Miami, Florida

2008/9 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Cities; North America

City of Miami
Flag of City of Miami
Official seal of City of Miami
Nickname(s): The Magic City
Location in Miami-Dade County and the state of Florida
Location in Miami-Dade County and the state of Florida
U.S. Census Bureau map showing city limits
U.S. Census Bureau map showing city limits
Country United States of America
State Florida
County Miami-Dade
Settled 1825
Incorporated July 28, 1896
 - Type Mayor-Commissioner Plan
 -  Mayor Manny Diaz (I)
 -  City Manager Pedro G. Hernandez
 - City Attorney Julie O. Bru
 -  City Clerk Priscilla Thompson
 - City 55.27 sq mi (143.15 km²)
 - Land 35.68 sq mi (92.42 km²)
 - Water 19.59 sq mi (50.73 km²)
 - Metro 6,137 sq mi (15,896 km²)
Elevation 6 ft (2 m)
Population (2007)
 - City 409,719
 -  Density 11,483/sq mi (29,740/km²)
 - Metro 5,413,212
 - Demonym Miamian
  2007 estimate
Time zone EST ( UTC-5)
 - Summer ( DST) EDT ( UTC-4)
ZIP Code 33101-33102, 33107, 33109-33112, 33114, 33116, 33119, 33121-33122, 33124-33170, 33172-33190, 33193-33197, 33199, 33222, 33231, 33233-33234, 33238-33239, 33242-33243, 33245, 33247, 33255-33257, 33261, 33265-33266, 33269, 33280, 33283, 33296, 33299
Area code(s) 305, 786
FIPS code 12-45000
GNIS feature ID 0295004

Miami ( pronounced maɪˈæmi or maɪˈæmə) is a global city in southeastern Florida, in the United States. Miami is the county seat of Miami-Dade County, the most populous county in Florida. With a population of more than 409,719, Miami is the largest city within the Miami metropolitan area, which is the seventh-largest metro area in the United States with over 5.4 million residents. The Miami Urbanized Area (as defined by the Census Bureau) was the fifth most populous urbanized area in the U.S. in the 2000 census with a population of 4,919,036.

Miami is ranked as a global city for its importance in finance, commerce, media, entertainment, arts and international trade. The city is home to many company headquarters, banks, and television studios. It is an international centre for popular entertainment in television, music, fashion, film, and the performing arts. The city's Port of Miami is known for accommodating the largest volume of cruise ships in the world and is home to many cruise line headquarters. Miami is also home to the largest concentration of international banks in the United States.

As of 2008, Miami is undergoing a large building boom with 24 skyscrapers that are expected to rise over 400 feet (122 m) currently under construction in the city. Miami’s skyline ranks third in the U.S., behind New York City and Chicago, and 18th in the world according to the Almanac of Architecture and Design. The city currently has nine of the ten tallest skyscrapers in the state of Florida, with the tallest being the 789-foot (240 m) Four Seasons Hotel & Tower.

In 2008, Miami was ranked as "America's Cleanest City" according to Forbes Magazine for its year-round good air quality, vast green spaces, clean drinking water, clean streets and city-wide recycling programs. In 2008, Miami was also ranked the 3rd-richest city in the United States and the world's 22nd-richest city in a UBS study.


Approximately 400 men voted for Miami’s incorporation in 1896 in the building to the left.
Approximately 400 men voted for Miami’s incorporation in 1896 in the building to the left.
Flagler Street on August 15, 1945, 20 minutes after surrender during World War II.
Flagler Street on August 15, 1945, 20 minutes after surrender during World War II.
The Collins Bridge, built in 1913, was the first bridge to connect Miami to Miami Beach.
The Collins Bridge, built in 1913, was the first bridge to connect Miami to Miami Beach.

The Miami area was first inhabited for more than one thousand years by the Tequesta Indians, but was later claimed for Spain in 1566 by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés. A Spanish mission was constructed one year later in 1567. In 1836, Fort Dallas was built, and the Miami area subsequently became a site of fighting during the Second Seminole War.

Miami holds the distinction of being the only major city in the United States founded by a woman, Julia Tuttle, who was a local citrus grower and a wealthy Cleveland native. The Miami area was better known as “Biscayne Bay Country” in the early years of its growth. Some published reports described the area as a promising wilderness. The area was also characterized as “one of the finest building sites in Florida.” The Great Freeze of 1894-1895 hastened Miami's growth, as the crops of the Miami area were the only ones in Florida that survived. Julia Tuttle subsequently convinced Henry Flagler, a railroad tycoon, to expand his Florida East Coast Railroad to the region. Miami was officially incorporated as a city on July 28, 1896 with a population of just over 300.

Miami prospered during the 1920s with an increase in population and infrastructure but weakened after the collapse of the Florida land boom of the 1920s, the 1926 Miami Hurricane and the Great Depression in the 1930s. When World War II began, Miami, well-situated due to its location on the southern coast of Florida, played an important role in the battle against German submarines. The war helped to expand Miami’s population; by 1940, 172,172 people lived in the city. After Fidel Castro rose to power in 1959, many Cubans sought refuge in Miami, further increasing the population. In the 1980s and 1990s, various crises struck South Florida, among them the Arthur McDuffie beating and the subsequent riot, drug wars, Hurricane Andrew, and the Elián González uproar. Nevertheless, in the latter half of the 20th century, Miami became a major international, financial, and cultural centre.

Miami and its metropolitan area grew from just over one thousand residents to nearly five and a half million residents in just 110 years (1896-2006). The city’s nickname, The Magic City, comes from this rapid growth. Winter visitors remarked that the city grew so much from one year to the next that it was like magic.


Miami skyline as seen from Miami Beach in August 2007
Miami skyline as seen from Miami Beach in August 2007
Miami River
Miami River
Miami seen from Spot Satellite
Miami seen from Spot Satellite

At only 35.68 square miles (92 km²) of land area, Miami has the smallest land area of any major U.S. city with a metro area of at least 2.5 million people. The city proper is home to less than 1 in 13 residents of South Florida. Additionally, 52% of Miami-Dade County’s population doesn't live in any incorporated city. Miami is the only major city in the United States bordered by two national parks, Everglades National Park on the west, and Biscayne National Park on the east.

Miami and its suburbs are located on a broad plain between the Florida Everglades to the west and Biscayne Bay to the east that also extends from Florida Bay north to Lake Okeechobee. The elevation of the area never rises above 40 ft (12 m) and averages at around 6 ft (2 m) above mean sea level in most neighborhoods, especially near the coast. The highest undulations are found along the coastal Miami Rock Ridge, whose substrate underlies most of the eastern Miami metropolitan region. The main portion of the city lies on the shores of Biscayne Bay which contains several hundred natural and artificially-created barrier islands, the largest of which contains Miami Beach and South Beach. The Gulf Stream, a warm ocean current, runs northward just 15 miles (24.1 km) off the coast, allowing the city's climate to stay warm and mild all year.


View from one of the high points in Miami, west of downtown. The western parts of the city have points as high as 20 feet (6.1 m) above sea level.
View from one of the high points in Miami, west of downtown. The western parts of the city have points as high as 20 feet (6.1 m) above sea level.

The surface bedrock under the Miami area is called Miami oolite or Miami limestone. This bedrock is covered by a thin layer of soil, and is no more than 50 feet (15 m) thick. Miami limestone formed as the result of the drastic changes in sea level associated with recent glaciations or ice ages. Beginning some 130,000 years ago the Sangamon interglacial raised sea levels to approximately 25 feet (7.5 m.) above the current level. All of southern Florida was covered by a shallow sea. Several parallel lines of reef formed along the edge of the submerged Florida plateau, stretching from the present Miami area to what is now the Dry Tortugas. The area behind this reef line was in effect a large lagoon, and the Miami limestone formed throughout the area from the deposition of oolites and the shells of bryozoans. Starting about 100,000 years ago the Wisconsin glaciation began lowering sea levels, exposing the floor of the lagoon. By 15,000 years ago, the sea level had dropped to 300 to 350 feet (110 m) below the contemporary level. The sea level rose quickly after that, stabilizing at the current level about 4000 years ago, leaving the mainland of South Florida just above sea level.

Beneath the plain lies the Biscayne Aquifer, a natural underground source of fresh water that extends from southern Palm Beach County to Florida Bay, with its highest point peaking around the cities of Miami Springs and Hialeah. Most of the South Florida metropolitan area obtains its drinking water from this aquifer. As a result of the aquifer, it is not possible to dig more than 15 to 20ft (4.57 to 6.1 m) beneath the city without hitting water, which impedes underground construction. For this reason there is no subway system in Miami.

Most of the western fringes of the city extend into the Everglades, a subtropical marshland located in the southern portion of the U.S. state of Florida. This causes occasional problems with local wildlife such as alligators venturing into Miami communities and major highways.

In terms of land area, Miami is one of the smallest major cities in the United States. According to the US Census Bureau, the city encompasses a total area of 55.27 mi² (143.15 km²). Of that area, 35.67 mi² (92.68 km²) is land and 19.59 mi² (50.73 km²) is water. That means Miami comprises over 400,000 people in a mere 35 square miles (91 km²), making it one of the most densely populated cities in the United States, along with New York City, San Francisco, and Chicago among others. Miami is located at .


Typical summer afternoon shower rolling in from the Everglades.
Typical summer afternoon shower rolling in from the Everglades.

Miami has a true tropical climate ( Köppen climate classification Aw), with hot, humid summers, and warm, dry winters. The city does experience cold fronts from November through March. However, the average monthly temperature for any month has never been recorded as being under 64.4 °F (January averages 67 °F). Most of the year is warm and humid, and the summers are almost identical to the climate of the Caribbean tropics. In addition, the city gets most of its rain in the summer (wet season) and is relatively dry and cool in winter (dry season). The wet season, which is hot and humid, lasts from May to October, when it gives way to the dry season, which features mild temperatures with some invasions of colder air, which is when the little winter rainfall occurs — with the passing of a front. The hurricane season largely coincides with the wet season.

In addition to its sea-level elevation, coastal location and position just above the Tropic of Cancer, the area owes its warm, humid climate to the Gulf Stream, which moderates climate year-round. A typical summer day does not have temperatures below 75 °F (24 °C). Temperatures in the high 80s to low 90s (30-35 °C) accompanied by high humidity are often relieved by afternoon thunderstorms or a sea breeze that develops off the Atlantic Ocean, which then allow lower temperatures, although conditions still remain very muggy. During winter, humidity is significantly lower, allowing for cooler weather to develop. Average minimum temperatures during that time are around 60 °F (15 °C), rarely dipping below 40 °F (4 °C), and the equivalent maxima usually range between 70 and 77 °F (19-24 °C).

Miami has never recorded a triple-digit temperature; the highest temperature recorded was 98 °F (37 °C). The coldest temperature ever recorded in the city of Miami was 30 °F (-1 °C) on several occasions. Miami has only once recorded snowfall, on January 20, 1977. Weather conditions for the area around Miami were recorded sporadically from 1839 until 1900, with many years-long gaps. A cooperative temperature and rainfall recording site was established in what is now Downtown in December, 1900. An official Weather Bureau Office was opened in Miami in June, 1911.

Miami receives abundant rainfall, one of the highest among major U.S. cities. Most of this rainfall occurs from mid-May through early October. It receives annual rainfall of 58.6 inches (1488 mm), whereas nearby Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beach receive 63.8 in (1621 mm) and 48.3 in (1227 mm), respectively, which demonstrates the high local variability in rainfall rates. Hurricane season officially runs from June 1 through November 30, although hurricanes can develop beyond those dates. The most likely time for Miami to be hit is during the peak of the Cape Verde season which is mid-August through the end of September. Due to its location between two major bodies of water known for tropical activity, Miami is also statistically the most likely major city in the world to be struck by a hurricane, trailed closely by Nassau, Bahamas, and Havana, Cuba. Despite this, the city has been fortunate in not having a direct hit by a hurricane since Hurricane Cleo in 1964. However, many other hurricanes have affected the city, including Betsy in 1965, Andrew in 1992, Irene in 1999, and Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma in 2005. In addition, a tropical depression in October of 2000 passed over the city, causing record rainfall and flooding. Locally, the storm is credited as the No Name Storm of 2000, though the depression went on to become Tropical Storm Leslie upon entering the Atlantic Ocean.

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Avg high °F (°C) 76
Avg low temperature °F (°C) 60
Rainfall in. (cm) 2.0
Source: Weatherbase


The Barnacle Historic State Park, built in 1891 in Miami's Coconut Grove neighborhood
The Barnacle Historic State Park, built in 1891 in Miami's Coconut Grove neighbourhood

Miami is partitioned into many different sections, roughly into North, South, West and Downtown. The heart of the city is Downtown Miami and is technically on the eastern side of the city. This area includes Brickell, Virginia Key, Watson Island, and the Port of Miami. Downtown is South Florida's central business district, and home of many major banks, financial headquarters, cultural and tourist attractions, and high-rise residential towers.

The Bacardi Building in Midtown, is an example of MiMo Architecture
The Bacardi Building in Midtown, is an example of MiMo Architecture

The southern side of Miami includes Coral Way and Coconut Grove. Coral Way is a historic residential neighbourhood built in 1922 connecting Downtown with Coral Gables, and is home to many old homes and tree-lined streets. Coconut Grove was established in 1825 and is the location of Miami's City Hall in Dinner Key, the Coconut Grove Playhouse, CocoWalk, many nightclubs, bars, restaurants and bohemian shops, and as such, is very popular with local college students. It is a historic neighbourhood with many parks and gardens such as Villa Vizcaya, The Kampong, The Barnacle Historic State Park, and home of the Coconut Grove Convention Centre, many of the country's most prestigious private schools, and numerous historic homes and estates.

The western side of Miami includes Little Havana, West Flagler, and Flagami, and is home to many of the city's traditionally immigrant neighborhoods. Although at one time a mostly Jewish neighbourhood, today western Miami is home to immigrants from mostly Central America and Cuba, while the west central neighbourhood of Allapattah is a multicultural community of many ethnicities.

The northern side of Miami includes Midtown, a district with a great mix of diversity with many West Indians, Hispanics, bohemians, artists, and Whites. Edgewater, and Wynwood, are neighborhoods of Midtown and are made up mostly of high-rise residential towers and are home to the Adrienne Arsht Centre for the Performing Arts. The wealthier residents usually live in the northeastern part, in Midtown, the Design District, and the Upper East Side, with many sought after 1920s homes and home of the MiMo Historic District, a style of architecture originated in Miami in the 1950s. The northern side of Miami, also has notable African-American and Caribbean immigrant communities such as Little Haiti, Overtown (home of the Lyric Theatre), and Liberty City.

Midtown Miami skyline as seen from Miami Beach in January 2008
Midtown Miami skyline as seen from Miami Beach in January 2008


Entertainment and performing arts

Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, the second-largest performing arts center in the United States
Adrienne Arsht Centre for the Performing Arts, the second-largest performing arts centre in the United States
Miami Art Museum
Miami Art Museum

Miami is home to many entertainment venues, theaters, museums, parks and performing arts centers. The newest addition to the Miami arts scene is the Adrienne Arsht Centre for the Performing Arts, the second-largest performing arts centre in the United States after the Lincoln Centre in New York City, and is the home of the Florida Grand Opera. In it, is the Ziff Ballet Opera House, the center's largest venue, the Knight Concert Hall, the Carnival Studio Theater and the Peacock Rehearsal Studio. The centre attracts many large scale operas, ballets, concerts, and musicals from around the world and is Florida's grandest performing arts centre. Other performing arts centers in Miami include the Gusman Centre for the Performing Arts, the Coconut Grove Playhouse, the Manuel Artime Theatre, the Fair Expo Centre and the Bayfront Park Amphitheater for outdoor music events.

The city is home to numerous museums as well, many of which are in Downtown. These include the Bass Museum, Frost Art Museum, Historical Museum of Southern Florida, Jewish Museum of Florida, Lowe Art Museum, Miami Art Museum, Miami Children's Museum, Miami Science Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Wolfsonian-FIU Museum and the Miami Cultural Centre, home of the Main Miami Library. Other popular cultural destinations in the area include Jungle Island, Miami MetroZoo, Miami Seaquarium, and parks and gardens in and around the city; there are over 80 parks in Miami. The largest and most popular parks are Bayfront Park and Bicentennial Park (located in the heart of Downtown and the location of the American Airlines Arena and Bayside Marketplace), Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Tropical Park, Watson Island and Morningside Park.

Miami is also a major fashion centre, home to models and some of the top modeling agencies in the world. Miami is also host to many fashion shows and events, including the annual Miami Fashion Week and the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Miami held in the Wynwood Art District.


Nightclubs in Downtown
Nightclubs in Downtown

Miami music is varied. Cubans brought the conga and rumba to Miami from their homelands instantly popularizing it in American culture. Dominicans brought bachata, and merengue, while Colombians brought vallenato. West Indians and Caribbean people have brought reggae, soca, kompa, zouk, calypso, and steel pan to the area as well.

In the early-1970s, the Miami disco sound came to life with TK Records, featuring the music of KC and the Sunshine Band, with such hits as "Get Down Tonight", "(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty" and "That's the Way (I Like It)"; and the Latin-American disco group, Foxy (band), with their hit singles "Get Off" and "Hot Number". Miami-area natives George McCrae and Teri DeSario were also popular music artists during the 1970s disco era. Miami-influenced, Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine, hit the popular music scene with their Cuban-oriented sound and had huge hits in the 1980s with "Conga" and "Bad Boys".

Miami is also considered a "hot spot" for DANCE music, Freestyle, a style of dance music popular in the 80's and 90's heavily influenced by Electro, hip-hop, and disco. Many popular Freestyle acts such as Pretty Tony, Debbie Deb, Stevie B, and Exposé, originated in Miami. Indie/ folk acts Cat Power and Iron & Wine are based in the city, while alternative hip hop artist Sage Francis, electro artist Uffie, and the electroclash duo Avenue D were born in Miami, but musically based elsewhere. Also, punk band Against All Authority is from Miami, and rock/ metal bands Nonpoint and Marilyn Manson each formed in neighboring Fort Lauderdale. Popular Cuban American female recording artist , Ana Cristina, was born in Miami in 1985, and became the first hispanic person in history to perform the "Star Spangled Banner" at a presidential inauguration.

Miami is also home to a vibrant techno and dance scene and hosts the Winter Music Conference, the largest dance event in the world, Ultra Music Festival and many electronica music-themed celebrations and festivals. Along with neighboring Miami Beach, Miami is home to some famous nightclubs, such as Space, Mansion, Parkwest, Ink, Cameo, and Opium Garden. The city is known to be part of clubland, along with places such as Mykonos, Ibiza and Ayia Napa.

There are also several rap and hip hop artists out of Miami. They include DJ Khaled, Rick Ross, Trick Daddy, Ace Hood, Trina, and Pitbull.


Miami professional sports teams
Club Sport League Venue League Championships
Miami Dolphins Football National Football League Dolphin Stadium Super Bowl (2)
  • ( VII 1972 - defeated Washington Redskins, 14-7 [being the first and only undefeated team in an NFL season]
  • VIII 1973 - defeated Minnesota Vikings, 24-7)
Florida Panthers Hockey National Hockey League BankAtlantic Centre none
Miami Heat Basketball National Basketball Association AmericanAirlines Arena NBA Finals
  • ( 2006 - defeated Dallas Mavericks, series 4-2)
Florida Marlins Baseball Major League Baseball; NL Dolphin Stadium World Series (2)
  • ( 1997 - defeated Cleveland Indians, series 4-3;)
  • ( 2003 - defeated New York Yankees, series 4-2)
Sony Ericsson Open Tennis ATP & WTA Tennis Centre at Crandon Park
Miami FC Soccer United Soccer Leagues Tropical Park Stadium none
Miami Tropics Basketball American Basketball Association Miami Arena none
Miami Orange Bowl
Miami Orange Bowl
American Airlines Arena
American Airlines Arena

Miami is home to many major professional sports teams. The Miami Dolphins, the NFL team, Miami Heat, the NBA team, Florida Marlins, the MLB team, and the Florida Panthers, Miami's NHL team. As well as having all four major professional teams, Miami is home to many other sports teams and activities such as Miami FC, Miami Tropics, for soccer the Sony Ericsson Open for professional tennis, numerous greyhound racing tracks, marinas, Jai-Alai venues, and golf courses.

The Miami Heat is the only major professional sports team that plays its games within Miami's city limits at the American Airlines Arena. The team recently won the 2006 NBA Finals, winning the series 4-2 over the Dallas Mavericks. The Miami Dolphins and the Florida Marlins both play their games in Miami Gardens. The Orange Bowl, a member of the Bowl Championship Series, hosts their college football championship games at Dolphin Stadium. The stadium has also hosted the Super Bowl; the Miami metro area has hosted the game a total of nine times (four Super Bowls in Dolphin Stadium, including Super Bowl XLI and five at the Miami Orange Bowl), tying New Orleans for the most games.

Miami FC, Florida’s only professional soccer team, plays at Tropical Park Stadium. Miami signed world-famed soccer player Romario in March 2006 to a one year deal. The Florida Panthers NHL team plays in neighboring Broward County, Florida at the BankAtlantic Centre in the city of Sunrise. Miami is also home to Paso Fino horses, where competitions are held at Tropical Park Equestrian Centre.

Miami is also the home of many college sports teams. Two largest are the Florida International University Golden Panthers whose football team plays at FIU Stadium and the University of Miami Hurricanes, whose football team formerly played at the Miami Orange Bowl, but moved to Dolphin Stadium starting with the 2008 season.

A number of defunct teams were located in Miami, including the Miami Floridians ( ABA), Miami Matadors ( ECHL), Miami Manatees ( WHA2), Miami Gatos ( NASL), Miami Screaming Eagles ( WHA), Miami Seahawks ( AAFC), Miami Sol ( WNBA), Miami Toros ( NASL), Miami Tropics ( SFL), and the Miami Hooters ( Arena Football League). The Miami Fusion, a defunct Major League Soccer team played at Lockhart Stadium in nearby Broward County.


Companies such as Espírito Santo Financial Group, Alienware, Bank of America, HSBC, Bacardi, Telemundo, Wachovia, Telefónica, Lennar, Ryder, Greenberg Traurig, Ernst and Young, Mellon Financial and Burger King have offices and headquarters in Miami
Companies such as Espírito Santo Financial Group, Alienware, Bank of America, HSBC, Bacardi, Telemundo, Wachovia, Telefónica, Lennar, Ryder, Greenberg Traurig, Ernst and Young, Mellon Financial and Burger King have offices and headquarters in Miami

Miami is one of the country’s most important financial centers. It is a major centre of commerce, finances, corporate headquarters, and boasts a strong international business community. According to the ranking of world cities undertaken by the Globalization and World Cities Study Group & Network (GaWC) and based on the level of presence of global corporate service organizations, Miami is considered a “Gamma World City”.

The Port of Miami, the world's largest cruise ship port, and is the headquarters of Norwegian Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Seabourn Cruise Line, and Carnival Corporation
The Port of Miami, the world's largest cruise ship port, and is the headquarters of Norwegian Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Seabourn Cruise Line, and Carnival Corporation
The ongoing high-rise construction in Miami, has inspired popular opinion of “Miami manhattanization”
The ongoing high-rise construction in Miami, has inspired popular opinion of “ Miami manhattanization”

Several large companies are headquartered in or around Miami, including but not limited to: Alienware, Arquitectonica, Arrow Air, Bacardi, Benihana, Brightstar Corporation, Burger King, Celebrity Cruises, Carnival Corporation, Carnival Cruise Lines, CompUSA, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Espírito Santo Financial Group,, Greenberg Traurig, Interval International, Lennar, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Perry Ellis International, RCTV International, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Ryder Systems, Seabourn Cruise Line, Telefónica USA, TeleFutura, Telemundo, Univision, U.S. Century Bank, and World Fuel Services. Because of its proximity to Latin America, Miami serves as the headquarters of Latin American operations for more than 1400 multinational corporations, including AIG, American Airlines, Cisco, Disney, Exxon, FedEx, Kraft Foods, Microsoft, Oracle, SBC Communications, Sony, and Visa International.

Miami International Airport and the Port of Miami are among the nation’s busiest ports of entry, especially for cargo from South America and the Caribbean. Additionally, Downtown has the largest concentration of international banks in the country located mostly in Brickell, Miami's financial district. Miami was also the host city of the 2003 Free Trade Area of the Americas negotiations, and is one of the leading candidates to become the trading bloc's headquarters.

Villa Vizcaya, built in 1914, is a major tourist attraction
Villa Vizcaya, built in 1914, is a major tourist attraction

Tourism is also an important industry in Miami. The beaches, conventions, festivals and events draw over 12 million visitors annually from across the country and around the world, spending $17.1 billion.. The historical Art Deco district in South Beach, is widely regarded as one of the most glamorous in the world for its world-famous nightclubs, beaches, historical buildings, and shopping. However, it is important to note that Miami Beach is a separate city from the City of Miami.

Miami is the home to the National Hurricane Centre and the headquarters of the United States Southern Command, responsible for military operations in Central and South America. In addition to these roles, Miami is also an industrial centre, especially for stone quarrying and warehousing.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2004, Miami had the third highest incidence of family incomes below the federal poverty line in the United States, making it the third poorest city in the USA, behind only Detroit, Michigan (ranked #1) and El Paso, Texas (ranked #2.) Miami is also one of the very few cities where its local government went bankrupt, in 2001.

In 2005, the Miami area witnessed its largest real estate boom since the 1920s. Midtown, having well over a hundred approved construction projects, is an example of this. As of 2007, however, the housing market has crashed and more than 23,000 condos are for sale and/or foreclosed. The Miami area ranks 8th in the nation in foreclosures. Miami is also one of the least affordable places to live, with the median percentage of housing costs as a percentage of income was 42.8%; the national average was 27%. Miami ranks twelfth among least affordable cities for home ownership.


Miami population
Year City
1840 446 N/A
1850 159 N/A
1860 83 N/A
1870 85 N/A
1880 257 N/A
1890 861 N/A
1900 1,681 N/A
1910 5,471 N/A
1920 29,549 66,542
1930 110,637 214,830
1940 172,172 387,522
1950 249,276 693,705
1960 291,688 1,497,099
1970 334,859 2,236,645
1980 346,865 3,220,844
1990 358,548 4,056,100
2000 362,470 5,007,564
2007 409,719 5,413,212
A map of Miami from 1955
A map of Miami from 1955

Miami is the 43rd most populous city in the U.S. The Miami metropolitan area, which includes Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, had a combined population of more than 5.4 million people, ranked fourth-largest in the United States, (behind Chicago, Illinois), and is the largest metropolitan area in the Southeastern United States. As of 2008, the United Nations estimates that the Miami Urban Agglomeration is the fourth-largest in the United States, and the 44th-largest in the world. As of the census of 2000, there were 362,470 people, 134,198 households, and 83,336 families residing in the city. The population density was 10,160.9/mi² (3,923.5/km²). There were 148,388 housing units at an average density of 4,159.7/mi² (1,606.2/km²).

The racial makeup of the city proper is as follows:

  • White: 66.6% (Non-Hispanic White 11.8%)
  • Hispanic or Latino of any race: 80.8%
  • Black (many of whom are from the Caribbean or African-American): 22.3%
  • Some other races: 5.4%
  • Two or more races: 4.74%
  • Asian: 0.7%
  • Pacific Islander: 0.04%
  • Native American: 0.2%
The Freedom Tower, one of Miami's first skyscrapers, was completed in 1925
The Freedom Tower, one of Miami's first skyscrapers, was completed in 1925

As of 2000, in terms of national origin and/or ethnic origin, 34.1% of the populace was Cuban, while 5.6% of the city's population was Nicaraguan, 5.5% of the population was Haitian, 3.3% of the population was Honduran, 1.7% of all residents were Dominican, and 1.6% of the population was Colombian. In 2004, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) ranked Miami first in terms of percentage of residents born outside of the country it is located in (59%), followed by Toronto (50%).

There were 134,198 households out of which 26.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.6% were married couples living together, 18.7% have a female head of household with no husband present, and 37.9% were non-families. 30.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.61 and the average family size was 3.25. The age distribution was 21.7% under the age of 18, 8.8% from 18 to 24, 30.3% from 25 to 44, 22.1% from 45 to 64, and 17.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 98.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.3 males.

Plymouth Congregational Church, built in 1917
Plymouth Congregational Church, built in 1917

The median income for a household in the city was $23,483, and the median income for a family was $27,225. Males had a median income of $24,090 versus $20,115 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,128. About 23.5% of families and 28.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 38.2% of those under age 18 and 29.3% of those age 65 or over.

Miami’s explosive population growth in recent years has been driven by internal migration from other parts of the country as well as by immigration. Miami is regarded as more of a multicultural mosaic, than it is a melting pot, with residents still maintaining much of, or some of their cultural traits. The overall culture of Miami is heavily influenced by its large population of ethnic Latin Americans and cultures from Caribbeans from islands such as Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, The Bahamas, and Cuba; many of whom spoke Spanish or Haitian Creole.

Authentic Cuban dish of ropa vieja, black beans, yellow rice, plantains and fried yuca with beer
Authentic Cuban dish of ropa vieja, black beans, yellow rice, plantains and fried yuca with beer

Today, the Miami area has a sizable community of citizens, undocumented populations, and permanent residents, of Argentines, Bahamians, Brazilians, Canadians, Chileans, Chinese, Colombians, Cubans, Dominicans, Ecuadorans, French, Germans, Greeks, Guatemalans, Guayanese, Haitians, Hondurans, Jamaicans, Indians, Italians, Mexicans, Nicaraguans, Peruvians, Russians, Salvadoran, Trinidadians and Tobagonians, Turks, South Africans, and Venezuelans, as well as a sizable Puerto Rican population throughout the metropolitan area. While commonly thought of as mainly a city of Hispanic and Caribbean immigrants, the Miami area is home to large French, French Canadian, German, Italian, and Russian communities. The communities have grown to a prominent place in Miami and its suburbs, creating ethnic enclave neighborhoods such as Little Haiti, Little Havana, Little Managua, Little Brazil, Little Moscow, and Little San Juan.


A wide variety of languages are commonly spoken throughout the city. Miami has the largest Spanish-speaking population in the Western Hemisphere outside Latin America.

As of 2000, speakers of Spanish as their first language accounted for 66.75% of residents, while English was spoken by 25.45%, French Creole by 5.20%, and French speakers comprised 0.76% of the population. Other languages that were spoken throughout the city include Portuguese at 0.41%, German at 0.18%, Italian at 0.16%, Arabic at 0.15%, Chinese at 0.11%, and Greek at 0.08% of the population. Miami also has one of the largest percentage populations in the U.S. that have residents who speak first languages other than English at home (74.54%.)

Law and government

The government of the City of Miami, Florida, provided for under this Charter shall be known as the "mayor-city commissioner plan," and the city commission shall consist of five commissioners, who are qualified voters of the city and who shall be elected from districts in the manner hereinafter provided. The city commission shall constitute the governing body with powers to pass ordinances adopt regulations and exercise all powers conferred upon the city except as hereinafter provided. The mayor shall exercise all powers conferred herein and shall appoint as provided in section of this Charter a chief administrative officer to be known as the "city manager.". The City of Miami is governed by Mayor Manny Diaz and 5 City commissioners which oversee the five districts in the City. It holds regular meetings in the City Hall of Miami located in 3500 Pan American Drive Miami, Florida 33133 in the neighbourhood of Coconut Grove.

City council

  • Manuel A. Diaz - Mayor of the City of Miami, first elected in 2001 and re-elected to a second term in 2006.
  • Angel Gonzalez - City of Miami Commissioner, District 1
  • Marc Sarnoff - City of Miami Commissioner, District 2
  • Joe M. Sanchez - City of Miami Commissioner, District 3
  • Tomas P. Regalado - City of Miami Commissioner, District 4
  • Michelle Spence-Jones - City of Miami Commissioner, District 5

City management

  • Pedro G. Hernandez - City Manager
  • Julie O. Bru - City Attorney
  • Priscilla Thompson - City Clerk


Miami High School, founded in 1903
Miami High School, founded in 1903

Public schools

Public schools in Miami are governed by Miami-Dade County Public Schools, which is the largest school district in Florida and the fourth-largest in the United States. As of February 15, 2006 it has a student enrollment of 414,128 and over 392 schools and centers. The district is also the largest minority public school system in the country, with 60% of its students being of Hispanic origin, 28% African American, 10% White (non-Hispanic) and 2% non-white of other minorities. Miami is home to some of the nation's best high schools, such as Design and Architecture High School, ranked the nation's best magnet school, MAST Academy, Coral Reef High School, ranked 20th-best public high school in the U.S., Miami Palmetto High School, and the New World School of the Arts. M-DCPS is also one of a few public school districts in the United States to offer optional bilingual education.

Private schools

Miami is home to several prestigious Roman Catholic, Jewish and non-denominational private schools. The Archdiocese of Miami operates the city's Catholic private schools, which include: Our Lady of Lourdes Academy, St. Hugh Catholic School, St. Theresa Catholic School, La Salle High School, Monsignor Edward Pace High School, Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart, Christopher Columbus High School, Archbishop Curley-Notre Dame High School, St. Brendan High School, amongst numerous other elementary and high schools. Some of the most well-known non-denominational private schools in Miami are Ransom Everglades, Gulliver Preparatory School, and Miami Country Day School, which are traditionally known as some of the country's best schools. Other schools in the outlying areas include Belen Jesuit Preparatory School and Samuel Scheck Hillel Community Day School.

Florida International University
Florida International University

Colleges and universities

(List includes institutions in and around Miami.)

  • Barry University (private)
  • Carlos Albizu University (private)
  • Florida International University (public, largest university in South Florida)
  • Florida Memorial University (private)
  • Johnson and Wales University (private)
  • Keiser University (private)
  • Miami Dade College (public, largest institution of higher learning in the U.S.)
  • Miami International University of Art and Design (private)
  • Nova Southeastern University (private)
  • St. Thomas University (private)
  • Talmudic University (private)
  • University of Miami (private, located in Coral Gables)

The city ranks second-to-last in people over 18 with a high school diploma, with 47% of the population not having that degree.



Miami International Airport serves over 35 million people annually and is the world's 10th-largest cargo airport
Miami International Airport serves over 35 million people annually and is the world's 10th-largest cargo airport

Miami International Airport, one of the busiest international airports in the world, is the main airport serving the Miami metropolitan area, catering to over 35 million passengers a year. Identifiable locally, as well as several worldwide authorities, as MIA or KMIA, the airport is a major hub and the single largest international gateway for American Airlines, the world’s largest passenger air carrier. Miami International is the United States’ third largest international port of entry for foreign air passengers (behind New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport), and is the seventh largest such gateway in the world. The airport’s extensive international route network includes non-stop flights to over seventy international cities in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Alternatively, nearby Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Opa-Locka Airport, and Kendall-Tamiami Airport also serve the Miami area.


Government Center, one of the busiest transit stations of the Miami Metrorail
Government Centre, one of the busiest transit stations of the Miami Metrorail
The Metromover is a free train that runs throughout Downtown and Brickell
The Metromover is a free train that runs throughout Downtown and Brickell

Miami is home to one of the largest ports in the United States, the Port of Miami. It is the largest cruise ship port in the world. The port is often called the “Cruise Capital of the World” and the “Cargo Gateway of the Americas”. It has retained its status as the number one cruise/passenger port in the world for well over a decade accommodating the largest cruise ships and the major cruise lines. In 2005, the port served 3,605,201 passengers. Additionally, the port is one of the nation's busiest cargo ports, importing nearly ten million tons of cargo annually. Among North American ports, it ranks second only to the Port of South Louisiana in New Orleans in terms of cargo tonnage imported/exported from Latin America. The port is on 518 acres (2.10 km²) and has 7 passenger terminals. China is the port's number one import country, and Honduras is the number one export country. Miami has the world's largest amount of cruise line headquarters, home to: Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, Costa Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, and Windjammer Barefoot Cruises.

Public transportation

Public transportation in Miami is operated by Miami-Dade Transit, and includes heavy-rail rapid transit, an elevated people mover, and buses.

Miami's heavy-rail rapid transit system, Metrorail, is an elevated system comprising 22 stations on a 22-mile (36-km)-long line. Metrorail runs from the western suburbs of Hialeah and Medley through the Civic Centre, Downtown, Coconut Grove, Coral Gables and ends in the southern suburb of Pinecrest. A free, elevated people mover, Metromover, operates 21 stations on three different lines in downtown Miami, with a station roughly every two blocks. Several expansion projects are being funded by a transit development sales tax surcharge throughout Miami-Dade County.

Tri-Rail, a commuter rail system operated by the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, runs from Miami International Airport northward to West Palm Beach, making eighteen stops.

Construction is currently underway on the Miami Intermodal Centre and Miami Central Station, a massive transportation hub servicing Metrorail, Amtrak, Tri-Rail, Metrobus, taxis, rental cars, private automobiles, bicycles and pedestrians adjacent to Miami International Airport. Completion of the Miami Intermodal Centre is expected to be completed by 2010, and will serve over 150,000 commuters and travelers in the Miami area.

Two new light rail systems, Baylink and the Miami Streetcar, have been proposed and are currently in the planning stage. BayLink will connect Downtown with South Beach, and the Miami Streetcar will connect Downtown with Midtown.

Road and rail

Julia Tuttle Causeway
Julia Tuttle Causeway

Miami is the southern terminus of Amtrak's Atlantic Coast services, with its final station located in the suburb of Hialeah.

Miami-Dade County is served by four Interstate Highways ( I-75, I-95, I-195, I-395) and several U.S. Highways including U.S. Route 1, U.S. Route 27, U.S. Route 41, and U.S. Route 441. For information on the street grid, see Miami-Dade County, Florida#Street grid. Some of the major Florida State Roads (and their common names) serving the county are:

  • SR 112 (Airport Expressway) Miami Beach to MIA
  • SR 821 (The HEFT or Homestead Extension of the Florida Turnpike: SR 91/ Miami Gardens to U.S. Route 1/ Florida City)
  • SR 826 (Palmetto Expressway) Golden Glades Interchange to U.S. Route 1/ Kendall
  • SR 836 (Dolphin Expressway) Downtown to Turnpike via MIA
  • SR 874 (Don Shula Expressway) 826/Bird Road to 878
  • SR 878 (Snapper Creek Expressway) Kendall to Turnpike/ Homestead
  • SR 924 (Gratigny Parkway) Miami Lakes to Opa-locka

In 2007, Miami was identified as having the rudest drivers in the United States, the second year in a row to have been cited, in a poll commissioned by automobile club AutoVantage. Miami is also consistently ranked as one of the most dangerous cities in the United States for pedestrians.

In popular culture

The Bank of America  Tower lit hot neon pink, one of the colors that has become the epitome of Miami's fashion industry
The Bank of America Tower lit hot neon pink, one of the colors that has become the epitome of Miami's fashion industry
Atlantis Condominium, as seen in Miami Vice
Atlantis Condominium, as seen in Miami Vice

There are many television shows set in Miami. The controversial Emmy winning drama Nip/Tuck, CBS's CSI: Miami, and Showtime's Dexter all take place in Miami. The Jackie Gleason Show was taped in Miami Beach from 1964 to 1970. The NBC show Good Morning, Miami was fictionally based around the workings of a Miami television station. The popular sitcoms The Golden Girls and Empty Nest, as well as the detective series Surfside 6 and Miami Vice were also based in the Miami area. Keeping with its modern music tradition, the city has recently hosted the 2004 and 2005 MTV Video Music Awards. A recent show to be set in Miami is the USA Network's Burn Notice, which is filmed on location and in studios located in Miami.

In the mid-2000s, Miami started to become a popular backdrop for reality television shows. Reality programming set in the city include the TLC show Miami Ink; Discovery Channel's After Dark; Animal Planet's Miami Animal Police; MTV's 8th & Ocean, Making Menudo, the fourth season of Making the Band, Room Raiders; The Real World: Miami, and The X Effect; VH1's Hogan Knows Best; TruTV's Bounty Girls: Miami; A&E's The First 48 and the third season of Bravo's Top Chef.

View of the "Moon over Miami", a famous phrase that has inspired many pop culture items, including a movie, TV series, song and dish
View of the "Moon over Miami", a famous phrase that has inspired many pop culture items, including a movie, TV series, song and dish

The video games Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, which became one of the best selling video games in history, and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, take place in Vice City, a fictional city inspired by Miami, including some of the same architecture and geography. There are also characters in the game who speak Haitian Creole and Spanish.

Miami has acted as the backdrop for many movies, including There's Something About Mary, Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, Wild Things, Marley & Me, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Out of Time, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Bad Boys & Bad Boys II, Iron Man, Transporter 2, The Birdcage, The Substitute, Blow, True Lies, Reno 911!: Miami, Quick Pick, Miami Vice (based on the 1980s television series of the same name), Cocaine Cowboys, 1983's Scarface, Police Academy 5, and the James Bond films Goldfinger, Thunderball, and Casino Royale.

Miami is a centre for Latin television and film production. As a result, many Spanish-language programs are filmed in the many television production studios, predominantly in Hialeah and Doral. This includes gameshows, variety shows, news programs, and telenovelas. Arguably, the most famous Miami-filmed programs are Sábado Gigante, a Saturday night variety show seen throughout the United States, South America and Europe, and the daytime talk shows Cristina and El Gordo y la Flaca.

Sister cities

Miami has twelve sister cities:

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