Florida's Historic Flags
The history of Florida can be traced to when the first Native Americans began to inhabit the peninsula as early as 14,000 years ago. Florida's written history begins with the arrival of Europeans; the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León in 1513 made the first written records. The state received its name from this Spanish conquistador, who called the peninsula "La Pascua Florida" in recognition of the vibrant landscape and because it was the Easter season, which the Spaniards called "Pascua Florida" or Festival of Flowers. This area was the first to be settled by Europeans in the continental US. From that time of contact, Florida has had many waves of immigration, including French and Spanish settlement during the 16th century, as well as entry of new Native American groups migrating from elsewhere. Florida was under colonial rule by Spain, France, and Great Britain during the 18th and 19th centuries before becoming a territory of the United States in 1821. Two decades later, in 1845, Florida was admitted to the union as the 27th US state.