Fact Sheet

WHO:

Viva Florida 500 is a statewide initiative led by the Florida Department of State, under the leadership of Governor Rick Scott, to highlight the 500 years of historic people, places and events in present-day Florida since the arrival of Juan Ponce de León to the land he named La Florida in 1513.

Viva Florida 500 success relies on strong partnerships.  The Florida Department of State enjoys very productive working relationships with many state agencies, the Florida Humanities Council, VISIT FLORIDA, the cities of St. Augustine and Pensacola particularly, España-Florida Foundation 500 Years, the Spanish, British and French consulates, as well as the Seminole Tribe of Florida.  

Viva Florida 500 is an “organic” locally-grown initiative with no designated public funding yet there are thousands of engaged individuals, businesses, municipalities, educational and non-profit organizations leveraging public and private partnerships at the state and grassroots level to ensure Viva Florida 500 events and activities take place in every county of the state, while maintaining cost-effectiveness for Florida taxpayers. Conversely, the Quadricentennial Commemoration (400th Anniversary) of the Founding of Jamestown in 2007 relied on approximately $100 million dollars in public funding for its commemorative efforts.  

WHAT:

While Florida’s Native American heritage dates back more than 12,000 years, Spain’s claim in 1513 began a new era, when Ponce de León landed on the east coast and named this beautiful land La Florida.  In 2013, Florida will mark 500 years of history and diverse cultural heritage – a claim no other state in America can make – and promote the place where the world’s cultures began to unite and transform into the great nation we know today as the United States of America.

Viva Florida 500 will take place year-round in 2013, and its many partners are planning hundreds of events statewide. The goal is to promote 500 years of Florida’s history – its people, places and cultural achievements – and this important milestone in American and Florida history.

Viva Florida 500 in 2013 marks the 500 year anniversary of the arrival of Ponce de León in 1513 and it is the centerpiece in a series of important anniversaries that include:

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  • 2009 was the 450 year anniversary of the first attempt at Spanish colonization of Florida in Pensacola
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  • 2012 was the 450 year anniversary of the first French colony in the continental US in Jacksonville, 
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  • 2014 is the 50 year anniversary of the passing of the Civil Rights Act and
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  • 2015, is the 450 year anniversary of the founding of St. Augustine as the nation’s oldest continually occupied European city.

WHEN:

Viva Florida 500 events and activities take place year-round throughout 2013 with many scheduled in the spring and summer months. Refer to the Calendar of Events on VivaFlorida.org for more details on events and activities.

WHERE:

Viva Florida 500 events and activities are taking place in many communities statewide with a high-concentration of activity in areas including St. Augustine, Tallahassee, Pensacola, and Miami. Refer to the Calendar of Events on VivaFlorida.org for more details on events and activities.

WHY:

With the goal to stimulate cultural heritage tourism and spur economic development to create jobs, the Florida Department of State provides leadership, communication and coordination to create and/or expand partnerships statewide to enhance Viva Florida 500 outreach and education to make history come alive with Viva Florida 500 events in all 67 counties in 2013.

On April 2, 1513, Juan Ponce de León landed on the east coast of Florida and became the first recorded European to set foot on the continental United States of America, predating European settlement in Jamestown, VA and Plymouth Rock, MA by 94 years and 107 years, respectively. Florida has the longest recorded history of any state in the nation.  

Business incentives in Florida are improving, and international investment further strengthens Florida’s economy.  With over 400 Spanish businesses in Florida, and the expansion of the Panama Canal in 2014, opportunities are opening up for more global business and cultural exchanges.

Drawing inspiration from 500 years of Florida being a state of exploration, discovery and innovation and with the recognition of our past, Florida’s future may be strengthened through continued education and promotion of our strong tourism, technology and agricultural industries.  

The 500th anniversary of Ponce de Leon’s landing is a fitting time to reflect on Florida’s dynamic culture, rich diversity and economic prosperity and with recognition that five flags have flown over Florida in as many centuries, while also being the home to Native Americans for at least 12,000 years.

Florida is the current home to more than 19 million people from a multitude of backgrounds and is the location where the world’s cultures began to unite in 1513 and transform into the great nation we know today as the United States of America.

CULTURAL HERITAGE TOURISM DATA

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  • 65.2% of domestic visitors taking a trip to Florida took part in cultural activities. This was a 7.5 percentage point increase since the 2010 reading.
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  • Of respondents who participated in culturally-based activities while in Florida, 65% pre- planned these activities before they left on their vacation.
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  • 54.4% of domestic visitors taking a trip to Florida took part in history-based activities. This was a 4.5 percentage point increase since the 2010 reading. 
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  • Of respondents who participated in history-based activities while in Florida, 60% pre- planned these activities before they left on their vacation to Florida.

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Source : VISIT FLORIDA Research Department - November 2011


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Boilerplate :

Viva Florida 500 is a statewide initiative led by the Florida Department of State, under the leadership of Governor Rick Scott, to highlight the 500 years of historic people, places and events in present-day Florida since the arrival of Juan Ponce de León to the land he named La Florida in 1513. While Florida’s Native American heritage dates back more than 12,000 years, Spain’s claim in 1513 began a new era. 2013 marks 500 years of history and diverse cultural heritage in Florida – a claim no other state in America can make – and Viva Florida 500 promotes the place where the world’s cultures began to unite and transform into the great nation we know today as the United States of America. The Viva Florida 500 commemoration is ongoing throughout 2013, and includes hundreds of events statewide. The goal is to promote 500 years of Florida’s history – its people, places and cultural achievements – and this important milestone in American and Florida history. Join us in celebrating the Florida we live in today! Learn more by visiting VivaFlorida.org.


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