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Central Florida is the central region of the United Statesmarker state of Floridamarker, on the East Coast. The region enjoys a hot but stormy climate, with many thunderstorms, and hurricanes threatening often.

Although the exact area can be disputed, Central Florida tends to be thought of as the area around metropolitan Orlandomarker, including Orangemarker, Osceolamarker, Seminolemarker, Lakemarker, Brevardmarker, and Volusiamarker counties. Polkmarker, Flaglermarker, and Sumtermarker counties are considered by some, including the local media, to be part of Central Florida. Although geographically in the central part of the state, usually the west central coast, including Hillsboroughmarker, Pinellasmarker, Pascomarker, and Hernandomarker counties, is considered the Tampa Bay Areamarker or the Suncoast, rather than a part of Central Florida. This area is known as the I-4 corridor.


In 2009, the estimated total population of the Central Florida region was just over 4 million people. Central Florida is a particularly unique region of Florida because it blends the traditional culture of the Deep South which is experienced in the rural areas, with the perceived "typical Florida" culture that is dominated by national and international migration.

The largest cities in Central Florida are Orlandomarker, Palm Baymarker, Lakelandmarker, Melbournemarker, Deltonamarker, Daytona Beachmarker, Kissimmeemarker, Altamonte Springsmarker and Sanfordmarker.


For the last decade, continuous heavy growth in the region, coupled with a lack of growth management has led to massive urban sprawl in the area. Outdated and unplanned transit infrastructure has made Orlando the 8th worst city in the United States for traffic congestion. Local governments, long at odds with each other, have now started taking a more regional approach and several transportation initiatives are taking shape. The Central Florida Region is playing "catch-up" with massive road projects, such as the SR 408 and Interstate 4 expansions and SunRail set to open in 2010. A local citizens planning board,, is an active voice in regional planning and communication.


The area's biggest attractions include Walt Disney Worldmarker, SeaWorldmarker, Universal Studios Floridamarker, Kennedy Space Centermarker, Cypress Gardensmarker, Bok Tower Gardensmarker, Daytona International Speedwaymarker and Gatorlandmarker. Central Florida also has a wide variety of natural attractions including the St. Johns River, the Ocklawaha River, the Econlockhatchee River, Canaveral National Seashoremarker, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refugemarker and over 1,500 lakes and ponds. The region also boasts an extensive network of recreational trails (jogging, biking, equestrian, etc). While many connections are already in place construction continues on eventually linking all of the hundreds of miles of trails and greenways being developed by each county. Major trails include the Cady Way, Cross Seminole and West Orange Trails, and the Central Florida Zoo, The Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardensmarker is located north of Orlando, Florida near the city of Sanford. The zoo hosts several annual events, including a Halloween Zoo Bash and a Breakfast with Santa.


Central Florida boasts many cultural offerings. The Orlando Museum of Artmarker, Orlando Science Center, Bob Carr Performing Arts Centremarker and Orange County Regional History Centermarker are located in downtown Orlando. The Cornell Fine Arts Museummarker and Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Artmarker are located in Winter Park. The Museum of Arts and Sciences and the Daytona International Speedwaymarker, home to NASCAR is located in Daytona Beachmarker. Because of the large number of tourists and increasing local wealth, the area is home to several major upscale retailers, hotels and restaurants. As a result, several major designers from Chanel to Louis Vuitton have shops in Orlando, most of which are located at the The Mall at Milleniamarker.


Tourism is a large contributor to Central Florida's economy. However, the area has made great strides to diversify its economy. As a high-tech industrial hub, Metro Orlando consists of the seventh largest research park in the U.S., Central Florida Research Parkmarker, the prominent engineering and business school of the University of Central Floridamarker, and numerous major companies such as Lockheed Martin and Siemens. The Orlando area is poised to become a major medical research center with the University of Central Floridamarker building a medical school, the Burnham Institute building a major biomedical research facility and a new Veterans Administrationmarker hospital all set to open by the end of the decade. All of the aforementioned facilities will be located in the Lake Nonamarker area and will collectively be referred to as Medical City. See the article Orlando, Floridamarker for more detailed information regarding the local economy.

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