Miami, Florida

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: North American Geography

Miami, Florida
Skyline of Miami, Florida
Official flag of Miami, Florida
Official seal of Miami, Florida
Flag Seal
Nickname: " The Magic City"
Location in Miami-Dade County and the state of Florida.
Location in Miami-Dade County and the state of Florida.
Coordinates: 25°47′16″N, 80°13′″W
Country United States
State Florida
County Miami-Dade
Mayor Manny Diaz (I)
 - City 55.27 mi² - 143.15 km²
 - Land 35.68 mi² - 92.42 km²
 - Water 19.59 mi² - 50.73 km²
Elevation 2 m  (33 ft)
 - City (2005) 382,894
 - Density 4,148.98/km²
 - Urban 4,919,036
 - Metro 5,422,200
Time zone EST ( UTC-5)
 - Summer ( DST) EDT ( UTC-4)

Miami is a major city in southeastern Florida, in the United States. Miami and the surrounding metropolitan area are situated on northern Biscayne Bay between the Everglades and the Atlantic Ocean. By population, Miami is the largest city in Miami-Dade County and the county seat, the largest city in the South Florida metropolitan area, which comprises Miami-Dade County, Broward County, and Palm Beach County, making up the largest metropolitan area in the Southeastern United States and the sixth largest metropolitan area in the United States. However, based on city limits, it is the second-largest city in Florida (after Jacksonville).

Miami was officially incorporated as a city on July 28, 1896, with a voting population of just over 300. In 1940, 172,172 people lived in the city. According to the 2000 census, the city proper had a population of 362,470, while the larger metropolitan area had a population over 5.4 million. The U.S. Census Bureau estimate of the population of Miami in 2004 was 379,724.

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. Greater Miami is regarded as a cultural melting pot, heavily influenced both by its large population of ethnic Latin Americans and Caribbean islanders (many of them Spanish- or Haitian Creole-speaking).

The region's importance as an international financial and cultural centre has elevated Miami to the status of world city; because of its cultural and linguistic ties to North, South, and Central America, and the Caribbean it is sometimes called "The Gateway of the Americas." Florida's large Spanish-speaking population and strong economic ties to Latin America also make Miami and the surrounding region an important centre of the Hispanic world.

Practically all major foreign countries today maintain consulates in Miami. The city has been involved in numerous political controversies with nearby Cuba and Fidel Castro, plus wider concerns with terrorism, immigration, and drug issues throughout the region.


The earliest evidence of Native American settlement in the Miami region came from about 12,000 years ago. The first inhabitants settled on the banks of the Miami River, with the main villages on the northern banks.

The inhabitants at the time of first European contact were the Tequesta people, who controlled much of southeastern Florida, including what is now Miami-Dade County, Broward County, and the southern part of Palm Beach County. The Tequesta Indians fished, hunted, and gathered the fruit and roots of plants for food, but did not practice any form of agriculture. They buried the small bones of the deceased with the rest of the body, and put the larger bones in a box for the village people to see. The Tequesta are credited with making the Miami Circle.

Juan Ponce de León was the first European to visit the area in 1513 by sailing into Biscayne Bay. His journal records that he reached Chequescha, which was Miami's first recorded name. It is unknown whether he came ashore or made contact with the Indians. Pedro Menéndez de Avilés and his men made the first recorded landing when they visited the Tequesta settlement in 1566 while looking for Avilés' missing son, shipwrecked a year earlier. Spanish soldiers led by Father Francisco Villiareal built a Jesuit mission at the mouth of the Miami River a year later but it was short-lived. After the Spaniards left, the Tequesta Indians were left to fend themselves from European-introduced diseases like smallpox. By 1711, the Tequesta sent a couple of local chiefs to Havana, Cuba to ask if they could migrate there. The Cubans sent two ships to help them, but Spanish illnesses struck and most of the Indians died.

The first permanent European settlers arrived in the early 1800s. People came from the Bahamas to South Florida and the Keys to hunt for treasure from the ships that ran aground on the treacherous Great Florida reef. Some accepted Spanish land offers along the Miami River. At about the same time, the Seminole Indians arrived, along with a group of runaway slaves. The area was affected by the Second Seminole War, during which Major William S. Harney led several raids against the Indians. Most non-Indian residents were soldiers stationed at Fort Dallas. It was the most devastating Indian war in American history, causing almost a total loss of population in the Miami area.

After the Second Seminole War ended in 1842, William English, re-established a plantation started by his uncle on the Miami River. He charted the “Village of Miami” on the south bank of the Miami River and sold several plots of land. In 1844, Miami became the county seat, and six years later a census reported that there were ninety-six residents living in the area. The Third Seminole War (1855-1858) was not as destructive as the second one. Even so, it slowed down the settlement of southeast Florida. At the end of the war, a few of the soldiers stayed.

Julia Tuttle owned 640 acres in the Miami area at the end of the 19th century
Julia Tuttle owned 640 acres in the Miami area at the end of the 19th century

In 1891, a wealthy Cleveland, Ohio woman named Julia Tuttle purchased an enormous citrus plantation in the Miami area, augmenting a smaller plot of land she inherited from her father to make a total of 640 acres. Tuttle’s husband, Frederick Tuttle, died in 1886, and she decided to move to South Florida due to the “delicate health” of her children. She and William Brickell tried to get railroad magnate Henry Flagler to expand his rail line, the Florida East Coast Railroad, southward to the area, but he initially declined.

However, in the winter of 1894, Florida was struck by cold weather that destroyed virtually the entire citrus crop in the state. A few months later on the night of February 7, 1895, Florida was hit by another freeze. That freeze wiped out whatever crops survived the first one, and the new trees. Unlike the rest of the state, Miami was unaffected, and Tuttle's citrus became the only citrus on the market that year. Tuttle wrote to Flagler again, persuading him to visit the area and to see it for himself. Flagler did so, and concluded at the end of his first day that the area was ripe for expansion. He made the decision to extend his railroad to Miami and build a resort hotel.

Miami Avenue in 1896
Miami Avenue in 1896

On April 7, 1896 the railroad tracks finally reached Miami, and the first train arrived on April 13. It was a special, unscheduled train, and Flagler was on board. The train returned to St. Augustine later that night. The first regularly scheduled train arrived on the night of April 15.

On July 28, 1896, the incorporation meeting to make Miami a city took place. The right to vote was restricted to all men who resided in Miami or Dade County. After ensuring that the required number of voters was present, the motion was made to incorporate and organize a city government under the corporate name of “The City of Miami,” with the boundaries as proposed. and the city was incorporated with 444 citizens.

Miami's growth up to World War II was astronomical. In 1900, 1,681 people lived in Miami, Florida; in 1910, 5,471; in 1920, 29,571; in 1930, 110,637. As thousands of people moved to the area in the early 1900s, the need for more land quickly became apparent. Up until then, the Florida Everglades extended eastward to as close as three miles from Biscayne Bay. Beginning in 1906, canals were made to remove some of the water from those lands. During the early 1920s, the authorities of Miami allowed gambling and were very lax in regulating Prohibition, so thousands of people migrated from the northern United States to the Miami region. The catastrophic Great Miami Hurricane in 1926 caused 373 fatalities and ended a large building boom. Between 25,000 and 50,000 people were left homeless in the Miami area. The Great Depression followed, in which more than sixteen thousand people in Miami became unemployed.

On February 15, 1933, an assassination attempt was made on President-elect Franklin Delano Roosevelt by Giuseppe Zangara, an Italian anarchist, while Roosevelt was giving a speech in Miami's Bayfront Park. Mayor Anton Cermak of Chicago, who was shaking hands with Roosevelt, was shot and died two weeks later. Four other people were wounded, but President-elect Roosevelt was not harmed.

By the early 1940s Miami was recovering from the Great Depression, but then World War II started. Many of the cities in Florida were heavily affected by the war and went into financial ruin, but Miami remained relatively unaffected. Over five hundred thousand enlisted men and fifty thousand officers trained in South Florida. After the end of the war, many servicemen and women returned to Miami, pushing the population up to almost a quarter million by 1950.

Following the 1959 revolution that unseated Fulgencio Batista and brought Fidel Castro to power, most Cubans who were living in Miami went back to Cuba. That soon changed, and many middle class and upper class Cubans moved to Florida en masse with little possessions after Castro began to curtail legal rights. Miami generally welcomed the Cuban exiles. In 1965 alone, 100,000 Cubans packed into the twice-daily "freedom flights" from Havana, Cuba to Miami. By the end of the 1960s, more than four hundred thousand Cuban refugees were living in Miami-Dade County.

Although Miami was not really considered a major centre of the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, it did not escape the change that occurred. Miami was a major city in the southern state of Florida, and had always had a substantial African-American and Caribbean population.

In December 1979, police officers pursued motorcyclist Arthur McDuffie in a high-speed chase after McDuffie made a provocative gesture towards a police officer. The officers claimed that the chase ended when McDuffie crashed his motorcycle and died. The coroner's report concluded otherwise. One of the officers testified that McDuffie fell off of his bike on an Interstate 95 on-ramp. When the police reached him he was injured but okay. The officers proceeded to remove his helmet, beat him to death with their batons, put his helmet back on, and called an ambulance claiming there had been a motorcycle accident. An all-white jury acquitted the officers after a brief deliberation. After learning of the verdict of the McDuffie case, one of the worst riots in the history of the United States, the infamous Liberty City Riots, broke out. By the time the rioting ceased three days later, over 850 people had been arrested, and at least eight white people and ten African Americans had died in the riots. Property damage was estimated around one hundred million dollars.

Cuban refugees arriving in crowded boats during the Mariel Boatlift crisis.
Cuban refugees arriving in crowded boats during the Mariel Boatlift crisis.

Later, the Mariel Boatlift of 1980 brought 150,000 Cubans to Miami, the largest in civilian history. Unlike the previous exodus of the 1960s, most of the Cuban refugees arriving were poor. Castro used the boatlift as a way of purging his country of criminals and of the mentally ill. During this time, many of the middle class non-Hispanic whites in the community left the city, often referred to as " white flight." By 1990 Miami was less than 12% non-Hispanic white.

In the 1980s, Miami started to see an increase in immigrants from other nations such as Haiti. As the Haitian population grew, the area known today as Little Haiti emerged, centered around Northeast Second Avenue and 54th Street. In the 1990s, the presence of Haitians was acknowledged with Haitian Creole language signs in public places and ballots during voting.

Another major Cuban exodus occurred in 1994. To prevent it from becoming another Mariel Boatlift, the Clinton Administration announced a significant change in U.S. policy. In a controversial action, the administration announced that Cubans interdicted at sea would not be brought to the United States but instead would be taken by the Coast Guard to U.S. military installations at Guantanamo Bay or to Panama. During an eight-month period beginning in the summer of 1994, over 30,000 Cubans and more than 20,000 Haitians were interdicted and sent to live in camps outside the United States.

The aftermath of Hurricane Andrew in the Miami area
The aftermath of Hurricane Andrew in the Miami area

Hurricane Andrew caused more than $45 billion in damage just south of the Miami-Dade area in 1992.

The Elián González uproar was a heated custody and immigration battle in the Miami area in 2000. The contoversy concerned six-year-old Elián González, who was rescued from the waters off the coast of Miami. The U.S. and the Cuban governments, his father Juan Miguel González, his Miami relatives, and the Cuban-American community of Miami were involved. The climactic stage of this prolonged battle was the April 22, 2000 seizure of Elián by federal agents, which drew the criticism of many in the Cuban-American community.

The controversial Free Trade Area of the Americas negotiations occurred in 2003. It was a proposed agreement to reduce trade barriers while increasing intellectual property rights. During the 2003 meeting in Miami, the Free Trade Area of the Americas was met by heavy opposition from anti-corporatization and anti-globalization protests.

On July 27, 2005, the popular ex-city commissioner Arthur Teele walked into the main lobby of the Miami Herald headquarters, dropped off a package for columnist Jim DeFede, and told the security guard to tell his wife Stephanie he "loved her" before pulling out a gun and committing suicide.

Geography and climate


The City of Miami and its suburbs are located on a broad plain between the Florida Everglades and Biscayne Bay that also extends from Florida Bay north to Lake Okeechobee. The elevation of the area never rises above 15ft (4.5 m) and averages at around 3ft (0.91 m) above sea level in most neighborhoods, especially near the coast. 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 the city of Miami Beach and its famous South Beach district. 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.

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 15 m (50 feet) 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 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 river 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, impeding underground construction.

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 and crocodiles venturing onto suburban communities and major highways.

In terms of land area, the city of 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 sq. miles (92.68 km²) are land and 19.59 sq. miles (50.73 km²) are water. Miami is slightly smaller in land area than San Francisco and Boston.

The city is located at 25°47′16″N, 80°13′27″W GR1.


Portion of the Miami skyline as seen from Key Biscayne
Portion of the Miami skyline as seen from Key Biscayne

Miami has a humid subtropical climate, with warm, humid summers, and mild winters by most standards. The city does experience cold fronts from November through March, however most of the year is warm and humid, and the summers are reminiscent of a true tropical climate. In addition, the city sees most of its rain in the summer (wet season) and is mainly dry in winter (dry season). The wet season, which is hot and humid, lasts from May to September, 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.

Climate Zones of the World, under Koppen's System, retrieved August 8, 2006 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 see temperatures below 75 ºF (24 ºC). 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 59 ºF (15 ºC), rarely dipping below 40 ºF (4 ºC), and the equivalent maxima usually range between 65 and 75 °F (18-24 °C).

Officially, Miami has only once recorded a triple-digit temperature, the all-time maximum being 100 ºF (37.8 ºC), set on July 21, 1942. However, extreme summer humidity often boosts the heat index to around 110 ºF (43 °C). The coldest temperature ever recorded in the city of Miami was 28 °F (-2 °C) on January 27, 1940. 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 Miami 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.

People and culture


A map of Miami from 1955
A map of Miami from 1955

Miami is the 46th most populous city in the U.S. The metropolitan area, which includes Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, with a combined population of more than 5.4 million people, ranks sixth in the United States behind Dallas and is the largest metropolitan area in the Southeastern United States. 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 3,923.5/km² (10,160.9/mi²), making Miami one of the more densely populated cities in the country. There were 148,388 housing units at an average density of 1,606.2/km² (4,159.7/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 66.62% White, 22.31% African American, 0.22% Native American, 0.66% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 5.42% from other races, and 4.74% from two or more races. 67.76% of the population were Latino of any race. 11.83% of the population were non-Hispanic whites. The ethnic makeup of the city is 34.1% Cuban, 22.3% African American, 5.6% Nicaraguan, 5.0% Haitian, and 3.3% Honduran. In 2004, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) ranked Miami first in terms of percentage of residents born outside of the country it is located in (59%), followed by Toronto (43%).

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.

In the city the population was spread out with 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.

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.

Based on the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports Program, Miami ranks as the second most dangerous metropolitan area in the United States, based number of murders, rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries and motor vehicle thefts that have occurred in the metropolitan area. The city proper ranks 14th.

The city ranks second-to-last in people over 18 with a high school diploma, with 23% of the population not having that degree.

A wide variety of languages are commonly spoken throughout the city. The City of Miami has three official languages - English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole. Other languages that are spoken throughout the city include Afrikaans, Brazilian Portuguese, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Hebrew, Igbo, Italian, Russian, and Turkish. Miami has the largest percentage population in the U.S. among large cities (74%) of people who speak a language other than English at home.

The Latin- and Caribbean-friendly atmosphere in Miami has made it a popular destination for tourists and immigrants from all over the world. In addition, large immigrant communities have settled in Miami from around the globe, including Europe, Africa, and Asia. The majority of Miami's European immigrant communities are recent immigrants, many living in the city seasonally, with a high disposable income.

Today there are sizable legal and illegal populations of Argentinians, Bahamians, Brazilians, Canadians, Colombians, Cubans, Dominicans, French, Haitians, Hondurans, Jamaicans, Israelis, Italians, Mexicans, Nicaraguans, Russians, Trinidadians and Tobagoans, Turks, and Venezuelans, as well as a sizeable legal 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 one of the largest Israeli, and Russian communities. The communities have grown to a prominent place in Miami and its suburbs, establishing area neighbourhoods such as Little Havana, Little Managua, Little Haiti, Little Moscow, Little Buenos Aires, and Little Tel Aviv.


Miami professional sports teams
Club Sport League Venue League Championships
Miami Dolphins Football National Football League Dolphin Stadium Super Bowl ( VII 1972 - defeated Washington Redskins, 14-7 [being the first undefeated team in an NFL season] and VIII 1973 - defeated Minnesota Vikings, 24-7)
Florida Panthers Hockey National Hockey League BankAtlantic Centre Eastern Conference (NHL) (champions 1995-96)
Miami Heat Basketball National Basketball Association AmericanAirlines Arena NBA Finals (Champions) ( 2006 - defeated Dallas Mavericks, series 4-2)
Florida Marlins Baseball Major League Baseball; NL Dolphin Stadium World Series ( 1997 - defeated Cleveland Indians, series 4-3; 2003 - defeated New York Yankees, series 4-2)
Miami FC Soccer United Soccer Leagues Tropical Park None
Miami Tropics Basketball American Basketball Association Miami Arena None

The Miami Heat is the only major league team that plays its games in Miami. 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 the suburb of 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 a total of ten, more than any other city, and is scheduled to host another in 2007. The Florida Panthers NHL team plays in neighboring Broward County, Florida at the BankAtlantic Centre in the city of Sunrise. Miami is also the home of the Miami Orange Bowl, the home site for all University of Miami Hurricanes football games. Miami is also home to Paso Fino horses, where competitions are held at Tropical Park Equestrian Centre.

A number of defunct teams were located in Miami, including the Miami Floridians ( ABA), Miami Gatos ( NASL), Miami Screaming Eagles ( WHA), Miami Seahawks ( AAFC), Miami Sol ( WNBA), Miami Toros ( NASL), Miami Tribe ( PSFL), 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.

Professional wrestlers living in Miami include Terry "Hulk" Hogan, Carlos Colón, Jr., Hazem Ali and Antonio Banks.


Miami is served 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. The district is also the largest minority public school system in the country, with 52% of its students being of Hispanic origin, 25% African American, and 6% non-white of other minorities. M-DCPS is also one of a few public school districts in the United States to offer optional bilingual education. Miami also has several Catholic and Jewish high schools throughout the area.

Among the colleges and universities in the area include Barry University, Florida International University, Johnson and Wales University, Miami-Dade College, St. Thomas University, Florida Memorial University, and the University of Miami.


The ever-increasing Miami skyline during its most recent construction boom. - October 2006Photo: Marc Averette
The ever-increasing Miami skyline during its most recent construction boom. - October 2006
Photo: Marc Averette

Miami is one of the country's most important financial centers. It is the major centre of regional commerce, 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 organisations, Miami is considered a "Gamma World City."

Because of its proximity to Latin America, Miami serves as the headquarters of Latin American operations for many multinational corporations, including American Airlines, Cisco, Disney, Exxon, FedEx, Microsoft, Oracle, SBC Communications and Sony. Several large companies are headquartered in or around Miami, including Alienware, AutoNation, Burger King, Carnival Cruise Lines, Citrix Systems, DHL, Norwegian Cruise Lines, and Ryder Systems. 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 Miami has the largest concentration of international banks in the country. 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. This effort has been guided by Florida FTAA.

Tourism is also an important industry: the beaches of Greater Miami draw visitors from across the country and around the world, and the Art Deco nightclub district in South Beach (in Miami Beach) is widely regarded as one of the most glamourous in the world. However, it is important to note that Miami Beach is not a part of the city of Miami. Even major TV networks sometimes forget this, as when Good Morning America visited Miami Beach and Charles Gibson thanked the mayor of Miami (but he was standing next to the mayor of Miami Beach).

In addition to these roles, Miami is also an industrial centre, especially for stone quarrying and warehousing.

Miami has also served as host venue for legendary legal proceedings, most notably the astounding $145 Billion verdict leveled against the nation's 5 largest cigarette manufacturers. This case was a class action on behalf of all afflicted Florida smokers and their families, represented by a prominent and successful Miami-raised husband and wife legal team, Stanley and Susan Rosenblatt.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau 2002 American Community Survey, Miami was the poorest city in the United States, with 31% of the residents having incomes below the federal poverty line. In 2004, Miami moved to third in the rankings ahead of Detroit, Michigan and El Paso, Texas.

Miami is also one of the least affordable places to live, with 69% of its residents spending at least 30% of their household income on home ownership. Miami ranks first among least affordable cities for home ownership.

As of 2005, the Miami area is witnessing its largest real estate boom since the 1920s. The newly created Midtown Miami, having well over a hundred approved construction projects is an example of this.


Miami-Dade County Transit Buses in Miami Beach, Florida.
Miami-Dade County Transit Buses in Miami Beach, Florida.

Miami's main international hub is Miami International Airport, which is one of the busiest international airports in the world, serving over 35 million passengers every year. Identified as MIA or KMIA by various world aviation authorities, it is a major hub and the single largest international gateway for American Airlines, the world's largest passenger air carrier; and is also served by many foreign airlines. MIA is the USA's third largest international port of entry for foreign air passengers (behind New York's JFK and Los Angeles' LAX), and the seventh largest such gateway in the world (bested only by those two airports; combined with London's Heathrow, Paris' Charles de Gaulle, Amsterdam's Schiphol, and Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok international airports). The airport's extensive international route network includes non-stop flights to over seventy international cities in North and South America, Europe, and the Middle East. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL/KFLL) also serves the metropolitan area, and actually handles more total passengers who are originating or ending their trip in south Florida than does MIA.

The main seaport, The Port of Miami, is the largest cruise ship port in the world, serving over 18 million passengers per year. 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 terms of cargo tonnage imported/exported from Latin America.

Miami skyline from Miami Beach showing 6 cruise ships docked at Port of Miami 1/10/06.  Photo: Marc Averette
Miami skyline from Miami Beach showing 6 cruise ships docked at Port of Miami 1/10/06. Photo: Marc Averette

Miami is connected to Amtrak's Atlantic Coast services.

Local public transportation includes Metrobus and Metrorail, a metro rapid transit system (both operated by Miami-Dade Transit). Furthermore, Tri-Rail, a commuter rail system, connects the major cities and airports of the South Florida metropolitan area. Several transit expansion projects are being funded by a transit development sales tax surcharge throughout Miami-Dade County. A new light rail system is proposed and is called BayLink. BayLink will connect downtown miami with South beach. 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. Some of the major Florida State Roads (and their common names) serving the county are:

  • SR 112 (Airport Expressway) Downtown 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

For information on the street grid, see Miami-Dade County, Florida#Street grid.

In popular culture

Portion of the Miami skyline showing the Bank of America tower lit hot neon pink, one of the colors that has become the epitome of Miami's fashion nostalgia.Photo: Marc Averette
Portion of the Miami skyline showing the Bank of America tower lit hot neon pink, one of the colors that has become the epitome of Miami's fashion nostalgia.
Photo: Marc Averette

There are many television shows that have been based in Miami. The controversial Emmy winning drama Nip/Tuck and CBS's CSI: Miami both 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 sitcom The Golden Girls and the detective series Surfside 6 were also based in Miami Beach. In the 1980's, no show rivaled Miami Vice in revitalizing the city's image as the 'mecca of cool' for the MTV Generation. Keeping with its modern music tradition, the city has recently hosted the 2004 and 2005 MTV Video Music Awards. The TLC reality shows Miami Ink and Million Dollar Agents are set in the city. Some other recent reality shows in Miami include Animal Planet's Miami Animal Police and MTV's 8th & Ocean and The Real World: Miami.

The video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City takes place in a fictional city inspired by Miami, including some of the same architecture and geography. There were also people and gangsters in the game who speak Haitian Creole and Spanish.

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 like Morelia, La Mujer de Mi Vida etc. Arguably, the most famous being 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.

Miami has acted as the backdrop for several movies, including There's Something About Mary, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Bad Boys & Bad Boys II, The Birdcage, True Lies, Miami Vice (based on the 80's television series of the same name), and most notably 1983's Scarface.


Miami music is varied. Latin American Immigrants brought the conga and rumba to Miami from their homelands instantly popularizing it in American culture.

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 also had a huge place in hip-hop music since the mid-1980s, with its urban sound, rivaling that of New York City as the East Coast's prime hip-hop mecca. Miami's also the birthplace of Miami Bass and arguably the birthplace of Southern Rap. Notable hip-hop artists from Miami consist of 2 Live Crew, Dre, Luther Campbell, Poison Clan, Trick Daddy, Trina, Pitbull, Rick Ross, Smitty, and the late DJ Uncle Al. Producers include Cool & Dre, The Diaz Brothers, Red Spyda.

Miami is also considered a "hot spot" for 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, Exposé, and Paris By Air originated in Miami.

Also in Miami due to the many Latinos in the area, Reggaeton is very popular, artists sucha as Daddy Yankee, Wisin y Yandel, and many others, are popular.

Sister Cities

Miami has 19 sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International, Inc. (SCI):

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