Orlando is a city in Florida in the central part of the state. Known as "The City Beautiful" and "The Theme Park Capital of the World," Orlando gets more than 51 million tourists every year, including almost 4 million from outside the U.S. It's the most visited city in the country with attractions including Walt Disney World Resort, the Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld, Gatorland and Wet 'n Wild Water Park.
Orlando has an estimated population of 254,000, which ranks 77th in the United States and a population density of 2,327 people per square mile, or 899 per square kilometer. The urban area is the 32nd largest in the country with 1.5 million people, while the Greater Orlando metropolitan area has a population of 2.13 million, which is the 26th largest in the country, the 6th largest in the Southeastern U.S. and the 3rd largest in Florida. Orlando is the largest inland city in Florida and the 5th largest city in Florida.
At the 2010 Census, the racial composition of Orlando was:
- White: 57.6% (non-Hispanic: 41.3%)
- Black or African American: 28.1%
- Asian: 3.8%
- Native American or Alaska Native: 0.4%
- Pacific Islander: 0.1%
- Two or more races: 3.4%
- Other race: 6.6%
- Hispanic or Latino of any race: 25.4%
Orlando has the largest Puerto Rican and fastest-growing population in Florida with a cultural impact similar to that of Cuban Americans in South Florida. The Hispanic population of the city has grown dramatically in the last few decades from just 4% in 1980 to 25% in 2010. There is also a large Caribbean and West Indian population in the city with many Tobagonians, Trinidadians and Jamaicans and a large Haitian community.
The Orlando area was sparsely populated by several Native American tribes before European settlers arrived in 1536. The name Orlando is believed to come from a soldier named Orlando Reeves who died in 1835, supposedly after a Native American attack in the area during the Second Seminole War, although there are many legends about the city's name and there are no military records of Orlando Reeves.
The Second Seminole War from 1835 to 1842 arose over disagreements between natives and early American settlers on issues including slaves and cattle. The natives eventually moved away and pioneers built a town around Fort Gatlin, which was constructed south of present-day Orlando city limits in 1838 to protect settlers from Indian attacks. A small town was built around the fort by 1840 and named Jernigan after cattleman Aaron Jernigan, the first permanent settler.
Orlando remained a rural area through the American Civil War but the Reconstruction Era brought a population boom and the city was incorporated in 1875. 1875 to 1895 was Orlando's Gilded Era as it became the hub for the state's massive citrus industry but a massive freeze shifted operations further south. Between the Spanish-American War and World War I, Orlando became a popular resort town.
Orlando was really put on the map when Walt Disney announced plans to construct Walt Disney World in 1965. He chose Orlando over Tampa or Miami to avoid the risk of hurricanes and the world-famous resort opened in 1971, exploding the economic growth and population of Orlando and making it one of the most visited cities in the country. Tourism remains a centerpiece of the region's economy.
Orlando Population Growth
Between 2010 and 2012, Orlando enjoyed the second-highest population growth in Florida, adding more than 7,100 residents in two years. Miami was the fastest growing, adding 15,000 people. Orlando is also the second-fastest growing metropolitan region in the United States in 2014 with a growth rate of more than 2% per year, losing to Austin, Texas but beating out Raleigh, North Carolina, Houston, Dallas and San Antonio.
- In 2009, Orlando ranked as the 4th most popular U.S. city based on where people want to live.
- Orlando's Wet 'n Wild water park is the first ever and it is one of few that remains open year-round.
- Two Manhattans or all of San Francisco could fit in Orlando's Walt Disney World Resort.
- If you ate breakfast, lunch and dinner at a different restaurant in the city every day, it would take five years to dine at every restaurant.
- Orlando has the second largest number of hotel rooms in the United States behind Las Vegas.
Orlando is best known around the world for its many popular attractions.
Walt Disney World is located just outside of Orlando and it's the most visited vacation resort in the world with more than 52 million visitors every year. The property covers 66 square miles with 4 theme parks, 24 themed resort hotels, 2 water parks and 4 golf courses.
Universal Orlando Resort is the largest property operated by Universal Parks & Resorts and the largest resort in Orlando with two theme parks: Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. Universal Orlando Resort, as of 1998, now includes Wet 'n Wild Water Park, the first water park in America. SeaWorld features marine animals like sea lions, orcas and dolphins with displays and shows. SeaWorld had the first birth of a killer whale in captivity and the first hatching of captive green sea turtles.