Jacksonville is located in the northeast corner of the state of Florida where the St. Johns River ends its northward journey to the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 885,000 people, it is the urban hub of Northeast Florida. Its city limits cover 875 square miles, a result of a consolidated city and county government, making it the largest city geographically in the continental United States.
As one of Florida’s oldest communities, Jacksonville is surrounded by history with St. Augustine to the south and Amelia Island to the north. The first inhabitants of this area were the Timucuan Indians who lived along its waterways. In 1564, the French, under the leadership of Jean Ribault, built a colony on the banks of the St. Johns River, later to be established as Fort Caroline. Although the fort was destroyed by the Spanish forces from St. Augustine, Jacksonville has nurtured its French roots through its sister city relationship with Nantes, France.
In 1821, Florida became a U.S. territory, and a year later the town of Jacksonville was established. Its original name was Cowford because that is where the cows were ferried across the river. However, it received its official name from General Andrew Jackson.
When statehood was granted to Florida in 1845, Jacksonville had become an important port in the cotton and timber trades.
Jacksonville continues to be a thriving transportation crossroads with four airports and multiple deepwater cargo terminals. Its deepwater port, operated by JAXPORT, handled 8.2 million tons of cargo in 2012, including more than 600,000 vehicles, making it one of the largest vehicle handling ports in the country.
Today Jacksonville is a vibrant city with a growing economy and strong workforce. Its major employers include industries related to health care, insurance, banking, transportation, food distribution, customer advanced manufacturing and retail sales.
Jacksonville is home to several colleges and universities, including the University of North Florida, Jacksonville University, Florida State College at Jacksonville and Edward Waters College. It has a zoo, symphony, several museums and numerous parks and preserves. Annually, it plays host to the Players Club Championship, Jacksonville Jazz Festival, the World of Nations Celebration, the River Run 15K, and a major Kingfish Tournament.
Several professional sports teams call Jacksonville home: Jacksonville Jaguars (National Football League), Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (Minor League Baseball), Jacksonville Sharks (Arena Football League) Jacksonville Giants (Minor League Basketball Team), Jacksonville Armada FC (North American Soccer League), and Jacksonville IceMen (Minor League Ice Hockey).
With miles of sandy beaches, a moderately sunny climate, more than 70 golf courses, extensive shopping opportunities, and numerous meeting and convention facilities, Jacksonville has much to offer to residents and visitors alike.