30.4% of all households are made up of individuals and 12.5% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.61 and the average family size is 3.25.
In the city the population is spread out with 21.7% under the age of 18, 8.8% from 18 to 24, 30.3% from 25 to 44, 22.1% from 45 to 64, and 17.0% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 38 years. For every 100 females there are 98.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 97.3 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $23,483, and the median income for a family is $27,225. Males have a median income of $24,090 versus $20,115 for females. The per capita income for the city is $15,128. 28.5% of the population and 23.5% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 38.2% of those under the age of 18 and 29.3% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
Based on the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports Program, Miami ranks as the second most dangerous metropolitan area in the United States, based number of murders, rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries and motor vehicle thefts that have occurred in the metropolitan area. The city proper ranks 14th.
The city ranks second-to-last in people over 18 with a high school diploma, with 23% of the population not having that degree.
A wide variety of languages are commonly spoken throughout the city. The City of Miami has three official languages - English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole. Other languages that are spoken throughout the city include Afrikaans, Brazilian Portuguese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, and Russian. Miami has one of the largest populations in the U.S. (74%) of people who speak another language other than English at home.
The Latin and Caribbean-friendly atmosphere in Miami has made it a popular destination for tourists and immigrants from all over the world, and the third-biggest immigration port in the country after New York City and Los Angeles. In addition, large immigrant communities have settled in Miami from around the globe, including Europe, Africa, and Asia. The majority of Miami's European immigrant communities are recent immigrants, many living in the city seasonally, with a high disposable income. For example, Miami's Italian-born community numbers only around 45,000, but it is the wealthiest Italian American community in the United States.
Today there are sizable legal and illegal populations of Argentinians, Bahamians, Barbadians, Brazilians, Colombians, Cubans, Dominicans, Dutch, Ecuadorians, French, Haitians, Jamaicans, Israelis, Italians, Nicaraguans, Peruvians, Russians, South Africans, Turks, and Venezuelans throughout the metropolitan area. While commonly thought of as mainly a city of Hispanic and Caribbean immigrants, the Miami area is home to the largest Finnish, French, and South African immigrant communities in the United States; as well as one of the largest Israeli, Russian, and Turkish communities.
Because of its proximity to Latin America, Miami serves as the headquarters of Latin American operations for many multinational corporations, including American Airlines, Cisco, Disney, Exxon, FedEx, Microsoft, Oracle, SBC Communications and Sony. Several large companies are headquartered in or around Miami, including Alienware, Autonation Burger King, Citrix Systems, DHL, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Ryder System. Miami International Airport and the Port of Miami are among the nation's busiest ports of entry, especially for cargo from South America and the Caribbean. Additionally, downtown Miami has the largest concentration of international banks in the country. Miami was also the host city of the 2003 Free Trade Area of the Americas negotiations, and is one of the leading candidates to become the trading bloc's headquarters.
Tourism is also an important industry: the beaches of Greater Miami draw visitors from across the country and around the world, and the Art Deco nightclub district in South Beach (located in Miami Beach) is widely regarded as one of the most glamourous in the world. However, it is important to note that Miami Beach is not a part of the city of Miami. Even major TV networks sometimes forget this, as when Good Morning America visited Miami Beach and Charles Gibson thanked the mayor of Miami (but he was standing next to the mayor of Miami Beach).
In addition to these roles, Miami is also an industrial center, especially for stone quarrying and warehousing.
Miami has also served as host venue for legendary legal proceedings, most notably the astounding $145 Billion verdict leveled against the nation's 5 largest cigarette manufacturers. This case was a class action on behalf of all afflicted Florida smokers and their families, represented by a prominent and successful Miami-raised husband and wife legal team, Stanley and Susan Rosenblatt.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau 2002 American Community Survey, Miami was the poorest city in the United States, with 31% of the residents having incomes below the federal poverty line. In 2004, Miami fell to #3 in the rankings behind Detroit, Michigan and El Paso, Texas.
Miami is also one of the least affordable places to live, with 69% of its residents spending at least 30% of their household income on home ownership. Miami ranks first among least affordable cities for home ownership.
As of 2005, the Miami area is witnessing its largest real estate boom since the 1920s.