Start Defining South Florida

By Savannah Edgens

We all have those professors who make us state our name, major and where we are from. Inevitably, there’s always that one person who says, “Hi, I’m Savannah. I’m a journalism major and I’m from south Florida.” Where is south Florida? Is it Miami? Is it Key West, or is it Naples? I have never heard people refer to south Florida as anything but a region. So, I would like to set the record straight about what south Florida really is.

For me, it’s home. It’s Manatee County, which starts the cutoff for south Florida, at least according to most maps. Draw a line east to Indian River County. Everything south of those two counties is considered south Florida, at least from the cartographic perspective. To Floridians in the panhandle, Gainesville could be considered south Florida. For residents in Orlando, south Florida could be anything south of the Kissimmee River. In reality, there’s no definitive answer for south Florida. Although, if anyone is ever playing the “introduction” game in school, I’ve composed a helpful list of tips for referring to geographic areas in Florida.

  1. Stop saying you’re from Miami when you’re from Homestead. You’re from 45 minutes outside of Miami.
  2. Try using ordinal directions such as southwest or southeast. This will help people understand whether you are from the south Florida that’s Naples or the south Florida that’s Miami.
  3. Stop referring to Jupiter as a small town. Floridians know where Jupiter is, particularly if they have been to West Palm Beach. Almost every person I’ve met at UF has been to Jupiter, and that’s not an exaggeration. Also, if there’s more than one choice for high school, then it’s not a small town.
  4. The panhandle doesn’t mean a person is from Pensacola. There’s a lot of Florida between Pensacola and Tallahassee.

Finally, south Florida is not a city. It’s a wide-spanning region that could encompass the Tampa Bay area as far east as the Atlantic coast. Give people a reference so they aren’t left wondering which coast you live on or if you live in the central portion of south Florida.

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