Florida has no less than seven nicknames, but the official one, and the one most identified with Florida, is The Sunshine State. A southern state, Florida receives abundant sunshine, enough to support groves of oranges and other produce, as well as droves of tourists who seek the sun and its warmth on the many beaches. Legislators made The Sunshine State the official state nickname of Florida in 1970, but the phrase itself was popularized by the state for many years prior to its official adoption by its inclusion on automobile license plates.
The state nickname of Florida also refers to the following phrases, although they were not officially adopted by lawmakers: The Peninsula State, The Everglades State, The Orange State, The Flower State, The Alligator State and The Gulf State. The Peninsula State and the Gulf State refer to the state’s geography. The Orange State refers to Florida’s abundant agriculture, especially its citrus crops, and one of the state symbols, the official flower, is an orange blossom. The Everglades State, a nickname that became popular in the late 1800s, refers to the fact that Florida is home to two million acres of wetlands known as the Everglades. The origin of the nickname The Alligator State is the population of alligators in Florida and the Everglades.
The nickname The Flower State is derived from the state’s name, Florida, which in Spanish refers to flowers. Florida has nearly 4,000 species of plants that are either native to the state or have been naturalized. This nickname also refers to the day in 1513, an Easter Sunday, when the explorer who discovered it, Ponce de Leon, first sighted the land. He named it after the Catholic holiday, Easter or the Feast of Flowers, which in Spanish is called Pascua Florida.
Two other states have made use of the official state nickname of Florida. South Dakota called itself The Sunshine State and emblazoned the phrase on its flag until 1992, when lawmakers there chose to adopt for their mountainous state a unique nickname, The Mount Rushmore State. New Mexico also called itself the Sunshine State and imprinted the phrase on its license plates until the early 1940s.
The state nickname of Florida is not included on the state’s flag. The flag is rendered with the official state motto, In God We Trust, which is part of the official government seal. The state seal also includes a drawing of a female Seminole Indian who is strewing flowers upon the land.