The earliest known inhabitants were prehistoric Indians who entered what is now northern Florida some 10,000 to 20,000 years ago. These people were almost exclusively big-game hunters who followed wandering animal herds. Around 5000 B.C ., permanent settlements were being established as some Indians turned to fishing. Agriculture was begun about 1400 B.C . Nearly 1,500 years later, the Indian occupation had been extended across the entire peninsula. Historians estimate that on the eve of the European discovery of Florida in the 16th century A.D. the Indian population totaled about 25,000. The major groups were the Timucua, Calusa, Ais, Apalachee, and Tequesta. The Seminoles arrived about two centuries later.

Important dates in Florida
1513 Juan Ponce de Leon landed on the Florida coast and claimed the region for Spain.
1528 Panfilo de Narvaez led an expedition into Florida.
1539 Hernando de Soto led an expedition through Florida.
1564 French Huguenot settlers built Fort Caroline on the St. Johns River.
1565 Pedro Menendez de Aviles founded St. Augustine.
1763 Spain ceded Florida to Britain.
1783 Spain regained control of Florida.
1819 The United States obtained Florida from Spain.
1821 Florida formally came under U.S. control.
1822 Congress established the Territory of Florida.
1835-1842 During the Second Seminole War, many of the Seminole who had refused to move out of the territory lost their land.
1845 Florida became the 27th state on March 3.
1861 Florida seceded from the Union and joined the Confederacy.
1868 Florida was readmitted to the Union.
1896 Henry M. Flagler's Florida East Coast Railroad reached Miami.
1920-1925 Land speculators poured into the state. The population increased at a tremendous rate.
1947 Everglades National Park established.
1961 The first U.S. space flights carrying astronauts were launched from Cape Canaveral.
1969 Florida adopted a new constitution.
1969 Apollo 11, the first spacecraft to land astronauts on the moon, was launched from Cape Canaveral.
1971 The Walt Disney World entertainment complex opened near Orlando.
1983-1985 Many of central Florida's citrus groves were destroyed by freezing weather and disease.
1992 Hurricane Andrew killed 65 people and caused about $26 billion in property damage.
1998 Wildfires caused extensive damage in the state.
2000 Florida's electoral votes decided the U.S. presidential election, giving Texas Governor George W. Bush a victory over Vice President Al Gore.